Australian Court Has Final Say About Valve Misleading Gamers, Steam Appeal Denied

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission filed a suit against Valve back in 2014 that shown a pretty glaring spotlight on the gaming client's refund policy. According to the original lawsuit, Valve's policy directly violated the Australian consumer protection laws. They later won the case, but Valve filed an appeal to counter the 2.3 million dollar suit - but ultimately, the appeal was shut down.

The ACC had this to say in a recently released statement:

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia has today dismissed an appeal by Valve Corporation (Valve) against a ruling that it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and made false or misleading representations about consumer guarantees. Valve’s appeal against a $3 million penalty was also dismissed.

Valve is one of the world’s largest online video game retailers and operates the Steam distribution platform. In 2016, the Federal Court ruled that the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) applied to the company, which is based in the United States, and ordered Valve to pay a $3 million penalty.

“The Full Court found Valve carried on business in Australia, and was therefore bound by the Australian Consumer Law in its dealings with customers here,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“The Full Court also upheld the finding that Valve made misleading representations about consumer guarantees and that certain terms and conditions in the Steam subscriber agreements and refund policies were false or misleading.”

“This case sets an important precedent that overseas-based companies that sell to Australians must abide by our law. All goods come with automatic consumer guarantees that they are of acceptable quality and fit for the purpose for which they were sold, even if the business is based overseas,” Mr Sims said.

The ACCC’s cross appeal was dismissed in relation to representations made by Valve in online chats to individual consumers. The trial judge had previously found that these representations were not misleading, in part because the consumers had asserted their ACL rights, and were therefore not likely to be misled.

After all was said and done with the initial lawsuit, Steam then implemented a refined refund system back in 2015 that tackled many of the concerns that previously resulted in the court's action. Though 2.3 million sounds like a lot, Valve will be more than OK with that amount of change missing from their banks. Hopefully when the dust settles, this particular gaming community will be better for it.