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What are you agreeing to when you click “Place your Order?”

Posted by Eric Scott Wyant II | Feb 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Presumably, by clicking “Place your Order” on Amazon, you are agreeing to arbitrate any dispute, among other things.

Consumers should be cognizant of the terms and conditions of any agreement. While the majority, if not all, of consumers pay little attention to the "terms and conditions agreement" when purchasing items online, these agreements have a significant impact on the rights and duties of both parties if the transaction goes awry. Likewise, businesses should be certain that their terms and conditions agreements are compatible with their consumers. The discussion of the case below sheds some light on what exactly you are agreeing to by clicking "Place your Order."

Recently, a Pittsburgh man sued Amazon over sales tax on protective masks, claiming that the sales tax violated the COVID-19 emergency declaration and resulted in a violation under Pennsylvania's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law and the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act. Ranalli v. Amazon.com LLC et al., 2:21-cv-00088 (W.D. Pa. 2021).

The transaction that triggered the lawsuit is peculiar. In November, the plaintiff purchased face masks from Amazon for $40.17, but the plaintiff claims that the advertised price of the masks was $39.27. Accordingly, the plaintiff argues that the additional $1.05 was an unlawful sales tax on face masks pursuant to the emergency declaration. He claims that, by imposing the tax, Amazon engaged in “fraudulent and deceptive conduct” and “unfair methods of competition” under Pennsylvania law.

Amazon argues that the plaintiff, and all users, agree to Amazon's Conditions of Use at least twice when purchasing a product through the site – each time a user logs in to their account and each time a user clicks “Place your Order.” The crux of Amazon's argument is that by agreeing to Amazon's Conditions of Use, the plaintiff has agreed to arbitrate any dispute. Ultimately, this case emphasizes the importance of understanding the operation of terms and conditions agreements.

If you are looking to protect your business or brand through your online presence, a well drafted terms and conditions agreement presents an opportunity to protect you as well as the consumer. Terms and conditions can also be utilized as a competitive advantage. Once drafted, it is equally important to confirm that the terms and conditions are legally enforceable. For example, by providing adequate notice and obtaining acknowledgement from the consumer. 

We represent businesses in drafting and implementing terms and conditions agreements in a manner that creates value to the consumer. In representing businesses on this issue, our dual focus emphasizes protecting your online presence and gaining a competitive advantage. 

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

About the Author

Eric Scott Wyant II

Eric is an Associate Attorney at GTN Law.

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