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Australian Consumer Watchdog Takes Valve To Court

samzenpus posted about a month ago | from the time-to-sue dept.

Australia 139

angry tapir writes The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, a government funded watchdog organization, is taking Valve to court. The court action relates to Valve's Steam distribution service. According to ACCC allegations, Valve misled Australian consumers about their rights under Australian law by saying that customers were not entitled to refunds for games under any circumstances.

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G'Day Valve, (4, Funny)

mjwx (966435) | about a month ago | (#47782507)

I bought ya Bioshock Infinite game on sale last weekend.

It's shithouse, I want me 22 bucks back ya flamin mongrels.

Yours sincerely,
Alf Flamin Stuart.

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

sjwt (161428) | about a month ago | (#47782515)

Here, have a snickers!

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782699)

How to take advantage of refunds on games:
1. buy game, install it, then put the client into offline mode
2. ask for a refund pretending that it does not run on your machine or it sucks
3. run the game offline for free

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782839)

Why would you do something complicated like that? Wouldn't it be easier to just torrent the game?

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783023)

It is not that complicated, and some might find it more convenient than dealing with dodgy/illegal web sites, poor quality cracks, possible malware, and other annoyances. Also, for a not too long single player game with low replay value (not uncommon), one can just quickly - or even not so quickly or more than once, depending on the length of the refund period - complete it 100% legally, then ask for a refund, similarly to how online stores of physical products are (ab)used as one month rental services. It is no surprise Valve and publishers in general do not like the idea of refunds and used game sales, when they could be easily abused.

Re:G'Day Valve, (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a month ago | (#47783425)

some might find it more convenient than dealing with dodgy/illegal web sites, poor quality cracks, possible malware, and other annoyances.

The top torrent sites are a lot less "dodgy" than uplay (and have better uptime), and the best of the scene outfits put out cracked products that are often more stable than the companies that produce the games.

How many times have we heard about games that had huge problems because of their DRM that were fixed in the torrent?

There may be arguments for using Valve/Origin/Uplay etc over torrents but the ones you mention aren't really among them.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a month ago | (#47783735)

While true, I have trouble imagining anyone who can afford games does this. There are so many cheap games out there it seems like a silly bother and... a lot to go through to screw the publisher out of a few bucks.

That said, since the majority of people who do this likely are attemtping to cheat because they couldn't afford many games anyway, the loss of money is likely actually very small since the alternative would be, they don't play the game or download it some other way.

However, they likely tell all their friends about any game so, in a way its free advertising. Hell LL Bean has a return policy that almost screams "come take advantage of us" but, they claim very few people do, and that it works out for them in the long run with loyal customers.

In fact, I bet the people who suffer the most from this sort of trick are the people who make shitty games, because not only will they not get paid by the people who use this trick, they might also lose out on other sales as people warn their friend's away from wasting their money.

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | about a month ago | (#47783919)

That said, since the majority of people who do this likely are attemtping to cheat because they couldn't afford many games anyway, the loss of money is likely actually very small since the alternative would be, they don't play the game or download it some other way.

So you're admitting that people are too cheap to buy a game yet somehow can afford all their other shiny toys such as phones, computers, most likely cigarettes and alcohol and a whole host of other items.

The loss of money by people stealing a copy of a game is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is they're trying to justify their theft by claiming poverty while they have all those other gizmos or miraculously find money to spend on other non-essential items.

Re: G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784645)

You buy what u have to you steal what u can it has allways been this way u take the path of lowest risk wen u can

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about a month ago | (#47785539)

In college, my grandparents provided a computer, parents provided a cell phone and my food and lodging. I didn't smoke (most people don't, here) and didn't drink. That, plus no car and only occasional employment? You better believe that I pirated a fair amount of stuff while almost fooling myself that I was justified for doing it. My family wasn't impoverished, but legal additions to my game catalog were limited to a couple times per year, and the in-dorm network share starts looking mighty appealing when your roommates invite you to play a game you don't own.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

TheCarp (96830) | about a month ago | (#47785987)

No actually your moralizing is irrelevant, because the reality is the same no matter how you feel about it. Its been shown in the studies I have run into on the subject that piracy rates drop off with income level. Those with money pay for it.

This lines up perfectly with my own experience, the people who pirate the most tend to make the least amount of money and have the most amount of free time to consume huge amounts of media.

I don't see how your feelings on the topic, which seems to be your only point, makes a difference here. Your argument doesn't even make sense. Content easily can cost many times the initial investment, especially an initial investment for a pc or console setup, and many people's finances fluxuate over time.

In any case, I don't see how that is relevant, point is, the loss of money is money that they were never likely going to get the vast majority of, so why is your moral outrage the only effect that matters or is worth talking about? IS it worth more than any potential side benefits?

Re:G'Day Valve, (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782925)

How to take advantage of refunds on anything.

1) Buy product.
2) Use product.
3) Refund product claiming it didn't work.

Yours makes about as much sense.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a month ago | (#47782983)

In the Simpsons episode Loan-a Lisa [wikipedia.org] Homer takes to extremes the idea of returning items in time for a refund, and buys all sorts of expensive stuff and uses them only very carefully.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782993)

Actually, that is being done with physical products to exploit the generous "no questions asked" 30-day refund period offered by online stores. People buy a relatively expensive product, use it regularly, and return it for a refund on day 29. Or buy 5-6 similar products, use them for almost a month, then return all but one. No wonder one can receive allegedly "new" items bought online with apparent signs of being used (fingerprints, scratches, etc.).

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783645)

It's not a problem because you'll get flagged if you do that too many times and the seller will refuse to do further business with you.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | about a month ago | (#47783869)

Exactly, my one friend did this with PC games. He would buy the game from Electronics Boutique, burn them, then return it claiming it didn't work. After about a dozen returns or so he was banned from the store. (Note: this was back in the mid 90s when CD burners were extremely expensive, so they had a no questions asked full refund on video games since this system wasn't widely abused).

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783573)

Why offline when could use tunngle? A free p2p vpn service made specifically for lan gaming over the net.

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784523)

Because GP does not want Steam client to phone home to report application usage reports.

Re:G'Day Valve, (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month ago | (#47784351)

And the second you restart steam to update or go online to download a game, your other game is gone.

That's how it went when I got a refund on STALKER.

Re:G'Day Valve, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47786081)

It's time for a good booting, IMO.

Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (5, Informative)

Jimbookis (517778) | about a month ago | (#47782529)

I have noticed when purchasing new items these days that there are slips of paper reminding consumers of their rights and whatever the company bandies about as company policy cannot trump Australian consumer law, ever. We do refunds here. Suck it up.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782549)

I have noticed when purchasing new items these days that there are slips of paper reminding consumers of their rights and whatever the company bandies about as company policy cannot trump Australian consumer law, ever.

We do refunds here. Suck it up.

Which is a nice way of pacifying the consumer since they would then have to be arsed to look up and comprehend what rights they do possess, then try and figure out which of the myriad of 'you can't do this' policy statements from said company don't apply.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (5, Informative)

Brulath (2765381) | about a month ago | (#47782665)

It's pretty straight forward, if it breaks within the expected tolerances and lifetime that the average consumer would expect, and is critical to the operation of the device, they must repair, replace, or refund it. If it's a major fault that would've prevented its purchase in the first place, they must refund. If it costs over either $10,000 or $40,000 (I don't recall which off-hand, as it's rarely relevant) then it falls under different warranties, but anything under those is protected.

It basically says "buyer beware" is bullshit and sellers are responsible for providing quality products, not misleading people into buying crappy ones. Though you can still provide crappy products that work just well enough to not be considered broken - they're usable, at least.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782723)

And as an additional note - the "repair, replace or refund" is at the consumers discretion, not the companies.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782829)

Ummm, no. It's the company has the discretion to repair, replace or refund.

If it was no of merchantable quality, *then* the only likely outcome is a refund.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783289)

No, the customer chooses. I live in Australia, I know.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month ago | (#47784391)

Umm, no. I have clients in Australia. My shit breaks, it's their choice, not mine, to get a refund, repair, or replacement.

The only thing at my discretion is whether I replace it with the exact same item, or I give them an upgraded model in its stead.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a month ago | (#47785339)

Umm, no. I have clients in Australia. My shit breaks, it's their choice, not mine, to get a refund, repair, or replacement.

The only thing at my discretion is whether I replace it with the exact same item, or I give them an upgraded model in its stead.

Welcome to utter bullshit land.

You dont have clients in Australia, you have at best, people you've ripped off and ignored further contact with as an overseas agent... but in more likelihood you're making the whole thing up.

Yes, an Australian will pursue you for a refund or at the very least ensure that people know not to do business with you again if they cant pursue you through an Australian court.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47786005)

This.

Sounds like he got fleeced by his clients. Or has big issues with his products.

From the ACCC website:

"If you have a minor problem with a product or service, the business can choose to give you a free repair instead of a replacement or refund. When you have a major problem with a product, you have the right to ask for your choice of a replacement or refund. For a major problem with a service, you can choose to receive compensation for the drop in value below the price paid, or a refund."

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47783303)

I sure hope it's not. Else it's trivial for a company to put another one under. Like, say, a company producing a mainboard with a well known fault. Buy a container of them, run them to failure then DEMAND them to be repaired instead of replaced.

Re: Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783843)

If it is not possible to repair the fault then the option of replace or refund is available... If no replacement that offers the exact same function as the original product or is otherwise unacceptable to the consumer, then refund.

Note, this doesn't apply to 'change of mind' the product has to not do its intended purpose, or has some forms of defect that would have meant the product wouldn't have been purchased.

Re: Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Khyber (864651) | about a month ago | (#47784465)

"If it is not possible to repair the fault then the option of replace or refund is available"

In the case Opportunist is talking about, it would be almost impossible to not repair, unless the PCB or traces had damage. Running them to failure just means a quick component reflow/replacement, which is fairly cheap and almost easy enough to automate testing and repair thereof.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

sjames (1099) | about a month ago | (#47784193)

Easily avoided. Just stop selling a product with a known failure.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783129)

The Checkout crew explain your rights regarding exchanges and refunds. With lols.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE8BB-ioNRw

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about a month ago | (#47782753)

Or they can just make a complaint to the relevant authorities and the matter will be settled in their favour.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

sjwt (161428) | about a month ago | (#47784863)

More often than not its to counter the large amount of incorrect information that is printed on everything as well as pops up on screen because they fail to localize the release properly, and its just cheaper to slip in a piece of paper.. how ever this lazy application to localization leads to the same things being done for digital releases, except hang no.. no piece of paper..

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (2)

kinarduk (734762) | about a month ago | (#47782555)

Same in the UK and Europe. Want to do business here? Then abide by local laws, simples.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782677)

Reading about the US I really like consumer protection laws in Germany. Everything is so much more consumer friendly and open. Companies have to identify themselves (i.e. have an imprint), all taxes have to be included in prices and if you buy something you have all kinds of rights (two week period to send stuff back/cancel contracts, two year warranty on physical items and such) that cannot be taken away by ToSs.

It's such a different culture. US companies often struggle because they're used to the whole "corporations first" mindset.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about a month ago | (#47783147)

There's an analogy to be made with employment law. 'Right to hire' is not an idea that gets much sympathy in Europe.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783453)

Of course they are used to it, they paid for it by funding the election campaigns of lawmakers.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783583)

Most products that are "Made in the USA" are very poor quality.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a month ago | (#47784977)

Reading about the US I really like consumer protection laws in Germany. Everything is so much more consumer friendly and open. Companies have to identify themselves (i.e. have an imprint), all taxes have to be included in prices and if you buy something you have all kinds of rights (two week period to send stuff back/cancel contracts, two year warranty on physical items and such) that cannot be taken away by ToSs.

It's such a different culture. US companies often struggle because they're used to the whole "corporations first" mindset.

On the flip side, you realize stuff in Europe is way more expensive, right? And why people in Australia complain that stuff is more expensive too.

TINSTAAFL.

If you mandate that everything has a 2 year warranty, then consider the next time anyone asks you in North America, "Do you want to buy an extended warranty?" and being forced to say "yes". Because that 2 years is now built into the price of the unit itself. It doesn't matter if you'd normally say "no" and be done with it, you're forced to say "yes" and pay up.

Likewise, if you're forced to handle returns on digital items, well, don't be surprised when people either a) don't want to do business with you (see music/movies geoblocking), b) charge for the privilege (i.e., it costs more).

Now, Australia is a bit funny in that respect because they want to encourage the practice of buying from other regions to get better pricing to help drive down the local prices. Yet at the same thing, those other retailers don't have to accept returns or deal with Australian law (and the Australian representatives can easily say since you didn't buy it in Australia, the law doesn't apply - if you want a refund, deal with the overseas store you got it from).

In fact, if you compare pricing, you'd find after warranties and embedded taxes, the price gap isn't as big as it once was.

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a month ago | (#47785121)

all taxes have to be included in prices

It's the government's fault that U.S. companies don't do that, not companies'. Most countries have a single unified tax structure. A store can set a price, and advertise that price inclusive of taxes nationwide.

The U.S. is an amalgam of tax-governing bodies. The States can set their own sales tax. The counties can set their own sales tax. The cities can set their own sales tax. Consequently, the sales tax rate differs, sometimes from city to city. A store sets a price and advertises that price + taxes, it's correct for one locale, incorrect everywhere else. The only way to advertise a "correct" price is without taxes. Not because the price varies or because they're trying to hide the final price from you, but because the tax rate varies.

There are currently close to 10,000 different sales tax rates [taxfoundation.org] in the U.S. With more states trying to impose sales tax on Internet purchases, it's actually becoming a barrier to entry for small businesses trying to start up Internet sales. The sales tax rates can change at any time if some local governing body decides to change it, so you have to either watch daily for new tax rate changes, or hire someone to do it for you (but you still have to pay if they make a mistake). Amazon tried to harmonize sales taxes in the U.S. because of this, but the States were more interested in casting it as "protecting brick and mortar stores from unfair Internet competition" than addressing the real problem.

The best solution (other than a harmonized sales tax) would be if the Federal government set up a website listing the ~10,000 different tax rates, and forced states and local governments to update their entry in the site before a sales tax rate was "official". Businesses could then just download all the different tax rates every night and be sure they're charging the correct sales tax.

and if you buy something you have all kinds of rights (two week period to send stuff back/cancel contracts

That's the case for nearly everything in the U.S. too. In fact most shops have 30-90 day return policies.

two year warranty on physical items and such) that cannot be taken away by ToSs.

Warranties are just insurance policies. Just because the law forces companies to provide them to everyone does not mean they're free. Their cost is rolled into the price of the item you're buying.

In general, insurance is not worth it (otherwise someone wouldn't be selling it to you). It makes sense to insure items whose prices are so high it'd be difficult for you to replace (e.g. cars, houses, maybe appliances depending on your income level). But for items costing a few hundreds of dollars or less, you actually save money by just replacing the things which break rather than taking out an insurance policy/requiring a warranty for them. This is why larger companies and organizations self-insure rather than buying insurance for things like mailed packages and fleet cars. You'll notice the more expensive items like large appliances and cars already come with multi-year warranties exceeding what's required by EU law. That's because being an insurance policy on something that's difficult for the buyer to afford to replace, it's additional profit for the manufacturer to provide the 5- or 10-year warranty and raise the price accordingly.

The one place warranties do help is setting a baseline for product durability. i.e. It weeds out products which are so shabbily made it'll break after a few months. The cost of providing warranty service is so high the manufacturer goes back and redesigns the product to be more durable. At least usually that's how it works. Sometimes it doesn't (e.g. hard drives, where manufacturers can refurbish enough drives returned under warranty to replace new drives which fail during their warranty period). But overall, very few products I've encountered are that shabbily made (in fact the only one I can think of was a portable DVD player made by a company which went bankrupt anyway a few months later, so I would've been out the warranty even if I'd bought it in the EU).

Re:Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (5, Informative)

GNious (953874) | about a month ago | (#47783307)

Apple tried this in Europe - in Denmark, a government body created a letter people could print out and take to the stores to remind the company about legal requirements and rights.

Re: Welcome to Australia, Ferengi. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783437)

So I guess companies do have a valid reason to charge Australians more. Suck it up.

Bad business practice (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782537)

I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

At the support forum I asked for my money back, since it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run. Support refused to return my money.

I complained so many times, the support time cost them more than the actual game cost ($10).

Idiots.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about a month ago | (#47782583)

Why did you stop complaining?

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782589)

What did the customer service say precisely?

Re:Bad business practice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782599)

The time you lost complaining also cost you more than the $10 you are claiming back.
Sometimes it is better ti suck it up, especially if the amount is not big and it was your negligence that caused the "loss" in the first place.

Re: Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782629)

If the Steam store didn't flag the app as unsupported on the platform in use, that's a flaw in Steam. Don't blame the user.

Re:Bad business practice (3, Insightful)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a month ago | (#47782661)

The time you lost complaining also cost you more than the $10 you are claiming back.

Perhaps the satisfaction in, in some small way, causing trouble for a company that has treated him unfairly is also worth more than $10 to him.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782843)

That's bullshit, and precisely why companies don't give a shit about honouring the law. They assume dweebs like yourself will consider it not worth the effort to fight for their legal rights.

Steam was broken, it presented a windows game as mac compatible. A simple user error by a Steam employee. But instead of doing the decent thing, they decided to break the law.

With a bit of luck, the person running Steam AU will see time in court. If you don't like the law of the land, fuck off back to America.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

pla (258480) | about a month ago | (#47783073)

With a bit of luck, the person running Steam AU will see time in court.

Congrats, that $10 down the drain plus a few hours of time spend arguing just turned into a day of lost work to testify. You really showed them! Attaboy!


If you don't like the law of the land, fuck off back to America.

In principle, I agree with you. Honestly, I fucking hate corporations thinking they can get away with anything, and I hate even more that they usually do simply because of the cost of fighting them even when in the right. But you have a practical issue to consider here as well - Do you want to play Day Z? Hawken? Starbound? Zero Gear? Shattered Horizon? Anything on this list [wikipedia.org] ? Then you need to use Steam. And at the risk of commiting a 3rd party tu quoque, do you consider Sony any better? Microsoft? Ubisoft?

If you want what the devil has, you get to deal with the devil, like it or not.

Re:Bad business practice (1, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47783111)

If you want what the devil has, you get to deal with the devil, like it or not.

I don't like it. I decided not to buy Portal 2 for just $5. The only Steam games I buy any more are indie titles. I did buy FFVII on Steam, because it was on sale, but then I torrented the non-steam version because fuck having to be always online to play a console game of yore.

Steam is shit.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

prefect42 (141309) | about a month ago | (#47783297)

Only you normally don't need to be online, as Steam has an offline mode?

Re:Bad business practice (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47783737)

Only you normally don't need to be online, as Steam has an offline mode?

FFVII for Steam refuses to launch if you're not online, at least the first time. This ties into my prior complaints about Steam "backups", which cannot be played until Steam is installed and blessed by Valve, and then the game titles themselves are blessed by Valve.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about a month ago | (#47786065)

Only you normally don't need to be online, as Steam has an offline mode?

Steam's offline mode does not work. It has never worked. It will never work.
The entire premise is fucking retarded - you have to be ONLINE in order to enable OFFLINE MODE. You have to KNOW that you're going to go offline in advance,
If you're not in offline mode and you have no internet connection and you launch Steam, it will simply fail to connect and you can't do anything with the Steam client.

If you are in offline mode and you do have an internet connection Steam will revert to online mode when it feels like it and start to do all the things you don't want it to do. And if a game has an update available, Steam will refuse to let you launch the game while in offline mode. Steam can learn of updates while in offline mode if you do have an internet connection, and lock you out of games.

If you are in offline mode it's just a matter of time before Steam decides you need to reauthenticate. Time, connection to a network (with or without internet connectivity), fucking connected bluetooth devices, etc. can all trip Steam's alarms and cause it to shut you out of your games until you reauthenticate.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47785291)

With a bit of luck, the person running Steam AU will see time in court.
Congrats, that $10 down the drain plus a few hours of time spend arguing just turned into a day of lost work to testify. You really showed them! Attaboy!

Not if everyone does it, allowing the companies to get away with this is is why they keep doing it. That you can't see that wasting a day of your time in court have a larger effect is sad and selfish.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783149)

How did it cost? Did he not do his job while complaining? He left early from work to comlain? He could've been digging a hole on his spare time? Who would've paid for that? I sure as hell don't get paid for spare time.

Re: Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784771)

The same way he somehow cost Valve money. It's a misrepresentation of the 'time is money' idea.

I've worked in customer support. The company paid me for my time weather I was helping you, or you were on hold because I'm helping someone else, or the blissful coffee break minutes where nobody was calling. Worst case, he actually made it worse for someone who had a serious problem but had to queue up and wait for his shenanigans.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782623)

it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run

Doesn't the Steam page for each game explicitly list which operating systems it is compatible with in the information box with all of the other info?

At any rate why wouldn't they sell non-Mac compatible software to someone using a Mac? Just because you're using a Mac right now doesn't mean you don't own a PC. Hell, they even have an smartphone app which I'm sure allows you to buy non-mobile games on the off-hand chance you're away from home but have your phone (or Macbook/iPad/potato/other non-Windows device for that matter) with you. Hell, it'd stop you buying a game when you're doing anything else at home using a non-PC device purely because you're not on the device which you need to play the game as soon as you buy it.

If Valve are breaking Aussie consumer laws then they deserve to get slapped down for it, but complaining that they wouldn't refund you when you didn't check the compatibility info on the item page and that they didn't tie your hands to prevent you from doing something which isn't actually a bad thing is hardly their fault.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782683)

At the very least they should give a popup saying 'Hey, it looks like you're using a Mac, but this game is Windows-only. Are you sure you want to continue?'

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782711)

the mobile app didn't even have mobile games last time i checked. but you can buy a game on your mobile and have your pc/mack/whatever download it already so it's there when you come home. Ofc the pc has to be on for that to work, but it's a really nice feature.

Re:Bad business practice (3, Informative)

jones_supa (887896) | about a month ago | (#47782873)

it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run

Doesn't the Steam page for each game explicitly list which operating systems it is compatible with in the information box with all of the other info?

It seems that in his case the store page incorrectly claimed that the software has also a Mac version, but when he purchased it, he found that it's Windows-only.

The store page for AVGN Adventures [steampowered.com] seems to show correct information right now: only a flag symbol showing that it's Windows software. Maybe previously that page had both a flag and an apple symbol? That's how I interpret the situation.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a month ago | (#47783253)

I've seen this happen when a Mac version of the game is coming, but hasn't actually been released. In my case the game showed up on Mac a month or two later.

When I bought it, I was fine with buying only a Windows version and thought the store was wrong when it showed the mac badge.

For reference: Nothing stops you from buying windows only games on mac.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783619)

Nope. I checked that link on the Wayback Machine and it never stated that it was a Mac game. The whiner is just an idiot, as both implied by his inability to read and for being a Mac user.

Re:Bad business practice (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about a month ago | (#47783693)

Ok, thanks for checking. You seem to be correct, apparently the buyer simply wasn't paying attention.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782651)

The store page of the game shows that it is Windows only, you should have noticed that there is only a Windows logo above the big green "add to cart" button before you clicked it. Being able to buy a Windows-only game on the Mac or Linux client can make sense sometimes, as many people dual boot or have multiple machines, and the system on which the game is bought is not necessarily the one it will be played on. It is useful for example when there is a temporary discount that ends before you could switch to the Windows machine.

Re:Bad business practice (0)

Nyder (754090) | about a month ago | (#47782893)

I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

At the support forum I asked for my money back, since it is ridiculous to sell a game using Mac software and then it will not run. Support refused to return my money.

I complained so many times, the support time cost them more than the actual game cost ($10).

Idiots.

Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

Re:Bad business practice (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47783101)

Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

The only reason Steam even shows you titles which won't run on your platform by default is to trick you into buying them. It's intentionally deceptive.

Re:Bad business practice (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about a month ago | (#47783269)

It doesn't show them 'by default'. The opening page is a list of games for your platform, if you browse to a different category or search for a game, you're taking deliberate action to do so. Make sure you search for Mac games if you want to buy games for a Mac, and make sure its badged for Mac.

Mac Steam doesn't start you in the Windows or Linux games page.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47784385)

It doesn't show them 'by default'. The opening page is a list of games for your platform

If that's true, it's new. Last time I launched Steam on Linux, which was at least well after the launch of big picture mode, the default was still to just show all titles.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a month ago | (#47785403)

Since the games say what they run on when you buy them, I wouldn't give your blind ass a refund either.

The only reason Steam even shows you titles which won't run on your platform by default is to trick you into buying them. It's intentionally deceptive.

I've seen this before.

Mac User installs Steam on their home PC, then installs it on their work PC. Their home PC is a Mac and their work PC is Windows. They buy stuff on their work PC and wonder why it doesn't work at home.

I work at a university. Glad I dont work in support any more. Those who can reach me are smart enough not to out themselves as Mac Users.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

khellendros1984 (792761) | about a month ago | (#47786037)

I think it's convenient, for my case. If I'm on my Linux machine but I'm looking at Steam's page, I'm most likely trying to buy games for my Windows machine (or one that I've read runs well under Wine). The search box ought to have an "only for my platform" checkbox/dropdown, and maybe it should warn you prior to purchase if your browser's user-agent indicates that there's a platform mismatch, but I'd much prefer being shown everything available.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | about a month ago | (#47783287)

I bought the AVGN Adventures game from within the Valve software on my Mac. After downloading the game using the Valve software, the software said the game was Windows only, so I could not install it.

Quoting something from Apple's website to help you in this matter:

Leopard is the world's most advanced operating system. So advanced, it even lets you run Windows if there's a PC application you need to use.

They also state:

Setup is simple and straightforward â" just as you'd expect with a Mac.

Clearly you're not using your Mac in the correct supported configuration. So, this is user error, not VALVe's error.

Re:Bad business practice (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | about a month ago | (#47783319)

To be fair it says right on the AVGN store page under System Requirements that it requires Windows. The Steam Store is a website that anyone with a browser can access, regardless of what OS they run. I wouldn't expect Newegg or Amazon, for example, to only let me buy computer hardware that is compatible with the OS I am currently browsing from.

Though if you did it through the Steam client itself I can see the confusion... it should probably warn you at checkout in that case that you would need to own a different PC in order to play your order.

Currently I think the only warning is shown when you launch the game, and your hardware requirements don't seem to match up with the game's. In the cast of most hardware requirements the Steam Store can't tell while you're web browsing, but it can see your OS so they could check it earlier for that factor.

In the future you can use this page [steampowered.com] to browse Mac games on Steam.

Bad business practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784667)

Sorry, the company is in the right here. You can't fault the company for a user who didn't bother reading the terms of a contract, and that includes software system requirements. You also can't fault the company because a user doesn't know how to use the Steam client, when (a) you can browse by platform (Go to Games->Browse by platform Mac OS X), (b) you can use the advanced search filter to limit your search results by platform (BTW AVGN returns 0 results when platform is set to Mac), and (c) ALL games are tagged with an icon and verbiage indicating which platforms are compatible (scroll down the AVGN page and it clearly says: "OS: Windows XP or later"). This is a classic case of user error.

About the only reasonable suggestion would be to display a warning that can be permanently dismissed telling the user that they are about to purchase a game that is not compatible with the OS that the Steam client is currently running on. Or maybe have a setting for the preferred platform when searching. However, I'm going to assume Valve doesn't receive enough complaints to elevate this issue.

Good, now for EA (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782685)

While they're at it they need to look into EA's Origin Sales. They're charging GST on an overseas sale (origin sales are all through EA Switzerland).

Umm (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782787)

I'm Australian, I live in Australia, I have successfully received a refund from a game on steam before...

Has anyone tried this recently to verify this is now the case? because I've absolutely received a refund (in steam credit, admittedly - not a cash/credit refund) for The War Z about 12 months ago.

Re:Umm (4, Interesting)

Barny (103770) | about a month ago | (#47782963)

Yeah, but they don't give you the refund because of consumer law, they give it to shut you up.

I have gotten refunds off them in the past, and mentioned this law in the request and they stated it doesn't apply to them. I guess the ACCC think otherwise.

Re:Umm (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a month ago | (#47783009)

I think it's that they are misleading customers as to whether they can get the refund rather than not giving the refund.

Don't see what Valve's problem is ... (1)

MacTO (1161105) | about a month ago | (#47782881)

There appear to be a bunch of exemptions that prevent people from purchasing and frivolously returning a product. In effect, the only way that a consumer can legitimately return a product is if it doesn't reflect advertised claims or if they did not make the system requirements clear (i.e. it didn't work properly on a consumer's system because Valve did not list or listed misleading system requirements).

On top of that, anything sold through Steam with DRM cannot be returned fraudulently (e.g. the consumer can't buy then return a product while maintaining a functional copy for themselves, at least not without jumping through hoops).

So exactly why does their illegal-in-Australia policy exist in Australia? An unwillingness to learn the laws of a country that they sell to? A desire to reduce the support costs of managing software returns (e.g. validating that the reason for return is legitimate probably involves costly human interaction)?

Re:Don't see what Valve's problem is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47782951)

In the past Valve have claimed that since they are a US company operating in the US, they can enforce US regulation on international customers. You are not actually purchasing a product from them, but rather a limited license to access their data (this also applies to physical copies, where you only own the media, not the actual software). This conflicts with the laws of many European countries, though, and have resulted in legal issues in the past.

Re:Don't see what Valve's problem is ... (3, Informative)

Barny (103770) | about a month ago | (#47782969)

They already can process refunds, I know that.

The case is in regards to them advertising that there are no refunds allowed, they are most certainly NOT allowed to do that. Note, if the product is not of merchantable quality, they can also be refunded (so no more buying a game that runs terribly or crashes a lot).

Why don't steam offer refunds. (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47782935)

I suspect that the reason steam don't offer refunds is that some many games can be completed in under 12 hours, sometimes just 4-8 hours.

Since steam is a DRM platform I think it is up to them to use some kind of metric in conjunction with the game creators to decide whether a game has been sufficiently played as to have been 'used'. Not all games have straight forward 'completion' and even if you 'complete' a game you may only have a 50% 'completion stat'

Steam already counts the number of hours a game has been played, I would say that playing a game for 5 hours would be good enough reason to refuse a refund in most cases, but there are always exceptions to the rule.

Does anyone really play Flappy Bird for more than an hour?

I certainly don't agree with a no refunds policy, but the situation clearly isn't cut and dried. With a bag of charcoal or ream of printer paper, you know if it is used, it's not so simple with a downloaded computer game.

Re:Why don't steam offer refunds. (2)

Barny (103770) | about a month ago | (#47782989)

They do refunds, but only if you push.

What the ACCC is upset about is that they don't, as you say, offer refunds. The laws are quite clear in regards to what must be refunded/replaced. If the product is not of merchantable quality, it must be refunded. If the product breaks within the accepted lifespan, it can be refunded, repaired or replaced (this could cover things like a honorific patch for a game that is force-installed).

And while measuring if the game runs might be one metric, it most certainly shouldn't be the only. For example: new Dungeon Defenders game, when you hit play in steam, it loads its own launcher that then downloads the game. I have 'played' for 6 hours and still never actually gotten into the game.

Re:Why don't steam offer refunds. (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about a month ago | (#47783817)

Correction to that: they do refunds, but only in one of two cases:

1. You bought the game as a pre-order and it has not yet been released.

2. They will occasionally do refunds as a "one-time customer support gesture".

I've seen a lot of stuff on Steam (and other distribution services that don't allow refunds) that makes me think we need a ruling like this in the United States.

Best recent example I can think of is a game called From Dust. From Dust had Ubisoft's always-online DRM on it, a fact that wasn't made clear for people who pre-ordered the game (it was like a $10 game and I had heard of the person directing it, so I bought it). I don't think a single mention of the DRM was made until a day or two after the game officially released. To make matters worse, the game ran like crap on pretty much every machine out there and had a whole bunch of stability issues. I logged almost an hour "played" trying to get the game to launch. There were people on Steam's forums calling for a refund due to the deceptive DRM practices. I actually applied for a refund, if I remember correctly, only to be told that I could get the refund as a "one-time customer support gesture".

Naturally, I didn't want to blow something like that on a $10 game, so I just kept it. I don't think Ubisoft ever actually fixed From Dust into a playable state, and I'm told it wasn't that great of a game anyway.

Re:Why don't steam offer refunds. (1)

Barny (103770) | about a month ago | (#47783945)

I got one on Brutal Legend that still advertises a version that 'Includes the full game and a copy of the Original Soundtrack!' but, when you get it, it doesn't come with the 'MASSIVE metal soundtrack from every era of metal music: 1970’s classic metal to 1980’s hair metal to the scarier cousins of 1990’s metal. And of course, Jack Black pays the ultimate homage to metal as Eddie the Roadie, continuing the theme from the work of his band, Tenacious D and his previous films like School of Rock and High Fidelity.' instead, supplying you with the crappy orchestral pieces they used.

They seemed very reluctant to do the refund, and claimed (after I mentioned my consumer rights under Australian law) that the Australian consumer laws don't apply to them.

Following is transcript of the ticket:
----------
  1 Message by you on Wed, 27th Feb 2013 3:06 am
Extremely misleading advertising. Can you please refund my special 'soundtrack' version of this game and change it to a standard one. I wanted the soundtrack that the description specifically LISTS has over 100 metal tracks.

"Music

The music in Brütal Legend is truly massive. Made up of 108 of the most rocking tracks from 75 different bands representing every sub-genre of metal, it is something to experience in and of itself."

This is what your page's description gives, what I got was 20 tracks by someone I have never heard of.
----------
2 Message by Support Tech Brad on Tue, 5th Mar 2013 5:04 pm
Hello,

Thank you for contacting Steam Support. We apologize for the long delay in getting a response to you.

Steam Support has recently had a higher volume of tickets and we are working to respond to everyone.

We have found that many users have resolved their issues since submitting their ticket.

Many answers to common problems with this game can be found in the Discussion pages of the forum for this game: http://forums.steampowered.com... [steampowered.com]

If you are still experiencing issues, we would like to help you resolve them.

Steam support can assist you with issues related to the Steam client. Many issues with installation can be fixed by verifying the files for this game. You can find instructions for verifying the files here: http://support.steampowered.co... [steampowered.com]

If you are experiencing issues with this game after it has been installed, launched and is running you will need to contact the developer’s support department. They will be able to help you with in game issues, performance problems, and other similar bugs.

You can find the contact information for the third party Support on the store page for the game or through the following link: https://support.steampowered.c... [steampowered.com]

If we don’t receive a response from you, this ticket will automatically close. We really appreciate your understanding and patience while we continue to work with the increased ticket volume.
----------
3 Message by you on Tue, 5th Mar 2013 6:47 pm
Right, did you read my question? Can you please do as I requested?

If this cannot be resolved I will be required to contact my local consumer affairs, this is false advertising of the worst order.
----------
4 Message by Support Tech Brad on Wed, 6th Mar 2013 11:30 am
Hello Byron,

Thank you for contacting Steam Support.

As with most software products, we do not offer refunds or exchanges on games, DLC or in-game items purchased on our website or through the Steam Client.

As a one-time customer service gesture we can issue you store credit for the amount of your purchase into your Steam Wallet. The credit will also remove the title or item from your account.

Please confirm that you would like us to proceed with this credit.
----------
5 Message by you on Wed, 6th Mar 2013 1:07 pm
That would be appreciated.

A few things to note, however:

I will be re-buying the same game, minus the misleading soundtrack.

You may wish to reconsider doing business in my state, however.

http://www.accc.gov.au/consume... [accc.gov.au]

In the state of Victoria, Australia, it is not lawful to make the statement 'we do not offer refunds', just a heads-up.
----------
6 Message by Support Tech Brad on Thu, 7th Mar 2013 12:48 pm
Hello Byron,

As requested, the title has been removed from your account and a credit has been applied to your Steam Wallet. The credit can be used for future Steam purchases.

To view your current available Steam Wallet balance:
- Log in to your Steam account.
- The current available balance will be listed in the upper right hand corner next to "[Your username]'s Account".
- In most cases, the new funds will automatically be displayed in your account.
- If this has not happened, please allow two hours for the transaction to fully complete.

Please note in the future that Steam purchases, per the Steam Subscriber Agreement, are not refundable - this store credit was issued as a one-time customer service gesture.

The regulations you are citing do not apply to digital distribution subscriptions, electronic games, or downloadable content.

If you have any further questions, please let us know - we will be happy to assist you.
----------

I guess they are finding out that those laws CAN apply to digital distribution subscriptions, electronic games and/or downloadable content :)

Complete bans (2)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47782973)

If anyone thinks

Valve had misled consumers by saying it "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

is bad they should remember that Valve can and does sometimes revoke accounts - that can mean the loss of dozens of games and software in one go.

Steam being hugely convenient to consumers != Valve or DRM are always great.

Re:Complete bans (2)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a month ago | (#47784927)

is bad they should remember that Valve can and does sometimes revoke accounts - that can mean the loss of dozens of games and software in one go.

That sounds like an argument for stronger consumer protection laws.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47783333)

Bloody hell that is some fantastic news!

I've bought X Rebirth on the day it released last year and good god what a piece of utter rubbish that shit was and even though thousands upon thousands of people all over the world were complaining Valve was refusing to give out refunds. This was not the first time this had happened. The game is still broken and unplayable.

Hey Valve, it ain't pretty when consumers bite back now is it ey mates? Buncha scummy pricks. GOG is the place to be to hell with Valve.

Good luck with that (1)

Anon E. Muss (808473) | about a month ago | (#47783659)

Option #1: Valve has no physical presence in Australia, and tells the Australian government to go fuck themselves. Government responds by banning Valve from doing business in Australia. Good luck enforcing that. To the extent they do manage to enforce it, it will be taking action against Australian citizens, since they have no power over Valve.

Option #2: Valve doubles prices in Australia. Y'all can have all the consumer protection you want, but you're going to pay for it.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about a month ago | (#47783865)

Option #3 Valve gives refunds, the world doesn't end.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784021)

Come now, the internet is no place for a logical point reasonably expressed.

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784175)

Option #3: Valve says refunds are OK in Australia, but the account can't be unbound from the game that is being returned. The account goes away with the game, and your username, friends list, and other games all go with it. Sorry!

There are a lot more options for this to backfire horribly on Australians. It only depends on how much Valve wants the words "dick move" associated with them in Australia.

You do not seem to understand (1)

Demena (966987) | about a month ago | (#47784357)

Any "dick move" would be at minimum, contempt of court. That is extraditable and yes, the U.S. And Australia have a treaty. Many treaties. Not all are economic. You have no idea how deep this could go. No one enjoys a shit fight. It would not be allowed to get that far. Most probably this is happening and happening right because the ACCC wants to get up the nose of the horribly consumer unfriendly new Abbot government.

Re: Good luck with that (1)

Demena (966987) | about a month ago | (#47784271)

Have you any idea of the complexity of international trading laws? None of your hypothetical is possible.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about a month ago | (#47784311)

Prices are already doubled in Australia. Surely their long-standing ripoff prices can be used to offset the generally small amount of refunds going on?

Re:Good luck with that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47784377)

>To the extent they do manage to enforce it, it will be taking action against Australian citizens, since they have no power over Valve.

Option #1: It is forbidden for any bank or credit card company to do business with a company who is banned from sales in Australia. Awww, so sorry.

Option #2: Increase tariff significantly on XYZ goods that will harm the USA until the USA bans steam from selling to Australians. Awww, so sorry.

Sorry Valve has to cop it (2)

AbRASiON (589899) | about a month ago | (#47783903)

but someone needs to fucking pay the god damned price for ripping us off. If you're going to charge us significantly more than other countries for DIGITAL fucking content, then we damn well better get something for it.

Did I mention that we used to pay the same price as the states for this stuff? Until Valve and Steam got their shit together and set up regions / regional pricing and billing properly? Once they did, the publishers (most likely) told Valve "to fuck them" (for the most part the actual Valve games are priced the same as the US)

Oh it's not just us, the UK got thoroughly fucked by this too.

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