Have you ever downloaded an app, updated your phone, signed-up for a website or made online purchases? Have you noticed that whenever this happens, you are asked, one way or another, to agree to “Terms and Conditions?” Do you actually read them before you agree to be bound by them? While most people are familiar with being asked to agree to “Terms and Conditions,” one recent survey found that over 90% of consumers accept “Terms and Conditions” without reading them. So if you do not read them, you are not alone.
This is why you should ALWAYS read the “Terms and Conditions” before agreeing to be bound by them.
Terms and Conditions are a contract, between you and the company you are using. Blindly agreeing to a legally binding contract can severely negatively impact you and limit your future rights. You could be signing away your rights to privacy, compensation (if you are damaged by something the company you are doing business with does or fails to do) the ability to file a class action, or any lawsuit at all, the warranties you entitled to rely upon and more.
It is critically important that you know what you are agreeing to and how the “Terms and Conditions” you agree to impact your rights as a consumer. Businesses often make it difficult, and time consuming for consumers to read, review and understand their “Terms and Conditions, hiding them in the “fine print” of lengthy documents and betting that consumers will agree to them without knowing what they are agreeing to do or not do. And if you never read them before agreeing to them, you could find that you have serious legal issues and limitations further down the line, if anything goes wrong. Here are some of the things all consumers should be aware of when considering whether to agree to “Terms and Conditions”:
Giving Up the Right to File a Lawsuit if You Have a Dispute: Many companies do everything they can to avoid being sued, even if they do things that harm consumers. This is done by asking consumers to agree to arbitration and to waive any rights to bring or participate in class actions. If you agree to these, you will not be able to bring a lawsuit for any damages you suffer, and you will not be able to participate in any class actions or participate in any class action recoveries. Arbitration rules often limit your rights to obtain information from vendors and always deny your right to have claims considered and determined by a judge and jury. If the “Terms and Conditions” allow you to opt-out of arbitration provisions, you should always do so.
Waiving or Limiting Warranties: Companies often try to limit or eliminate as many express and implied warranties as they can in order to limit consumers’ warranty rights and warranty claims. While laws of many states do not allow a consumer to waive all warranties, limitations on warranties can be just as burdensome and oppressive.
Shortening the Statutes of Limitation on Your Claims: Every claim you may bring if you are damaged by a business has a statute of limitations, which sets a deadline for when you must bring your claims or be barred from doing so. It is very important for you to know how long you have to bring claims if you are damaged. “Terms and Conditions” are often used to require you to bring claims much more quickly than the applicable statue of limitations would. So, you could be required to bring claims within a year, even if the statute of limitation for those claims are 2-5 years or more.
Privacy Concerns: There are a lot of apps with some really concerning privacy issues, and by agreeing to the “Terms and Conditions,” you could be giving the Company the right to share or even sell your personal data to third parties, without your knowledge. In order to protect your personal information, you should try to limit or prevent the Companies you do business with to share or sell your personal data.
Education: When you spend time reading the “Terms and Conditions”, you can also learn a lot more about the business with which you are dealing. You can learn how complaints are processed or how user issues are managed, and who to contact if there is a problem.
Keep in mind that the very first thing a Company will do if you file a claim against them is to try to use its “Terms and Conditions” to limit or eliminate your ability to recover damages for any wrongs done to you by the Company. By reading the ”Terms and Conditions,” you can educate yourself as to whether you want to do business with a Company, and what your rights are in the event of a dispute.
If you have concerns after reading any agreement, before you sign the agreement, call the Company. If the Company will not or does not answer your questions, you may want to contact an attorney. GFM has vast experience with “Terms and Conditions” and is here to help you with any issues that may arise.
We will make sure your rights are protected. The attorneys at GFM have decades of experience successfully litigating consumer protection and fraud claims against some of the largest and most powerful companies in the nation. Call at (833) FIND-JUSTICE or visit us at our website: www.4-justice.com for more information.