In September 2014 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it was pursuing legal action against Valve concerning its lack of a refund policy on Steam. As of this month Steam now has a refund policy, but that hasn't stopped the ACCC from taking Valve to court.
The ACCC's issue was this: Valve's lack of a refund policy went directly against Australian consumer law, which demands that sellers be responsible for refunding consumers if they were sold a faulty product.
Back in September we uncovered the ACCC's specific demands:
• 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.
We contacted the ACCC to ask whether or not Valve's refund policy adequately addressed their concerns. The declined to comment officially, but did inform us that legal action is ongoing. A number of preliminary hearings have taken place since the ACCC announced its legal action, but very little has moved forward. The ACCC informed us another hearing is set to take place on July 28 in the Australian Federal Court.
Why continue to pursue legal action? Well it's complicated. It's extremely possible that Valve's refund policy, however generous, still doesn't meet the expectations of Australian consumer law on some level. It's also possible that Valve's refund policy doesn't fully acquiesce to the ACCC's demands.
It'll be interesting to see where this heads in the wake of Steam's new policy. Hopefully we'll learn more after the upcoming hearing.