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Steam Deck user stung by second-hand market after Valve refuses help

The secondary market for the Steam Deck is under the microscope following a nightmare that's left one customer with nowhere to turn.

Steam Deck second hand market

Unsurprisingly, eager gamers are turning to the second-hand market to secure a Steam Deck, but one horror story might make you think twice before making that cut-price purchase. One user found that Valve was less than helpful thanks to their Steam Deck being reported stolen, almost a year after the purchase was made.

The Steam Deck has been on a tear over the last year, and 2024 looks set to be another great year for Valve’s portable, as well as PC gaming handhelds as a whole. Despite this, there are some harsh lessons to be learned about buying a Deck on the second-hand market as one buyer has discovered.

Reddit user un_commoncents_ reached out to Steam support only to be met with the refusal of access to any warranty services due to the console being reported stolen.

In the comments on the post, the original poster points out that they were simply hoping to send it to Valve and were willing to pay for a repair. They were in no way expecting Valve to fix the Steam Deck for free, or that it would still be under any kind of warranty. Either way, Valve seems well within its rights to refuse any service based on the current ownership status of the Steam Deck in question.

The real issue here is that there is no meaningful way to run a check on a Steam Deck to verify its status. Many devices – including Peloton bikes as one commenter pointed out – can be tracked via serial numbers. Still, if there is no central portal that the public can use to check whether a device is legitimate, it’s arguably a risk not worth taking. There are ways to register a device, and then it can be reported stolen so that another person doesn’t mistakenly purchase it, but these are rarely a free service that the public could search for during a private sale.

Purchased from eBay, the Steam Deck in question was acquired a year ago according to the original post, and the seller has refused to refund the purchase. The only action the buyer could take was to report the seller to eBay as fraudulent. The adage remains true that if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

While it’s easy to look at the price of a Steam Deck and want to secure some savings where possible, this scenario should be a warning to anyone who intends to purchase via an unverified second-hand market. Valve itself does sell refurbished Steam Decks, and while the savings aren’t quite as steep, you have the peace of mind that you’re covered in the event that something goes wrong… and it won’t suddenly be claimed as stolen.

If you’re lucky enough to have a Steam Deck, you’ll want to check out our list of the best Steam Deck games so you’re never short of inspiration.