Valve Steamrolled By ACCC For Alleged Misleading Representations
The ACCC has been busy this week, yesterday launching proceedings against alleged pyramid scheme operator Lyoness and today going after US entertainment, games and tech company Valve for alleged misleading.
The regulator explains that “Valve owns and operates an online computer game distribution platform known as ‘Steam’ that has over 65 million users worldwide”, and that “Valve sells computer games through Steam to Australian consumers, but does not have a physical presence in Australia.”
The specific allegations from the ACCC that Valve made false or misleading representations to Australian customers of Steam are 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.
ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims said: “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.
“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,” Mr Sims concluded.
The ACCC says is seeking declarations, injunctions, pecuniary penalties, disclosure orders, adverse publicity orders, non-party consumer redress, a compliance program order and costs, with the matter being filed in the Federal Court’s Sydney Registry with a date for the first directions hearing set for 7 October 2014 before Justice Jagot.
More information about consumer guarantee rights is available at the ACCC here.