Wednesday, 15 March 2017 06:27

CHOICE calls for ban on lengthy online contracts Featured

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Amazon's 73,198-word terms and conditions for using the Kindle has many clauses that would be unfair under Australian Consumer Law, the consumer rights body CHOICE claims, adding that it would take nine hours to go through these T&Cs.

The organisation found that the other e-reader on the market, Kobo, had 9844 words in its terms and conditions.

CHOICE has called for a ban on online contracts that are too long or are written in legal bizspeak.

"In practice, ticking a box to accept a contractual agreement with Amazon only takes a few seconds but what you’re really being asked to do is stop and read eight hours and 59 minutes of fine print. The length and complexity of these contracts is completely unreasonable," said CHOICE head of media, Tom Godfrey.

"Right now, the law protects us from unfair legal terms. But we think the practice of expecting a customer to spend hours of their lives reading a contract for a simple product is unfair.

"Companies need to do better and they should be explaining any conditions in a way that's simple and easy to read."

Godfrey said the Amazon agreement was longer than some books and was "absolutely ridiculous".

"Companies such as Amazon know that consumers want to make a purchase as quickly as possible, and they use this desire as cover to offload some worrying T&Cs," he said.

Godfrey pointed out that one clause in the Amazon contract locked consumers into an arbitration process in the United States if they had an unresolved problem with their Kindle.

"The fact is, under Australian Consumer Law if the Kindle is faulty you have a right to a remedy direct from the retailer or manufacturer without heading state-side," he said.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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