Terms Of Service Agreements
A Terms Of Service (TOS) agreement is a binding document that establishes your rights with regard to any transaction associated with a particular website. While it is true that your rights may extend beyond the stated limits of a TOS, seeking to gain restitution outside the framework of the agreement often involves legal expenses and 'more trouble than it's worth' for many consumers. The best way to avoid TOS problems with a subscription or product provider online is to actually review the TOS prior to signing up or checking out.
Honest online merchants explain their TOS in easy to read and simple to understand language designed to express their intent transparently for consumers. Disingenuous site owners use complicated language, difficult to read typesets and a slew of other tricks all designed to confuse the consumer or to frustrate potential customers into buying items without bothering to fully understand what they are signing up for in all regards.
When you see terms in a TOS that look unfamiliar or that strike you as being odd or unfair, remember that before the sale takes place everything is in the consumer’s favor and you are free to shop anywhere else you like. However, once you agree to a purchase, much of that power shifts to the merchant because you have accepted their TOS and completed a transaction.
Vigilance is the price consumers must pay to maintain their purchasing power. When you see the WebsiteSecure.org Certification Seal on any website, you know their TOS has been read and reviewed by an impartial third party with experience looking for unfair or unethical terms. No single thing will protect a consumer from fraud with perfect certainty, but reading the TOS and understanding the terms of the agreement is an important step toward empowering yourself as a digital citizen.