Overstock Told That 'Browserwrap' Agreement Is Unenforceable

from the or-is-it? dept

It’s still not entirely clear what online agreements are actually enforceable and which aren’t. We’ve seen cases go both ways, with a recent ruling even noting that terms that are a hyperlink away, rather than on the agreement page itself, may be enforceable. But the latest case, involving online retailer Overstock went in the other direction. A court found that Overstock’s arbitration requirement was unenforceable, because, as “browserwrap,” the user was not adequately notified. Eventually, it seems that someone’s going to have to make it clear what sorts of online terms are actually enforceable (if any). Until then, we’re going to see a lot more lawsuits like this one.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: overstock

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Overstock Told That 'Browserwrap' Agreement Is Unenforceable”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
9 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Need Comprehensive T&C

I have an idea which could benefit consumers in multiple ways…

Most people don’t read the terms because it takes too long to read the entire agreement, assuming you even understand everything it says. The result – no one bothers to read them because it’s too much of a burden. I propose that this type of burden is a kind of duress. You want to purchase something, but you dont want to spend an hour reading fine print in order to purchase it, what do you do? You end up saying that you read the terms even though you didn’t.

Companies should NOT be off the hook by forcing customers to be bound to terms they obviously didn’t read. Even if there is a “link” or a “Check here that you have read our terms and conditions” checkbox, that should not be considered legal proof that someone actually read the terms because they will often say they read them due to duress. This is not simply a matter of a consumer being lazy and not willing to spend the extra time needed to read something, because even if they did spend the time to read the terms, most terms require a legal degree to fully understand every aspect of them. So, why should terms be binding when they are often written in ways that are impractical and often impossible for the typical person to fully understand?

The technology exists to measure the amount of time someone is on a particular webpage. Proper proof that they read the terms should be based on the actual time the Terms where displayed in the user’s browser without the user navigating to any other pages. If the time spent on the terms webpage is less then the time it would take for a typical person to read the entire terms, then that would indicate they obviously didn’t read the terms, and accordingly the terms should not be binding on the consumer.

Now imagine a website designed to not allow a person to complete the purchase if it was determined that they did not actually read the terms and agreement. The company would probably go out of business due to all the abandoned purchases!

If the law would agree that terms should not be binding unless there is proof that the customer actually read the terms and simple didn’t say they did due to duress, then websites will be FORCED to create more comprehensive and SHORTER terms to ensure customers will complete their purchase.

Wow, what a world that would be, one with short and comprehensive Terms and Conditions ­čśë

Just a thought.

scottsays:

Re: Need Comprehensive T&C

about the only way to prove someone read something would be to have every word be on its own page in say 200 point font and make you click on each word before seeing the next. Actually, you’d have to do something like make the click spot somewhere random in the word itself so as to not be able to just sit and click the mouse w/o reading. Now, for a few thousand word agreement, it would take probably 15-30 minutes to “read”. Then, as you say, no one would purchase from that company and they’d be forced to have an agreement like “you agree to not sue us if your stuff doesn’t arrive”.

Anonymoussays:

(continued)

As a bonus, by being forced to produce short and comprehensive terms and conditions, this would result in people actually reading them, and thus could open new competitive opportunities for websites.

For example, a website offering “Free shipping” will often effect which website you purchase from. By having shorter T&C, it will be more apparent that site “A” has a 30% restocking fee, while site “B” doesn’t. So websites could actually take advantage of shorter T&C by promoting that they have better terms then the next guy.

Griffsays:

Brown M&M's

If you bury a strange clause somewhere in the T&C and incentivise them to find it, this might help people read T&C.

For example, you get to the checkout page and the prices are all 10% higher than expected but there is is a box for “enter promotion code for 10% discount” and the promo code is buried in the T&C’s…

But it would better if T&C’s were simpler, and consisted of a load of very simple statements that need to be individually accepted and which have legalese a click away if required.

So something like this :

1. You cannot copy this software and give it to someone else (click for details) [ ] I understand

2. If the software screws up something, we aren’t liable (details) [ ] I understand

3. errrr… I can’t remember any other obvious ones that really belong in such an agreement

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop ┬╗

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
13:40 It's Great That Winnie The Pooh Is In The Public Domain; But He Should Have Been Free In 1982 (Or Earlier) (35)
12:06 Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process (28)
10:45 Chinese Government Dragnet Now Folding In American Social Media Platforms To Silence Dissent (14)
10:40 Daily Deal: The 2022 Ultimate Cybersecurity Analyst Preparation Bundle (0)
09:29 A Fight Between Facebook And The British Medical Journal Highlights The Difficulty Of Moderating 'Medical Misinformation' (9)
06:29 Court Ruling Paves The Way For Better, More Reliable Wi-Fi (4)
20:12 Eighth Circuit (Again) Says There's Nothing Wrong With Detaining Innocent Minors At Gunpoint (15)
15:48 China's Regulatory War On Its Gaming Industry Racks Up 14k Casualties (10)
13:31 Chinese Government Fines Local Car Dealerships For Surveilling While Not Being The Government (5)
12:08 Eric Clapton Pretends To Regret The Decision To Sue Random German Woman Who Listed A Bootleg Of One Of His CDs On Ebay (29)
10:44 ICE Is So Toxic That The DHS's Investigative Wing Is Asking To Be Completely Separated From It (29)
10:39 Daily Deal: The 2022 Complete Raspberry Pi And Arduino Developer Bundle (0)
09:31 Google Blocked An Article About Police From The Intercept... Because The Title Included A Phrase That Was Also A Movie Title (24)
06:22 Wireless Carriers Balk At FAA Demand For 5G Deployment Delays Amid Shaky Safety Concerns (16)
19:53 Tenth Circuit Denies Qualified Immunity To Social Worker Who Fabricated A Mother's Confession Of Child Abuse (35)
15:39 Sci-Hub's Creator Thinks Academic Publishers, Not Her Site, Are The Real Threat To Science, And Says: 'Any Law Against Knowledge Is Fundamentally Unjust' (34)
13:32 Federal Court Tells Proud Boys Defendants That Raiding The Capitol Building Isn't Covered By The First Amendment (25)
12:14 US Courts Realizing They Have A Judge Alan Albright Sized Problem In Waco (17)
10:44 Boston Police Department Used Forfeiture Funds To Hide Purchase Of Surveillance Tech From City Reps (16)
10:39 Daily Deal: The Ultimate Microsoft Excel Training Bundle (0)
09:20 NY Senator Proposes Ridiculously Unconstitutional Social Media Law That Is The Mirror Opposite Of Equally Unconstitutional Laws In Florida & Texas (25)
06:12 Telecom Monopolies Are Exploiting Crappy U.S. Broadband Maps To Block Community Broadband Grant Requests (7)
12:00 Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of 2021 At Techdirt (17)
10:00 Gaming Like It's 1926: Join The Fourth Annual Public Domain Game Jam (6)
09:00 New Year's Message: The Arc Of The Moral Universe Is A Twisty Path (33)
19:39 DHS, ICE Begin Body Camera Pilot Program With Surprisingly Good Policies In Place (7)
15:29 Remembering Techdirt Contributors Sherwin And Elliot (1)
13:32 DC Metro PD's Powerful Review Panel Keeps Giving Bad Cops Their Jobs Back (6)
12:11 Missouri Governor Still Expects Journalists To Be Prosecuted For Showing How His Admin Leaked Teacher Social Security Numbers (39)
10:48 Oversight Board Overturning Instagram Takedown Of Ayahuasca Post Demonstrates The Impossibility Of Content Moderation (10)
More arrow
This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it