Update: It looks like things haven’t changed much at all, despite the update to Steam’s subscriber agreement. Read the full story for further details.
A Steam subscriber agreement update has seen the platform’s policy in regards to refunds in the European Union change. From now on, purchases made in the EU will have a 14 day period in which the buyer can receive a refund no-questions-asked.
The revised subscriber agreement, as spotted by Reddit user punikun, says: “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.”
As pointed out by reader Martin Benjamins on Twitter, though, things aren’t quite as simple as that.“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,” claims a window in Steam when purchasing a game.
Since this story broke numerous sites have attempted to clarify what this actually means, with ourselves and MCV originally understanding that this means is that if you install the game, you lose your right to a refund. VG247, however, have discovered that the warning plugs a loophole. Sellers in the EU could ensure physical products are dispatched to customers late, in order to ensure that 14 day period is over by the time it arrives with the purchaser. Since Steam is instant, Valve cannot do this. Instead, pressing ‘purchase’ at the checkout means you’re agreeing to surrender your rights to this 14 day period. Effectively: if you buy from Steam, you can’t use EU law to win yourself a refund.
Steam’s refusal to offer refunds in all but the most extreme circumstances has led to it being considered a little poor in the customer service department. Recently both Australian and German watchdogs have taken Valve to court over the refund policy.
The subscriber agreement revision has also introduced a clause that dictates Steam users reviewing games must disclose if they were paid for the review or not.