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Be Careful What You Click!

It can happen in a second!. You click your mouse on a website and all sorts of things can happen. Because of the high tech nature of the internet, you can shop from your home computer in San Diego and purchase a product from anywhere in the U.S., China, Australia, or India any time of the day or night. Not only could you be downloading spyware and viruses into your computer, but you could be committing yourself to a legally binding contract.

A Texas online purchaser used her daughter-in-law’s credit card to order some automobile seat covers and have them delivered to the daughter-in-law in Alabama. When they were delivered, it was discovered that the covers were the wrong color. The daughter-in-law sent them back to the company and reversed the charge on her credit card. The company claimed that it never received the seat covers, and eventually sued the purchaser and the daughter-in-law for breach of contract.

The lawsuit against the customers was bad enough but adding to the problem was the fact that the action was filed in a state court in Indiana, far from either of the defendants’ homes. The defendants’ attempt to avoid having to defend the suit in Indiana failed. The “clickwrap” agreement that the customer had accepted with a click of the mouse when she purchased the items included a requirement that any legal proceeding between the purchaser and seller had to be filed in Indiana and governed by Indiana law.

Most customers only skim the language in a clickwrap agreement, if they read it at all, while looking for the “I Accept” button. However, the agreement, and everything in it, is no less binding because of that. Both the customer and the owner of the card she used were bound to litigate the dispute in Indiana.

“Clickwrap agreements” have been held to be valid so be careful what you agree to online. Read the fine print before hitting the “I Accept” button.

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