One-third of top websites have clauses to restrict consumer lawsuits
About a third of the nation’s top 200 retail websites have clauses requiring arbitration of disputes or banning class actions.
Some of the websites inserted the clauses in “clickwrap” agreements requiring online users to click their assent to the restriction, according to the New York Times Upshot blog. Others used “browsewrap” agreements that merely link to the restrictions.
Upshot got its numbers by examining the terms of service for the top 200 online stores as ranked by the trade publication Internet Retailer. Sixty-eight of the stores had “some flavor of the restrictions,” the story says. A similar proportion of the nation’s 500 most-visited websites also had at least one of the lawsuit restrictions.
Among the websites with lawsuit restrictions are Amazon, eBay, Match.com, OKCupid, Travelocity, the Wall Street Journal, Target and Domino’s Pizza, the story says. Facebook and Google, on the other hand, do not limit users’ right to sue.
Browsewrap agreements that don’t require users to affirmatively click their agreement to the restrictions have gotten a mixed reception in court, the story says. A federal court in Nevada ruled in 2012 that Zappos’ link to its terms wasn’t prominent enough to limit a user’s right to sue. “Today, the link is more conspicuous,” the story says.
But courts have upheld other, more prominent browsewrap agreements, according to California Western School of Law professor Nancy Kim. Courts have held that simply using the website signals agreement to the terms, she told the New York Times.