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ACCC Sues Valve

Discussion in 'General Software' started by Melvis, Aug 29, 2014.

  1. Melvis

    Melvis

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    Not sure if this has been posted yet, if so moderators can delete, otherwise enjoy!

    The Australian consumer watchdog is suing the US company behind the wildly popular online video games distribution platform Steam, alleging it misled Australian consumers about their rights and refused to give refunds.

    In court documents filed on Thursday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges that Valve, the maker of Steam, which has over 65 million users worldwide, made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam.

    Among many allegations, the consumer watchdog said that Valve claimed that Australian consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam under any circumstances. The watchdog also alleges that Valve excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality.

    Three Australian individuals are mentioned in court documents who experienced issues with Valve.

    On its website Valve states that, unless required by local law, it does "not offer refunds or exchanges" on games.

    It's unclear whether Valve will reject the court action as it doesn't have offices in Australia. But the ACCC firmly believes it can sue the company, and is currently suing other non-Australian companies, such as Visa and its related entities.

    "The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia. 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," ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

    "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 sales. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault," Mr Sims added.

    "The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified," Mr Sims said.

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    "We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter," Valve spokesman Doug Lombardi reportedly told games publication Kotaku.

    Comment has been sought from Valve by Fairfax Media but it is yet to respond.

    The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, disclosure orders, adverse publicity orders, non-party consumer redress, a compliance program order and costs.

    The matter has been filed in the Federal Court's Sydney Registry. A date for the first directions hearing is set for 7 October 2014 at the Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Jagot.

    In 2013, Steam was estimated to have been the source of 75 per cent of all online video game purchases on PC.

    Source:
    http://www.centralwesterndaily.com.au/story/2523045/accc-sues-us-video-games-giant-valve/?cs=36
     
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  2. cheesy999

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    Sounds fair enough

    If someone orders a computer and it won't start they'd expect a refund so if they order a game and it doesn't start I don't see why the same shouldn't apply
     
  3. Steevo

    Steevo

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    I wish we could get steam refunds after I find games like Rayman Raving Rabbids by Ubishit, sold for PC as a broken game. Refunds? nope.


    So how do we punish developers who make shitty game ports if not by refunds and returns?
     
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  4. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Someone didn't read the Steam Subscriber Agreement:
    This is digital, not physical. There is literally no resale value because you forfeit your right to resale the moment you transfer funds for a digital good.


    By boycott.
     
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  5. OneMoar

    OneMoar

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    this has been valves long standing policy and its CLEARLY STATED multiple times in the EULA its a entirely correct policy to prevent abuse on the platform because ages's ago before that policy was in-place people where buying games on steam copying down the cd-key and then requesting a refund now this is mostly the fault of 3d partys NOT valve not using steams own keygen API
    ACCC has no case and they know it
    edit: basically everything fordgt said ..
    steam isn't a developer they are a distribution platform complaining about ubishit's total failure as a studio would be like complaining to the car dealer that the car you bought caught on fire
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  6. cheesy999

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    If the car caught fire due to a product fault the dealer is most likely the first person you'd talk to
     
  7. OneMoar

    OneMoar

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    at the end of the day it is YOUR job as a consumer todo your research before purchasing ANY product
     
  8. Melvis

    Melvis

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    It makes no difference here in Australia, regardless of who or where it was made etc the seller MUST rectify the problem as its law here in AUS. eg. If you bought a gigabyte GPU from a computer store online or local and it was faulty or fails at anytime in its warranty period or within an acceptable time frame, the place where you bought it from MUST replace or give you your money back, because it is law here in Australia. I know its different for you guys in other countries but here its law. We dont have to take it back or complain to the manufacture of where it came from (we can if we want to) but law states here in AUS that the seller has to fix the issue. So yes they do have a case as they have broken the law in this country but will it make it through the court system is another matter.
     
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  9. OneMoar

    OneMoar

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    you are also talking about a NON physical purchase witch changes the game quiet a lot
     
  10. Melvis

    Melvis

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    Makes no difference, a purchase is a purchase regardless if its physical or not, it is money that has been exchanged for a product, just how it works here in Australia. I get what you mean and all but I dont write the laws. Only time will tell I guess.
     
  11. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Actually, a Steam sells services, not products. By buying a game on Steam, you are subscribing to their service which will grant you access to said game. If your account is terminated for whatever reason, you lose access to said game. That's why it is a "subscriber" agreement, not a typical license agreement. With Steam (and most subscription-based digital services), you do not have license to the services you are buying.

    There are consumer protection laws in the USA too but they generally don't extend to subscription services because it is your right to simply unsubscribe (in the case of Steam, not buy more).


    An example of a non-subscription service that does allow refunds is MP3 downloads (for example, on Amazon). They simply remove your access to the song so you can't download it again unless you repurchase. The MP3 will still work. Steam, on the other hand, has the capability to break (for lack of a better term) the game so you can no longer legally run it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  12. Melvis

    Melvis

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    The key word you just said is "sells" at any point in time if a product was sold through or by someone (steam) the law states that they are responsible for any issues belonging to that product even if there just a "service" still makes no difference as you must go through that service for the product to actually work. If the actual product can work without the use of steam (and yes there are many that can but alot cannot) then there wouldn't be as many issues, but that seems to be getting less and less?

    It is indeed a grey area and an interesting topic and it will be interesting if anything changes in the future.
     
  13. OneMoar

    OneMoar

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    for titles that strictly ad-hear to the steam_api its within valves power to remove a game from a account and if you know your way around the steam support you can in special cases, get a refund.
    the problem is that many titles have there own key-system that is outside valves power to deactivate said key if you want a refund example.
    (crysis,battlefield,watch dogs) or anything that isn't steamworks.

    you could in theory get a key though steam request a refund and then go and take said key and play online with it using a pirated copy this is EXACTLY why this is valves policy Is what it is and its a policy ENDORSED by the likes of EA and ubisoft
     
  14. Melvis

    Melvis

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    Yeah I understand that and that im sure will be brought up in court and talked about alot as that is indeed a big concern for the market. Maybe they might have to bring up a new way so that sorta thing doesn't happen? and so people can get refunds for games that do not work or whatever the case may be, who knows, its up the the court system and valve and the developers to sort out this debate.
     
  15. cadaveca

    cadaveca My name is Dave

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    American trying to argue Austrailian law =fail. ROFL. Laws from country to country are different.
     
  16. OneMoar

    OneMoar

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    the flipside of that is Australian law trying to be a applied to a american company with no physical presence in Australia for valve to make it feasible to ~comply~ with the law down under it would require co-cooperation on the part of people like EA and ubisoft ect ect.

    more then likely if a ruling goes against valve. valve will simply take there ball and go home or option number two: they will comply but cripple the library in the process removing any title they can't deactivate remotely

    and the Australians can go back to riding a kangaroo to a store to buy a physical copy that would suck I hear the aussie choice of entertaining media is pretty slim..

    the "No returns" on software bit has been around since the introduction of "cd keys" and if you check nobody is complaining about not being able to return there copy of Microsoft Widows after installing it and realizing there pc ran slower ... on windows 8.1 then windows xp :roll: if somebody from Australia can confirm that you can buy a copy of windows in a store and then take it back the next day for a full refund ... I will be impressed
    neither valve or steam are perfect by any means but its the best we have at the moment ...
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
  17. Melvis

    Melvis

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    We Australians actually prefer a physical copy of a digital copy, I know I do :) I actually like having a box etc then a digital download and sometimes the price is cheaper to get the physical copy over the digital one as we get screwed over by the pricing on steam with alot of new titles.

    And yes you can take it back the next day for a full refund if you buy Windows. But im not 100% if you can if you have activated the product, if the product was unopened then you can no issues at all get a refund.
     
  18. AphexDreamer

    AphexDreamer

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    If they do end up allowing refunds in Australia how do you think the rest of the world would react? I would like to have refund rights as well.
     
  19. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Valve's product is Steam. Did Steam fail to deliver the service to you? If yes, you may be entitled to a refund by Valve. If no, your only course of recompense is to complain to the publisher who really has no legal obligation to do anything but may be compelled to do something if you threaten them with lawsuit or Better Business Bureau complaint.

    Then again, legal battles have been lost of more clear cut things like that class action lawsuit against Seagate measuring hard drive capacity in GBs and correctly labeling them as GB.


    Not so much EA anymore because they're pushing Origin hard. Origin is also a subscription service and they do have a refund policy on some games which is on the condition that it is removed from your subscription.


    That's different. Physical medium carrying a digital product implies license, not subscription. The license could require you use a subscription like Steam or Origin though (see Saints Row 2, SimCity, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4).

    It's publishers that set the price and they often don't take into consideration other currencies. Valve does as they are told.


    Valve will add a footnote in the Steam Subscription Agreement for Australia. No change for the rest of the world.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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  20. Steevo

    Steevo

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    Irregardless of it being a digital download and not a physical object, they want to treat it like a physical object, except when ti comes to refunds. They are selling a known broken product as working in this case. So perhaps this is more of a bait and switch tactic, or false advertising. If I go make a car for example, and offer it for sale, lemon laws prevent me from refusing a return or refund. Now lets apply this to a game, if I make a game and offer it for sale, lemon laws should prevent me from refusing a refund or return if it doesn't work.

    And Boycott only works once enough people have been screwed over. It does nothing to protect anyone from the initial purchase, and known unadvertised defects.
     
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  21. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    Just because Wal-Mart is unknowingly selling a broken product doesn't mean you can sue Wal-Mart for it. You sue the entities that made the broken product (after trying all other means to rectify the problem). I see no explicit titles ACCC has named. It is not clear ACCC has even been damaged by Valve. In US court, therefore, ACCC has no standing and cannot bring the case to court. ACCC would have to find people that have standing by having been damaged by Valve (allegedly) and sponsor their case(s).

    Just because you jumped off a proverbial cliff doesn't mean anyone made you do it. How can anyone be held culpable for your poor decision? If people bought a game because a feature was advertised that isn't present, open a false advertising lawsuit against the developer/publisher. Suing Valve accomplishes nothing unless it was one of Valve's titles.
     
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  22. arbiter

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    What i think, is if court finds in favor of ACCC then it would probably hurt Australia in terms of how valve does their business there in the future.

    who knows what courts will decide, steam is pretty clear in their agreement about "NO REFUNDS" not sure how that is "misled"

    Valve can't be held at fault for a publisher screwing up their game.
     
  23. Steevo

    Steevo

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    Who said anything about suing, only you, I didn't.

    I said it is like bait and switch, or false advertising.

    I mentioned Steam, not valve.

    I want a refund or a fix.

    When i buy something at Wal-Mart and its broke I return it to.......bum bum bum.... Wal-Mart. SAme with Newegg, Best Buy, Target, and every other store I know of, including the one I work in, a custoemrs hardware breaks or has a software issue, I go fix it, not Trimble or CNH, or they return it for a refund to us, or we supply a modified and approved part to remedy the situation. I can tell you all about eh 750+ pages of the dealer operating guide, of which at least two hundred pages deal with warranty issues, returns and refunds. All taken care of at the dealer/retail level.
     
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  24. Melvis

    Melvis

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    Yes in this case Steam has failed to deliver as the games are bought through them, regardless if its a developers fault or not the product is still bought through steam, there fore they are the ones that have to fix the issue, thats how the law works here in Australia, again you can go straight to the sauce but the law here states that the seller (steam in this case) are the ones that have to fix the issue. Also if Steam takes any money at all from the sale of the game (and im sure they do) then they are responsible just as much as the developers to fix the issue.

    Again it makes no difference if its physical or not, money is money and the out come is still exactly the same regardless how its delivered. If money is exchanged then the law applies. Why should it be any different if one is physical and one isnt? the game is still going to operate the same way, and in this case the game or games didnt deliver for the money that was exchanged therefore a faulty product and its up to the store/steam to fix/refund the item.

    THats different and I agree that it is up to the publisher to set the price for games sold here in Aus compared to other countries. There has already been inquiries into this and the answer the developers gave to us was, we can. Pretty rude if you ask me. Nothing we can do about it as it seems we Australians will always pay more for games because..... we can, stupid!
     
  25. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    ACCC

    Steam is a service of Valve.

    Wal-Mart isn't a subscription service, Steam is. Like I said, the closest equivalent would be a movie you didn't like you watched on Netflix. Netflix wouldn't refund your subscription just because there was a product on their service you didn't like. They would simply advise you to steer clear of it.

    Physical versus virtual goods. Completely different.


    Valve cannot fix broken games (unless it is theirs). Publisher: developers don't deal with distributors (like Steam) unless it is self-published.

    Because digital goods are infinite. There is virtually no cost to reproduce it and forgeries are just as easy to produce. It is about selling access to intellectual property and not something tangible. That's why virtually all countries distinguish between tangible and intangible goods.

    Define "faulty." Games, music, movies, etc. are all considered works of art. A game can be, therefore, be "faulty" by design. If Microsoft Word had something designed in a way you didn't like, is that "faulty?" All software is not without "faults." Where do you draw the line between something that is truly broken and something that is merely buggy? I, and most countries, say law cannot define that; the courts must on a case-by-case basis and usually on the premise of more concrete consumer protection law like false advertising. Because ACCC isn't bringing forward a specific case nor can they prove they were damaged, this rabbit hole leads nowhere.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2014
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