Valve sued by ACCC over Steam's refund policy

Federal court proceedings initiated

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has initiated Federal Court proceedings against online game disributor Valve for allegedly misleading Australian customers on their rights to a refund.

Valve’s online distribution platform for computer games, Steam, has 65 million users worldwide. Games are sold to Australian customers; however, it does not have a physical presence in Australia.

The ACCC is alleging Valve contravened Australian consumer law by misleading customers on their rights following a sale, including their rights to a refund, warranty or repair.

The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:

• 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.

The ACCC is seeking Valve recognise its post-sale obligation to Australian customers, pay a fine and initiate a compliance program, in addition to other remedies.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Valve was obligated to uphold Australian consumer law in spite of not operating in the country.

“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. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”

A directions hearing will take place in the Federal Court of Sydney on 7 October before Justice Jagot on 7 October.

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