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Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits

Valve announces an updated Steam Subscriber Agreement, becoming the latest company to attempt to avoid potential class action lawsuits by prohibiting them as a term of service. Here is their explanation of this:

We’re also introducing a new dispute resolution process that will benefit you and Valve. Recently, a number of companies have created similar provisions which have generated lots of discussion from customers and communities, and we’ve been following these discussions closely. On Steam, whenever a customer is unhappy with any transaction, our first goal is to resolve things as quickly as possible through the normal customer support process. However in those instances in which we can't resolve a dispute, we've outlined a new required process whereby we agree to use arbitration or small claims court to resolve the dispute. In the arbitration process, Valve will reimburse your costs of the arbitration for claims under a certain amount. Reimbursement by Valve is provided regardless of the arbitrator’s decision, provided that the arbitrator does not determine the claim to be frivolous or the costs unreasonable.

Most significant to the new dispute resolution terms is that customers may now only bring individual claims, not class action claims. We considered this change very carefully. It’s clear to us that in some situations, class actions have real benefits to customers. In far too many cases however, class actions don’t provide any real benefit to users and instead impose unnecessary expense and delay, and are often designed to benefit the class action lawyers who craft and litigate these claims. Class actions like these do not benefit us or our communities. We think this new dispute resolution process is faster and better for you and Valve while avoiding unnecessary costs, and that it will therefore benefit the community as a whole.

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45. Re: Steam Precludes Class Action Lawsuits Jul 31, 2012, 23:33 Crustacean Soup
NKD wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 23:29:
Crustacean Soup wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 23:21:
NKD wrote on Jul 31, 2012, 23:15:
Regardless of what one thinks of Valve, it's hard for an educated person to not have utter contempt for class actions. They are bad for both parties, and only good for the lawyers. You're almost always better off filing an individual claim.

It isn't as convenient as signing up on a website for a free coupon, but lawsuits are serious business and they shouldn't be convenient. You should go into them willing to put in a little time and effort. If you aren't willing, then perhaps you haven't been wronged as badly as you think.

No. I did think that way, but it's an oversimplification. Most people don't have the will, knowledge, time, or money to file their own lawsuits, especially if it's over what was (for them) a relatively small amount of damage. So what, the corporations should just be able to get away with shit with no punishment whatsoever, as long as they spread the damage around enough? You can opt out of class actions if you want to file suit yourself.

That inconvenience factor of trying to claim small amounts is why Valve and other companies want to do arbitration or small-claims in the first place. It's better for them, lawyers don't cash in, and you get pretty much the same relief you would in a class action.

You're not getting my point. It's not about the $10 I might get from Valve if I sue them (vs. the $0.25 class action settlement). I couldn't care less about that. Since I can't/won't afford to waste my time taking them to trial or arbitration over such a piddling amount, what's discouraging them from stealing my $10 in the future? A couple dozen people bothering to bring them to small claims doesn't do that. A class action representing a few hundred thousand people would. That's the whole reason that the class action even exists.

Actually, from what I've seen, you're more likely to get full relief in arbitration or small claims than you are in a class action. Especially in this case where Valve agrees to pay arbitration costs or small-claims filing fees.
Again, if it's real damage you're always free to opt out of a class action and file a suit yourself.
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