An Australian Federal Court handed down the maximum fine to the Valve Corporation, after the court found that Steam was breaching their Australian Consumer Laws by not having a refund policy, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The reason the fine, which totals $2.1 million USD, was so strict was because the Justice James Edelman thought that Valve willfully disregarded Australian law, and because they did not show any kind of contrition for violating the law.
When Valve was found to be in violation of the law, they suggested that they pay a fine of $180,000 USD, which Justice Edelman saw as a ridiculously low number. Justice Edelman said that that low number was “not even a real cost of doing business. It would barely be noticed.”
Valve’s general counsel testified to the court that Valve did not check with lawyers at all before setting up their service in Australia. The company did not check its obligations until the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission got involved in the case in April 2014.
While Steam does have an international refund policy now, when they started operating in Australia, they did not have that policy. During that time the company received more than 21,000 tickets from Australian IP addresses containing the word refund. Under Australian law, consumers are entitled to a refund if the product is not of acceptable quality.
Steam must now institute a compliance program. The company must also post a notice on their Australian website notifying customers about their rights.