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I've noticed that Steam has recently added this bit of text to its review and confirm page:

By clicking the button below to proceed you agree that Valve provides you immediate access to digital content as soon as you complete your purchase, without waiting the 14-day withdrawal period. Therefore, you expressly waive your right to withdraw from this purchase.

To me that translates to "I waive my statutory rights that have been granted to me by the EU", which, to my knowledge cannot be done. So does this paragraph have any legal bearing within the EU (I know this practice is commonplace in the States)?

Thanks in advance!

Note: Steam has recently begun allowing refunds within 14 days for faulty products with a few caveats, whether or not this is a result of a legal challenge or not I don't know.

  • 1
    While this is very likely a coincidence, just 2 days ago they completely changed their terms of service regarding refunds, so this question no longer applies: you can just ask, and they will refund you (some lenient conditions apply). I mean, I don't think they are reading here and reacting, but… – o0'. Jun 5 '15 at 10:22
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The European laws have specific sections regarding digital goods. The following two passages are relevant to you:

From Returning unwanted goods:

Warning!
Please note that you may not use goods that you have received before deciding to withdraw from the purchase. The right to withdraw exists to allow you to examine the product in the same way as you would in a shop, not to give you 14 days free use.

Be aware also that more specific rules apply to digital content (e.g. downloading or streaming music or video).

From Shopping online:

Digital content

Specific information requirements apply when you buy digital content online, e.g. when downloading or streaming music or video. Before you make the purchase, you must also be informed how the content operates with relevant hardware/software (interoperability) and about its functionality, including whether any geographical restrictions apply to the use of the content and if private copies are allowed.

You also enjoy the right of withdrawal within 14 days from concluding the contract for online digital content. However, once you start downloading or streaming the content you may no longer withdraw from the purchase, provided that the trader has complied with his obligations. Specifically, the trader must first obtain your explicit agreement to the immediate download or streaming, and you must explicitly acknowledge that you lose your right to withdraw once the performance has started.

So yes, the law specifically allows you to waive that right when purchasing digital goods. So long as Steam has correctly advertised the product's system requirements and other key details, you lose your right to withdraw from the purchase the moment you start downloading it to your system.

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    Does that apply to games that aren't fit for purpose, i.e they just don't run, too? But thanks for your very thorough reply! – user175 May 30 '15 at 19:09
  • That's a trickier area that I'm not sure about. If it's not Steam's fault, but the game developer's, Steam will generally just forward you to the developer's contact form in order to file bug reports. But they're not evil and if you're truly having problems, chances are at minimum they will deactivate the game from your account and give you credit. You will probably have to jump through quite a few hoops to prove that it really doesn't work. – animuson May 30 '15 at 19:20
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    I encountered this before and it was only by throwing the whole EU Statutory rights thing at them that they issued me with a refund, but it seems like too many people caught on to this for their liking, hence this new paragraph. They REALLY don't like dealing with refunds. Thanks for your help anyway :) – user175 May 30 '15 at 19:25

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