Valve and Ubisoft have both run afoul of French laws, with refund policies on Uplay and Steam failing to live up to the standards of France’s consumer code. Both storefronts now show a warning about their non-compliance, and both companies have to pay a fine as a result. Ubisoft will have to pay €180,000, while Valve will have to pay €147,000.
Neither fine will hit especially hard for the respective companies, though it highlights how digital return policies are falling short according to consumer laws around the world. In the most basic terms, Valve and Ubisoft have been cited for failing to offer refunds in line with what’s required by French law, and failing to adequately inform consumers that their rights to such refunds are being denied.
According to article L221-18 of the French Consumer Code, consumers have 14 days to exercise the right of withdrawal – essentially, sellers have to offer buyers a two-week refund period. Neither citation is specific about how the policy is being violated, but Uplay offers no refunds on digital sales. Steam meets the 14-day right of withdrawal period, but you can’t refund a game if you’ve played it for more than two hours. This is likely what’s causing issues.
In theory, Uplay and Steam are free to violate that right of withdrawal provision, but as noted in article L221-5, consumers have to be expressly informed that they’re being denied those rights.
What’s that mean for you? If you’re in France, it means you’re now getting a warning on the affected stores showing the citation, as captured by NoFrag. In the future, it likely means you’re getting some new wording in the terms of service or a new warning at the point of purchase that you’re not getting all the refund options you could be.