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  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Valve Sued by ACCC (Australia) Over Returns Policy

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing Valve over its refund policy, which it states contravenes Australian law. Australian Consumer Law is pretty heavy when it comes to refunds - over here you have a right to a refund (on request) instead of free repair or replacement if the product has a major problem with it, and a similar thing applies to services. It's actually against Australian consumer law to state that they do not offer refunds.

    Valve's response is basically that they'll work with the Australian authorities. However it's worth noting that Valves 'no refunds' policy does have a line that reads "unless required by local law." Given anecdotal evidence that Valve predominately refuse refund requests unless it's a preorder, a one-off or in exceptional circumstances, the ACCC might not put much stock in this claim.

    Also under the microscope with this will be what constitutes a 'major problem' with a game, and whether Steam is selling products or a service, and if it is a service, exactly what that service is.
    Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
    Soldant's Law - A person will happily suspend their moral values if they can express moral outrage by doing so.

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    Valve's service allows you to click on icons and experience one of an infinite range of possible outcomes. It's like a lottery when you think of it.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Squiz's Avatar
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    Now this is interesting. Even if this isn't going to directly force Valve to offer refunds for Steam games, the suitcase might act as an encouragement for other parties to follow up and we might see more cases being made in the future. Might however be that the whole situation could easily be defused by Valve via means of an amicable settlement.

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Vavel had been refusing UK customers refunds for quiet some time unless they tell them about the law. If that happens refund is immediate.

    Wonder whether that was the case with Australia or they were ignoring customers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukasz View Post
    Vavel had been refusing UK customers refunds for quiet some time unless they tell them about the law. If that happens refund is immediate.
    Yeah, companies do that here too. I was only able to get my $20 'deposit' back from my former mobile service provider by threatening to call the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on them. Providers have to pay the TIO for the complaints they investigate, so that changed their tune fast...

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Most interesting, but I suppose more interesting further along in the process than we yet are. Something I'll keep an eye on, at least.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lethe View Post
    Yeah, companies do that here too. I was only able to get my $20 'deposit' back from my former mobile service provider by threatening to call the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on them. Providers have to pay the TIO for the complaints they investigate, so that changed their tune fast...
    Heh yeah, seen this one too many times, my dad even got a whole binder he can toss on the counter if a company starts messing about with the law, nothing changes the look on a salesman faster then talking with someone knowledgeable.

    One of my buddies is also studying to become a lawyer, so we talk about stuff like this as well from time to time.
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  8. #8
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    I raised the issue of UK Consumer Law with Valve over Trials Evo Gold - a game which was essentially unplayable at launch and which remains broken to this day.

    Their response was that

    a - they were not, at the time, based in the EU and so did not feel they were covered by UK or EU Consumer Law
    b - even if they were, they did not feel it applied to software

    I challenged them on (a) because they supply goods to the EU so they either must comply or be considered an "unauthorised reseller" (which has financial penalities) so they doubled-down on (b)

    They also argued that I had played the game for '4 hours' (entirely in it's beta phase and entirely spent raising problems with UBI which I documented in a thread here and which resulted in UBI driving me mad and Redlynx banning me from their forums but no actual solutions)

    Software is notoriously excluded from consumer protection because no-one has ever tried to define the key concepts of 'fitness for purpose' or 'merchantable quality' for it - it's a scary concept and most of the larger software suppliers are large enough to either ignore it anyway or use their muscle to change the law in their favour.

    I'm surprised Valve haven't formally created some sort of limited refund system tho - a limited-strike "try before you buy" would probably increase their sales rather than dropping them!!

    Origin do this already - UBI made noises about doing it too.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus rockman29's Avatar
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    Good, thanks for the info! :)

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trjp View Post
    I'm surprised Valve haven't formally created some sort of limited refund system tho - a limited-strike "try before you buy" would probably increase their sales rather than dropping them!!

    Origin do this already - UBI made noises about doing it too.
    And GoG have a 30 day money back guarantee. It seems this is one of the few things Steam is falling further and further behind on despite how important it is.

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kelron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drake Sigar View Post
    And GoG have a 30 day money back guarantee. It seems this is one of the few things Steam is falling further and further behind on despite how important it is.
    Mainly because they can get away with it. Wasn't a similar challenge made in EU courts a while back, which Valve won?

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Lukasz's Avatar
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    Did they win? I thought they lost it.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    This has been troubled me for long. If I buy a software and then find that it doesn't work on my particular computer, whose responsibility it belongs to? It has been very commonly it works on one of the machines one owns but except for a particular computer, due to some setting particularly of that computer. Software itself may not be deemed faulty because it works at least on some computers. But then it can be deemed faulty of those settings involved are actually standard settings.

    IT thingy often drives people nuts.

    Back when Wins 7 was just launched, I bought my first copy, the one I eventually have to return for refund. I realized that in the west, MS policy is to enable a key to work on both 32bit and 64bit versions. Turns out MS exploited the East and over here one key is for either 32bit or 64bit version only but not both. I didn't know this and bought a key (with disc). Once I received the courier package I read the label which read "32 bit Windows 7". My heart sank to the bottom and immediately phoned the CS of distributors, who responded, "isn't it common sense that when unspecified, the OS bought has to be 32bit?" This outrageous, irresponsible comment immediately set me on fire and I couldn't controlled myself but yelled at her (I want to apologize to her actually, it's her bosses' fault, not hers". This mess troubled me for half a year before I finally returned the disc for refund (fortunately I was smart enough not to break the zeal after I read the label). Turns out I have to be struck with Windows Vista for another half a year, so totally a whole year, before I could upgrade to Windows 7.

    But I am so sure in that particular year I was just one of thousands of angry customers they have to handle. I still don't understand why they couldn't simply offer us back a 64bit version we were actually buying, I meant when it's MS which exploited us yet the distributor had to take the fall.
    Last edited by squirrel; 31-08-2014 at 04:43 AM.

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    "Played game for 4 hours wants a refund"

    Blanket statement for 90% of gamers.

    Documenting bugs is not your job so trying to push that as a reson you should get a refund is laughable.
    Last edited by tradaa; 31-08-2014 at 07:26 AM.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Refunds are a bit weird in the context of software; those are some interesting points.

    However, I would maintain that if the user is unable to use the product and tech support can't help them ... they ought to be able to return it.

    If I buy a screw and it turns out I need one 1 mm smaller? My hardware store will take that return. Of course, they can reuse that product but I'm not sure CD keys are particularly ... I don't think they represent a huge hurdle to that concept.

    I'm not sure it matters if I can't use it becasue my computer is out of date or because my hardware is weird or what-have-you. It's not about whose "fault" it is. It's that I am not getting a product that functions; I have not consumed the product I have paid for.

    When it's a matter of how much I *liked* the product or service? That's ... that's sketchier. But if it straight up doesn't function I don't think it's fair to take my money and not give it back when I show that the product being sold is unmarred and the seller can't make the product function as intended. In this case, being unmarred is less a matter of leaving the product intact for resale and more a matter of ensuring the user returning the product has not consumed a bad-faith quantity of the product prior to deciding they can't use it "as intended."
    Last edited by gwathdring; 31-08-2014 at 07:44 AM.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

    You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0

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    If you brought, opened and attempted to use something that you can't actually use then it should be down to the company if they want to refund you due to your stupidity same if you break the product while building it.

    If you brought, opened and attempted to use something that you can use but it wont work due to a defect or missing parts then the company should either refund or send you the parts needed

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus squirrel's Avatar
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    Here is a classic case: ARMA2 pre-patched had the so-called "artifact bug", a bug for which texture cannot be displayed if you are using ATI HD48XX series GPU, the game might still be considered playable but you can imagine how horrible the graphics can be without textures. BIS patched out the bug over half a year after launch. Should BIS be liable for refund, considering you would not have problem if you are using Nvidia GPU?

    I think it's not arguable BIS should refund.

    Of course, I was so shocked how BIS could mess up in such a way, considering how popular ATI HD48XX was.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tradaa View Post
    If you brought, opened and attempted to use something that you can't actually use then it should be down to the company if they want to refund you due to your stupidity same if you break the product while building it
    Our consumer law is a bit interesting in that you may be entitled to a refund if they told you that the product was fit for that particular purpose. If they made that claim, and it turns out that it doesn't do that, then you're entitled to a refund or replacement. For example if you bought a HDMI to DVI adapter, and they told you that it would plug into a VGA port (and you didn't know any better), you may be entitled to a refund (or replacement) because of their claims. The ACCC takes this very seriously (since that's pretty much all they have to do all day).



    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    Of course, they can reuse that product but I'm not sure CD keys are particularly ... I don't think they represent a huge hurdle to that concept.
    I don't think this really matters with digital licensing - invalidate the license and create a new one, or transfer the license to the free pool.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    I'm not sure it matters if I can't use it becasue my computer is out of date or because my hardware is weird or what-have-you. It's not about whose "fault" it is. It's that I am not getting a product that functions; I have not consumed the product I have paid for.
    No doubt this will be one of the questions asked by the ACCC when determining if refunds apply for cases like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    When it's a matter of how much I *liked* the product or service? That's ... that's sketchier.
    It won't be, because if you just changed your mind or decided you didn't like something, our consumer laws provide no protection. So the people who buy X: Rebirth and go "OMG THIS GAME IS SHITE TAKE IT BACK" aren't going to get their refunds. This isn't about indulging the ranting Steam Forum masses, it'll be for cases where something doesn't work.
    Nalano's Law - As an online gaming discussion regarding restrictions grows longer, the probability of a post likening the topic to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea approaches one.
    Soldant's Law - A person will happily suspend their moral values if they can express moral outrage by doing so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soldant View Post
    For example if you bought a HDMI to DVI adapter, and they told you that it would plug into a VGA port (and you didn't know any better), you may be entitled to a refund (or replacement) because of their claims. The ACCC takes this very seriously (since that's pretty much all they have to do all day).
    False advertising, you would hope the seller would get screwed.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirrel View Post
    Here is a classic case: ARMA2 pre-patched had the so-called "artifact bug", a bug for which texture cannot be displayed if you are using ATI HD48XX series GPU, the game might still be considered playable but you can imagine how horrible the graphics can be without textures. BIS patched out the bug over half a year after launch. Should BIS be liable for refund, considering you would not have problem if you are using Nvidia GPU?

    I think it's not arguable BIS should refund.

    Of course, I was so shocked how BIS could mess up in such a way, considering how popular ATI HD48XX was.
    If they have the GPU listed on their supported GPU list then they should refund. If they don't but they don't specifically list the GPU as incompatible then they probably ought to refund anyway as Steam can check you've got the GPU in question and it's not really the user's fault as long as the GPU in question isn't just a bad or old . If they specifically list the GPU as incompatible or it is an obviously old/poor GPU then they ought to do whatever they feel like.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

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