Welcome to Hell
So you bought a Steam Controller. We all make mistakes. And it has an issue? Bad luck. And you bought it directly from steam? Oh child.
This isn’t going to be fun, but here’s how to return a Steam Controller. This piece serves both as help, and a healthy dose of criticism of the extremely terrible return process. The process has pretty much been intricately designed to make it not worth returning, and frankly I would recommend selling your hardware on Ebay or something instead.
If you have not purchased a Steam Controller yet, do NOT buy it directly from Steam under and circumstance! Buy it from Amazon, a company with competent support and return services. Though, in my opinion, you shouldn’t buy a Steam Controller at all.
While reading this horrible process, please keep in mind this is a $50 controller, which when purchased via Steam requires $8 paid shipping.
Returning a Steam Controller
To start out you’ll need to visit https://help.steampowered.com/ and log in to your account.
Confusingly, we’re going to basically try to return a “game”. Select the “Games, Software, etc” option here unless you see the Steam Controller in the Recent Products list.
If the Steam Controller isn’t in your recent product lists, just type Steam Controller in the search box in the next page:
From there you can request a refund or replacement via Technical Issue, and an option exists for “I’m missing a battery door, USB dongle or wired extender” which just dumps you to fill out a regular steam support request which a support monkey will have to answer directly. (Note: I’ve tried this route before without success, though I’m trying it again to request just a new dongle instead of a refund. If I find success or despair, I’ll update the post)
Clicking Technical Issue brings you to the real refund options. If your problem is minor you might check the “fix technical issues” tab for some generic tips for dealing with common issues.
If you do a refund or return, you’ll get this screen to put in your serial number (support will need the number for the missing pieces option as well):
You’ll need the hardware with you to fill out your forms, they won’t auto fill this in just because you bought it directly from steam with your account.
After this step you’ll get a PDF to print to ship in a box…yeah, you have to provide the box, and pay return shipping.
Note this little nasty warning when returning a product:
Steam’s wording here basically gives them free rein to say “nah it got damaged ‘in transit’ so you actually have to pay us even more”. I haven’t gone through with this whole process myself, because it’s an unbelievable of a disgrace wrapped in failure, but I would certainly be extremely wary of this.
If there’s the slightest chance they could interpret your controller as having been damaged physically it seems like they can just say it’s your fault. Again, this is why you buy from Amazon or any other company with a competent return policy.
Think you can ask support directly to get around the return charge? Sorry, and I quote from a Steam representative:
All Steam Hardware refunds are subject to a restocking fee.
This is Wrong.
Let’s step back and remember I’ve paid $50 and $8 shipping, for a defective product, and I’ll have to pay shipping to return the product. And I’ll also be charged a restocking fee. (Since I haven’t returned, I’m not sure the standard fee, if anyone knows, please do comment to let me know!)
Steam’s support is god awful. This is known. But it’s basically criminal when we’re talking about moderately pricey hardware you can’t properly return, and even if you do you’re paying extra for the privilege of basic support for defective hardware. Do not buy directly from Steam. Purchase from third parties, or consider simply using a different controller. If you have any issues, big or small, you are basically screwed out of $50+.
If you can, sell your Steam Controller on Ebay or whatever. But personally, since my unit was physically defective (USB plug got stuck in the extender, fell apart when removed), I can’t even sell it for a proper price on eBay. I’m just screwed.
And that’s what you get when you buy hardware from Steam: Screwed.