Valve is being sued by Australia's consumer rights commission, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission), over its cumbersome refund policy on Steam.
The ACCC alleges that Valve's refund policy indicated the following:
- Consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances.
- Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality.
- Valve was not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer; and the statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to games sold by Valve.
These draconian rules didn't jibe well with Australian law.
"It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances, including for gifts and during sales," stated ACCC chairman Rod Sims. "Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault."
"The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified," he added.
Unlike many consumer right advocacy groups, the ACCC is in cahoots with the Australian government. According to its official site, "appointments to the ACCC involve participation by Commonwealth, state and territory governments" and "the ACCC currently comes under the portfolio responsibilities of The Treasury." That sounds pretty official.
As a result, Valve is willing to comply with Australian law here. In a statement to Kotaku Valve said, "We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers."
Does this mean Steam's refund policy could change worldwide, evening the playing field for folks all over? We've request comment from Valve on this one and will update should we hear back.