Steam's Australian Consumer Rights Notice Disappears From Front Page, ACCC Investigates [Update]

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Earlier this year, after a long and protracted legal battle, Valve began displaying a consumer rights notice on the front page of Steam. The notice started appearing in late April, and under the court's ruling, was supposed to be displayed to Australian users for a period of 12 months.

But when the Steam Summer Sales kicked off, that notice disappeared.

In a statement to Kotaku, a spokesperson for the ACCC confirmed that they were "making inquiries" into the missing notice. "The Federal Court ordered Valve to display a Consumer Rights Notice on the home page of their Steam website for 12 months," the spokesperson said.

"This order came into effect in April 2018 when the High Court dismissed Valve’s application for special leave to appeal."

In his original ruling, Justice Edelman ruled that the consumer rights notice should be displayed on the front page of Steam's website, and the Steam client:

For a period of 12 months after 20 February 2017, for the benefit of Australian Consumers logging onto the Steam Website from a computer with an Australian IP address (based on the IP look up table available to the Respondent current at the consumer’s login), the respondent will publish on the home page of the Steam Website a link, in a typeface of at least 14 point Times New Roman, reading “IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT CONSUMER RIGHTS IN AUSTRALIA”, which directs them to a notice in the terms set out in Annexure A1 (“Consumer Rights Notice”).

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.

Read more

The consumer notice page is still live on the Steam website, but at the time of writing I could not find any link on the front page pointing consumers to it. I've contacted Valve for comment, asking what happened and whether the notice will be reinstated, and I'll let you know as soon as I know more.

Update 6/07: Now that the Steam sales have concluded, the consumer rights notice is back on the front page:

There still hasn't been word as to why the notice was taken from the front page during the sales period, despite the court order. I've also contacted the ACCC again asking what the status of their enquiries is, and I'll let you know how that goes.


Comments

    Valve vs ACCC Round 2?

      It would have to be sorted in the second one. We all know Valve doesn't do 3s

        This would be round 3... the Federal Court case was 1, and the Appeal was round 2. So they have to stop it before it gets to court.

      It's well past round 2 at this point lol.

      Why do Valve continue to be dicks about this?

        Same reason as the cigarette companies fighting our plain packaging laws, I assume. Contain the infection, don't let anyone else get any ideas. An all-out life-or-death fight for every fucking inch of lost ground. Can’t let consumer rights and consumer protections gain momentum.

          The gov just won in the WTO, so now it's easier for other countries to follow suit.

            Right. After seven years of legal combat. It's only easier for other countries now. Not when we first made plain packaging law and smaller countries got intimidated out of following our lead.

            That's seven years of higher profits, baby. Legals did their job trying to jam the brakes on progress.

              So what? Something was hard so we shouldn't have bothered?

                No, we were absolutely right to fight that fight.

                The point is going back to the original question I answered: why doesn't Valve just give up and accept defeat? Same reason cigarette companies didn't lie back and accept defeat when we legislated against them. So they could drag it out, intimidate those who can't fight it, avoid precedent being settled too early, and avoid change to the profitable status quo the entire time they fight.

                I'm assuming that's their reasoning, while not in the slightest bit approving of that reasoning. Quite the opposite.

      Zeni (Dion) is that you? [this is actually a serious question, i may have the wrong person]

      pew pew

    Didn't help me.

    Bought For Honor during the free weekend a couple months ago.

    Free weekend expired and the game changed from English to Russian with no way to revert to English. Submitted refund requests - "you've played the game for more than two hours." Doesn't seem to matter to them either that the play time was under the free trial.

      Open up a support ticket and bring up the ACCC ruling. Legally, they have to.

        Have you ever opened a support ticket with them? It's like trying to negotiate with the Terminator. No human emotion, no compromise, just a flow chart of potential responses and then shut down when you reach END.

          If nothing else works, tell them you will escalate the issue with a complaint to the ACCC and let them sort it out for you.

          However, if you purchased the game with a VPN through Russia you may be SOL.

        I have done that with Hunt: Showdown. No local servers and absolutely broken to play online with a good 3 second delay. I was under an hour play time but over by 2 days - they refused to refund it.

        I attempted 5 time and they simply refused each time even with mentioning the ACCC.

          Report this to the ACCC. This is a breach of the High Court order.

            I did

            ACCC said they would add the information to their database but could not assist any further and the response linked me to the USA Consumer Affairs website

          Odd as I have never had any game refused under 2 hours. Never give a typed resaon why I am requesting just simply tick the boxes of "not fun" or whatever it is. Probably refunded 40 or so games since we could. Anything from $2 Indie games to $60 AAA.

      That's standard practice - free trial hours are counted to Steam's refund policy. Not to say they were right to refuse you under ACL, but under their internal police that's consistent behaviour

      Seems like you may have VPN to russia and purchased the game for cheaper price. Steam games have region lock / language lock depending on where it is purchased from.

      Last edited 05/07/18 4:46 pm

      To be fair, you could just learn Russian.

        I can read some Russian.

        Regardless of that, the product trialed in part falsely represented the product obtained. Had the trial correctly represented the product that would be obtained I would have not bought it. Ergo under ACL I feel I should have the product refunded.

          Ahh yeah sorry matey I was just ribbing you. You've got every right to feel aggrieved. Good luck getting it sorted out, hope you get somewhere with it soon.

    Still wondering where AUD region pricing is? Wasnt that suppose to be coming soon...

      Its Valve and Steam. They actually don't care about us gamers. Just confusing us and milking us for money is their concern.

    $10 that accc will get generic "we are looking into it" copy pasta.

      Valve usual response to ACCC has been ignore, they have never directly responded to the ACCC correspondence. They have only ever responded in media comments or in court.

      Their refusal to reply to letters and emails is why they got served to appear in court, they could avoided all the darama and fines if they coplied in the beginning and answered them.

    I've been on the steam client heaps since April and have never seen any notice.
    Generally my vpn is off when I'm on steam, so my ip should come up as Australian.

      It was buried at the bottom, but it was there for a while.

        Don't the ACCC usually require that its "above the fold"? I've also never seen this notice... isn't the steam home page infinitely scrolling too?

          It was below the sales and recommended queue, but just before the infinite scroll loop... i think technically it was still on the first page based on no one views their screen page wise portrait.

        Definitely not there on the client home page.

          It's back where it was now the sale has ended.

            Was still a violation of the court order to remove it for the duration of the sale.

        The notice is back by the way, now that the sale has ended. I don't think this was malicious at all, I think it just didn't occur to them that the notice needed to be copied across too when the sale page took effect.

    I'm a little confused by the quoted part;
    For a period of 12 months after 20 February 2017...
    Wouldn't that 12 month period be over as of February 2018 then, meaning they no longer need to display it?
    Of course above the quote you mention April 2018 (meaning it should need to be there until April 2019) which would make more sense but as I said, the quoted part is confusing me.

      The original ruling was made in December 2016,which is probably why that was supposed to be implemented in Feb 2017. I guess appeals etc delayed implementation of the ruling until earlier this year.

    Let the spanking begin.. and not the good kind either

      You mean there's some other kind?! :P

        Go ask a 2 year old if theres a good kind...

        On second thoughts, don't. It may get taken the wrong way if you ask a 2 year old if they like spankings...

    F*ck Steam and f*ck Valve! They have 0 care for the game, and their platform is stale, old and slow. I don't know how PC gamers still defend them like some gaming holy grail. EA may be the devil, but at least their platform works reliably and fast.

    At every opportunity I buy through another online outlet or store now.

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