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Court says no to TOS changes without notification

Court says no to TOS changes without notification

A recent court decision could stop service providers from changing their terms of service without fully notifying customers beforehand.

For many Internet veterans out there, when you read TOS (Terms of Service), you think of AOL. This is mainly due to the fact that when you were booted offline for violating one of AOL's numerous rules, you were “TOSed.”

That connection between reading TOS and thinking about AOL has a tighter bond now that the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has decided that a service provider can not change its TOS without fully notifying its customers.

In the case of Douglas vs. Talk America, the courts have ruled that it is unreasonable for a person to have to regularly check the Terms of Service to see if it had been modified from the original version that was agreed upon by both parties. Even if the original terms included a clause stating that the provider will not notify the customer of a change, it must now do so.

This decision is a move that will give more power to the customers then to the companies by allowing the customers to opt-out of services if they disagree with the new terms. With some services having a cancellation fee for prematurely terminating a contract, this can provide a loop hole out if you are unsatisfied with the services provided.

With it possibly reaching the United States Supreme Court if this decision is appealed, do you think that the courts should lean in favour of this new decision or should a company be allowed to change its Terms of Service when it wants without notifying you? Let us know in the forums or in the comments section below.

8 Comments

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p3n 31st July 2007, 12:01 Quote
Interesting, blizzard uses a similar system in WoW and their EULA, everytime something changes (patches etc) you have to 'agree' again.

I use a real ISP these days but back in the days on ISDN downloading 50gb a month was too much for freeserve who informed us that the TOS had changed, luckily that was the same month our exchange got upgraded to ADSL!
Laitainion 31st July 2007, 12:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S


do you think that the courts should lean in favour of this new decision or should a company be allowed to change its Terms of Service when it wants without notifying you?

Is this a trick question?
DarkLord7854 31st July 2007, 14:13 Quote
I got TOS'ed 5 times in a row once. It sucked :p
DougEdey 31st July 2007, 14:28 Quote
It's the law for everything else, mobile phone companies do it too much,last time the roaming charges thing happened everyone on contract had a get out of contract free card.
chrisb2e9 31st July 2007, 15:43 Quote
they should do it. back when I worked for a cell phone company there were customers who would call in and point out that if we change something and they dont like it then they have the option of leaveing. but the phone company would never do it. It would be nice to see someone standing on the side of the customer for a change.
DXR_13KE 1st August 2007, 02:10 Quote
power to the people i say.
Bladestorm 1st August 2007, 04:44 Quote
Would be nice if that were the case everywhere. Would also be nice if judges would rule against 50 page long legalese operas when a half a page list of do's and don'ts would suffice (and give 99.9% of people a better idea of what they were getting into)
bilbothebaggins 1st August 2007, 12:24 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bladestorm
(...) Would also be nice if judges would rule against 50 page long legalese operas when a half a page list of do's and don'ts would suffice (and give 99.9% of people a better idea of what they were getting into)
Amen! (Though the TOS of my last travel insurance (sic!) were a positive exception :)

I tried to read a few other TOSes in the month back ... I gave up

I guess the article's right in saying it provides a loophole if you are not satisfied anyway ...

-btb-
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