According to the non-profit Better Business Bureau, who grades companies based on 13 factors, Valve has scored an F. The biggest offender, according to the BBB, seems to be Valve’s fairly abysmal customer service. According to their page on the BBB’s website, Valve has had 718 complaints on varying subjects, and has only responded to 215 of them. That leaves 503 unresponded customer service conflicts. The BBB also lists an emerged pattern of complaints that Valve fails to address:
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.
According to the BBB, they review a company’s status every 6 months, which means valve has gone around a year and a half of reviews without having changed, amended, or updated their policy in any significant ways.
Kotaku reached out to Valve for comment, and got a response from business developer Erik Johnson. “The BBB is a far less useful proxy for customer issues than Reddit,” Johnson said. “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.”
However, he did acknowledge that Steam’s customer service is almost universally lacking. “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.”
Apparently, the “lot of work to do” includes an expansive rethinking of the system. Johnson continued, “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.”
Given that, players can look forward to a more open, communicative Valve rather than the wall of silence so many are accustomed to expecting for any Steam or Valve-related conflicts.
Opinon: this all sounds nice in theory, but it’s a hard thing to expect tangible results on for a company that has had complaints about their service for years, those on social media and acknowledged by the BBB alike, and has seen no changes whatsoever. Including, but not limited to, failing to comply with UK and EU laws on consumer protections (such as refunds) and ownership of digital items. Although it would be nice to have a more responsive and communicative Valve, any change seems impossibly distant when looking at just how long Valve’s been successfully operating despite the dismal customer service and support.