The ACCC, Australia's official consumer watchdog, has filed a lawsuit against gaming giant Valve over the fact that its Steam game retail platform does not allow refunds, even though Australian consumer law states that retailers must offer refunds if the product sold is not fit for purpose.
While Valve's Steam platform has proved popular with gamers, accounting for 75% of all online PC game sales, one area of complaint has been the lack of a refund system. Steam's policies clearly state that the company "do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client", with the caveat "unless required by local law".
This policy, unfortunately, has made Valve a target of the ACCC, despite the gaming company having no physical presence within Australia - a situation the ACCC says is a non issue, considering the fact that Steam actively sells games in the local market. ACCC chairman Rod Sims says that Valve will now be taken to task for breaching Australian Consumer Law.
"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. The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified," Mr Sims said.
Responding to the lawsuit, Valve has expressed a willingness to cooperate with the ACCC to resolve the matter quickly, at the same time ensuring Australian gamers still have access to the Steam platform.
"We are making every effort to co-operate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers," Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi told Fairfax Media.
The case has been filed in the Sydney Federal Court, with the first directions hearing set for October 7, 2014 before Justice Jayne Jagot.