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LONG BLOG

When Digital Downloads Go Bad

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It seems that there was a little speed bump amongst all the joy of the annual Steam sale. The Consumerist reports that all Ario wanted to do was gift his brother a game via the digital download client, but what happened is a bit more convoluted. It seemed that his brother had already purchased the game on Steam, so instead of notifying Ario, crediting his brother's account or enabling the issuance of a refund, the service simply ate his money.

"Earlier this week I had purchased a game that was on sale as an early gift for a family member to hold him off till his real one arrived late for Christmas. I didn't know it at the time but because of some glitch in Steam's systems the gifting failed but my CC was still charged and I was none the wiser. Since I told my brother all about the game, hyped him up, got him excited, but he never received it he ended up buying it for himself. I saw him playing it on Steam and thought all was well but after asking him how he liked my gift only to get a puzzled look in return."

It only went downhill from there.

"Took another support request for them to realize the issue was not in the fact I couldn't send but the fact I couldn't send and because of that he already owns the game I wanted to give him to which the customer service guy replied that they can't give me a refund or even store credit because according to their Subscriber Agreement they don't have to give me a return because I am not in the European Union which apparently has consumer protection laws that require 30 day grace period for returns."

For those who don't want to go searching for it, here is the section of Steam's subscriber agreement covering refunds:

"ALL STEAM FEES ARE PAYABLE IN ADVANCE AND ARE NOT REFUNDABLE IN WHOLE OR IN PART. Valve reserves the right to change our fees or billing methods at any time and Valve will provide notice of any such change at least thirty (30) days advance. All changes will be posted as amendments to this Agreement or in the Rules of Use and you are responsible for reviewing the billing section of Steam to obtain timely notice of such changes. Your non-cancellation of your Account or an affected Subscription thirty (30) days after posting of the changes on Steam means that you accept such changes. If any change is unacceptable to you, you may cancel your Account or a particular Subscription at any time as described below, but Valve will not refund any fees that may have accrued to your Account before cancellation of your Account or Subscription, and Valve will not prorate fees for any cancellation. If your use of Steam is subject to any type of use or sales tax, then Valve may also charge you for any such taxes, in addition to the Subscription or other fees published in the Rules of Use. The European Union VAT tax amounts collected by Valve reflect VAT due on the value of any Steam Software or Subscription as well as import VAT collected which is to be paid to the tax authorities for the importation of Merchandise.

As the Account holder, you are responsible for all charges incurred, including applicable taxes, and all purchases made by you or anyone that uses your Account, including your family or friends. Information on how to cancel your Account or a particular Subscription can be found at http://www.steampowered.com/. Valve reserves the right to collect fees, surcharges or costs incurred before you cancel your Account or a particular Subscription. In the event that your Account or a particular subscription is terminated or canceled, no refund, including any Subscription fees, will be granted. Any delinquent or unpaid Accounts must be settled before Valve will allow you to register again."

Honestly, it kind of scares the living hell out of me that Steam actually does have a bit of a dark side, but since when has a company not shielded themselves using the EULA? I'm not saying the system is perfect, but this is just a firm reminder of that fact and how careful gamers with a penchant for gifting need to be as digital downloads become more mainstream. Additionally, as the article goes on, it touches on just how intimidating a company can be by utilizing a EULA in such a heavy-handed fashion as to ban customers from their forums who take issue, effectively making the problem go away as silently as possible. It's actually pretty scary when you think about it, especially if you've sunk hundreds of dollars into your account.

Check out the full article from the Consumerist here.
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About AndrewG009one of us since 1:33 PM on 07.28.2009

"I kind of miss the days when games were judged on their game-playing merit alone. I'm a little concerned about how far we (the game industry) are into the licensed four-page-ad marketing blitz era these days, which may be a natural evolution of the industry. But I'm always worried when we put more emphasis on glitz and production values than on the game. That's a trend that looks good for a while until you realize there's no game industry any more. If we don't have gameplay, we can't really compete with other forms of entertainment because we can't do graphics as good as the movie industry and we can't make sounds as well as the recording industry. All we can do that's special to us is be interactive. So we have to hang on to that and make sure we do a good job." - Sid Meier


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