Valve asks Australian High Court to set aside consumer law ruling that fined it over $2M

    
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No, you can't be quite this evil.

Stretch your brain allllll the way back to 2016, when Australian courts fined Valve $2.16 million US at the behest of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). That regulatory body had accused Valve of essentially insufficiently advertising and refunding Australian Steam customers for purchases on the platform, which ran afoul of the country’s consumer laws.

In agreeing with the ACCC’s complaint, the federal court found that Valve had not only broken consumer law but failed to properly conduct business in the country and therefore was subject to the maximum fine; the court also ordered Valve to set up special refund notices for Aussie customers and school its employees under a special “Australian Law Compliance Program.”

Valve has apparently spent the last year and change appealing the decision – and hey, they’ve been fighting this since 2014, so why stop now, right? And now, as Gamasutra reports, Valve has applied for “special leave” from the Australian High Court. As in the US, petitioners aren’t necessarily entitled to a hearing before the highest court in the land; members of that court decide whether or not to hear your final appeal once you’ve worked through all the other layers of the court system.

As GIbiz notes, however, Valve introduced a proper refund policy for Steam after the case began (but before the finding in 2016). The millions it still owes the Aussies? That’s all still up in the air until the High Court makes up its mind on whether to make up its mind. It’s probably a safe bet, however, that the appeals are more about not wanting to be held accountable to overseas consumer laws than about what would be pocket change for Valve. (Just imagine what they’ve spent on their legal defense over the last four years.)

Source: Twitter, Gamasutra via GIbiz
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Bryan Correll

Valve better hope regulators around the world don’t start taking a hard look at them as a near monopoly on the distribution of computer games.

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Armsbend

In terms of their retail power I haven’t seen any abuses by Valve. To the best of my knowledge – they haven’t hindered their competition – EA, Green Man and Good Old Games – and you get what you pay for – on a reliable service.

Monopolies generally get sued when they do not allow competition – through acts of collusion, supply or demand bullying.

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A Dad Supreme

As GIbiz notes, however, Valve introduced a proper refund policy for Steam after the case began (but before the finding in 2016). The millions it still owes the Aussies? That’s all still up in the air until the High Court makes up its mind on whether to make up its mind.

http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=AUD&to=USD&view=5Y

The Australian government should counter Steam arguing that since 2014 when the verdict was announced, the Aussie dollar has dropped significantly in value vs the USD so Steam actually owes them more than the 2.16 million originally levied.

This several years in delay tactics paying the fine means they are actually getting less money vs what they originally were due for penalty, so Steam is already set to pay far less as it stands now.

I mean, since Steam is going for a ridiculous outcome over a fine, why not the government? What would 2.1 million back then equate to in today’s lower value?

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Jack Pipsam

Bless be the ACCC, for they do great work.
If you want a quick, easily digestible breakdown of returning goods in Australia, you should watch this video.

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rafael12104

Cool. Thanks for that vid. :)

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Schmidt.Capela

AFAIK the issue wasn’t merely Valve “insufficiently advertising” that refunds were possible, but rather that the TOS outright told customers that they couldn’t get refunds, and in Australia even merely telling customers they can’t have a refund is illegal and subject to fines.

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Scratches

So, they want to do business in Australia, but not abide by its laws? What in the actual fuck, Valve

I guess this is just further (personal?) vindication that Valve and GabeN aren’t the consumer-focused saints that they used to be or might still like to colour themselves as….

semugh
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semugh

it’s still the most consumer friendly store around. Even as a creator.

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Bruno Brito

You don’t tell people Cocaine is a improvement just because Heroine is the staple.

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Stropp

“This case sets an important precedent that overseas-based companies that sell to Australians must abide by our law. All goods come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold, even if the business is based overseas.” — Rod Sims, ACCC

I didn’t realise that this precedent hadn’t already been set. We’ve had lots of overseas, including US, companies operate in Australia for years, and for some reason they all appear to have complied with our consumer law. Or have been fined if they haven’t.

What makes Valve any different?

I really hope the High Court tells Valve where to shove this appeal.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Excuse me, sir. We’d like special leave to rip off your citizens.

deekay_000
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deekay_000

remember folks, this is a company that is more willing to fight your rights as a consumer in almost every country it operates than spend far less on a dedicated customer service department.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

They have become the ultimate shovel providers anyway and that has it’s own consequences. I use Gog a lot more these days and I especially like that they will price in my currency (AUD).