In the contemporary society, the advances in technology have immensely helped consumers to buy various products online. For instance, a shopper living in Miami can buy goods online in Paris at any time of the night or day. However, in the recent past, this method of acquiring products has raised some ethical and contentious legal issue in courts between consumers and the companies that manufacture such products. Online contracting encompasses a broad range of items and not just through clicking the descriptive icons such as “I agree” as one may think. In many instances, one should be cautious before entering into a binding agreement with such companies when making an online purchase of products. In an attempt to understand how contentious web purchasing can be, the paper shall employ the Dewayne Hubbert v. Dell Corp case and answer some of the questions that are useful to analyze the situation.
In this scenario, the plaintiffs browsed Dell’s Company website and bought computers that contained the Pentium 4 microprocessors. According to the plaintiffs, the company asserted that these microprocessors were some of the fastest as well as sophisticated processor available by then. The plaintiffs claimed that these advertisements were misleading and false since the processors contained in Dell’s computers that were not powerful or even fast as either AMD Athlon or Pentium 3 processors. In this regarded, all these issues raised by the plaintiffs pushed them to seek legal action since the company violated the consumer rights.
The court has the statutory mandate to enforce the arbitration clause found in this case. The Texas law legally guides this, and the plaintiffs who purchased the computers via Dell’s website were bound by the various terms and conditions of the sales as posted by the company and available on the firm’s website at the time of the purchase. Moreover, the court has the powers to enforce arbitration clause since the acquisition was available via the hyperlink on Dell’s website and further, not all the consumers seeking these services should have to agreeably click the “I accept” button to show that assent has been bound thereby. Therefore, by purchasing the computers through the online platform, the plaintiffs have engaged in an online contract that encompasses the Terms and Conditions of sale since they were well advised on the company’s website that their acquisitions were subjected thereto.
In ruling this case, the judge would reject the plaintiffs complain since they are bound by the arbitration clause found in the company’s Terms of sale. The judge would dismiss the plaintiff’s submissions that such clause contained in Dell’s website was substantively unconscionable and procedural.
Yes, it is true that click-on, shrink-wrap, and browse-wrap terms vastly impose a burden on online consumers. According to Lemley and Mark (2006), these forms of online contract should conform to the regular legal needs of acceptance and offer, but these requirements may occur in the non-customary forms within the web. Rambarran and Ian (2007) state that an online contract such as browse-wrap imposes more problems to purchasers since some are inconspicuous to the buyers in the online platform. In addition, the click-on imposes an enormous burden to consumers since they require them to make some forms of manifestations of her or his intent to be bound by the contract after being offered with that agreement’s terms. In this regard, it can be seen that these forms of online agreements such as clicking the icon labeled “I accept” imposes significant burdens to many consumers and presents then with limited choices should legal battles emerge in the court of laws.
Purchasers should be bound in contracts by terms that they have not even read since most of these agreements are written in a clear language that allows for binding agreements between the consumers of the products and the company that sells such items thus, one is expected to have a clue of what these agreements entails. In this kind of scenario, the language used in the agreement outlines that the consumer has agreed to the terms and rules of the contract so that they have access as well as the ability to use the service. Therefore, failure by purchasers to read the contract terms should be something that solely lies to them. Block and Drew (2001) state that no company would want to engage in any form of dispute that arises from contract terms, and thus they try to make the agreement clear that the consumers can read.
In conclusion, online contracts have imposed some of the significant burdens to consumers. In the form of click-on, shrink-wrap, and browse-wrap, the buyers have been exposed to some danger since these agreements have limitations as earlier mentioned. Just as presented in the Dewayne Hubbert v. Dell Corp case, plaintiffs, and the company engaged in one of the horrible litigation that may make the firm wash its reputation. Moreover, Kunz and Christina (2003) states that, click-on icons and other forms of agreements done online should be read the consumers and fully understand before entering into contracts with the companies.
Block, Drew. “Caveat Surfer: Recent Developments in the Law Surrounding Browse-wrap agreements, and the future of consumer interaction with websites.” Loy. Consumer L. Rev. (2001): 227. Print.
Kunz, Christina. “Browse-Wrap Agreements: Validity of Implied Assent in Electronic Form Agreements.” The Business Lawyer (2003): 279-312. Print.
Rambarran, Ian. “Are browse-wrap agreements all they are wrapped up to be.” Tul. J. Tech. & Intell. Prop. (2007): 173. Print.