Author Topic: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau  (Read 7383 times)

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Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Source:
http://steamed.kotaku.com/valve-is-not-psyched-they-got-an-f-in-customer-service-1691308332

http://www.bbb.org/alaskaoregonwesternwashington/business-reviews/computer-software-publishers-and-developers/valve-corporation-in-bellevue-wa-27030704

Total Biscuit also discusses it on the recent podcast: https://youtu.be/8q9W2cor1dI?t=2h5m50s

Not particularly surprising given their business model and Steam's recent history of half-finished shovel ware games. Perhaps more people will be making the switch to Origin and GOG for the games that are available given that both give refunds on purchases. A practice that Valve and Steam have actively tried to get around despite rulings against them in EU courts.

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
An other episode of Akalabeth going "I hate Steam and so should you!" ?
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Offline Mika

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Actually, there is a substantial amount of people who don't like Steam. I confess I never liked the idea, but had to conform since a couple of too good games were only released through it on PC. Darn XCOM for being available only on Steam.

I never saw the point of Steam for me, I always thought it as a rather invasive copy-protection scheme masked as a service, unfortunately a service for which I have no use (but apparently, Valve would have, as it's also a marketing study and merchandising tool). I don't play multiplayer games and I don't care about chat or Steam friends or achievements. When I play, it's my thing. Up to this day I never bought a game through Steam or other electronic stores, even if there are large discounts. I always use my account in Offline mode, unless I'm forced to update the Steam - and these seem to break things, especially if it happens close to firewall updates. I'm tempted to physically disconnect my internet to prevent stuff from calling home, but that doesn't seem to work out that well. I actually don't recall the service being advertised that way back in last decade.

It was actually 2013 when I activated a Steam account. Up to this day I'd much rather buy a physical copy of a game without any copy protections, they seem to work best regardless of the hardware. I do find it kinda weird that people are now raising the issue of refunds and all that, when we were saying the same thing before the thing got massively popular. Similarly, I had to work around the registration of Dead Rising 2 (legitimately bought), as I did not see the point of registering to Games for Windows Live. Turned out the game works better without it. LAN multiplayer support seems to be lacking in the current crop of the games, unfortunately. The only way for me to play multiplayer is to play against or with the people I know.

This is not to say I want to single out Steam, I definitely don't like other on-line copy protection systems either. So I have adopted a more conservative approach to gaming: I only buy games after they have been out for something like a year, get reviewed well and gather some following in Youtube. Effectively, I'm spending far less money in games than I used to, funny thing that, since now I could actually afford it. I was about to quit gaming completely a couple of years ago, but XCOM and the new Torment game revived my interest.
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Offline Scotty

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Hey guys?  This is your friendly neighborhood mod saying that you're absolutely allowed to discuss the fact that Steam got this rating and what it means.

I will be stopping any "Steam sucks because x" or "Steam is awesome because y" argumentative bull**** because it never goes anywhere good.

Carry on.

 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Valve really need to stop with their whole childish rockstar 'flat management' act and actually accept that they're accepting a huge amount of money from people to provide a service, and they need to actually provide that service even when it's inconvenient or boring. Seriously, it was sort of cute five years ago but all my good faith for Valve has withered. When you actually look what their fantastically self-affirming ideal has accomplished it's pretty damn meagre.
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Offline Dragon

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Not surprising. Steam used to only host working games of reasonable quality. Really, most of those games are only good for collecting trading cards. They usually end up worth more than you pay for those games, so there's that. :) My father made a nice sum of money off that (eh, if only he could do the same thing with stock market, we'd be millionaires by now...).

 

Offline headdie

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
unfortunately despite Steam being a dumping ground for absolute rubbish, having poor customer service and continuing with practices illegal in Europe and other territories, the platform has a virtual monopoly on 3rd party games, while this is not the same as a true monopoly with there being competition the typical consumer who is only interested in getting the latest hype games is not fully aware of this and dosnt care so long as they get the game meaning that without a massive public scandal or a radical change in Philosophy at Valve things will not change.  Also, as Microsoft proves, even a massive scandal is no guarantee that things will change.
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Offline jr2

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
...
Quote
I decided to ask Valve business development authority Erik Johnson what was going on behind the scenes. He replied that Valve doesn't really consider the Better Business Bureau a priority, but that users have the right of it: Valve needs to toss its busted customer service program in the incinerator and start over.

"The BBB is a far less useful proxy for customer issues than Reddit," Johnson began. "We don't use them for much. They don't provide us as useful of data as customers emailing us, posting on Reddit, posting on Twitter, and so on."

"The more important thing is that we don't feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now," he said. "We think customers are right. When they say our support's bad, our initial reaction isn't to say, 'No, it's actually good. Look at all of this.' It's to say that, no, they're probably right, because they usually are when it comes to this kind of thing. We hear those complaints, and that's gonna be a big focus for us throughout the year. We have a lot of work to do there. We have to do better."

When an issue's got roots this deep, though, how do you even begin to untangle it? Valve, Johnson explained, is looking at a complete overhaul.

"We need to do a variety of things," he said. "We need to build customer support directly into Steam. We need to understand what's the most efficient way to solve customer problems. Right now we're in a state where we're doing a bunch of technical work on thinking through how does a support issue get raised, who has to see it, how do refunds get issued within Steam—we've done a poor job on all of that up to this date. We think it's something we really need to focus on."

Don't hold your breath, but maybe knock on some wood...

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Thing is, people are used to the Supermarket model, if you have a problem it's usually the Supermarket that you go to first to request a refund or replacement, and then leave them to sort out the issue with the supplier. Steam wants no part of that model, they want to be nothing more than middle-ware, providing a platform without having to take responsibility for the stock.

I mostly like Steam, it's convenient, though possibly too convenient, and if you are patient, you never have to wait long for a decent deal to come along, and I understand that simply saying 'it's a terrible game' is not reason enough to demand a refund. The bigger problem is false/misleading information, especially when you get into the world of Greenlight games, that entire area is a minefield for both Steam and the customer, and the Steam form response of 'talk to the developer' is understandably annoying when it is effectively their platform that gave you that information in the first place.

It's really a question of 'who takes responsibility?' and there seems to be this whirlpool between Steam and the Developers where that responsibility vanishes into oblivion.

 

Offline jr2

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Well, TBH, unless the problem is specifically with the distribution method (ie, caused by Steam), the responsibility is with the developer, you can hardly expect Valve to go cleaning up a developer's games.  However, Valve can and should threaten to cease offering products from some developers if said developers are selling half-baked crap that is causing problems for everyone, and possibly, if the problem is widespread enough, threaten to ban all games from that developer.

Of course, Valve would probably need a developer's cooperation if there were problems with the Steam platform, but I'm assuming they would get it if the developer wants any sales at all.

 

Offline Droid803

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
so, steam gets f for people going "you most make an update" to products they don't really have control over (other than displaying it or not)?
whatever happened to making informed purchases?
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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
so, steam gets f for people going "you most make an update" to products they don't really have control over (other than displaying it or not)?
whatever happened to making informed purchases?

Hey, you most make an update would have been totally fine if 30% of every game that woutersmits bought would go to the SCP ;)

 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Steam is a store, not a distributor.   How many stores,  brick and mortar or digital,  do you find selling incomplete or broken products?  They are responsible for the products they stock. 
Also it's a bit paradoxical to want to be hands off when it comes to customer complaints or quality concerns and at the same time be involved at the very front end: the time in which the player is actually consuming their content.

Steam's solution to legal concerns seems to invariably involve changes to the user agreement which has said user waive all of their consumer rights.  It happened previously when the users were required to waive their rights to class actions lawsuits, now the EU rulings have been answered by a new user agreement which has them waive their rights when they start downloading their content. 

It should be no surprise that they receive an "F" when they're creating a system which is inherently anti-consumer and arguably anti-competitive.


 

Offline deathfun

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Quote
Steam is a store, not a distributor.   How many stores,  brick and mortar or digital,  do you find selling incomplete or broken products?  They are responsible for the products they stock. 

There's a key difference between a store, and steam. Store's *buy* the product they sell, and are thus responsible for making sure things bought from them are in one piece and not shoddy

Steam *does not* buy the products they display but rather are paid royalty to *distribute them* from the developer

So no, they are not a store by any means


That, and by incomplete/broken products, are you referring to Early Access?
"No"

 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Quote
Steam is a store, not a distributor.   How many stores,  brick and mortar or digital,  do you find selling incomplete or broken products?  They are responsible for the products they stock. 

There's a key difference between a store, and steam. Store's *buy* the product they sell, and are thus responsible for making sure things bought from them are in one piece and not shoddy

There's a difference between burden and responsibility.
A brick and mortar store is not "responsible" for buying good products, it's simply in their best interests. They have limited shelf space so they buy the products that will sell.  If a product is defective, they often have a legal obligation to replace it and a product which is not good and which does not sell affects their bottom line because it both takes up valuable shelf space and maybe be sold at a loss, thus the burden.

Steam has no shelf-space limits thus haven't the burden of caring about quality. Its in their best interests to sell anything and everything they can get their hands on. If the consumer is willing to put up money for it, its in their best interests to stock it.  When it comes to legal obligations, they dodge those by creating agreements in which the consumer is required to waive their rights in order to either continue using the store or to use their product.

Or in other words, as far as responsibilities go, they undermine their responsibility to the consumer in two ways. By making them waive their rights, and by offering them substandard products.

Steam *does not* buy the products they display but rather are paid royalty to *distribute them* from the developer

So no, they are not a store by any means

So are you claiming that Steam is misrepresenting itself? The URL is store.steampowered.com. The link on the page is "STORE". It's described as a "marketplace".

Steam at worst sells subscriptions, but selling a subscription is still selling a product.  People can obtain refunds for services or subscriptions they've entered into.

That, and by incomplete/broken products, are you referring to Early Access?

519 of 722 complaints about Valve to the BBB are related to "Problems with Product/Service".
Whether these are early access or other products, who knows.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 02:48:07 pm by Akalabeth Angel »

 

Offline deathfun

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Quote
So are you claiming that Steam is misrepresenting itself? The URL is store.steampowered.com. The link on the page is "STORE". It's described as a "marketplace".

Go go power of the technicalities

Quote
There's a difference between burden and responsibility.
A brick and mortar store is not "responsible" for buying good products, it's simply in their best interests. They have limited shelf space so they buy the products that will sell.  If a product is defective, they often have a legal obligation to replace it and a product which is not good and which does not sell affects their bottom line because it both takes up valuable shelf space and maybe be sold at a loss, thus the burden.

Precisely my point, in fewer words

Quote
When it comes to legal obligations, they dodge those by creating agreements in which the consumer is required to waive their rights in order to either continue using the store or to use their product.

They're not dodging anything. It's written on paper, and clearly states what you're getting into. What you're downloading is a distribution platform that is an .exe you put on your computer, not some store you walk into. Hence, distribution platform that looks like a storefront. To use this program (which presents you products you can buy), you need to agree to the TOS of the .exe (something that's present with a great deal of programs you download and use). From that, it is significantly different from walking into a store, or going onto a website to buy something

You'll also notice that on their website, they tell you that you need to do the free installation of steam in order to do anything. There's a lot of things you are required to read as a consumer, and whether or not they kill your rights is entirely up to you to agree to

Quote
519 of 722 complaints about Valve to the BBB are related to "Problems with Product/Service".
Whether these are early access or other products, who knows.

Is there any way to see what the complaints are?
"No"

 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
Quote
So are you claiming that Steam is misrepresenting itself? The URL is store.steampowered.com. The link on the page is "STORE". It's described as a "marketplace".

Go go power of the technicalities

Technicalities? You mean like this?
"Steam *does not* buy the products they display but rather are paid royalty to *distribute them* from the developer

So no, they are not a store by any means"


And having Steam self-describe themselves as a Store is a technicality? No. It's a deliberate choice.
The nature of their user agreement and the language they use on their storefront is completely at odds. The store implies game ownership, the EULA states that's not the case. Basically they present their service as one thing and then in the EULA explain the real nature of it in legal jargon.

Quote
When it comes to legal obligations, they dodge those by creating agreements in which the consumer is required to waive their rights in order to either continue using the store or to use their product.
They're not dodging anything. It's written on paper, and clearly states what you're getting into. What you're downloading is a distribution platform that is an .exe you put on your computer, not some store you walk into. Hence, distribution platform that looks like a storefront. To use this program (which presents you products you can buy), you need to agree to the TOS of the .exe (something that's present with a great deal of programs you download and use). From that, it is significantly different from walking into a store, or going onto a website to buy something

When the European Union courts rule that their policies are illegal and rather than change those policies, they create a policy to make it legal, then they are dodging their responsibilities.
It's akin to Obama's speech back several years ago where he said Quantanamo was bad because it was outside the law so to rectify the problem they had to create a new law to make it legal.

If the situation is at odds with the law, then change the situation.  That is the intent of the court ruling.  Not simply some clause which makes consumers waive their rights.  It's dirty and underhanded and wantonly anti-consumer. Any company which asks you to forgo your rights as a consumer is anti-consumer.

Both Origin and GOG give refunds on digital content., all without some court making a ruling against them.
Note that Electronic Art's BBB rating is an A+


Quote
519 of 722 complaints about Valve to the BBB are related to "Problems with Product/Service".
Whether these are early access or other products, who knows.

Is there any way to see what the complaints are?

"On June 25, 2013, BBB recognized a pattern of complaints from consumers regarding product, service and customer service issues. Consumers allege the games they purchase from Valve Corporation or Steam malfunction, do not work or have an invalid CD key. Consumers also claim the company blocks users from accessing their library of games. Consumers further allege they attempt to contact the company for assistance, but Valve Corporation fails to correct the gaming issues, does not correct credit card charges or issue a refund, or does not respond at all.

On July 1, 2013, BBB notified the company of the complaint pattern. To date, the company has not responded to BBB's request to address the pattern.

BBB encourages consumers to carefully review the terms and conditions of the products or services offered by any company prior to purchase."


Etcetera.

Don't know if there' anything more specific, that's something you'll need to search out yourself.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2015, 05:33:02 pm by Akalabeth Angel »

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
The thing is, it is about who is doing the advertising, according to Steam, it is the Developer, according to the Customer, it is on Steam, and both are correct.

The problem isn't that Steam should take responsibility, it isn't that that the Developer should take responsibility, it's that they've managed to create a situation where no-one has to take responsibility but the customer.

As for the whole 'buying things' argument, Steam do make a profit from every game they sell, they don't do it out of the kindness of their heart, so it seems to me that everyone here is mostly playing with semantics at the moment.


 
Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
The thing is, it is about who is doing the advertising, according to Steam, it is the Developer, according to the Customer, it is on Steam, and both are correct.

That only applies to complaints wherein features of the game are at odds with the advertising (ie false advertising).  But I would suspect the F rating is derived from a variety of factors and complaints, not only those which fit into that fairly narrow category.

 

Offline Flipside

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Re: Valve receives an "F" grade from the Better Business Bureau
True, and I'd also state that 'it doesn't work with my machine', which seems to be a common call for refunds isn't always a valid argument either with computers. But certainly the idea that Steam 'isn't a store' because of the way it sells goods, rather than the fact that it sells goods is somewhat worrying to see floated around.