A Federal Court in Australia has fined Valve $2.1 million for consumer law violations that occurred due to the company’s policy of refunds on Steam. In particular, the punishment is centered on the fact that Steam had no advertised refund system in place between 2011 and 2014.
Justice Edelman ruled that Valve “engaged in conduct which was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive in contravention” by telling its customers that they had no right to refund for any games purchased through the online store. The fine must be paid within 30 days, unless the company plans to appeal the ruling
The ruling also states that the following notice must also be displayed to all Australian users of Steam:
“On 24 March 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found that Valve Corporation had engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the Australian Consumer Law in representing to Australian consumers via the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Steam Refund Policy that consumers had no entitlement to a refund in any circumstances and that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees of acceptable quality. A link to the Federal Court judgment appears here.
When you buy video games from Valve Corporation as a consumer located in Australia, the video games come with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law that cannot be excluded, including a guarantee that the video games are of acceptable quality. You are entitled to a replacement or refund from the retail supplier of the video games for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage.
You are also entitled to have the video games repaired or replaced by the retail supplier of the video games if the video games fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure. Certain other rights are available directly against manufacturers that cannot be excluded or limited.
The test for acceptable quality is whether a reasonable consumer, fully aware of the state and condition of the video games, would find them:
a.safe, durable and free from defects;
b.acceptable in appearance and finish; and
c.fit for all the purposes for which video games of that kind are commonly supplied. This must take into account the nature and price of the video games, and any statements on packaging or labelling.”