A few days ago Valve Corporation, the company responsible for PC gaming platform Steam, were found guilty of breaching Australian Consumer Law (ACL). The charges come from Valve’s lack of a refund policy back in 2014 when the proceedings started.
Valve were apparently in breach of Australian law which states:
“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.”
Valve Corporation disputed this, claiming that they only provided access to video games via their client or their website and that they felt this didn’t fall into the category of “goods”. Due to this Valve were claiming that they did not officially trade in Australia, something that was hottly debated in the case. Valve also argued that their Steam Subsciber Agreement is based upon the law of the state of Washington in America (where Valve is based) and not based upon the law of Australia.
On March 29th the Australian Federal Court (AFC) found that Valve had “engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations to Australian consumers about the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL)”. The AFC found that:
- consumers were not entitled to a refund for digitally downloaded games purchased from Valve via the Steam website or Steam Client (in any circumstances);
- Valve had excluded statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; and
- Valve had restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties of acceptable quality.
“The Federal Court’s decision reinforces that foreign based businesses selling goods and/or services to Australian consumers can be subject to Australian Consumer Law obligations, including the consumer guarantees,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
This is a big step for consumer rights when it comes to digital goods. Was it right for Valve to be found guilty of breaching the ACL? Let us know what you think in the comments below!