​Valve hit with legal action in Australia over misleading consumers

Valve will face Australia's Federal Court over claims it misled customers about refunds and guarantees on Steam games.

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Valve, the owner of online gaming platform Steam, is facing legal action in the Federal Court of Australia for misleading Australian customers over refunds, warranties and consumer guarantees.

The action relates to Valve's alleged contravention of the Australian Consumer Law -- a range of protections that govern consumer contracts, rights when buying goods and services, and product safety.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the federal agency responsible for enforcing the ACL, has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, alleging that "Valve made false or misleading representations regarding the application of the consumer guarantees".

According to the ACCC, Valve misled Australian Steam customers on a number of fronts, including claiming that "consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances".

The ACCC also alleges Valve mistakenly claimed it was under no obligation to replace or refund games if affected customers hadn't contacted the particular game developer about their problems, and that consumer guarantees did not apply to the games it sold via Steam.

Speaking about the legal action, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said guarantees in Australia's Consumer Law could not be changed, regardless of where the company was based.

"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," said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

"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."

Valve's vice president of marketing Doug Lombardi told CNET the company was "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".

The matter is set for a first directions hearing in Sydney on October 7, 2014.

 

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