In today’s ever increasing online world, people are looking to the internet for just about everything from research projects and headline news to banking and even grocery shopping. In fact, studies show that Americans spend, on average, more than 6 hours online, and visit close to 23 different websites every day. With this level of online engagement, it is no surprise that there is a growing intersection between the use of the internet and the need to preserve consumer rights.
The legal underpinning of these agreements is that consumers are legally presumed to have read a contract before they agree to its terms. Of course, this presumption is nothing more than legal fiction for a couple of reasons.
First, and foremost we know that the vast majority of consumers do not read these Terms of Service before purportedly agreeing to their provisions. In fact, a survey performed by the international accounting company, Deloitte, found that 91% of consumers generally (and 97% of those between 18-34) do not read online Terms of Service before they sign. This is either because the terms are intentionally long, and obtuse or more likely because it is simply human nature to simply click through.
Second, many times consumers “agree” to these Terms of Service without even knowing that they were doing so. This is because many companies utilize online tools known as
This raises the next important point, in many cases a consumer is “deemed” to have agreed to a company’s Terms of Service without even expressly acknowledging them, by clicking “I agree” or some similar statement. This is because companies often obscure these Terms using systems called sign-in-wraps and browsewraps. A sign-in-wrap is a statement (usually just below where a user clicks to continue to a next page) that by proceeding forward then consumer is automatically agreeing to the Terms of Service. A browsewrap provides even less notice, and protections because they state that simply by using the website the consumer automatically agrees to a company’s Terms of Service, and gives up all legal rights referenced into the provisions.
Remarkable, despite the fact that we know that 9/10 people skip over all three types of website agreements, they have each been upheld by various courts. In fact, by some measures clickwraps have been deemed enforceable 70% of the times that they have been challenged.
This means that consumers must be hyperaware of the what they are, or could be, agreeing to when they visit a website (be it their local grocery store or an international retailer) because they could be forfeiting valuable rights, without a second thought.
The law firm of Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC is committed to helping consumers enforce and preserve their rights when they are injured or damaged by corporate entity. If you believe your rights have been violated, we are available to answer questions on a no-fee, no obligation basis any time.