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Abusive retailer threatens customer, hides behind Terms of Service

Judges don’t often side with consumers when a retailer offers tight Terms of Service, but in this case of abuse, the shopper came out on top.

bad terms of service

bad terms of service

When shopping online, you agree not to sue? Huh?

When you shop at an online website, you probably don’t read the terms and conditions before clicking “buy.”

On Amazon, when you shop with them, you agree that “Any dispute or claim relating in any way to your use of any Amazon Service, or to any products or services sold or distributed by Amazon or through will be resolved by binding arbitration…”

Were you aware of this? If you aren’t, you’re not alone. A little more than half of online shoppers (54 percent) ignore or skim these user agreements.

A ridiculous online shopping debacle

In 2014, Cindy Cox ordered from Accessory Outlet, whose Terms of Sale might be considered abhorrent. When the order hadn’t shipped after 10 days, Cox attempted to cancel her order.

Accessory Outlet refused, so Cox told them she would be contacting her credit card company. The retailer then demanded $250, under the fine print in its terms of sale that prohibited any “any complaint, chargeback, claim, dispute,” or threats to take any of these actions, within 90 days of purchase.

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Accessory Outlet also purported that Cox could not go to the Better Business Bureau or the media to make a public statement.

Accessory Outlet sued over threatening Cox

Later that year, a lawsuit was filed against Accessory Outlet asking that a court decree the Terms of Sale void under New York’s Deceptive Practices Act. There were many threatening and harassing emails sent to Cox by Accessory Outlet.

It took over a year, but Cox was granted a judgment against the company.

Typically, the courts uphold online agreements, whether or not you read them. Cox’s victory should make all businesses take notice and make sure that their Terms of Sale are clear and readily available for their shoppers.

Know your rights

Individuals need to know their rights and brands must know their limits. Although most stores don’t have abhorrent policies that charge you for making a complaint when the order has gone awry, you may not be entitled to a full cash refund or have true ownership of your e-books.

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When you’re shopping with a new retailer, double check their conditions and policies before buying.


Dawn Brotherton is a Sr. Staff Writer at The American Genius with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Oklahoma. She is an experienced business writer with over 10 years of experience in SEO and content creation. Since 2017, she has earned $60K+ in grant writing for a local community center, which assists disadvantaged adults in the area.

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