In Australia we have statutory guarantees for consumers under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) (Consumer Guarantees). These are designed to protect Australian consumers from being sold goods or services which are not of acceptable quality or are not fit for the purpose for which they were sold. Under the ACL, consumers are entitled to a refund, repair or replacement in certain circumstances if the goods or services purchased do not meet the requirements noted above.
Generally Consumer Guarantees are only applicable if:
Valve Corporation (Valve) is an entertainment software and technology company located in the United States of America, which operates an online computer game distribution platform known as ‘Steam’.
Steam is used by over 125 million people worldwide and approximately 2.2 million of those users are Australian consumers.
Valve does not have a physical retail store in Australia, but instead sells digital downloads of its games via its website Steam.
Despite not having a physical presence in Australia, Valve has been found to have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct under the ACL.
In proceedings brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Federal Court of Australia held that Valve made the following false or misleading representations to consumers in Steam’s terms and conditions and refund policy:
Based on the facts, the Court considered Valve to be carrying on business in Australia and so even though Valve is a foreign company selling digital products it must still comply with the ACL.
This decision is also the first time that the Court has extended the definition of ‘goods’ to include digital goods in the ACL.
To find out more about Consumer Guarantees see here.