Valve And The ACCC Are Still Going At It

The Federal Court fined Valve $3 million late last year, but the legal stoush between the Valve and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is far from over.

In an release earlier this afternoon, the ACCC announced that it had filed a cross-appeal against two findings in the case relating to statements made by Valve employees to users.

Justice Edelman ruled that Valve staff did not mislead consumers in online chats to individual consumers "in part because the consumers correctly asserted their rights under the Australian Consumer Law to Valve," the competition regulator said. The ACCC is challenging that ruling, with the Full Federal Court to hear the submission (along with Valve's appeal against the $3 million fine) at a later date.

The Australian Federal Court Has Fined Valve $3 Million

In a hearing earlier this afternoon, the Federal Court has fined Valve $3 million over breaches of Australian consumer law for their lack of an advertised refund policy on Steam from 2011 to 2014.

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"Although I have proceeded on the basis that it is possible that a consumer can be likely to be misled even if the consumer was not misled, it is apparent from the conversations as a whole that none of the three consumers was misled or likely to be misled by any of the alleged representations even if they had been made," Justice Edelman wrote in his judgement.

He later added in his conclusion that while "the conduct of Valve's Steam Support representatives in online chats did not contravene" Australian consumer law, the competition regulator "did not bring a case that the statements" shown in court by the support staff were misleading, and that "the different circumstances of other consumers seeking refunds, including particular questions asked by those consumers and answers given, might well have led to a different result".

Logs of the chats between users and the Steam support staff can be read in the judgement on the Federal Court website. The court also ordered Valve to impose a notice appearing to any user that logs into Steam or the Steam website from an Australian IP, informing them about Australian consumer rights in "at least 14 point Times New Roman" and linking to the Federal Court judgement.


Comments

    The court also ordered Valve to impose a notice appearing on that logs into Steam from an Australian IP, informing them about Australian consumer rights in "at least 14 point Times New Roman" and linking to the Federal Court judgement.

    Word missing, Alex? On... any user that logs into Steam?
    Either way, that's a pretty pointed order.

    Just read through the 2016 ruling myself - I'm baffled that the judge decided that the consumers weren't misled because they knew that Valve's statements about their rights were false.

      'The comments aren't misleading because you weren't misled,' is a bit fucked, yeah.

        That's not exactly what the judge said. He actually specifically mentioned that a consumer can likely to be misled, even if they were not misled and proceeded on that basis. He then points out that in this case however, all three consumers brought forth were not misled due to the reasons listed.

        ie. whether the consumer is misled doesn't matter with regards to what was being argued, which was statements are misleading due to x.

        It was due to x as presented by the ACCC that the judge disagreed with.

        Last edited 08/03/17 1:14 am

      Weird because the transcripts from Valave support state that Valve asserted that ACL didn't apply to digital distribution and initially refused refunds on that basis.

      Had to laugh at the guy who wanted a refund after 4 hours of X Rebirth. I don't know how you can play 4 hours of a broken game. Seems more like trying to use ACL to get out of buying a shit game.

        A broken game is not fit for purpose and therefore a refund must be offered.

          he's pointing out the fact that he played a broken game for 4 hours.

            Spending a few hours trying to get a game to work that you were psyched about is not unreasonable, especially if he was alt-tabbed out for part of that time, or using a 2nd screen to search for troubleshooting assistance.

            That said, I was barely able to tolerate X-Rebirth for 30 mins when it first came out, so kudos to him for giving it that long...

              If the game is broken (e.g. actually doesn't work) I don't know how you can spend 4 hours with it launched while troubleshooting. If the gameplay mechanics weren't good (which they aren't, it's an awful game) I can see how he spent 4 hours trying to figure it out, but that doesn't mean the game is "broken" - it just makes it a shitty game.

            yeah the return period should last for a month.... not 2h

            respect goes both ways

            especially if there is no customer support as there is with steam

            Last edited 08/03/17 8:59 am

            And I'd point out the astounding ignorance required to come to such a stupid conclusion. The timer counts down if you're just at login and potential refundable issues may only appear after a certain point in the game or after extended play sessions. These are like, a minuscule fraction of the potential issues that could take hours to eventuate. Next time, seriously consider more than ONE, single possibility. Seeing as you are a conscious being, it shouldn't be that hard, it might be for you, I don't know.

        There's an explanation in the ruling that the time was spent trying to get the game working. I don't think that's unreasonable.

          Four hours of the game running seems like a long time if it's actually broken as claimed - as opposed to "I don't like how this game plays therefore it's broken" which seems to be the go-to for Steam users these days.

          X Rebirth is awful and it was even worse on release, but from Valve's perspective four hours of a "broken" game, i.e. one that actually doesn't function, is probably a bit suspicious.

            That's, just like, your opinion, man. Seriously though, I hear what you're saying but it's not relevant. Valve's conduct would still be illegal in Australia if they refused a refund based on the time played.

              I wasn't commenting on the case as a whole - I agree that Valve's guilty. I'm just commenting that he seems to have the weakest case of those mentioned - he claims there were major bugs that would prevent him from even playing the game, but then apparently spent 6 hours (4 hours "in game" + 2 hours troubleshooting according to him) with it.

              That said, the play time may in fact matter as stated in the judgement - namely because a rejection period applies in ACL when trying to seek a remedy as sought by Mr Phillips - a time reasonable for the person to note a major failure including a time reasoanble for the product to be used (paraphrasing). The issue would be how much of that was genuine troubleshooting, or him playing the game and simply deciding it was shit (and ACL doesn't cover "I don't like this game").

              But again, I didn't comment on whether what Valve did contravened ACL. Just that it seems odd that you'd spend 4 hours in-game on something that was apparently so broken that it was unplayable.

                I had to deal with the same exact shit getting a refund for x-rebirth as that guy. At the time I wanted the game to work so I tried a ton of fixes and tweaks that were suggested this added up to about 2 and a half hours of game time before I went screw it. The game was borked and I went through the process of fighting vavle for a refund stating ACCC rights, I got it eventually but they were less than happy and said they would never honor any refund requests in the future.

            I spent near 9 hours trying to get no man's sky to work on my system, between testing, reinstalls, formats etc it added up real quick. I've tried repeatedly for a refund to no avail.

            Maybe the game promised some feature that they spent hours trying to find?

      There's a tad more finesse to it than that. The ACCC has to argue in what manner those 3 particular chats are misleading and the judge determined that they didn't qualify under the particular arguments the ACCC brought forth. Basically, the judge said while Valve breached 18(1) and 29(1) of the ACL through its SSA and refund policies, it did not breach it through comments made by its individual support reps as per the arguments made by the ACCC. Whether the chats themselves were misleading in general was not what was being argued.

      Whether the judge is correct or incorrect in how they interpreted those particular arguments will be up to the appeals court.

      Last edited 08/03/17 1:02 am

    They should also bring to light cosmetic items that no longer work as intended for lengthy periods of time and misleading items. Recently a mirana rabbit cosmetic in dota was advertised as a tiger-type animal which is now only being fixed to the advertised item.

    Last edited 07/03/17 6:21 pm

    companies (especially computer hardware parts) still try get away with returns/warranty

    I had bad experiences with PLE and PCCG

      PCCG have also given me many issues, Got everything sorted in the end but not before tons of messing around.

      Had to do a RMA with PLE recently though and it went through without issue, they where slow.. damn slow but no issues.

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