Valve Restricts 14-Day EU Refund Law
Purchases on Steam cannot be completed without agreeing to waive rights for reimbursement.
Valve has acknowledged in its end-user licence agreement that customers residing in European Union countries are legally entitled to a 14-day period where they can return purchased goods for refund.
However, the corporation asks its customers to waive that right at point of purchase. It means that, while Valve acknowledges the rights of its EU customers, the option for a refund disappears the moment a game is purchased.
On Monday, Valve updated its subscriber licence agreement to acknowledge that “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."
This led to a Reddit thread, and some news reports, to incorrectly suggest that Valve now offers its EU customers the chance to return their games within 14 days.
However, the licence agreement goes on to say that the right to refund becomes invalid when Valve's “performance of its obligations has begun." This ambiguous legal term effectively means that, once Valve delivers content to a customer’s PC (in accordance with its obligation as a games vendor), all options for refund will have ceased.
To make its stance clearer, Valve also attaches a message to the purchase button on its EU store, which reads: “By clicking 'Purchase' you agree that Valve provides you immediate access to digital content as soon as you complete your purchase, without waiting the 14-day withdrawal period. Therefore, you expressly waive your right to withdraw from this purchase."
According to internal tests at GameSpot, there is no way to buy games without agreeing to these terms.
Such a process clashes with some of the key features of EU's refund law. According to the body's own rules for refunds, it says that EU citizens “can choose to withdraw from your order for any reason within this timeframe--even if you simply changed your mind."