Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beware the Fine Print in Skype Plans

The California Court of Appeals for the 2nd Appellate District has reinstated the lawsuit of a customer who alleged that Skype’s unlimited plan was deceptive. The plaintiff Melissa Chapman had alleged that calling the plan “unlimited” while providing a small-print link at the bottom of the webpage that led to a separate webpage disclosing the limits on the plan was deceptive and against California’s laws against deceptive advertising.

 Chapman alleges that even while the small link at the bottom of the page led to disclosure of limits on the “unlimited” plan, the text of the link did not indicate limitations or restrictions, but just mentioned “a fair use policy applies.”

 And then the link led to a separate web page that detailed the unlimited plan as limited to 50 calls a day, six hours a day, and 10,000 minutes a month and with additional calls charged at regular rates. The page also disclosed that the plan, though termed “unlimited” did not include calls to mobile phones in four out of five countries covered by the plan.

 Chapman had alleged that she failed to notice the “fair use” footnote when she bought the plan on the presumption that it was unlimited, and was surprised henshe found additional charges on her bills.

 Her initial lawsuit, which also sought class action, was dismissed by a Superior Court judge who found that Skype had sufficiently disclosed its policy and Chapman’s acceptance of the terms and conditions was implicit.

 The appeals court, however, found things to be different and ruled that such conclusions involved factual disputes and the case should go before a jury.

 Now it would be the turn of the jurors to decide whether a footnote indicating “fair use” is sufficient to properly disclose that limitations and restrictions on an unlimited plan are hidden in another webpage.

 I find it hard to believe that major corporations (here, Microsoft) still pull stunts like this. You can read more here at JD Journal.



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