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Australian Competition Commission wants to fine Valve $3m

Courts to decide how much Valve must pay over lack of refunds policy

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants to fine Valve $3m for their lack of refund policy between 2012 and 2014.

Kotaku reports that Valve says that it favours a $250,000 fine.

Valve has already lost the case, which was brought against it for the company's lack of refunds policy. The case has been going over for almost three years, with multiple hearings, delays and even a Judge change.

Although Steam users are now entitled to a refund, when the ACCC first filed the lawsuit, that wasn't officially the case (although users did sometimes receive refunds during special cases), which is against Australian consumer law.

Valve had defended itself in court, claiming it is an American company with global consumers and therefore should not have to adhere to the same rules. It did not win the argument.

ACCC's Naomi Sharp said $3m should be the fine "in order to achieve both specific and general deterrents, and also because of the serious nature of the conduct".

Valve's counsel responded by saying there was no finding that Valve's 'conduct was intended to mislead or deceive consumers', and therefore a smaller fine should be paid.

Kotaku reports that the Judge replied with: "Your proposed penalty of $250,000 isn't even the price of doing business, it's next to nothing is it?"

The ACCC has conceded in one area, however, and is no-longer insisting that the business establishes a 1-800 hotline number so that Valve can deal with refund requests from Australian consumers. It was agreed that such a move would be impractical for Valve to implement.

There were further challenges from ACCC, however, who wanted to know if instructions have been given to Valve's 50 customer support staff on Australian consumer law. Valve's general counsel, Karl Quackenbush replied: "That would be incorrect." After being asked if this was sloppy of Valve not to keep anything in writing to support these employees, Quackenbush added: "It's completely consistent with how we operate".

Valve's eventual fine will be decided either next month or in January.

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Latest comments (2)

Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome EnterprisesA year ago
I wonder, do game companies charge more for their games in Australia, because they know they'll have random fines from the government in the future?

Europe usually gets higher prices too, and their governments are great at coming up with new laws and fines for American businesses to pay. Lol there is always an ongoing case against either Microsoft, Google, or Apple.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist A year ago
You can't ignore local laws. Even for companies with no online footprint still have to have the consumer pay their local tax rate as opposed to the company's.

Quite frankly, for a company as big as valve, 50 support operators with no country specific documentation on their legal requirements is reckless. As law enforcement is wont to profess : ignorance of the law is no defence!
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