14-day money back policy for Steam purchases in the EU
Update: It seems clever wording has pulled the wool over the eyes of many publications, including ourselves, who took the change to Steam’s agreement as something more than what it actually was. In short, Steam’s refund policy hasn’t changed at all thanks to a sentence which you can see below which reads:
“or until Valve’s performance of its obligations has begun with your prior express consent and your acknowledgment that you thereby lose your right of withdrawal, whichever happens sooner. Therefore, you will be informed during the checkout process when out performance starts and asked to provide your prior express content to the purchase being final.”
Basically, when you click and agree to Steam’s Subscriber Agreement when you check out and purchase your game, you actually agree to waive your rights of a refund. So you might be thinking “Okay, well I don’t agree..” that way you’ll keep your rights to a refund.. Sadly it’s not that simple as you have to agree to Steam’s Subscriber Agreement in order to make the purchase.
TL;DR: When you agree to Steam’s Subscriber Agreement you agree to waive your rights for a refund. If you don’t agree, you can’t buy your game.
Original Story: An update to the Steam Subscriber Agreement this week means that members living in the European Union are now protected by a new refund policy. The update allows members to get their money back, no questions asked, for a 14 day period from date of purchase. This is an important move, and will hopefully mean a broadening of the agreements in other regions to protect members against accidental or otherwise unsatisfactory purchases. Despite the fact that many countries have consumer laws that cover refunds under certain circumstances (for faults, change of mind, etc), Valve has ignored those laws and refused refunds, which has understandably annoyed and confused many users. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) quite famously instigated legal action last year against the company over misleading consumer guarantees.
Here’s the exact wording from the Steam Subscriber Agreement regarding the new refund policy:
“If you are an EU subscriber, you have the right to withdraw from a purchase transaction for digital content without charge and without giving any reason for a duration of fourteen days or until Valve’s performance of its obligations has begun with your prior express consent and your acknowledgment that you thereby lose your right of withdrawal, whichever happens sooner. Therefore, you will be informed during the checkout process when out performance starts and asked to provide your prior express content to the purchase being final.”
There is also a new provision for New Zealand members, which stipulates protections under the country’s relevant consumer protection laws. Whilst this is not a wholesale refund policy like that for the EU, it’s still a step in the right direction. If the refund policy is extended to other countries, it would be great to see other digital providers (such as Sony’s Playstation Network) to follow suit.