Steam refunds - Australia


#1

So here’s an update from Valve posted on Steam today.


On 24 March 2016, the Federal Court of Australia found that Valve Corporation had engaged in misleading conduct contrary to the Australian Consumer Law in representing to Australian consumers via the Steam Subscriber Agreement and Steam Refund Policy that consumers had no entitlement to a refund in any circumstances and that Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees of acceptable quality. A link to the Federal Court judgment appears here:

http://www.judgments.fedcourt.gov.au/judgments/Judgments/fca/single/2016/2016fca0196

When you buy video games from Valve Corporation as a consumer located in Australia, the video games come with guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law that cannot be excluded, including a guarantee that the video games are of acceptable quality. You are entitled to a replacement or refund from the retail supplier of the video games for a major failure and for compensation for any other reasonably foreseeable loss or damage. You are also entitled to have the video games repaired or replaced by the retail supplier of the video games if the video games fail to be of acceptable quality and the failure does not amount to a major failure. Certain other rights are available directly against manufacturers that cannot be excluded or limited.

The test for acceptable quality is whether a reasonable consumer, fully aware of the state and condition of the video games, would find them:

  • safe, durable and free from defects;
  • acceptable in appearance and finish; and
  • fit for all the purposes for which video games of that kind are commonly supplied. This must take into account the nature and price of the video games, and any statements on packaging or labelling.

For further information on consumer rights in Australia, visit www.consumerlaw.gov.au and www.accc.gov.au/consumerguarantees.


Now I’m no fancypants Newdonk city videogame lawyer, but it seems to me the official text of Valves changed policy on refunds may be broader than is widely known…?


#2

It’s super broad, but without any case law or judicially accepted tests for being fit for purpose or free from defects for digitally-distributed videogames, it’s hard to say how the Consumer and Competition Act will add extra obligations to Valve’s existing refund policy. I have no idea whether there are any cases pertaining to consumer software that could be applicable in determining what constitutes “defect free.” Lord fucking knows how you’d ascertain a creative work’s fitness for purpose. The rule of thumb is the “reasonable person” test and that rules the majority of steam reviewers out.


#3

Not just Australia:

Englishified coverage: