Valve Facing Australian Federal Court

Valve’s STEAM service has by now certainly become a household name in the gaming platform genre, similar to other products such as Ubisoft’s iPlay and EA games’ Origin. There’s no denying it’s a mainstay in the commercial game sales and instant messaging scene, with us previously reporting their massive 8 million concurrent users clocked during a recent summer sale.

Unfortunately, the giant has gotten itself into a little bit of strife – Valve has allegedly been misleading its Australian customers and is now facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia. The claim is that Valve are providing misleading information in regards to their refund, warranty and consumer guarantees in breach of Australian Consumer Law.

Australian Consumer Law is responsible for protecting the ever-sunny countries population of their rights when purchasing goods and services, alongside product safety. This law is enforced and acted upon by the Australian Competiton and Consumer Competition, also known as ‘The ACCC’ – locally pronounced as “The A triple-C”.

The ACCC has claimed that Valve has been misleading its Australian consumers in various ways, claiming “consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances”. They went on to address the ever popular argument of company location. As we’ve seen in the past, companies are able to get past certain country laws and boundaries simply by hosting their servers or headquarters in a country which contains laws friendly to their terms and conditions. ACCC boss Rod Sims addressed this, saying that Australia’s Consumer Law could not be changed, no matter where the company is based.

This drew the ACCC to action, seeing the first hearing to be located in Sydney on October the 7th, 2014.

As we learned thanks to CNET, Sims went on to say:

“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” 

“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances…[and] consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”

Vice president of Valve, Doug Lombardi, also released a statement. He claims that valve are:

“Making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers” CNET

What’s the worst-case-scenario here for Valve? Probably a hefty fine – which we’re sure they’ll have no issue paying.

As an Aussie myself, this news doesn’t change much for me. Are you an Aussie and do you care?

Image courtesy of Ouyabrew

Chris Smith

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