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Australia The Courts Games

Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the time-to-sue dept.
angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.
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Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

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  • by mjwx (966435) on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:19AM (#47782507)
    I bought ya Bioshock Infinite game on sale last weekend.

    It's shithouse, I want me 22 bucks back ya flamin mongrels.

    Yours sincerely,
    Alf Flamin Stuart.
    • by sjwt (161428)

      Here, have a snickers!

  • by Jimbookis (517778) on Friday August 29, 2014 @03:28AM (#47782529)
    I have noticed when purchasing new items these days that there are slips of paper reminding consumers of their rights and whatever the company bandies about as company policy cannot trump Australian consumer law, ever. We do refunds here. Suck it up.
    • by kinarduk (734762)
      Same in the UK and Europe. Want to do business here? Then abide by local laws, simples.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:09AM (#47782677)

        Reading about the US I really like consumer protection laws in Germany. Everything is so much more consumer friendly and open. Companies have to identify themselves (i.e. have an imprint), all taxes have to be included in prices and if you buy something you have all kinds of rights (two week period to send stuff back/cancel contracts, two year warranty on physical items and such) that cannot be taken away by ToSs.

        It's such a different culture. US companies often struggle because they're used to the whole "corporations first" mindset.

        • by Wootery (1087023)

          There's an analogy to be made with employment law. 'Right to hire' is not an idea that gets much sympathy in Europe.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Of course they are used to it, they paid for it by funding the election campaigns of lawmakers.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Reading about the US I really like consumer protection laws in Germany. Everything is so much more consumer friendly and open. Companies have to identify themselves (i.e. have an imprint), all taxes have to be included in prices and if you buy something you have all kinds of rights (two week period to send stuff back/cancel contracts, two year warranty on physical items and such) that cannot be taken away by ToSs.

          It's such a different culture. US companies often struggle because they're used to the whole "c

          • by Brulath (2765381)

            Most of the complaints about pricing in Australia are around digital products, where there are apparently no protections outside the ability to return it if it doesn't work. That can't justify the 50-100% price increase on digital goods. You're correct that the increased price of things like e.g. Apple products is most likely due to them having to provide actual service without you paying extra, but that isn't what a lot of us are complaining about. A few years ago it was cheaper to take a flight to America

        • by Solandri (704621)

          all taxes have to be included in prices

          It's the government's fault that U.S. companies don't do that, not companies'. Most countries have a single unified tax structure. A store can set a price, and advertise that price inclusive of taxes nationwide.

          The U.S. is an amalgam of tax-governing bodies. The States can set their own sales tax. The counties can set their own sales tax. The cities can set their own sales tax. Consequently, the sales tax rate differs, sometimes from city to city. A store se

          • overall, very few products I've encountered are that shabbily made (in fact the only one I can think of was a portable DVD player made by a company which went bankrupt anyway a few months later, so I would've been out the warranty even if I'd bought it in the EU).

            Haven't bought a Toshiba have you? They have a 3 month warranty, they DMCA repair guides, you can't get parts to fix them yourself, and repairs start at over $200 then go up. When there shit breaks within 6 to 9 months it doesn't make me a happy customer.

    • by GNious (953874) on Friday August 29, 2014 @07:02AM (#47783307)

      Apple tried this in Europe - in Denmark, a government body created a letter people could print out and take to the stores to remind the company about legal requirements and rights.

    • I have a few issues with such a sentiment:

      From the article Valve's policy is "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". Whereas the assertion by ACCC 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 sale".

      I don't see a real issue here, Valve are essen

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

    At the support forum I asked for my money back, since it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run. Support refused to return my money.

    I complained so many times, the support time cost them more than the actual game cost ($10).

    Idiots.

    • Why did you stop complaining?

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

      At the support forum I asked for my money back, since it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run. Support refused to return my money.

      I complained so many times, the support time cost them more than the actual game cost ($10).

      Idiots.

      Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

        The only reason Steam even shows you titles which won't run on your platform by default is to trick you into buying them. It's intentionally deceptive.

        • by BitZtream (692029) on Friday August 29, 2014 @06:55AM (#47783269)

          It doesn't show them 'by default'. The opening page is a list of games for your platform, if you browse to a different category or search for a game, you're taking deliberate action to do so. Make sure you search for Mac games if you want to buy games for a Mac, and make sure its badged for Mac.

          Mac Steam doesn't start you in the Windows or Linux games page.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It doesn't show them 'by default'. The opening page is a list of games for your platform

            If that's true, it's new. Last time I launched Steam on Linux, which was at least well after the launch of big picture mode, the default was still to just show all titles.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

          The only reason Steam even shows you titles which won't run on your platform by default is to trick you into buying them. It's intentionally deceptive.

          I've seen this before.

          Mac User installs Steam on their home PC, then installs it on their work PC. Their home PC is a Mac and their work PC is Windows. They buy stuff on their work PC and wonder why it doesn't work at home.

          I work at a university. Glad I dont work in support any more. Those who can reach me are smart enough not to out themselves as Mac Users.

        • I think it's convenient, for my case. If I'm on my Linux machine but I'm looking at Steam's page, I'm most likely trying to buy games for my Windows machine (or one that I've read runs well under Wine). The search box ought to have an "only for my platform" checkbox/dropdown, and maybe it should warn you prior to purchase if your browser's user-agent indicates that there's a platform mismatch, but I'd much prefer being shown everything available.
        • by cas2000 (148703)

          no, it's convenient. and more secure.

          I buy *all* of my steam games from my linux machine.

          I play nearly all of them on my windows machine. I do not and will not ever use this machine for anything other than playing games - and certainly never use it for any purchases or financial transactions. neither my paypal account nor my credit card details will ever be used on this machine - windows is just too vulnerable and prone to malware to be trusted for that.

          if i couldn't see windows-only games while logged i

    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

      Quoting something from Apple's website to help you in this matter:

      Leopard is the world's most advanced operating system. So advanced, it even lets you run Windows if there's a PC application you need to use.

      They also state:

      Setup is simple and straightforward â" just as you'd expect with a Mac.

      Clearly you'r

    • To be fair it says right on the AVGN store page under System Requirements that it requires Windows. The Steam Store is a website that anyone with a browser can access, regardless of what OS they run. I wouldn't expect Newegg or Amazon, for example, to only let me buy computer hardware that is compatible with the OS I am currently browsing from.

      Though if you did it through the Steam client itself I can see the confusion... it should probably warn you at checkout in that case that you would need to own a di

  • Good, now for EA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:12AM (#47782685)

    While they're at it they need to look into EA's Origin Sales. They're charging GST on an overseas sale (origin sales are all through EA Switzerland).

  • Umm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 29, 2014 @04:42AM (#47782787)

    I'm Australian, I live in Australia, I have successfully received a refund from a game on steam before...

    Has anyone tried this recently to verify this is now the case? because I've absolutely received a refund (in steam credit, admittedly - not a cash/credit refund) for The War Z about 12 months ago.

    • Re:Umm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Barny (103770) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:31AM (#47782963) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, but they don't give you the refund because of consumer law, they give it to shut you up.

      I have gotten refunds off them in the past, and mentioned this law in the request and they stated it doesn't apply to them. I guess the ACCC think otherwise.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      I think it's that they are misleading customers as to whether they can get the refund rather than not giving the refund.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm also Australian, I live in Australia also, and believe me I can show you an email conversation between myself and Valve employees trying to get a refund that's so bloody long I could print and publish it into a book. I sent several dozen screenshots of forum posts of other people getting refunds for a game while they were refusing my own refund, I sent them screenshots of dozens upon dozens of forum posts disassembling the wall of lies they built on the requirements to receive a refund i.e. you can only

      • by AntiSol (1329733)

        I'm Australian, and I think maybe the best thing about this place is the ACCC.

        This time last year I was a super-hardcore valve fan, singing their praises and buying up pretty much every new game that came out for linux, including much of valve's catalog (which I had previously pirated). I was even thinking about trying to build a few steam boxes to sell on ebay.

        One game I bought was Fez. It didn't work properly, making it unplayable. I emailled Fez support and recieved no response.

        I emailled valve demanding

  • There appear to be a bunch of exemptions that prevent people from purchasing and frivolously returning a product. In effect, the only way that a consumer can legitimately return a product is if it doesn't reflect advertised claims or if they did not make the system requirements clear (i.e. it didn't work properly on a consumer's system because Valve did not list or listed misleading system requirements).

    On top of that, anything sold through Steam with DRM cannot be returned fraudulently (e.g. the consumer

  • I suspect that the reason steam don't offer refunds is that some many games can be completed in under 12 hours, sometimes just 4-8 hours.

    Since steam is a DRM platform I think it is up to them to use some kind of metric in conjunction with the game creators to decide whether a game has been sufficiently played as to have been 'used'. Not all games have straight forward 'completion' and even if you 'complete' a game you may only have a 50% 'completion stat'

    Steam already counts the number of hours a game has

    • by Barny (103770)

      They do refunds, but only if you push.

      What the ACCC is upset about is that they don't, as you say, offer refunds. The laws are quite clear in regards to what must be refunded/replaced. If the product is not of merchantable quality, it must be refunded. If the product breaks within the accepted lifespan, it can be refunded, repaired or replaced (this could cover things like a honorific patch for a game that is force-installed).

      And while measuring if the game runs might be one metric, it most certainly should

      • Correction to that: they do refunds, but only in one of two cases:

        1. You bought the game as a pre-order and it has not yet been released.

        2. They will occasionally do refunds as a "one-time customer support gesture".

        I've seen a lot of stuff on Steam (and other distribution services that don't allow refunds) that makes me think we need a ruling like this in the United States.

        Best recent example I can think of is a game called From Dust. From Dust had Ubisoft's always-online DRM on it, a fact that wasn't made

        • by Barny (103770)

          I got one on Brutal Legend that still advertises a version that 'Includes the full game and a copy of the Original Soundtrack!' but, when you get it, it doesn't come with the 'MASSIVE metal soundtrack from every era of metal music: 1970’s classic metal to 1980’s hair metal to the scarier cousins of 1990’s metal. And of course, Jack Black pays the ultimate homage to metal as Eddie the Roadie, continuing the theme from the work of his band, Tenacious D and his previous films like School of R

          • by AntiSol (1329733)

            Just for the record, what you got is store credit, not the refund you were entitled to.

  • by MrL0G1C (867445) on Friday August 29, 2014 @05:33AM (#47782973) Journal

    If anyone thinks

    Valve had misled consumers by saying it "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

    is bad they should remember that Valve can and does sometimes revoke accounts - that can mean the loss of dozens of games and software in one go.

    Steam being hugely convenient to consumers != Valve or DRM are always great.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      is bad they should remember that Valve can and does sometimes revoke accounts - that can mean the loss of dozens of games and software in one go.

      That sounds like an argument for stronger consumer protection laws.

  • Option #1: Valve has no physical presence in Australia, and tells the Australian government to go fuck themselves. Government responds by banning Valve from doing business in Australia. Good luck enforcing that. To the extent they do manage to enforce it, it will be taking action against Australian citizens, since they have no power over Valve.

    Option #2: Valve doubles prices in Australia. Y'all can have all the consumer protection you want, but you're going to pay for it.

    • by MrL0G1C (867445)

      Option #3 Valve gives refunds, the world doesn't end.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Come now, the internet is no place for a logical point reasonably expressed.

    • Have you any idea of the complexity of international trading laws? None of your hypothetical is possible.
    • by Nemyst (1383049)
      Prices are already doubled in Australia. Surely their long-standing ripoff prices can be used to offset the generally small amount of refunds going on?
    • by Jeeeb (1141117)

      When Valve has local (already higher than US) pricing in Australian dollars and forces people through their Australian store it is hard to argue that they don't have a business presence in Australia. Similarly when retail box games sold in Australia require Valve to be installed, it is hard to argue they don't have a local business presence.

      I'm not sure if Valve does have assets in Australian but in the event they did attempt a "runner", the logical method for enforcing the ruling would be to sue them somew

  • by AbRASiON (589899) * on Friday August 29, 2014 @08:48AM (#47783903) Journal

    but someone needs to fucking pay the god damned price for ripping us off. If you're going to charge us significantly more than other countries for DIGITAL fucking content, then we damn well better get something for it.

    Did I mention that we used to pay the same price as the states for this stuff? Until Valve and Steam got their shit together and set up regions / regional pricing and billing properly? Once they did, the publishers (most likely) told Valve "to fuck them" (for the most part the actual Valve games are priced the same as the US)

    Oh it's not just us, the UK got thoroughly fucked by this too.

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