Valve’s Steam platform has played a tremendous role in springboarding the PC into a position of competition with its console brethren, but as a recently discovered ‘F’ rating awarded to Valve from the Better Business Bureau has shown, it isn’t without its flaws.
As pointed out by Kotaku, the BBB shows that it has received 717 complaints directed at Valve over the past three years, of which 503 went unattended. The complaints, as explained by the company, run the gamut of digital distribution issues, such as blocking of access to games and refunds:
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.
When questioned by Kotaku, Valve’s business development man Erik Johnson dismissed the BBB as “a far less useful proxy for customer issues than Reddit. 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.”
In spite of that, he acknowledged that the company’s growing reputation for abominable customer service was not unfounded:
…we don’t feel like our customer service support is where it needs to be right now. 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.
Without being particularly specific, Johnson proposed integrating Valve’s customer service directly into Steam. Talk is cheap, however, and without any significant competitors, aside from EA’s Origin, Valve really has no incentive to improve their customer service.
With that said, it’s important to note that the Better Business Bureau itself isn’t bulletproof either, with the company having come under fire for giving high ratings to businesses that paid them, while slagging off the ones that did not.