With its Steam network, Valve is the single largest online retailer of PC games worldwide. But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission [ACCC] is not happy with the gaming giant’s policy of refusing refunds to its customers and is taking the publisher and digital distribution king to court.
The ACCC claims that Valve misled Australian Steam customers by claiming they were not entitled to refunds on game purchases under any circumstances, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The consumer watchdog has filed court documents to challenge Valve’s refund policies, and a hearing will take place Oct. 7.
ACCC chairman Rod Sims says that, despite being an American company, Valve must still adhere to Australian law, which enables consumers to demand a refund for faulty products. This isn’t part of the Steam subscriber agreement that members sign.
“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances,” said Sims in a statement. “Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement … if a product has a major fault.
“The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia. Valve may be an American-based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law.”
Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi responded to the case in a statement: “We are making every effort to co-operate with the Australian officials on this matter while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers.”
Until now, Valve has refunded Steam purchases on a limited case-by-case basis. Earlier this month, people who bought racing game Colin McRae Rally received refunds because the store description of the title was unclear. The game’s developer, Codemasters, initiated this refund
Steam users also got refunds for god simulator From Dust back in 2011, after publisher Ubisoft failed to tell gamers that the title required a constant online connection to play; and zombie survival game The War Z, which Steam pulled from its store in December 2012 following widespread criticism.