Australian courts deny Valve’s final appeal in Steam consumer protection case

    
19
Let the wrong ones in.

Looks like Valve is really going to have to pony up in that four-year Australia consumer protection case, which finally drew to a close today when the courts denied the gaming platform company’s final appeal.

Back in 2014, The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission took Valve to court in the country over Steam’s refund policy. Two years later, the Aussie courts found that Valve had insufficiently advertised and provided refunds to Australian Steam customers such that it violated consumer law in the country, though it did not believe Valve intended to deceive or mislead consumers. It fined Valve the $3M AUD, roughly $2.16M USD (then), which Valve appealed. Then in January of this year, Valve petitioned the Australian High Court for “special leave” for what’s basically a final appeal to set aside the ruling and fine.

Now, that court has denied Valve’s right to be heard, meaning the federal ruling against Valve will stand.

“The High Court of Australia has dismissed a special leave application by one of the world’s largest online gaming companies, US-based Valve Corporation (Valve), which operates the Steam game distribution platform. Valve had sought special leave to appeal from the decision of the Full Federal Court in December 2017, which upheld the trial judge’s ruling that Valve had breached the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) when selling to Australia users, and that it pay a $3 million penalty. In 2016, the trial judge had found that Valve was had engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian customers about their rights under consumer guarantees. As a result of the High Court’s refusal of special leave, the Full Federal Court’s decision that Valve is bound by the ACL in its dealings with Australian customers, despite being based overseas, is the final decision on this issue.”

Not that it will affect Valve much, since it was willing to pay for years and years of litigation to fight this precedent, but the Aussie dollar has improved against the US dollar since the first ruling in 2016, meaning that Valve now owes roughly $150,000 US more than it did then; the current conversion puts the company’s debt to the Aussies at $2.3M USD.

Source: ACCC via Gamasutra
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
zeko_rena

I don’t get the whole thing, what was the problem?
I have never had an issue with Steam Refund where I am, I know if I play it for a certain time they likely wont refund it, and I think I have only ever refunded two games

(I do lots of review and gameplay video watching before I purchase)

Were they just outright refusing to refund anything on Steam?
I have a long time friend over the ditch in Aussie and have never heard him complain about Steam refunds.

His biggest complaint was that they were still using USD, not sure if they still are now but we swapped to NZD on the Steam Store long ago, hard to say if it played in our favor or not.

I know now that Blizzard has swapped the Store to NZD I pay more per month for WoW than I did when it was being converted to USD from NZD lol

ultorius
Reader
ultorius

good for australia, i hope more countries will follow them. steams policy is realy bad.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

The $3M means nothing to Valve, it means nothing to us.

But, what it does mean, is that Valve now has a public mark against their name forever for screwing over customers. The money doesn’t matter, but I bet ol’ Gabey doesn’t much like how his company will forever have a mark on them after being successfully sued by a government hmm?

Keep in mind the only reason Value brought in their revised refund policy was because of the ACCC.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

I would say the precedent is more important than both the fine and the PR black eye. It means telling customers they don’t have some right that they in fact have under Australian law — which includes adding to the Australian TOS/EULA anything that doesn’t take Australian law into account or that attempts to circumvent it — is, in itself, something that carries a consequence, even if the consumers are in the end granted that right.

Reader
rafael12104

You have to love the Aussies. They did something similar to big tobacco a few years ago.

They just cut to the chase.

Aussiestelltruth.jpg
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

The TAC campaigns are known to be deliberate in either their shock-factor or weirdness.

Their TV ad-spots used to be known to show full on gore and were able to by-pass advertisement guidelines to show blood and death on billboards.
It worked for decades, but people got used to seeing the TAC ads end in someone’s death, so they’re trying new things now.

tac_meet_graham_instagram_3.jpg
Reader
rafael12104

Well the warnings on cigarette packs are quite something. I’ve seen those. Wow.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Well at the moment we’ve been on ciggies hard. The packaging has to be clear with the name of the company and type written on a plain box, there isn’t allowed any kind of logo or design, it has to be plain. Although the lung-cancer stuff is still on the box.

Basically ALL cigarette packaging has to look as disgusting and unappealing as possible https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigarette_packets_in_Australia

Reader
rafael12104

I like the approach. People may still choose to smoke. But let there be no doubt of the consequences.

Reader
Akagi

They have the same warnings in my country too (Bulgaria) with pictures of throat cancer and all that kind of nasty shit, they increase prices, but people still smoke like a chimney here. In fact kids start smoking at around the age of 13-14 and it’s very rare to meet a woman that isn’t a disgusting smoker who smells of tar from a mile away.

Reader
Daniel Miller

Laughable to valve, but that 1+ m can help jobs or schools ot something in their country.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

In the grand scheme of things it’ll add nothing to the Australian budget, it’s a negligible amount for the billions which is spent in the budget.

This is to make just a point really, not to raise money. $3M is seriously nothing to work with on a federal level.

Reader
Sally Bowls

Looks like Valve is really going to have to pony up in that four-year Australia consumer protection case,

Is that settled?

In
http://massivelyop.com/2016/11/18/australian-consumer-group-demands-hefty-fine-for-valve/ there was “It’s not clear at all that Valve can be forced to pay fines imposed by the Australian jurisdiction, ” linking to “Valve’s original defence was based on the company being located and operating out of Seattle. In their eyes, any transactions that took place on Steam marketplace were therefore taking place in the United States, not where the consumer was physically based. “We think of ourselves as an American company doing business in America which has customers all over the world,” Valve’s general counsel, Karl Quackenbush, testified.”

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

That was a weak excuse from Valve which doesn’t fly.

Godnaz
Reader
Godnaz

$2.4million dollar fine. Oh please your honor, not 14hrs of Steam profits. What ever will we do? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

– Valve

What a laughable penalty. With upwards on $4 billion in sales annually, this is what it means to be untouchable.

Reader
Kane Hart

The lost money meant nothing to them. Sadly this whole thing is written like Value should of coughed up the money.

Valve is not a Nice Guy Company. Their Evil their fighting because they want consumers to have less rights let chance to get refunds, etc. The less they know the more money Valve makes period.

This has nothing to do about saving 3 million.

Reader
Schmidt.Capela

Worth noting that the fine is also for Valve including in their TOS that customers weren’t entitled refunds. In Australia merely saying to a customer he hasn’t a certain right (such as the right to demand a refund) when he does have the right is already illegal and subject to a fine.

Tizmah
Reader
Tizmah

Well there goes the pennies they saved for a rainy day :( bye half life 3

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Darthbawl

Kickstarter incoming for HL3 in 3..2..1..buy buy buy :P