The Consumer Watchdog Is Prosecuting Gaming Platform Steam Even Though It Doesn't Have a Physical Presence In Australia

The game Dishonored. Image supplied.

The giant gaming group Valve, which doesn’t have a physical presence in Australia, is being taken to court by the Australian consumer watchdog.

The ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has started proceedings in the Federal Court against Valve alleging false or misleading representations regarding the application of the consumer guarantees under the Australian Consumer Law.

Valve owns and operates the game distribution platform Steam, which has more than 65 million users. It sells computer games through Steam to Australians but does not have an office here.

The gaming company told Kotaku.com.au that it is making every effort to cooperate with Australian officials on this matter.

The ACCC alleges that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam that:

  • consumers were not entitled to a refund for any games sold by Valve via Steam in any circumstances;
  • Valve had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality;
  • Valve was not under any obligation to repair, replace or provide a refund for a game where the consumer had not contacted and attempted to resolve the problem with the computer game developer and the statutory consumer guarantees did not apply to games sold by Valve.

“The Australian Consumer Law applies to any business providing goods or services within Australia. Valve may be an American-based company with no physical presence in Australia, but it is carrying on business in Australia by selling to Australian consumers, who are protected by the Australian Consumer Law,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“It is a breach of the Australian Consumer Law for businesses to state that they do not give refunds under any circumstances, including for gifts and during sales. Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.”

“The consumer guarantees provided under the Australian Consumer Law cannot be excluded, restricted or modified.”

The case comes up in the Federal Court in Sydney before Justice Jagot on October 7.

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