Freedom to waive consumer protections
Posted Jun 17, 2006 0:24 UTC (Sat) by giraffedata
In reply to: Exelent news
Parent article: iTunes runs into trouble in Norway
I've read some comments about this (mainly from americans) that go something like this: "If you don't like the deal, don't take it", what they fail to realize is that we have consumer protection laws that:
1) Forbid unreasonable and misleading terms.
2) Forbid circumventing the law, even by contract.
I really doubt they fail to realize that, since the argument makes sense
even so, and because such laws are rampant in the U.S.
(1) is two very different things -- unreasonable terms and misleading terms. I don't think anyone says, "if you don't like misleading terms, don't agree to them," since you can't know that they're misleading. But as for unreasonable terms, the freedom to agree or not agree, at your own option, even to terms others find unreasonable is a freedom that's really important to some people. People in the more capitalist countries seem to value it more than people in more socialist ones.
By the way, in case anyone didn't follow why my right to accept restrictions on myself is valuable to me: Sometimes, someone will offer me something in exchange for committing to those restrictions, and I find that something more valuable than what I'm giving up. For example, Apple might offer to give me a song for $1 that can play only on an Ipod, that Apple would demand $5 for in an open format.
(2) is nonense. There's no such thing as a law that forbids violating the law. Maybe you're referring to the fact that some laws specifically say they just define the default deal and two people are free to explicitly set up different terms, while others (plentiful in the US too) say they define the only deal allowed. The first kind are hard for anyone to object to, but the second kind are exactly the ones that lead those objecters to say, "If you don't like the deal, don't take it."
There are, though, good arguments for eliminating freedom to waive consumer protections. Basically, these two:
- It protects people who don't have the skill to negotiate a good deal for themselves (maybe I don't realize how oppressive the Ipod-only thing is going to be).
- It protects consumers from competition with other consumers. (As long as I'm OK with Ipod-only music, you probably won't be able to get any other kind).
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