In Douglas v. U.S. Dist. Court , 495 F.3d 1062 (9th Cir. 2007), the court considered whether a service provider may change the terms of its service contract by merely posting a revised contract on its website. Plaintiff Joe Douglas had contracted for long distance telephone service with America Online. Talk America subsequently acquired this business from AOL and continued to provide service to AOL’s former customers.
Talk America then changed certain business and legal provisions in its online contract but never notified Douglas that the contract had changed. Unaware of the changes, Douglas continued using Talk America’s service for four years.
Contract Terms Cannot Be Changed Unilaterally
A footnote to the first sentence quoted above states, in part, that Douglas should have been “notified that the contract has been changed and how [because] [w]ithout notice, an examination would be fairly cumbersome, as Douglas would have to compare every word of the posted contract with his existing contract in order to detect whether it had changed.”
Multiple Ways to Provide Notice
- Online Terms can be Binding, even if You don’t have to Click!
- You Can’t Change Online Terms Solely by Email
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law +1 510 547-0545 dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
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