Since 2014, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has been fighting a legal battle with Valve over what it believed to be breaches to the Australian Consumer Law made by the company’s online PC marketplace, Steam.
Now, the High Court of Australia has upheld its December 2017 ruling on the matter, denying the appeal that the company has since made, and Valve Corporation will have to pay AU$3 million for “misleading or deceptive conduct”.
While Valve introduced a legitimate refund policy for Steam games halfway through 2015, its official policy prior to that was, “unless required by local law, we do not offer refunds or exchanges”, and this is what the ACCC took issue with.
Australian Consumer Law (which just happens to be “local law” in this case) requires that refunds be available to customers on faulty goods, and while Valve was known to offer refunds on a case-by-case basis, it’s official stance was not to offer them at all.
Over the years that the trial took place, Valve defended its position by claiming it didn’t actually conduct business in Australia, and that its games weren’t technically “goods”, but this didn’t fly with the court.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court views this as an “important precedent” for local Australian consumer rights being applied to goods bought from overseas companies.