Back in August 2014 the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced it was suing Valve for making "false or misleading representations to Australian customers". Since then, the case have been postponed for a number of reasons. Now we finally have an official date: proceedings will be heard between March 7 and March 9.
Back in October last year we reported that the case would most likely be heard in March of this year, but we've only just received confirmation of the specific date. The initial delay was a result of sickness. Valve was planning to send over two witnesses from the US to talk on Valve's behalf, but apparently the witnesses were sick. That was the initial reason for the delay, but now we finally have a date.
The ACCC's issue is with Steam's lack of a refund policy which was, according the ACCC, in breach of Australian consumer law.
The ACCC is demanding the following from 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.
For its part, Valve's defence is mainly centred around the fact it doesn't officially do business in Australia.
Valve Corporation does not admit that it carried on business in Australia although it admits that it has made available to Australian Consumers online access to use video games through Steam Client pursuant to the terms of a Steam Subscriber Agreement
Valve Corporation denies that it supplied “goods” within the meaning of “consumer goods” in s 2(1) of the Australian Consumer Law. It says that it supplied “online access to video games via a subscription service”. It says that this is a “service” within s 2(1) of the Australian Consumer Law so that the consumer guarantee of acceptable quality in s 54 does not apply.
The elephant in the room here is this: Valve has implemented a refund policy in the wake of the ACCC's legal action. It'll be interesting to see how that affects proceedings, if at all. It's possible that Valve's refund policy is still in breach of consumer law. Ultimately it will be up to the courts to decide.