We all click those little boxes saying we "agree to the terms and conditions." Well, guess what -- that action has consequences, as a the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed when it upheld a lower court's dismissal of a proposed class action lawsuit against the consumer retailer and HSBC Bank.
The suit charged that the retailer and the bank had failed to properly disclose a $59 annual fee in advertisements and applications for the Reward Zone Program MasterCard.
Though lead plaintiff Gary Davis could have canceled the card the avoid the fee, he instead refused to activate it and continued to pay the annual fee for five years, Courthouse News Service reported.
U.S. District Judge George King dismissed the Los Angeles case, and a three-judge appeals panel unanimously affirmed on Friday. He noted that neither Best Buy's online application nor its advertisements violated federal disclosure laws. Furthermore, whatever alleged harm Davis suffered could have been easily avoided.
"The advertisement contained the disclaimer, 'other restrictions may apply,' which would have motivated a reasonable consumer to consult the terms and conditions," Judge Dorothy Nelson wrote for the appeals court. "If that were not enough, the online application used boldface and oversized font to alert Davis to the Important Terms & Disclosure Statement, instructing him to 'read the notice below carefully.'"
Additionally, Judge Nelson noted that Davis had checked a box indicating his assent to the terms and conditions. She noted that Davis could have received a refund of the annual fee if he canceled the card within 90 days.
"Because Davis failed to read the terms and conditions before agreeing to them, and because he refused to cancel his card within 90 days, even when viewing the facts in Davis's favor, we must conclude that any harm he suffered was the product of his own behavior, not the advertisements," Nelson wrote.