French ISPs Found to Violate French Consumer Protection Law

My dad forwarded me this interesting article in Le Monde, Wanadoo et Free : des clauses abusives à haut débit.

Following a trail blazed by AOL and Tiscali, supposed good-guy ISPs Wanadoo.fr and Free have been found guilty of violating French consumer protection law. Wandoo now becomes the holder of a special booby prize (Le Monde calls it a gold medal for abusive clauses), having been ordered to revise no less than 32 clauses in its standard form contract that were found to be “abusive or illicit”.

Among the clauses ruled illegal by the court were those which:

  • disclaimed of any liability for interruptions of service due to equipment breakdowns or poor maintenance
  • disclaimed all liability in case of damage
  • disclaimed any risk of transport in the case of distance selling
  • claimed the right to modify unilaterally the conditions of service offered at any time
  • reserved the right to to terminate in certain cases consumer contracts without notice or warning
  • made automatic e-payment the only accepted means of payment
  • asserted that terms and conditions published online would trump the terms and conditions agreed to by the consumer a the time of subscription

(all translations are mine).

I’m sure almost every reader of this blog in the US is party to one or more contracts with clauses like these. But good luck getting anyone to declare them illegal (although conceivably a state court might refuse to enforce one or two of them if push came to shove).

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