Consumer Reports: Read the fine print before starting new download on app, website

While many of these clauses may now be illegal due to legislation passed a few years ago, some companies still include them.

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola via WPVI logo
Tuesday, July 5, 2022
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How many times have you used an app, website, or signed an agreement and not even looked at the fine print? Many just click "I agree" and start downloading.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- How many times have you used an app, website, or signed an agreement and not even looked at the fine print?

Many just click "I agree" and start downloading.

The problem is if you actually read those very tiny words, you might be surprised at what you are agreeing to.

Consumer Reports reveals the most common hidden clauses and what we all may be signing away.

Guess what app makes you agree not to develop "design or manufacture nuclear weapons" when you accept its terms?

"Apple iTunes," said Justin Brookman, Consumer Reports privacy advocate.

That's right, Apple iTunes and hidden in user agreements are a lot of other wacky clauses.

Fun aside, some fine print could limit your rights if something goes wrong, including language that seeks to prevent users from posting negative reviews.

Take Intel which says, "Violators will be prosecuted to the maximum extent possible."

Intel told Consumer Reports it's to protect the company from inaccurate reviews but hasn't enforced it recently.

And while many of these clauses may now be illegal due to legislation passed a few years ago, some companies still include them.

"I think it's a scare tactic. I think they know that consumers don't necessarily know the law. But if you lie about them, if you defame them, then that's not protected, and companies have a right to sue you for it," said Brookman.

Some even say you can't sue a business over a dispute.

Instead, you'll have to resolve your issues outside the courts through arbitration.

AT&T uses language typical in many agreements: "...You are waiving the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action."

AT&T declined to address why the company sought to eliminate the possibility of class-action lawsuits but argued arbitration is faster and less expensive for consumers.

Consumer advocates say mandatory arbitration clauses are unfair, but, unfortunately, there's really no getting around them, so try to buy products and services that don't have those clauses in their agreements.