Another consumer protection agency is stepping up and stepping forward to challenge Valve about the way they handle digital refunds. The company has previously come under fire for the refund policy (or rather, their lack of a refund policy) but this time it appears as if the issue could see some legal action taking place.
According to an article on Australian outlet News.com.au, they're reporting that Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has “initiated” a form of legal action against Valve over the lack of enabling Australian consumers from being able to get refunds on digital titles.
According to the ACCC's chairman, Rod Sims, he stated that...
“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 Australian Consumer Law.”
Previously, the VZBV had condemned Valve for a very similar practice, noting that they wanted to take Valve to the supreme court to get a ruling on enabling mandatory resale for digital titles. However, Valve managed to win out against the ruling.
In this case, Valve's Doug Lombardi has already been questioned as to what sort of action or reaction Valve will take to the ACCC's pursuit of legal action against the digital company, to which Lombardi said...
“We are making every effort to cooperate with the Australian officials on this matter, while continuing to provide Steam services to our customers across the world, including Australian gamers.”
While resale had been a previous effort by some consumer protection agencies, a sole focus on refunds has yet to enter into the discussion, until now.
Valve had already guarded themselves against any legal ramifications resulting from refunds after they initially amended their Subscriber Agreement TOS a couple of years ago. They also made it known that digital refunds are not a standard. In some rare cases gamers have been able to get refunds on broken or non-working games and Valve have always been accommodating of that, but it's easy to see how the Australian Consumer Commission would want something more concrete and in stone regarding consumers being able to get a hold of a refund for a product they don't like.
As we move further and further into the realm of digital distribution, consumer protection seems to be lagging behind, even for consumer-friendly services like Steam. Hopefully the end result isn't anything so terrible that Australians are left out of the loop or forfeited from utilizing the service.
Back with the VZBV the issues managed to be resolved without any thing happening or affecting the way German gamers were able to utilize Steam as a service, so the likelihood is that whatever compromise is made (if one is made at all) will likely have little effect on gamers, unless of course refunds are fully allowed.