NBC 5 Responds

What Happens When We Don't Agree to Terms, Conditions of a Website?

An Indiana man loses use of one of the major features on his brand new pickup truck when he refuses to hit 'I agree'

NBC Universal, Inc.

Retired for 15 years from work as a heavy equipment mechanic, Greg Reasons now spends his days helping his older sister and neighbors get to their doctor appointments.  

So last December, when he started a search for a new vehicle, those car rides were a huge consideration for him. 

“I started to buy another minivan, because I take a lot of people to the doctor,” Greg told NBC 5 Responds.  

But at 70 years old, Greg decided this may be his last new vehicle purchase, so he treated himself, and drove off the car lot with a brand new white Ford F150 Lariat Model truck.

“It's a big purchase. I figured it'd be my last vehicle so I get a few extras on there,” says Greg.

Those extras included dual climate control, step bar, and the most important feature for Greg, the remote start, so his truck could be warm on the side when he helped his 85-year-old sister into the cab. 

The remote start is a feature that can generally only be accessed through the FordPass App. On March 12, after three months of use, Greg says a click wrap appeared and he had to accept the ‘Terms and Conditions” in order to use the app.  

It’s a long legal read, often several pages of fine print, many people don’t consume all the information.   

But Greg is not one of those people.   

“I started scrolling down there was pages and pages of these terms so I started reading some. One of them was that I wouldn't take part in a class-action lawsuit. Another one was that they could share my information with third-party affiliates, just a whole list of stuff (and) the more I read, the more I decided I'm not going to accept this.” Says Greg.

So he called the salesman at Joe Rizza Ford Orland Park, asking for a resolution or a refund.  

“He said 'well, you've got to accept that.' I said 'I'm not accepting that. I'm not giving up all my rights now.' To me that's extortion,” said Greg.

“ I think he's the exception and not the rule,” says Jordan Sigale, a Director of Intellectual Property Litigation at Dunlop Codding in Chicago. 

He tells NBC 5 Responds that people encounter these terms and conditions on applications and websites probably a few times a day in the digital age, and few give it a second thought.

‘When you set up an UberEats account or you set up an account with Lyft or with GrubHub, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions, with that app,” he says.

Jordan says there are three different types of contracts. The "click wrap," where you actually click on checkbox that says, 'I agree to these terms and conditions' and then you enter into the app.

The second is the "sign-in wrap," which you agree to in order to open an account with a website like Facebook. Finally, there is the "browse-wrap" agreement, which says that my using the account, my using this website, or my using this app, the user agrees to the terms and conditions.

So what exactly are we accepting when we click ‘I agree’? Jordan says the language can include giving up rights to a class action lawsuit, or agreeing to arbitration only, which gives up your rights to a jury trial. 

Other lists of terms and conditions often include allowing your information to be shared with a third party, or a limitation of warranties, which simply states that there is no guarantee the app is always going to work correctly.

“Generally, it doesn't matter because things go fine. Most of the time, but every once in a while you have a hiccup and people have a dispute, and then all of a sudden the terms and conditions that they've agreed to become all important,” says Jordan. 

For its part, a Ford Motor Company spokesperson tells NBC 5 Responds:

 “FordPass is an optional mobile app that offers Ford customers complimentary connected features. Similar to other apps available for mobile devices, users are required to accept the terms associated with the specific app prior to use. There is no requirement to use FordPass. Customers who do not want to accept the terms associated with FordPass can choose not to use it”

Ford says it updated its terms and conditions in March, which is why Greg suddenly needed to ‘re-accept.'  But after NBC 5 Responds reached out to Ford, the automaker agreed to work with Greg, and as a gesture of goodwill, Joe Rizza Ford has provided Greg with a key fob that allows him to remote start their vehicle without using the FordPass app.   

That will now allow Greg to continue to keep his truck warm when he takes his friends and family to doctor appointments on cold winter days.   

“Family is family and friends you know, when we’re gone, this is something we can't take stuff with us, but we can do for people now, you know,” says Greg.

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