ACCC puts Valve in its crosshairs over misleading guarantees

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has started proceedings against Valve for allegedly violating Australian consumer law over Steam refunds.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

Valve and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) are set to begin a stoush over Valve's refund and guarantees policy on its Steam distribution platform, after the competition watchdog began proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the Seattle-based games company.

The ACCC is alleging that Valve made false or misleading statements to Australian consumers when Valve stated that consumers are not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances; that Valve has excluded, restricted, or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; that Valve does not have an obligation to repair, replace, or provide a refund for a game where the consumer has not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer; and that statutory consumer guarantees do not apply to games sold by Valve.

Valve does not currently have a physical presence in Australia.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said in a statement that it is a breach of Australian consumer law for businesses to say they do not give refunds under any circumstances, and that Australian consumers can receive a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.

"The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia," he said. "It is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law.

"The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted, or modified."

A directions hearing has been set for October 7, with the ACCC stating that it will be seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, disclosure orders, adverse publicity orders, non-party consumer redress, a compliance program order, and costs from Valve.

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