Still, most consumers simply don’t read terms of service. According to Jeff Sauro, founding principal of quantitative research firm Measuring Usability, no more than 8 percent of users typically read terms of service agreements in full before accepting them.
Most users are impatient to move through the purchase or sign-up process. But agreeing to these virtual contracts is the same as signing a physical contract, and consequences are just as real. In fact, a survey commissioned by investment company Skandia found that 21% of respondents admitted they had suffered as a result of accepting the terms without reading.
What are some of these consequences, and what may be hidden in these agreements?
- You could give up your right to file class-action lawsuits against the company (Business Insider points to new clauses inserted by Sony for its PlayStation network and Microsoft for its Xbox Live site).
- You might inadvertently agree to repeat billing of your credit card, once your annual subscription to a service is up (without your renewing and/or authorization).
- You could authorize a site to share and/or sell your information.
It is issues like these that highlight why consumers should always read items before accepting them. But in consumers’ defense, these agreements are often long, complicated, and confusing. Knowing this, consumers and companies alike are pushing for simpler terms.
Some sites, like Pandora, are even providing “plain-English” version of their terms of service. But no legislation is in place to put this into permanent practice. And until more, and eventually all, sites follow Pandora’s example, consumers must still wade through the legalese.