The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission sued Valve back in the summer of 2014 on the grounds of not offering Australian users a proper and convenient avenue to get digital refunds for their purchases, as per the standards of their consumer laws. The ACCC won the lawsuit and updated consumers about the court finding Valve in fault of not allowing users to get refunds through Steam.
Shortly after the original lawsuit, however, Valve did implement a limited refund policy. However, that wasn’t good enough for the Australian court, especially after they queried Valve about their policies and why they didn’t implement the refund policy when they opened up shop in the land down under. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Valve’s general counsel had explained that they didn’t bother checking Australian law regarding consumer standards.
According to Justice Edelman, the judge presiding over the case, he stated…
“Valve is a United States company with 2.2 million Australian accounts which received 21,124 tickets in the relevant period containing the word “refund” from consumers with Australian IP addresses,”
“Yet it had a culture by which it formed a view without Australian legal advice that it was not subject to Australian law, and it was content to proceed to trade with Australian consumers without that advice and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with Australian law the advice might have been ignored.”
I’m a big fan of Valve, but they were dead to rights here. Edelman was spot on here.
Due to the negligence in considering the consumer laws in Australia, and the fact that Valve tried to undercut their own penalties by offering to pay only $250,000. Edelman decided to multiply the penalty by 12 times the normal amount for committing a consumer law violation. They decided on charging Valve $3 million.
The ACCC suing Valve was actually a darn righteous thing because it actually opened up refunds for other gamers in other regions outside of Australia. So in this one rare case, the country known for censoring and getting games banned at the drop of a dime, actually did something useful for once that helped gamers in the long run. So thank you, Australia.
(Main image courtesy of MasterLegoDude)