Last week the ACCC announced it would be taking legal action against Valve as a result of its refund policy, which allegedly goes against Australian Consumer Law. Today Kotaku acquired the application papers for the lawsuit, which include a list of the ACCC’s demands should its legal action against Valve be successful.
The ACCC is asking that Valve:
• Provide an email address that specifically deals with refunds as per Australian Consumer law.
• Provide a 1800 number to help consumers address any refund issues.
• Provide a PO Box address for consumers to deal with refunds.
• Appoint representatives (the ACCC refer to this person as a contact officer) to reply to consumers regarding refunds.
If the ACCC is successful, Valve will have to implement these changes within 30 days of the court order.
The ACCC is asking that, through these new avenues, each consumer be addressed and dealt with in accordance to their statutory rights as per Australian Consumer Law.
Interestingly, the ACCC wants Valve to appoint an independent auditor to review its consumer redress policy within 180 days of any potential court order. This person cannot be an employee or have any interests in Valve. This person cannot have been involved in the creator of the consumer redress policy. This independent auditor will then have to send a report to the ACCC informing them of how many consumers attempted to get a refund and how many were successful or unsuccessful and the reasons why.
In a separate statement, Valve has already informed us that it plans to co-operate on the issue. “We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter,” said Doug Lombardi. So it appears possible the ACCC will get what it wants in this case.
The Statement of Claim provides a fair amount of insight into the ACCC’s reasons for taking legal action against Valve, and focuses its case on three separate interactions between consumers and Valve. The first surrounded a consumer’s purchase of five games (Dear Esther, NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits, Plants vs. Zombies, Anna and 30 Flights of Loving) all of which were unplayable. After three months of back-and-forth contact, the consumer was told that Valve was “unable to assist [the person] further with this issue”. This is consistent with the experience of Kotaku Australia readers dealing with similar issues.
A second consumer named had a similar situation with Legends of Dawn, and was told that the Australian Consumer Law he was citing did not apply to “digital distributions, electronic games, or downloadable content” which, according to the ACCC, is false.
A third person managed to get a refund for X-Rebirth after a three week period of back-and-forth, but was told this was a “one time exception to Valve’s policy. “Please note in the future,” the consumer was told, “that Steam Purchases, per the Steam Subscriber Agreement, are not refundable.”
First directions is set for September 16 at the Federal Court of Australia.