Is It Possible To Get A Refund From Steam In Australia?

Is It Possible To Get A Refund From Steam In Australia?

The short answer is it depends.

Steam does have a refund policy. It reads as follows:

As with most software products, unless required by local law, we do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client. Please review Section 3 of the Steam Subscriber Agreement for more information.

The section in bold is obviously of interest here, given that Australian consumer law does require that companies offer refunds. Valve also offers this caveat:

An exception is made for games purchased during a pre-order period if the request is received prior to the games’ release date.

In practice, it appears that results are mixed. We’ve heard accounts of Steam users receiving refunds on certain games and we’ve heard accounts of refunds being refused outright. This morning we asked readers to submit their own experiences with refunds on Steam and the responses were mixed.

Refunds are always provided if the user asks for their money back before the game is released.

In some cases Australians have been given refunds for specific games. Take Left 4 Dead 2, for example, which was heavily censored in Australia. Steam provided refunds for that.

There have, however, been moments when Valve has flat out refused to provide a refund to customers, despite having Australian legislation directly quoted.

Take this customer for example, looking for a refund on some DOTA 2 tickets:

This was the initial response:

When the user responded quoting Australian law the situation did not change.

There was a bit of back and forth on the details, another refusal to pay the refund and then this final response from Valve:

In most cases, when refunds are denied, Valve tends to use the following language:

As with most software products, we do not offer refunds or exchanges for purchases made on our website or through the Steam Client. This includes, but is not limited to, games, Early Access Games, software, gifted or traded purchases, downloadable content, subscriptions, and in-game items/currency.

When a refund was granted — in almost every case that we’ve been privy to — funds were refunded to the Steam wallet, not directly to the user’s credit card or paypal account. On many of these occasions the Steam user was informed that this was a one-time-only gesture.

But the reality is this: Steam has been providing refunds for consumers with a specific set of circumstances. According to the responses we received Steam, after some badgering would, more often than not, give consumers the refund they asked for if the product itself was faulty.

Speaking to the ACCC today, we were informed they had no end of legitimate consumer complaints where refunds were not provided. That being said, it appears as though the ACCC’s real issue is the way in which Valve allegedly misleads its customers by informing them that refunds will not be provided if the product is faulty.

“It’s the people who don’t call us that are a concern for us,” explained Rod Sims, the Chairman of the ACCC, in an interview with Kotaku Australia. “The people who think a refund isn’t available so they don’t even try, because the fact is that Australian law does allow consumers to get refunds.”

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Valve appears willing to play ball with the ACCC, so we suspect that we’ll see a slight change to Steam’s terms and conditions in the near future.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their experiences with Valve refunds.


  • The only time I’ve requested a refund was for the Alpha Protocol preorder, after Sega announced it would include DRM (securom or somesuch). They gave it to me no problems fortunately. Even got to keep the Space Siege download that was the preorder bonus for some reason.

  • Slightly off-topic guys, but could anyone tell me if Steam accepts the prepaid MasterCards from Woolworths – the single use only ones?

    Just bought a new PC that can actually play games, so I thought I’d look into this whole Steam thing… and I don’t have an actual credit card to use (thankfully).

    Appreciate it, guys.

    • I’d imagine they would, but you can also buy pre-paid cards for Steam specifically. Don’t know if woolies would stock them but more tech-oriented places like EB or JB Hi Fi should.

    • I was in EB the other day and they actually now sell $20 & $50 cards with steam wallet credit, that might well be an avenue worth exploring unless you want to deal in specific amounts.

      As far as I know the steam wallet credit doesn’t expire but then steam has giant sales at least twice a year so I don’t imagine anyone has ever had credit in their account long enough to find out.

      • Yep. They sell them for a little bit more than their value to cover for the exchange rate because the cards are in US dollars. Last time I bought them they were selling $50 cards for $55.

      • Hey, guys!

        I knew about the existence of prepaid steam wallet credit… things. However, I thought they were only available in the States. So, this is great news! Thanks!

        They can join in with my Nintendo eShop cards, my PSN cards, Microsoft Store, Kobo, iTunes… you get the idea.

        So, thanks again everyone. You’ve been most helpful!

        • Yeah I thought the steam cards were only in America myself until I saw them the other day. Not the kind of thing I’d use too often but nice to see the option

    • Hey Raven

      Just a little heads up, you don’t need a literal credit card to use a “credit card” online. You might know this already, you might not, but you can get a “debit card” from your bank. They’re like the love child of an ATM card and a Credit Card. You can use them online (mine says Visa), but they don’t have any credit on them. They’re tied directly to your funds like an ATM Card, so you can’t overdraw your account

      Wasn’t sure if you were aware or not, but I figured I may as well post this. I don’t know if the reason you don’t have one is because you don’t want to have Credit that you can go into debt for or because you mostly stick to Cash, but if it’s the first, you don’t need to have Credit for online shopping

      • Thanks Gareth, however I do know and I do indeed have a debit card (although it isn’t actually a MasterCard or Visa and can’t be used online). Even if I did have one, I’d still rather use a prepaid card or a Steam Wallet Credit… Thing. I’m slightly paranoid, you see.

        Thanks again, though.

        • Hey Raven, just so you know, you can actually get 2 accounts, normal savings, which will work with an eftpos card, and a debit account, which will work like a normal account, but work via the “credit” on a different debit card.

          I’m also a bit paranoid, so I have the 2 accounts seperated and 2 different cards. This means I can just transfer around the exact ammount (via internet banking or the app) in when I want to use the “debit” card (online visa/mastercard) and it cant be overdrawn etc and there is no chance of them getting my other money in the other account.

          • I already have two accounts!

            I have absolutely no desire for a third, and it’s probably better I don’t have one set up that I’m comfortable with using for online purchases. I’d just spend way too much money.

            Thanks, though.

          • You can get rechargeable debit cards from the post office and other sources that you pay the money onto, then can use online. Until recently, that was the way I went about doing online purchases. Just make sure you read the limitations for the various cards before you do buy them however, and be aware those conditions can change drastically with little notice

    • Yeah they do. I’ve used them in the past, they work fine. But as Alias Alpha said, EB now sell Steam credit, that’s the easiest way. The prepaid debit cards in my opinion are a pain in the arse to set up first time and if you don’t have drivers license and such they’re impossible to set up in your name.

    • I am about 95% certain they work fine for purchases made on steam. All the relevant information is there (expiry ccv etc). As to the steam cards, I haven’t seen them in my store specifically but we do stock a fair variety of tech oriented gift cards/credits like M$, PSN, League of Legends, a few MMOs and the usual google play/facebook/apple itunes/app store and so on. I work in a much smaller store though, maybe some of the larger stores stock steam credit? would have to look into it.

      *edit Woolworths employee here

    • Go to your bank and ask for a Debit card. Functions exactly like a credit card in all situations except you are using your own money.

  • I agree, the problem is that they imply very heavily that there are no refunds, so the average Joe wouldn’t even know that they are entitled to one under the law, so wouldn’t try to get one.

    • Aye, a lot of people don’t seem to realise how powerful our consumer laws are and that no T&C’s can override them.

      • Indeed. It’s quite funny, what people think they know vs what the reality is is quite different. It’s amazing how powerful your actual rights are.

      • I learned a lot about them before I bought my macbook bc I wasn’t sure if I should get apple care or whatever. But ACL covers everything that paying additional for extended warranties covers (ie. “1 year is not considered ‘reasonable’ limit for warranty”), so I don’t think I’ll ever waste money on that stuff again.

    • It’s a bit tight if they’re going to charge an Australia tax without giving Australian benefits. If they want us to give our benefits up, give us US pricing.

      • Completely agree with this. Their excuse for charging more to Australians is that it costs more to do business here, and yet when a clear example of this comes up they flat out refuse. I think its great they are being sued, and I hope the penalty is severe.

  • Valve will play along admit to their mistakes say ‘their sorry’ make some minor improvements and the ACCC will never sue them again. This is how big companies behave and its off putting that Valve will admit their fault make some changes but still have a crappy refund system. I’m disappointed with Valve. Trying to be the company for gamers they could at least have a better refund system but it sucks and last year October November I do believe they were very much talking the notion of ‘improving offline mode’ and a year has nearly passed and they have done nothing about it. Good job for that announcement which is a failure of long term announcements that fail, Valve are good at that. Al

    Valve change your name to Strattan Oakmont and go into stockbroking because all you do is release shitty titles onto Steam and get a commission for it which all you seem to be doing is spending that money on Jordan Belfort’s lifestyle. For a company that strongly believes in having quality for video games there is some pieces of shit on the store that pass the Quality Control and make it onto the store and scam peoples money. It ain’t breaking the law but you are breaking ethics and ruining the industry. Bravo.

  • When I preordered L4D2 Before they announced the AU version was censored I preordered dragon age in the same transaction. they apparently couldn’t only refund l4d2 on its own so they refunded both and I had to re-preorder dragon age.

  • I got a refund from them once, for a released game. When Ubisoft released that populous-style game on PC a while back, I forget the name of it – they promised leading up to it that it wouldn’t have online activation DRM. When it released, it did.

    The trick was that I hadn’t actually installed & played the game at all. I immediately contacted Valve and asked for a refund without actually touching the game itself. Apparently that makes a difference. But also I think Ubisoft had allowed them to refund people specifically in that case.

    • that really would make a difference though because if you had played the game, in Valve’s (and any other retailer’s) eyes there’s a good chance that you bought something knowing full well what it is. Then you got buyer’s remorse because you didn’t like the game and then asked for a refund. Which is different from buying something because you misunderstood or was mislead to believe that it is something else.

    • The two cases where I’ve received refunds, the games were in ‘inventory’, not ‘account’. I’d purchased them for friends because the titles had appeared on their wishlists, but on receiving the game, they advised me they’d already purchased the titles themselves, and the wishlist hadn’t updated. That’s pretty much how I put it to Valve each time, and I received refunds within 24hrs, no further questions asked.

      I installed and played Towns, one of the first Greenlight successes/failures and asked for a refund when it became clear that the game was identical to the Alpha version they had hosted elsewhere, with many features missing, and show-stopping bugs all over the place. I got told twice that there would be no refund. First time I asked, they gave a spiel about how the developers were working hard to fix the bugs and implement improvements. They never did take down the doctored screenshots of things not actually achievable in the game, though. And they never did finish fixing the game either, officially writing it off.

      • Yeah, that second case is exactly the sort of thing that our consumer laws should let you get a refund on.

    • Valve offered me a refund on From Dust due to the DRM and also due to the fact that the mouse control wasn’t true mouse control, but controller emulation.

      I declined as I wanted to play the game (though it was difficult to play with the mouse).

      Except when I wanted a refund on X-Rebirth because the product was different from the one advertised, I had to complain for a whole month before getting a steam credit ‘refund’.

      I had several tickets closed stating “no refunds” before I was successful which gave me plenty of time to stir up a shitstorm online.
      Several others were also successful, but most people were not because they were under the false assumption: “valve does not give refunds” that is perpetuated by valve staff.

  • A while back I bought Chivalry on Steam. I managed to get a refund on that because:
    a) it was broken garbage (at the time?)
    b) it was an early access game

    They initially denied the request, citing reasons they could offer refunds. I sent something back along the lines of: Game doesn’t run, it’s also early access/preorder.

  • I got a refund for RAGE when I bought it in a Steam sale on my phone I think it was where the price said $9.99 but when I looked at the receipt I was charged $30.

    Basically, refunds are possible, but only for things that’re Valve’s fault. You can’t really have a faulty product on Steam unless it’s ridiculously buggy and I’m pretty sure the terms and conditions of each purchase puts it on you to ensure your computer can handle each game

  • I tried to get a refund in the 2012 Christmas Sales for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Future Soldier, which failed to run, because of that god awful UPlay software and was told go deal with the publisher, who in turn told me to deal with Steam.

    In the end, I gave up because neither of them we’re going to help.

  • It gets messier when you bought a steam key through an external site. If you redeemed the key there is buck passing about who should issue the refund.

  • I’d like to get credit for purchases for software that refuses to work and no mention is made for incompatibilty. Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2 and Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII spring to mind.

  • I’ve not had a problem with Steam so far – but I should think that if I wanted a refund – that I would be able to get one.

  • Only got a refund on Sword of the Stars 2 because it was a buggy mess, because the developer said they would give refunds after weeks of denying it and only as a one time thing

  • A couple years ago when I bought “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier”, I asked for a refund because the Steam Version could not play multiplayer with the Retail Uplay version so I couldn’t play with my friends. I wrote out a page long detailed message to Steam advising that I bought the game for multiplayer purposes (which is true). I also found that the game was a terrible port from console to PC (typical of Ubisoft) and also ran a different client version between Steam and Retail.

    Steam pretty much told me they wouldn’t refund the game at all, not even as Steam Credit and still to this day I have 2 hours of played time on the game which is 2 hours of sitting at the multiplayer menu screen trying to get the damn thing to work.

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