An Australian court has made the ruling that Valve must pay a staggering $AU3 million ($2.15 million US) fine in light of the loss of its legal battle versus the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission earlier this year. The fine is the upper limit which was requested by the regulatory body, and according to the Sydney Morning Herald was imposed on the gaming giant because of its utter disregard for Australian law when it set up shop in the country, and “lack of contrition” since.
Valve’s legal troubles started in mid-2014, when it was officially sued by the ACCC for not offering any sort of consumer guarantees that are a legal requirement under Australian law. ACCC chairman Rod Sims quoted at the time:
Under the Australian Consumer Law, consumers can insist on a refund or replacement at their option if a product has a major fault.
But Valve, according to the complaint that was made, had indicated that it was not obligated to provide any such refunds for any reason whatsoever, and “had excluded, restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality.”
Valve’s refund policy has changed dramatically since the suit was filed—it now offers refunds on just about everything, “for any reason”—but that apparently didn’t impress the judge on the case.
Justice James Edelman wrote in his ruling:
Valve is a United States company with 2.2 million Australian accounts which received 21,124 tickets in the relevant period containing the word ‘refund’ from consumers with Australian IP addresses, yet it had a culture by which it formed a view without Australian legal advice that it was not subject to Australian law, and it was content to proceed to trade with Australian consumers without that advice and with the view that even if advice had been obtained that Valve was required to comply with Australian law the advice might have been ignored.