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Post by Eorl @ 10:02am 29/08/14 | 28 Comments
Update: Valve has responded to the ACCC claim, with Doug Lombardi noting that the company plans to co-operate fully.

“We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter,” said Doug Lombardi, “while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers.”

Original Article:

Kotaku is reporting that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (known as the ACCC) has filed a lawsuit with Valve over its refund policy in regards to digital service Steam, claiming that it breaches the Australian Consumer Law.

The issue seems to stem from Valve's refund policy, which is apparently non-existent. Those who purchase a product on Steam are not provided with any refund choice, going directly against the Australian Consumer Law which was set out to protect a consumer conducting business in Australia.
The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:
- consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances;
- Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality;
- Valve was not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer; and the statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to games sold by Valve.
The law, according to ACCC Chairman Rod Sims, applies to "any business providing goods or services within Australia," meaning Valve is most definitely affected. “Valve may be an American based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law."

The first hearing is scheduled for October 7th, 2014 at the Federal Court in Sydney.



valveaustralian competition and consumer commissionrefund policy





Latest Comments
Tollaz0r!
Posted 10:17am 29/8/14
Well this might sort out the problem of international keys being blocked by steam and being non-refundable.
deadlyf
Posted 10:35am 29/8/14
About time, I remember trying to get a refund once and was told to basically go f*** myself.

They also need to do something about the bundles and how when you purchase one but already have some of the titles in the bundle they seem to think it's ok to not give you everything you paid for.
Raven
Posted 10:39am 29/8/14
I hope they're s***ting themselves. This would not be the first time the ACCC have followed up and taken an international company with no Australian presence to court and won bigtime.
Tollaz0r!
Posted 10:45am 29/8/14
Nightmare fuel: Steam ceases to operate in Australia. All Australia steam accounts suspended. lol.
Raven
Posted 10:48am 29/8/14
The thing is, if they win this (and expect they will), they can then use it to further pursue Australian price gouging, and the refusal to give customers the same pricing as is available to other international customers - ie, because you're forced to pay a different fee based on no other region than geographic location.
Crash
Posted 10:58am 29/8/14
The thing is, if they win this (and expect they will), they can then use it to further pursue Australian price gouging, and the refusal to give customers the same pricing as is available to other international customers - ie, because you're forced to pay a different fee based on no other region than geographic location.
Publishers set the pricing for games not valve.
Raven
Posted 11:02am 29/8/14
Yes, but Valve are who your contract of sale is with. It's just like warranty, you deal with the store, not the manufacturer, even though they want you to believe it's through the manufacturer.
ph33x
Posted 11:16am 29/8/14
Yeah passing around the blame isn't going to fix the problem. Valve should take a more active approach in regards to gouging. It all starts somewhere - and I feel like in a few years time most of this stuff will be behind us. Geoblocking/region pricing with digital sales is a f***en crock.
Mantorok
Posted 11:27am 29/8/14
What are Valve supposed to do? Any attempt to force publishers to adjust prices will just drive them to only sell via other services like Origin and Uplay.
ph33x
Posted 11:29am 29/8/14
Yep, and the same idiots that lay down and buy the overpriced game will just move to them services too.

It's a perpetual loop of stupidity, and expecting the common gamer to make a stand will never happen, clearly. You just said it yourself.
WirlWind
Posted 11:35am 29/8/14
Thank god, took them long enough.

I've personally only ever had 1 time where they wouldn't refund me a game (skyrim key that got blocked by region), every other time I've found that being nice and respectful + having a bit of evidence would usually let them use "the one time refund policy" (even though I used it like 5 times, they always said it was a 1 time thing lol).

Hopefully, they allow refunds in the first 24 hours (I think Origin does that?) if you don't like the game and refunds following that if the game is broken.
deadlyf
Posted 11:41am 29/8/14
What are Valve supposed to do? Any attempt to force publishers to adjust prices will just drive them to only sell via other services like Origin and Uplay.
Then those guys will face the same pressure Valve is.
Mantorok
Posted 11:43am 29/8/14
It's a perpetual loop of stupidity, and expecting the common gamer to make a stand will never happen, clearly. You just said it yourself.
The problem is for people to make a stand they need to do more. Don't just not buy the game, write to the publisher saying "I didn't buy this game because you charge Australians too much". Otherwise the publisher will blame something else for the lost sale like piracy or not enough dubstep in the E3 trailer.

Then those guys will face the same pressure Valve is.
Yes, but they'll be able to point to Valve and say "If we try to change pricing, we'll end up just like them".
Raven
Posted 11:44am 29/8/14
What are Valve supposed to do? Any attempt to force publishers to adjust prices will just drive them to only sell via other services like Origin and Uplay.

Do you really think publishers are going to swap to other services just because they're forced to sell to customers in a small region such as Australia at the same price they're already charging elsewhere, rather than gouging them?

ie, because 2% of their sales are forced to be sold at the same margin rather than at an additional 20-80% margin?

I somewhat doubt it.
Mantorok
Posted 11:52am 29/8/14
Do you really think publishers are going to swap to other services just because they're forced to sell to customers in a small region such as Australia at the same price they're already charging elsewhere, rather than gouging them?
Publishers use the same price gouging tactics in the UK and EU as well. So if the choice is between fair pricing globally and jumping ship, they'll jump ship.
ph33x
Posted 12:13pm 29/8/14
Publishers use the same price gouging tactics in the UK and EU as well. So if the choice is between fair pricing globally and jumping ship, they'll jump ship.

Then we also need to take it to the EU and the US. Have some backbone man, you're laying down on this at every corner. You're not empowered. This is why we don't have nice things.

As for your suggestion that we do more by writing to them. Many people do that in the forums for that game. Typically in the General section, and typically it's met with lovers who say nothing is wrong, it's all the users fault, geopricing is in to stay, "How do you expect change when..." etc etc.

With a pile of people like that (like you) behind them, they don't have to worry about changing anything. Change starts with you, not with Steam, not with the EU. If I can't convince you (and people like you) to change then you're right, we'll never get anywhere with a big company.
Mantorok
Posted 12:32pm 29/8/14
WTF? I'm not saying don't fight against geo-pricing, I'm saying people need to target publishers directly. Attacking Valve is a misdirected effort.
BladeRunner
Posted 05:35pm 29/8/14
If we can't put pressure on Valve, can we put it on the publishers? if so, how? They seem to not be doing anything wrong, technically. Publishers love Geo-Ip blocking and things like that. Companies like to move money around so to avoid paying taxes like many tech companies.
Everlong
Posted 08:29pm 29/8/14
Nightmare fuel: Steam ceases to operate in Australia. All Australia steam accounts suspended. lol.

Heh that was my first thought. Luckily we have excellent alternatives in Origin, UPlay, Games for Windows Live and oh dammit I couldn't keep a strait face then :D
AnarchyAngel
Posted 10:40pm 29/8/14
They need to take Riot to court while they at it.
ravn0s
Posted 03:22pm 04/9/14
The ACCC is asking that Valve:

- Provide an email address that specifically deals with refunds as per Australian Consumer law.
- Provide a 1800 number to help consumers address any refund issues.
- Provide a PO Box address for consumers to deal with refunds.
- Appoint representatives (the ACCC refer to this person as a contact officer) to reply to consumers regarding refunds.

If the ACCC is successful, Valve will have to implement these changes within 30 days of the court order.
http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/the-acccs-list-of-demands-for-valve/


last edited by ravn0s at 15:22:04 04/Sep/14
Tollaz0r!
Posted 03:23pm 04/9/14
Bags not having the job of Contact Officer For Refunds Australia at Valve..

Then again, being Valve they could do something fun with it and team up with Google. Make an AI that responds to refund requests and only send the genuine complicated refunds through to a person. All the trolls who got banned for cheating or whatever would hopefully get screened out.

last edited by Tollaz0r! at 15:23:46 04/Sep/14
ph33x
Posted 03:37pm 04/9/14
Origin has that help line chat thingy. I haven't seen one person get anything positive from it, it's always been a negative, lengthy, frustrating experience. To the point where you end up telling yourself: "Ah f*** it, I'd rather lose $80 than go through this any longer."
konstie
Posted 04:31pm 04/9/14
I'm going to send my CV into Valve right now . . . seems like an easy way into the company! ;)

s***** job.
groganus
Posted 04:41pm 04/9/14
Origin has that help line chat thingy. I haven't seen one person get anything positive from it, it's always been a negative, lengthy, frustrating experience. To the point where you end up telling yourself: "Ah f*** it, I'd rather lose $80 than go through this any longer."


After a 30 minute wait, which i was happy to do while watching an ep of Parks and Rec on my second screen I managed to quickly talk to someone and get a refund on a game I purchased.

It was a complete non event in my opinion.
Mordecai
Posted 04:55pm 04/9/14
Origin has that help line chat thingy. I haven't seen one person get anything positive from it, it's always been a negative, lengthy, frustrating experience. To the point where you end up telling yourself: "Ah f*** it, I'd rather lose $80 than go through this any longer."

Used the EA live chat thing when I had a problem. Problem was sorted out quickly and easily. Would recommend it far more then steams send an email, wait a week and hope you don't get the generic reply.
Dodgymon
Posted 10:31am 05/9/14
I would have thought they will only use examples like this to justify price gauging?
The Nerfatar
Posted 10:44am 05/9/14
Origin has that help line chat thingy. I haven't seen one person get anything positive from it, it's always been a negative, lengthy, frustrating experience. To the point where you end up telling yourself: "Ah f*** it, I'd rather lose $80 than go through this any longer."

I once had my origin account hacked (no idea how, almost never used it, and they tried to reset my LoL password on the same day, which I hadn't used in years since a different OS install), and the Origin chat thing was pretty good for getting it sorted out. Only, they didn't seem to understand that the origin account name had been changed, and that the random Indian or whatever name wasn't me.
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