Author Topic: Will Early Access kill Refunds?  (Read 6815 times)

Backer42

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Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« on: September 12, 2017, 05:38:48 AM »
There is question on Reddit about refunds in relation to Early Access: https://www.reddit.com/r/starcitizen_refunds/comments/6zlahs/will_early_access_kill_refunds/

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Will SC status as Early Access stop Refunds? Recent interview with CR stating the 3.0 update will be "akin to Early Access". Steams policy on refunding Early Access Games are the same as a complete game. Less than 2 weeks and 2 hours of play time!!!

Let me clarify the legal situation for EU citizens here: There are two periods applying here:

The "no questions asked" refund period for goods ordered online:

It is 14 days (with no legal playtime limit) and it starts when all ordered goods have been delivered completely. Incomplete deliveries never start it. Steam adheres to this by resetting the counter when the developer marks his product as "complete" (removes it from Early Access). It doesn't matter if the product works or if you simply don't like it. You can return it, when ordered over the Internet.

The two years EU warranty for any goods sold inside the EU:

The product was delivered, but past the 14 days you find out, that it is broken or doesn't match the description (you ordered 100 star systems, but got only one). Then you have 24 months after delivery to request a repair or a refund. Any time the product gets repaired (for software that means patched), the warranty period starts again. The EU warranty only expires two years after the product as advertised has been completely delivered and is without major faults.

So for EU citizens there will be refunds for years to come, no matter what Chris Robert tries. EU consumers can't legally waive these rights, so it doesn't matter what some ToS states.

Moeis

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 06:41:57 AM »
You are actually wrong about that.
http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/guarantees-returns/index_en.htm
http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/guarantees-returns/faq/index_en.htm

Click on cancel and return order, you will see where it states that digital content is excluded once you have started to download.  The other link is a FAQ.

Also Steam does not start the 2 hour or 2 week timer over again with early access when it fully releases,  and EU citizens do not have a 2 year warranty on digital content.

Motto

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 08:53:27 AM »
Any time the product gets repaired (for software that means patched), the warranty period starts again.

That's not true. If you apply warranty and something is fixed by replacing a part, the warranty doesn't start all over but just continues. Only for the replaced part the whole warranty period is valid again. And for digital goods no warranty applies unless you haven't used the product (e.g. started a download or stream or have the product sealed). But in that case it is right of return which mostly is limited by 2 weeks or 30 days by the seller. You do have a return no questions asked for 7 days for (most) products when not used, but that doesn't include digital stuff. So a book I can return, an e-book I can't.

The Kickstarter Early Access is interesting though, since it means that as long as it is in Early Access refunds are in order. Guess Chris thinks he can work around that with a new ToS. His biggest problem being of course the fact that he doesn't have the money to give back in the first place.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 08:59:13 AM by Motto »

nightfire

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 09:22:09 AM »
Any time the product gets repaired (for software that means patched), the warranty period starts again.

That's not true.

This, and a reality check: if EU digital customers indeed had the right to return any software for 2 weeks or 2 years, that kind of consumer power and pressure on companies to make working software would have given us a bug-free world long ago. Which it obviously hasnít.

Backer42

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 09:26:10 AM »
This, and a reality check: if EU digital customers indeed had the right to return any software for 2 weeks or 2 years, that kind of consumer power and pressure on companies to make working software would have given us a bug-free world long ago. Which it obviously hasnít.
The fun fact this about this is when you're going to test this in an EU court, your seller is always going to buckle and refund you.

Backer42

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 09:40:00 AM »
That's not true. If you apply warranty and something is fixed by replacing a part, the warranty doesn't start all over but just continues. Only for the replaced part the whole warranty period is valid again.
There is not "parts" in EU mandatory warranty law for consumers. The whole thing is based on the concept that your seller failed to the deliver the fault-free product. The warranty period doesn't start with the sale, it starts with a complete and fault-free delivery.

For example you get a bicycle with a missing wheel. You return it and your seller takes three months to repair it and put in the missing wheel. Three months after the sale you finally have a complete fault-free bicycle you can actually ride, so then the actual delivery happened and the EU warranty therefore expires 24 months later. The period before is just your seller defaulting on the contract. A contract which states "bicycle" not "bicycle wheel".

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And for digital goods no warranty applies unless you haven't used the product
There is no warranty exemption for "digital goods", it's just not tried often in court. Only "no questions asked" 14 days returns are limited. Though downloading "something" (like an alpha demo, or just a launcher or a trailer for a movie) is not enough, the download has to be the complete product as advertised.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 09:42:20 AM by Backer42 »

Motto

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2017, 10:12:17 AM »
For the warrenty to start when a complete product has been delivered, that is true. But who would accept an incomplete product? And what seller would deliver a incomplete product?

Now, when buying digital goods you have to agree to the terms of the seller. The seller will always state that a digital product can't be returned or claimed once used. So it has to be really faulty for a claim to be validated. If I were to return with a broken gamedisc (as in scratched) I might be able to get a new disc, but no money back. If I play a game and want to return it because I didn't like the game, I'd have a problem. That won't work. That's the risc with digital goods. And one of the benefits of the likes of Steam who provide that service as part of their business. As a seller on Steam, you have to accept that or don't use Steam to sell your product. And the limit on most digital goods is one year as I seem to remember. I know that Nintendo will replace a faulty disc within a year but after that, you can buy a new one. And submitting a disc full of scratches won't work of course.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2017, 11:19:02 AM by Motto »

StanTheMan

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2017, 10:24:09 AM »
There is question on Reddit about refunds in relation to Early Access: https://www.reddit.com/r/starcitizen_refunds/comments/6zlahs/will_early_access_kill_refunds/

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Will SC status as Early Access stop Refunds? Recent interview with CR stating the 3.0 update will be "akin to Early Access". Steams policy on refunding Early Access Games are the same as a complete game. Less than 2 weeks and 2 hours of play time!!!

Let me clarify the legal situation for EU citizens here: There are two periods applying here:

The "no questions asked" refund period for goods ordered online:

It is 14 days (with no legal playtime limit) and it starts when all ordered goods have been delivered completely. Incomplete deliveries never start it. Steam adheres to this by resetting the counter when the developer marks his product as "complete" (removes it from Early Access). It doesn't matter if the product works or if you simply don't like it. You can return it, when ordered over the Internet.

The two years EU warranty for any goods sold inside the EU:

The product was delivered, but past the 14 days you find out, that it is broken or doesn't match the description (you ordered 100 star systems, but got only one). Then you have 24 months after delivery to request a repair or a refund. Any time the product gets repaired (for software that means patched), the warranty period starts again. The EU warranty only expires two years after the product as advertised has been completely delivered and is without major faults.

So for EU citizens there will be refunds for years to come, no matter what Chris Robert tries. EU consumers can't legally waive these rights, so it doesn't matter what some ToS states.

Without researching it, IIRC in the UK the sale of goods act has a limitation of 6 years (or more).

Essentially if a reasonable person would expect a product (or service) to last/deliver x then you can ask for some or all of your cash back if it doesnt meet that.   

dsmart

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 04:32:53 PM »
Early Access titles are subject to all refund requirements as full release games. This is why Steam treats Early Access refunds the same as release purchases. And what Steam does, everyone follows, seeing as it's the biggest digital retailer of games.

The murky part is in the EU where you have the 14 day issue. If the product is never finished, and is in Early Access, is that purchase? Yes, because it is treated as a pre-order. And can you cancel a pre-order? Yes. At any time.

However, since in the US the courts have ruled that agreeing to a ToS binds you to it, if an Early Access ToS states that you won't get refunds after a period of time, if you agree to that ToS, then try to get a refund, they have every right to refuse it. Taking them to arbitration won't get around that because you agreed to the ToS.

This is why Star Citizen is moving to Early Access.
Star Citizen isn't a game. It's a TV show about a bunch of characters making a game. It's basically "This is Spinal Tap" - except people think the band is real.

Orgetorix

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 05:23:32 PM »
However, since in the US the courts have ruled that agreeing to a ToS binds you to it, if an Early Access ToS states that you won't get refunds after a period of time, if you agree to that ToS, then try to get a refund, they have every right to refuse it. Taking them to arbitration won't get around that because you agreed to the ToS.

This is why Star Citizen is moving to Early Access.

Which is true, but when there is clearly Fraudulent Misrepresentation, consisting of False Affirmative Statements, Concealment, and Nondisclosure, then any contract entered into in such a case, is a nullity on it's face.

Anyway we'll just have to wait and see what end run they're going to try and pull off with a change in status to Early Release, and of course the obligatory modification to the TOS.   

Motto

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2017, 04:33:00 AM »
But a ToS has to obey the law. If the ToS has provisions that aren't legal, it doesn't bind the consumer to the ToS. So, as long as Early Access still is not the finished product, for all EU consumers at least CIG has to keep on refunding. I wondering how that'll work with Chris having all those shell companies.

Of course, this is all speculation for fun. They will not be much discussion about refunds as soon as CIG collapses due to lack of funds. And as soon as CIG reaches that point, the books will be openend and everybody can see how the scam actually went down over the years. Most of the money will be gone of course, but I do hope they strip Chris and all his croonies down to the skin.

Moeis

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2017, 04:56:01 AM »
But a ToS has to obey the law. If the ToS has provisions that aren't legal, it doesn't bind the consumer to the ToS. So, as long as Early Access still is not the finished product, for all EU consumers at least CIG has to keep on refunding. I wondering how that'll work with Chris having all those shell companies.

Of course, this is all speculation for fun. They will not be much discussion about refunds as soon as CIG collapses due to lack of funds. And as soon as CIG reaches that point, the books will be openend and everybody can see how the scam actually went down over the years. Most of the money will be gone of course, but I do hope they strip Chris and all his croonies down to the skin.

I highly doubt that Valve would be so willing to get into the early access business in the EU if the laws actually did allow for EU customers to get a refund at any time they want.  So there is got to be more to the law that us lay people don't know.

Motto

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 05:01:24 AM »
You have to be willing to go to court, and be able to afford that. And even if you did, they probably settle right away and out of court. Easier and cheaper. Nobody will go through the trouble for a couple of bucks and that's what they all count on. Now, if you got a couple of thousands of dollars in it, that'll change.

But again, it doesn't matter. CIG will be out of funds soon.

Backer42

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2017, 04:06:09 PM »
You have to be willing to go to court, and be able to afford that. And even if you did, they probably settle right away and out of court. Easier and cheaper. Nobody will go through the trouble for a couple of bucks and that's what they all count on. Now, if you got a couple of thousands of dollars in it, that'll change.
CIG settles immediately if you threat them with legal action. They won't ever go to court until they fold, so the amount doesn't matter.

Valve is a different story. They go beyond what the EU law requires (few hours of playtime) for distant selling refunds, but they do it to deal with the more strong warranty laws in a convenient way. If you make a good case ("game crashing after the tutorial"), they will refund you even after 14 days and hours of playtime. It's just not an automated process. It doesn't cost them, only the developer. You don't have to go to court. Valve's competitors go even beyond that. GOG has a 30 days refund with no playtime limit.

What's more important is: Whatever you clicked through to make your payment (like the Kickstarter project description) and also the generally available advertising material / public press reporting is part of the contract for a consumer purchase. Any warranty and grace periods don't even start until that is delivered.

For a Kickstarter backer inside the EU that means, as long as
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Real quick, Star Citizen is:
A rich universe focused on epic space adventure, trading and dogfighting in first person.
Single Player Ė Offline or Online(Drop in / Drop out co-op play)
Persistent Universe (hosted by US)
Mod-able multiplayer (hosted by YOU)
No Subscriptions
No Pay to Win
doesn't appear at the consumer's premises, nothing can expire legally. ToS doesn't matter, because EU consumers cannot waive their rights. The latter is a really important part of consumer protection, because otherwise it would be worthless (every shady company would circumvent it). Complete contractual freedom only applies in B2B transactions between registered commercial entities, consumers are protected, even against their will.

The interesting thing is how CIG now tries to make MVP 2.6 or 3.0 the effective legal purchase item for new customers, so at least for those they fulfill the legal obligations by delivering the MVP. But does this work in EU? I don't think so. What matters is what uninformed consumers expect when they buy "Star Citizen". Like after attending to CIG's presenation at Gamescom, after watching videos published by CIG, after reading Gamestar reporting. Everything what is endorsed by CIG becomes part of the contract. Consumer protection explicitly relieves the consumers from doing deep and throughly research for every purchase, just as they don't expect them to understand legalese in ToS documents.

To get rid of refunds, CIG has to

...pull all advertising and made up demo reels for Star Citizen.
...honestly describe the MVP, ideally paired with a specific name ("Star Citizen Stanton") separating it from the fantasy.
...get the message out in media outlets who reported on the non-existing fantasy product.
...stop and correct shills theory-crafting on social media.
...stop selling concept ships.

Only if the unsuspecting consumer knows exactly what he gets without going through pages fine-print, CIG might be able to get away with selling a MVP.

Scruffpuff

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Re: Will Early Access kill Refunds?
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2017, 08:08:16 PM »
To get rid of refunds, CIG has to

...pull all advertising and made up demo reels for Star Citizen.
...honestly describe the MVP, ideally paired with a specific name ("Star Citizen Stanton") separating it from the fantasy.
...get the message out in media outlets who reported on the non-existing fantasy product.
...stop and correct shills theory-crafting on social media.
...stop selling concept ships.

Only if the unsuspecting consumer knows exactly what he gets without going through pages fine-print, CIG might be able to get away with selling a MVP.

The hardest part about this is stopping existing backers from aggressively lying and misrepresenting the product at every conceivable opportunity.  CIG can do everything you said, but it won't stop the inertia of the existing cult as they evangelize the game with extensive lists of complete fabrications, simply parroting everything CIG has been claiming from the beginning.  There's still a lot of energy in this freight train - stopping CIG itself won't be enough to stop the damage CIG is causing.

 

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