Terms and Conditions. AirBnB. Change in Terms.

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Terms of Use. Check box.

Illustration depicting a roadsign with a 'read the small print' concept. Sky background.

AirBnB. Terms.

How many of you sign up for an online account with a business and when you get to the terms of service, you simply check the box without reading the fine print? It happens all of the time, right? It may be that you are too busy to read through it. Or even if you did have the time to read it most of the language is designed to be nearly impossible to decipher.

And then once you check those terms, you agree that the company can at any given point modify those terms without your approval. And make no mistake, you are legally bound to this agreement with the company.

AirBnB.

One business that recently sent out a notice to all of their users regarding a change in the terms of service is AirBnB; the online marketplace and hospitality service. These changes could have major implications for all AirBnB users.

Taken from the email sent to their customers AirBnB says:

Our community and vision for travel have grown significantly, so we’re updating our Terms of Service, Payments Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy (collectively, “Terms”). Also, we rewrote and restructured the Terms to make them shorter, more concise, and easier to read. The changes will go into effect for all existing users on August 25, 2017. When you use Airbnb on or after that day, we’ll ask you to agree to the new Terms.
You can review the new Terms by clicking here. We’ve also put up information to explain these changes in more detail on our Terms of Service Update page. Both the old and new versions of the Terms can be found at the Terms of Service, Payments Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy, tabs through September 25, 2017. You should review these Terms in full yourself.

Review Terms.

These recent updates include changes to their terms, payments and privacy policy.  If you are a user of AirBnB, I’d highly recommend that you review these revised terms to determine how these changes may affect you.

And if you’re overwhelmed by these types of legal agreements, an attorney can always help you navigate through the fine print.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contract Law. Terms of Use.

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Terms of Use. Terms and Conditions.

Terms of Use.

Enforceable Contract

Everyday in the news we read or hear about privacy on the Internet.  On any given day, someone files a lawsuit against Facebook, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or some other social networking site.  And almost always, the lawsuit is in some way connected to the interpretation of, enforcement of, and/or coverage of the site’s Terms of Use.  Everyone talks about Terms of Use (sometimes called Terms of Service), but few know what they are or understand their importance.

Here  are some  important things you should know about Terms of Use:

  1. Terms of Use do not exist to protect your rights – Contrary to popular belief, TOU are not there for your benefit. Whether on a website, a blog, or a social networking venue site, TOU are not designed to protect you and your rights. They are there purely for the benefit of the website owner or Internet service provider.
  2. User gives away a lot. When you click on “accept” you give away many personal rights.  You should at least read the TOU, so you are aware what rights you are relinquishing or affirmatively giving away.
  3. TOU should be read & understood.  Sometimes because of government pressure, customer insurgence, or just a change in heart, social networking sites modify their TOU.  While the law may require that they notify you of such changes, it’s up to you to read the notices when you receive them.  Reading the TOU keeps you aware of the changes that impact you and your rights.
  4. Courts uphold TOU – More and more courts are upholding TOU, much to the surprise of many Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking users.  So long as the TOU adhere to a number of requirements set forth by the court, the website owner gets a free pass. With that in mind, it’s up to you to protect yourself and your pocketbook.
  5. They create a binding & enforceable contract. Many of the sites never expressly state that when you accept TOU you enter into a contractual relationship. There are a few, however, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, which come right out and tell you by accepting their terms, you enter into a binding Agreement, and when  you “ACCEPT”, you agree to be bound. Here is an example of language from Twitter’s TOU:

It’s a Binding & Enforceable Contract

“…  Your access to and use of [Twitter’s] Services is conditioned on your acceptance of and compliance with these Terms. By accessing or using the Services you agree to be bound by these Terms….”  “You may use the Services only if you can form a binding contract with Twitter and are not a person barred from receiving services under the laws of the United States or other applicable jurisdiction. …”

Okay that’s it for today.  Our world is quickly changing, but contract law is still contract law. And as long as you adhere to the simple rules, you’ll not get into trouble.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

Uber. Contract. Terms of Service.

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Uber. Contract.

Uber. Terms and Conditions

Uber. Terms and Conditions

How many times have you downloaded an app to your smartphone or software to your personal computer? Most people have done this dozens of times. Notice that sometimes when you install an app/program you are asked to click on a box that says you “Agree” to the terms of service. In the legal world, this is referred to as a “click-wrap” agreement. On other occasions, you are not required to “click on a box,” but you’re simply invited to read the terms of service.  You don’t have to and there is no one forcing you to do so.  In fact, you can ignore them if you desire.  This is referred to as the “browse-wrap.”

So what exactly are your rights as a consumer, when you supposedly agree to terms of service through one of these two methods?

Terms of Service.Uber.

This question may be closer to an answer after a controversial ruling by federal judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York. In an antitrust class action complaint, Meyer v. Kalanick and Uber Technologies, Inc. the judge denied a motion to compel arbitration in a class action complaint filed against Uber Technologies, a multinational transportation network, which allows its app users to hail rides via their Smartphones.

Like most apps, Uber’s contains a hyperlink to their terms of service, which includes a “mandatory arbitration” clause. However, Judge Rakoff ruled that consumers using the Uber app were not obligated to either click a box (click-wrap) or read through (browse-wrap) the terms of service before using it. Thus, the users never consented to the mandatory arbitration clause. The court also noted that the arbitration clause for Android users was “buried” in pages of legalese in fine print that was barely legible, making it extremely unlikely to be understood by ordinary consumers.

The accepted legal standard has been that in absence of “click-wrap,” the notice of terms of service is required to be conspicuous and indisputable. Judge Rakoff ruled that Uber did not meet these standards. This ruling contradicted a recent federal case out of Massachusetts, which ruled that Uber’s arbitration clause was “sufficiently disclosed.”

Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, have steadfastly enforced mandatory arbitration clauses.  However, this ruling by Judge Rakoff and the 2014 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Nguyen vs. Barnes and Noble have shown that courts take seriously the concept of notice—making consumers aware of the existence of the terms.  Essentially, arbitration provisions and class action waivers are enforceable, so long as the user has been placed on sufficient notice.

In this case, the plaintiff’s allegation that he did not see the terms of service, while registering to use Uber, was sufficient to determine that Uber did not provide sufficient notice.  Therefore, the arbitration provision was not enforceable.

What can a business owner take away from this?

  1. Contract rules apply.
  2. Terms of Use or Terms of Service cannot be hidden in barely legible fine print.
  3. They cannot be stuck inside “highly legalistic language that no ordinary consumer could be expected to understand.”
  4. Best practice, require acceptance of the terms through a click-wrap

Is this a sign of things to come and will congress ultimately have to update federal dealing with mandatory arbitration laws to bring them up to speed with the digital age? We will have to wait and see.

 

Read the Terms of Use. Terms and Conditions.

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Accepting Terms. Terms and Conditions.

Terms of Use

Terms of Use

I have said it many times before and will continue to say it (because some folks don’t get it until it’s too late): READ ALL AGREEMENTS BEFORE YOU ACCEPT THE TERMS. That includes, especially in today’s world, Terms of Use, Terms and Conditions, and Terms of Service. But regardless of the label, the essence is still the same, they are enforceable agreements and you need to read and understand them BEFORE you agree to those terms. Here is why: you give up your rights!

Can you guess which company has the following in its Terms of Use?

  1.  The Services Generally. Except as expressly contemplated under these Terms, as between us and you, we will own all right, title and interest in and to all copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property and proprietary rights in and to the Services, and in all Responses, logos and other materials created using the Services, in all media now known or later devised, to the fullest extent provided under United States and international law. You shall not remove, conceal or alter any copyright notice, byline information, disclaimer, restriction or other notice posted in connection with the Services or any portion thereof.

Why is this so significant?

Because if you hire this company (and many like it) to create content for you, THEY and not you own all of the rights to that content. How do I know? Because the Terms of Use say so right here:

“As between us and you, we will own all right, title and interest in and to all copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property and proprietary rights in and to the Services, and in all Responses, logos and other materials created using the Services…”

And there are a few more not-so-secret secrets lodged in these Terms that you won’t know about until you take time to read and understand them. Good luck with that!

This is why it’s imperative to read and understand all agreements before you accept them. And Terms and Conditions ARE legally enforceable agreements.

If you’re overwhelmed by these types of legal agreements, an attorney can always help you navigate through the fine print.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.

Trial Offers. Risk Free. Terms of Use.

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Terms of Use. Trial Offers. Risk Free.

Terms of Use. Red Reviews.

Terms of Use. Read Reviews.

There are hundreds of commercials on TV and hundreds more all over the internet offering “trial offers” for products that range from skin care to vitamins and supplements. The health and beauty industry is known for these types of trial offers because they want you to feel comfortable trying out their products, so they offer arguably, “risk-free” trials so you can determine if the product is right for you.

But wait…there is always a catch. And, it’s up to you, the consumer, to be aware of the Terms of Use attached to these deals.

Let me start by stating that adults should know that nothing in life is free. If you understand this simple truth, you will be less likely to be duped by slick marketing campaigns and less likely to lose your hard-earned money.

Keranique. Read the Reviews.

One such product that offers such a “risk-free trial” is Keranique, a woman’s hair growth product. And evidently, many consumers seem to be a bit confused about their risk-free offer. The following online review from a Keranique customer really caught my attention. Check it out:

“My biggest issue with Keranique is not the product..its the people who complain about it.  Do you not know how to read? The terms and conditions for the *** trial are all over the place but yet “no one is informed”. Also, for the idiots that think it’s free. What part of “risk free” and “trial” is hard to understand? Risk free does not = Free!!! I can’t believe people are so dumb that they actually think they are getting hundreds of dollars of products (prices of which are clearly listed on the *** web site) for free. I’m not sure where you are from but you don’t get to go to a store, put on a shirt, wear it for 30 days, and then bring it back for free.. so I think letting you try a product before paying for it is more than generous of them.  To end my rant I’d like to say, wake up, pull your heads out of your ***, read what your putting your credit card information into, and don’t expect things in life to be free. Cause you’re going to be very disappointed.” (Yelp, Review #563949)

Again, you must read these agreements very carefully before placing your order. The fine print usually explains that you must cancel your order if you are not satisfied with the risk-free trial or you will continue to receive the product and your credit card will continue to be charged. These are sometimes called, “Continuity Agreements,” because they last forever until you cancel.

FTC Rulings. Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission lists some helpful common sense tips on their website http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0101-free-trial-offers dealing with Free Trial Offers.

These include:

  • Research the company online.
  • Find the terms and conditions for the offer.
  • Look for who’s behind the offer.
  • Watch out for pre-checked boxes.
  • Mark your calendar.
  • Look for info on how you can cancel future shipments or services.
  • Read your credit and debit card statements.

Remember, in the end it is your responsibility to make sure you completely understand these offers before signing up.  As an adult, you are accountable for your choices. An informed and educated consumer is much more likely to be a happy customer.

How do you feel about “risk-free” trials? Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward. Find me on my Facebook Law Fan Page, Twitter Law Page, Google+, and LinkedIn.