Valve Wants Customer Disputes in Small Claims Court

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Valve Wants Customer Disputes in Small Claims Court

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The Steampowered company has introduced arbitration as part of its new dispute resolution scheme.

Changes to Valve's terms of service and privacy policy are nothing very new, but this time they've gone a step further and introduced a new dispute resolution process. Arbitration and the small claims court - not class action suits - are now their preferred methods of dealing with an otherwise irresolvable customer dispute.

"On Steam," says the official announcement, "whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process." When that doesn't work, arbitration - and Steam will pay the customers' costs, so long as they're "under a certain amount" - is their preferred route from now on. Valve even promises that reimbursement of costs will be provided regardless of the arbitrator's decision, so long as the claim wasn't frivolous "or the costs unreasonable." Unreasonable costs, incidentally, is why class action suits are verboten. Valve thinks they "don't provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay."

Why go this route? Well, Valve's opened new offices in Luxembourg to satisfy its European customers, and part of this is to do with changing their terms for Europe. Valve may also be looking at certain developments, wondering what the future may hold. Inherent in any market is the possibility of a dispute over money and refunds. Better to have a plan for when that happens, than be caught with your pants down; metaphorically speaking, or otherwise.

Source: Steam, via Eurogamer

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Now let me see the outrage. Come on!

All the people whining at Origin I want to see the outrage. Put your damm money where your mouth is.

i have said it already and ill say it again, fuck you valve, for taking away consumer rights, i will not be buying anymore games from you.

Uhuh, Now all they to do is to comply with the new cookies laws.

Didnt care about Origin, dont care about this. What possible reason could you have to raise a class action suit with Valve? "I didnt get the hat I want, PAY EVERYONE MONEY" at least EA were evil BEFORE they did it.

I don't think they're wrong...

And honestly, in what case has Steam managed to be unequivocally responsible for outrage that demands an expensive class action lawsuit. Without any developer hand or 3rd party DRM that the creators insisted be included or a mistake that wiped out peoples money that wasn't resolved in a timely fashion.

...I do want examples, please throw them my way.

I have been through a court case in my life. Over a much heftier issue than a video game platform pissing me off or screwing up my bank details, or inconveniencing me in someway. No, this issue ruined my life. I can never recover what was lost through my experience.
So when I see whiners wasting 70 times more money in trivial 'inconvenienced' lawsuits than was spent on my life shattering experiences I die a bit inside.

This provides a good option for your average 'outraged customer', who wants to go the extra mile I guess.

So now Valve has an arbitration clause like all companies everywhere. I haven't seen an agreement that didn't include an arbitration clause in some time. This is nothing new.

"HERP TAKE THIS VALVE FANBOYS DURP"

Nope. Don't care. Didn't care about it when EA did it, doesn't concern me in the slightest.

CaptainMarvelous:
Didnt care about Origin, dont care about this. What possible reason could you have to raise a class action suit with Valve? "I didnt get the hat I want, PAY EVERYONE MONEY" at least EA were evil BEFORE they did it.

Took the words right out of my mouth.

So... What does this mean for the less intelligent ones here? You're not allowed to sue Valve's pants off when they delay a release date?

UK. Don't care. Not like I want to take Valve (or EA for that matter) to court any time soon. So good for them.

Draech:
Now let me see the outrage. Come on!

All the people whining at Origin I want to see the outrage. Put your damm money where your mouth is.

While this trend of giving up the right to a class action suit in user agreements bothers me, I've long since gotten over being mad at the companies who use them. Instead I prefer to direct my rage at the court system that made this legal to begin with.

Meh.

Sony did it cause they got burned.
EA did it cause they're dicks.
Valve dose it cause it's smart.

I mean, I would have to be really hard pressed to even consider malicious intent on Valve's side.
EA on the other hand are made of nothing but greed an malice.

Actually, Valve is partially right here. Video game class action lawsuits generally benefit lawyers much more than gamers, and this process will indeed be better for the individual consumer.

On the flip side, class action lawsuits are excellent for shining a flashlight onto the piles of bullshit that big publishers try to get away with. Might be a pair of sixes here.

If you are a truck carrying rocks, you'll likely have a sign on the back of your truck stating that you are not liable for damages caused by items falling from your truck. This accomplishes two things: it causes preventative actions to be taken by other drivers, and it discourages drivers hit by rocks from suing. What it does not represent is a binding agreement not to sue between the driver and other motorists or an absolution of responsibility from damages.

Basically, Valve can type whatever they want in to their terms of use, and while it is a legally binding document, it does not prevent class action lawsuits from being filed in cases of large scale financial or security issues, Valve breaching contract with the users, or Valve breaking any laws in countries that they offer their service.

I'm not about to praise Valve for this, they're just covering their asses, but if you ever find yourself in a situation where you actually NEED or have a LEGITIMATE REASON to sue Valve, they aren't expecting a TOS to save them. They still have lawyers, and a legal budget specifically for that.

That said, I'm surprised they took this long to add a clause like this in. I'm not sure that I have read many TOS&PP's that don't discuss this issue. I normally don't read them unless it's a case where I don't trust the company or it represents a serious financial, time, or other resource commitment, but arbitration and class action lawsuits are pretty much standard sections of all of them.

ResonanceGames:
Actually, Valve is partially right here. Video game class action lawsuits generally benefit lawyers much more than gamers, and this process will indeed be better for the individual consumer.

On the flip side, class action lawsuits are excellent for shining a flashlight onto the piles of bullshit that big publishers try to get away with. Might be a pair of sixes here.

Pretty much this.
If it's good or bad for us...well, time will tell.

I love how the first few posters gone "HATE STEAM NOW" obviously didn't read the article. At all.

"Talking" to people in order to settle disagreements?
SUCH INNOVATION!

CaptainMarvelous:
Didnt care about Origin, dont care about this. What possible reason could you have to raise a class action suit with Valve? "I didnt get the hat I want, PAY EVERYONE MONEY" at least EA were evil BEFORE they did it.

You can't say Valve doesn't know how to use their heads.

Naqel:
Meh.

Sony did it cause they got burned.
EA did it cause they're dicks.
Valve dose it cause it's smart.

I mean, I would have to be really hard pressed to even consider malicious intent on Valve's side.
EA on the other hand are made of nothing but greed an malice.

This right here. This is the attitude that pisses me off.

"Hrrrrn yes. It's the same action, but because it's Valve c'est intelligent."

DVS BSTrD:
"Talking" to people in order to settle disagreements?
SUCH INNOVATION!

CaptainMarvelous:
Didnt care about Origin, dont care about this. What possible reason could you have to raise a class action suit with Valve? "I didnt get the hat I want, PAY EVERYONE MONEY" at least EA were evil BEFORE they did it.

You can't say Valve doesn't know how to use their heads.

Of course, where else could they store their hats.

Ugh dammit, this is one of the reasons I stopped using my xbox since ms threw in this bullshit. When the hell is this sorta thing really gonna see a court day? I'm gonna keep using steam (got like 300 games on it, not letting those just vanish) but I'm not sure Ill buy much on it anymore since gog has started having newer games show up and they don't have any of this bs.

Agente L:
I love how the first few posters gone "HATE STEAM NOW" obviously didn't read the article. At all.

The reason they are saying it is because Sony, EA and Microsoft got loads of hate for doing this and they are just trying to bait the Valve fanboys on this site to say something bad about Steam.

*shrugs* hard pressed to bothered about this the way i was when heard about EA's.

which is the major difference, EA has a shit rep built on greed and disdain for their customers, so it looks like yet another dick move from a group known for dick moves

Valve has at least had the good graces to, at worst pretend they care enough to foster a lot of good will with their consumer base, so this doesn't look even half as bad as EA's

Draech:
snip

*points up*
won't happen and the above is why

subtlefuge:
Basically, Valve can type whatever they want in to their terms of use, and while it is a legally binding document, it does not prevent class action lawsuits from being filed in cases of large scale financial or security issues, Valve breaching contract with the users, or Valve breaking any laws in countries that they offer their service.

Worgen:
When the hell is this sorta thing really gonna see a court day?

I'll try and kill two birds with one stone here, but I'm 99% sure it already did get tested in court in a case involving another company and courts upheld it which is why other companies began to follow suit. So you could try to file a class action suit in the US, but the courts will simply prevent it from ever happening because this stuff is entirely legal now. I don't know if any other countries have had this sort of clause tested in their court systems though.

I'm fascinated by how many people care about this in the first place. Do you expect to be suing Valve in the near future? For more than 99% of Steam users, this is utterly meaningless. If they start abusing it, I'll be annoyed, but right now? I have no grievances with Valve in the first place and I can't imagine them doing anything that would make me want to file a class action lawsuit anyways.

Lunar Templar:
*shrugs* hard pressed to bothered about this the way i was when heard about EA's.

which is the major difference, EA has a shit rep built on greed and disdain for their customers, so it looks like yet another dick move from a group known for dick moves

Valve has at least had the good graces to, at worst pretend they care enough to foster a lot of good will with their consumer base, so this doesn't look even half as bad as EA's

Draech:
snip

*points up*
won't happen and the above is why

So what you say is Valve doesn't follow the same standard as EA...

Making things bad depending on who does it rather than what they do.

A double standard of you will...

Agente L:
I love how the first few posters gone "HATE STEAM NOW" obviously didn't read the article. At all.

I hate how we obviously did, and yet so many people are saying "Meh, who cares if they take away my rights? I wasn't using them!" and "Well Valve has historically been a less awful company, so it's absolutely certain it will never screw ME in any way shape or form, even though they can deny my access to all games I bought through their system and have done so to some people already! Now excuse me while I cross this freeway with my eyes closed, since I've crossed it twice already and nothing happened so I know this is completely safe."

ResonanceGames:
Actually, Valve is partially right here. Video game class action lawsuits generally benefit lawyers much more than gamers, and this process will indeed be better for the individual consumer.

On the flip side, class action lawsuits are excellent for shining a flashlight onto the piles of bullshit that big publishers try to get away with. Might be a pair of sixes here.

Quote for truth.

Thread pretty much.

Eruanno:
So... What does this mean for the less intelligent ones here? You're not allowed to sue Valve's pants off when they delay a release date?

for the most part the difference between civil suit, class action suit, and arbitration is as follows

all of these are usually seeking financial reimbursement for damages done by the defendant. there is no actual limit to the amount on damages that can be sought by any of these means (so anyone stating that "this means Valve is just trying to pay less money" is ignorant, and needs to learn law).

civil suit, and arbitration can have any number of plaintiffs, but a class action suit has a minimum amount (that slips my mind at time of writing)

class action suits money is paid out to the group as a whole to be distributed to each (usually equally, or by percent difference of damages), but arbitration, and civil have damages paid out individually to each plaintiff, but can also have claims dismissed per plaintiff.

the bigger difference are:

that civil, and class action have an appeals process (which usually has anywhere from 3-7 levels that have to hear the full case), while arbitration is 1, and done.

civil can be heard in front of a jury of peers. while class action is a judge (typically can be a jury, but only in special circumstances), and arbitration is an agreed upon individual (usually with a law degree of some kind, but not necessarily)

civil, and class action are a matter of public record. while arbitration is considered a private agreement.

Draech:
So what you say is Valve doesn't follow the same standard as EA...

Making things bad depending on who does it rather than what they do.

A double standard of you will...

I think you either quoted me in error or need to work on your reading comprehension because my post said no such thing.

Vivi22:

subtlefuge:
Basically, Valve can type whatever they want in to their terms of use, and while it is a legally binding document, it does not prevent class action lawsuits from being filed in cases of large scale financial or security issues, Valve breaching contract with the users, or Valve breaking any laws in countries that they offer their service.

Worgen:
When the hell is this sorta thing really gonna see a court day?

I'll try and kill two birds with one stone here, but I'm 99% sure it already did get tested in court in a case involving another company and courts upheld it which is why other companies began to follow suit. So you could try to file a class action suit in the US, but the courts will simply prevent it from ever happening because this stuff is entirely legal now. I don't know if any other countries have had this sort of clause tested in their court systems though.

It did and it stood, for now, but it puts me in the mind of sopa. Really you just need enough people to know about these kind of things for them to be challenged and changed. Consumers 'own' less and less of our stuff since we are moving more and more digital, it just takes one big company really screwing up and changes will happen and we will see new consumer protections.

Captcha: underpants (Step 3 is profit)

Eruanno:
So... What does this mean for the less intelligent ones here? You're not allowed to sue Valve's pants off when they delay a release date?

It means you're not allowed to go to court with all your friends and fellow gamers and seriously claim millions in damages in a single suit over emotional damages due to them not releasing ep3.

For Valve the reasons for stipulating arbitration are twofold:
- It bars class action suits, where everyone would get paid if it won, in favour of a system where cases can be thrown out on an individual basis.
- Arbitration is statistically more likely to rule in favour of a company, while a jury tends to lean towards taking the customer's side.

Do keep in mind there is a "but" where it comes to the EU, as multiple jurisdictions might not consider these clauses legally binding, as they deny qualified legal assistance. There haven't been any cases on this so far in the EU, so we don't know for sure what'll happen when it eventually gets tested.

Naqel:

Sony did it cause they got burned.
EA did it cause they're dicks.
Valve dose it cause it's smart.

I mean, I would have to be really hard pressed to even consider malicious intent on Valve's side.
EA on the other hand are made of nothing but greed an malice.

One's Evil and one isn't for doing the same thing?

Please explain this logic to me.

This wasn't the only change coming with the new Subscriber Agreement (I couldn't find much changed with the Privacy Agreement on a first look-through, they just formulated some things differently or moved it around)
You can still find the old one here: http://web.archive.org/web/20110716134311/http://store.steampowered.com/subscriber_agreement/
I used a compare tool to check against the new version: http://www.text-compare.com/

The main change for the EU as far as I could see involves founding "Valve S.a.r.l." in Luxembourg and everyone residing in the EU now being a customer to them instead of Valve Corporation in the US, although I don't particularly know what that entails legally.

There was also a bit that seemed like a response to the new EU ruling in Section 1:

"nor may you sell, charge others for the right to use, or transfer any Subscriptions other than if and as expressly permitted by this Agreement (including any Subscription Terms or Rules of Use)."

And in response to people demanding refunds based on EU/UK laws in Section 3:

"ALL CHARGES INCURRED ON STEAM, AND ALL PURCHASES MADE WITH THE STEAM WALLET, ARE PAYABLE IN ADVANCE AND ARE NOT REFUNDABLE IN WHOLE OR IN PART, REGARDLESS OF THE PAYMENT METHOD, EXCEPT AS EXPRESSLY SET FORTH IN THIS AGREEMENT.

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 UNTIL DELIVERY OF SUCH CONTENT HAS STARTED OR PERFORMANCE OF THE SERVICE HAS COMMENCED. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO WITHDRAW FROM A TRANSACTION OR OBTAIN A REFUND ONCE DELIVERY OF THE CONTENT HAS STARTED OR THE PERFORMANCE OF THE SERVICE HAS COMMENCED, AT WHICH POINT YOUR TRANSACTION IS FINAL. YOU AGREE THAT DELIVERY OF DIGITAL CONTENT, AND THE ASSOCIATED SUBSCRIPTION, AND/OR PERFORMANCE OF THE ASSOCIATED SERVICE, COMMENCES AT THE MOMENT THE DIGITAL CONTENT IS ADDED TO YOUR ACCOUNT OR INVENTORY OR OTHERWISE MADE ACCESSIBLE TO YOU FOR DOWNLOAD OR USE."

A new change in regards to the usage of VPN/Proxies, similar to this article: http://steamunpowered.eu/valve-taking-action-against-gifts-from-usa-and-russia/ ...
It's always good to know that companies reserve their rights to make full use of globalization (buy materials and use support staff where it is the cheapest etc.), but when it comes to the consumers using the same advantages they are suddenly "not allowed", GoG also manages to offer the same price Worldwide just fine.

"You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, we may terminate your access to your Account."

Section 6 regarding "User Generated Information" (e.g. chat, forum posts, names, usage data and others) has been changed from "you expressly grant Valve the complete and irrevocable right to use" to "you expressly grant Valve and its affiliates the complete and irrevocable right to use" (in two places), which means they might share that data with 3rd parties without your consent now.

A clarification of Valves rights towards terminating your account in TERMS AND TERMINATION in Section 10 instead of a longer version granting more rights previously:

"Valve may cancel your Account or any particular Subscription(s) at any time. In the event that your Account or a particular Subscription is terminated or cancelled by Valve for a violation of this Agreement or improper or illegal activity, no refund, including of any Subscription fees, will be granted."

And of course, if you don't agree with any or some of that your only recourse is apparently to "terminate your account" and lose all the games (e.g. they are holding your games hostage to agree to their new terms), while they have the right to change or amend the "Subscriber Agreement" at any point in time for any reason according to Section 9:

"Your failure to cancel your Account, or cease use of the Subscription(s) affected by the amendment, within thirty (30) days after receiving notification of the amendment, will constitute your acceptance of the amended terms. If you don't agree to the amendments or to any of the terms in this Agreement, your only remedy is to cancel your Account or to cease use of the affected Subscription(s). Valve shall not have any obligation to refund any fees that may have accrued to your Account before cancellation of your Account or cessation of use of any Subscription, nor shall Valve have any obligation to prorate any fees in such circumstances."

Don't care.

/thread as far as I'm concerned.

Judging from the fact that they explicitly brought up the EU in their message, I can't help but assume this is specifically to stave off a class-action suit over the fact that users can't resell their games. A class-action suit is pretty much the only way anyone could ever take them to task for what is now a blatant violation of EU law, and they want to stop it before it can happen.

Very clever. And stupid.

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