Federal regulators in Australia have fined video game company Valve Corporation, owners of online gaming site Steam, $3 million for refusing to issue customers refunds.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a Federal Court found Steam to be in violation of Australian Consumer Laws. The court imposed the maximum possible fine because of Valve’s lack of contrition in the matter.
Valve's general counsel, Karl Quackenbush, explained that the company did not receive legal advice when establishing its presence in Australia, and therefore was unaware of the laws surrounding their case. That lack of interest in Australian law prompted Federal Judge James Edelman to fine the company 12 times as much as Valve suggested it pay for the violation.
"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," Justice Edelman wrote in his judgement. "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."
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According to Steam’s website, the company brands itself: “The ultimate entertainment platform” where users can “play, connect, create and more.” Steam allows users to create, share, and download video games to play on their hardware devices.
Justice Edelman found that Valve intentionally set up the Steam website in Australia to prevent issuing any consumer refunds. It is unknown how many customers were affected by the inability to obtain a refund, but Edelman claims the company’s international presence is "massive," and therefore imposed the harsh penalty.