Use 'terms' on hardware?
December 30, 2013 5:23 AM   Subscribe

Are terms and conditions, disclosed after sale, legitimate? What if the associated item is a gift?

I got a Google Nexus7 for Christmas. After asking for private info (name, google account, which is none, and wifi password) it announced that my _use_ of the tablet was "subject to the privacy policy and other terms", with a link to "learn more".

I'm quite offended by these undisclosed terms. No _visible_ link, that would allow me to comfortably examine these terms on a real computer (I imagine I could dig them up). No disclosure before opening the package. I understand terms on software use. This is hardware. No contract! It is my property, supposedly, I thought.

Frankly, if I find this unacceptable, I not only want a full refund, I want some compensation for my angst, and for the person who purchased it expecting it to be a lovely and welcome gift. Already have Apple stuff, and don't recall any such absurd grabs at authority.

Oh, and this is posted when it is because the gift arrived only today.
posted by Goofyy to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
It will depend on where the device was purchased as to what the return policy is. Here is the return policy per Google.

As for your Angst and the Angst of the person who purchased the gift for you, that's not going to happen. In fact, it sounds really over-blown and silly. If you don't like it, return it for a gift card and buy something else. Like the rest of us.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:39 AM on December 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


I don't think it sounds overblown or silly, but I doubt you're going to get additional compensation unless you find an attorney who's looking for a plaintiff for a class action on this.
Maybe get in touch with EFF? They're around on twitter individually and usually pretty responsive.
posted by mrs. taters at 5:54 AM on December 30, 2013


The terms are for the software running on the hardware. Of course the hardware won't do much without some kind of software.

If the terms offend you so much check into cyanogenmod or another alternative set of software.
posted by TheAdamist at 6:20 AM on December 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


From Apple:

"Your use of Apple software or hardware products is based on the software license and other terms and conditions in effect for the product at the time of purchase. Your agreement to these terms is required to install or use the product. Please be aware that the software license that accompanies the product at the time of purchase may differ from the version of the license you can review here. Be certain to read the applicable terms carefully before you install the software or use the product."

Here's the terms of use you agree to by using an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch.
posted by Jairus at 6:21 AM on December 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm really not sure what you're mad about. When I buy new hardware, I automatically assume that there will be terms and conditions I'll have to agree to that, amongst other things, protect the manufacturer if I decide to use the device illegally (terms of use), and they legally have to tell you what they'll do with any information you give them or that they collect about you while you use that device (the privacy policy). Every manufacturer makes you agree to such terms out-of-the-box the first time you activate the device, Apple included. If you don't want to agree to the terms of use, decline the agreement and return the item. You should get your money back. But compensation for 'angst' for not wanting to sign up to a standard user agreement? No chance.
posted by peteyjlawson at 6:22 AM on December 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh, and this is posted when it is because the gift arrived only today.

Does this mean the gift arrived later than was promised? If you paid for some kind of expedited shipping service you might be able to get a refund or credit on the shipping costs. (Maybe you can return it for free.)
posted by Room 641-A at 6:35 AM on December 30, 2013


More on Apple. This is pretty common, really.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:47 AM on December 30, 2013


Frankly, if I find this unacceptable, I not only want a full refund,

That's probably your right. The EULA is basically going to say "Agree to these terms or send the product back for a refund." You'll probably have to do it pretty quickly, and you can't really use the device first, but yeah, you can do that.

I want some compensation for my angst, and for the person who purchased it expecting it to be a lovely and welcome gift.

Never going to happen. Not in a million years. IAAL, and though not yours, I'd be gobsmacked if there was a lawyer out there who would disagree. That's just not how that works, period.

Already have Apple stuff, and don't recall any such absurd grabs at authority.

Then you haven't been paying attention. The terms you're describing are bog standard for electronics manufacturers, including Apple. Indeed, Apple is kind of notorious for its draconian terms and conditions.
posted by valkyryn at 6:49 AM on December 30, 2013 [15 favorites]


Just as a point of reference, I got an iPad Air for Christmas, & distinctly remember agreeing to terms & conditions when setting it up. So, if you own just about any internet-enabled Apple product, you almost certainly did the same, and with that in mind I'm not totally sure what your current outrage is all about.
posted by littlegreen at 6:58 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


You absolutely have to agree to terms and conditions when buying an apple product, and have to agree again whenever there is anew software update, or whenever apple feels like changing them.
posted by empath at 7:00 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apple's License Agreements
You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of nuclear, missiles, or chemical or biological weapons.
Source. That's for iTunes!

I can't find their hardware licenses on line, but when you step through the setup of any Apple product you have an option to read it, to email it to yourself, or to decline. But it is there. In fact, I think every hardware (Apple or not) does this. Even my TV made me agree to one.

You'll be sending a lot of stuff back.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:09 AM on December 30, 2013


You can use the tablet as you see fit. It is your property...however the software is not. It is licensed to you under the specific terms and conditions delineated.

You are never going to get damages for angst (what angst did you suffer? Being inconvenienced is not angst.). You can, however, get a refund now.

Apple makes you agree to EULAs all the time. I doubt Google's is that much more onerous than Apple's.
posted by inturnaround at 7:22 AM on December 30, 2013


cjorgensen: " In fact, I think every hardware (Apple or not) does this. Even my TV made me agree to one."

There is lots of hardware with software that doesn't make you click through a licence agreement. Cars, home stereos and plenty of other than Apple/Microsoft MP3 players to name a few prominent examples.
posted by Mitheral at 7:35 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is lots of hardware with software that doesn't make you click through a licence agreement.

Just because you aren't clicking through something doesn't mean you aren't still subject to a license.
posted by valkyryn at 7:39 AM on December 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wow, you are getting a lot of flak for what I personally think is a valid question. Didn't expect Metafilter to be such a bastion of status quo defenders, of all places.

I can see that you are probably in the EU/Switzerland? EU does have somewhat stronger consumer protections, including unfair terms in consumer contracts. There is a network of European Consumer Centres (ECC) in all EU member states, look it up for your location. You can contact them after your complaint to the trader (company that sold you goods or services) has not been successful and you want advice on what to do next. FYI examples of unfair contract terms include these, surely some of what you are talking about applies (for example one I bolded):

- any term which is very difficult to understand, perhaps because of the language or print size
- a term which tries to prevent you from carrying out your legal rights, for example, your right to a refund for faulty goods
- a term which tries to prevent you from taking a trader to court
- a term saying the trader is not responsible for a death or injury caused by something they have or haven't done
- a term saying the trader is not responsible for delays, even delays which are their fault
- a term saying the trader is not responsible if they don't do what they should do under the contract
- a term which tries to prevent you from keeping back payments when you have a genuine complaint about goods or services
- a term which tries to make you pay more than is needed to cover the trader's losses if you cancel the contract
- any term hidden from you until after you sign the contract
- a term giving the trader wide cancellation rights but not giving you the same rights
- a term giving the trader the right to change the contract to their benefit
- a term that makes it very difficult for you to end a contract - for example, a term making you pay high termination charges or give a long notice period.

Switzerland in particular seems to have recently adopted additional ways to address things like this. Here is a link with some information. Key quote:

The Swiss legislature has also strengthened consumer protection against unfair general terms and conditions by amending Article 8 of the Unfair Competition Act. [...] The revised Article 8 entered into force on July 1 2012; it is now possible for Swiss courts to review the content of general terms and conditions contained in consumer contracts.

I for one find it unacceptable that Google strong-armed you into signing up for a Google One account just so you can use your tablet. It has nothing to do with being able to use the software and everything to do with their desire to compete with Facebook.
posted by rada at 7:50 AM on December 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I for one find it unacceptable that Google strong-armed you into signing up for a Google One account just so you can use your tablet.

You are, of course, allowed to think that.

But if you can find me a single case where a consumer prevailed against Google in a suit about its EULAs based on those kinds of consumer protection laws, I'll eat my hat. At best, there might occasionally be a single term that's invalidated. But the basic legitimacy of the EULA concept has been upheld by every court that's considered the question.

As to your specific point, the terms of the contract are available for you to read before you agree to them. That's how most of these click-through things work, anyway. Nobody ever does read them, but the terms are all there.

Also, the link you provided is specifically about the terms of extended warranties, so it's not directly applicable to EULAs as such. Just sayin'.
posted by valkyryn at 9:15 AM on December 30, 2013


I was wondering very much how this compared to other stuff. Selection bias, but also simply now vs. then. And habit. But Google asked for my Google+ account details _first_, and that put me on defense.

Whether because I'm ignorant or not, I don't think of Apple as being in business to sell my information. Google is a different thing. So it isn't remotely unreasonable that a normal EULA coming from Google would feel invasive.

It is indeed true that I'd not think anything at all of providing identifying information to Apple. Come to think of it, it hadn't even entered my mind that there was going to be a new app store to be worried about. It's just that it's Google.
posted by Goofyy at 9:17 AM on December 30, 2013


You can use the device without a Google account (we provide these to customers with a custom app so that was particularly important to us). You could factory reset it from the settings menu and then click past that part of the install.
posted by ftm at 9:44 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whether because I'm ignorant or not, I don't think of Apple as being in business to sell my information.

How else do you think Apple gets away with charging the ridiculous premium it does for its products? By creating that perception, charging you for it, and doing exactly what every other tech company does. They get you coming and going.
posted by valkyryn at 9:58 AM on December 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


But if you can find me a single case where a consumer prevailed against Google in a suit about its EULAs based on those kinds of consumer protection laws, I'll eat my hat.

This level of arbitrary specificity is not reasonable, why does it have to be Google? Here are a couple examples of European courts forcing Dell and HP to issue refunds to consumers when said consumers were not able to use their paid-for laptops because of software-related EULAs.

Bon appetit!

Also, the link you provided is specifically about the terms of extended warranties, so it's not directly applicable to EULAs as such.

Incorrect. The article starts off talking about construction contracts and warranties but what I actually I linked to was a specific section that talks about the Swiss Unfair Competition Act, which covers all consumer contracts. Which is particularly applicable in this case because Google is conning or strong-arming consumers into registering for its social-networking Google One accounts in order to compete with Facebook.

The terms of the contract are available for you to read before you agree to them.

Actually, this point has been debated in courts before as well. In particular - unfortunately I seem to be unable to find a link - there was a German court ruling that said that Terms & Conditions/EULA type agreements must be given to the consumer before they buy the product in order to be valid.
posted by rada at 10:23 AM on December 30, 2013


This level of arbitrary specificity is not reasonable, why does it have to be Google? Here are a couple examples of European courts forcing Dell and HP to issue refunds to consumers when said consumers were not able to use their paid-for laptops because of software-related EULAs.

I may have misread, but I don't think anybody is really questioning the OP's right to a refund, assuming s/he returns the product fairly quickly and without damaging it. I'd be surprised if Google doesn't include a provision to the effect of 'if you don't agree with these terms, we'll issue a refund' - I'm pretty sure Apple does. That said, I'm not sure what would entitle him/her to additional compensation.
posted by littlegreen at 10:39 AM on December 30, 2013


Here are a couple examples of European courts forcing Dell and HP to issue refunds to consumers when said consumers were not able to use their paid-for laptops because of software-related EULAs.

Given that there is no OS for the Nexus7 other than Google's, the cases are not really on point.
posted by valkyryn at 11:02 AM on December 30, 2013


Given that there is no OS for the Nexus7 other than Google's, the cases are not really on point.

Not entirely true. There are plenty of other options out there for the Nexus7.

Of course, I doubt you'd be entitled to a refund, since a license of Google's stock Android is free.

Seriously, if you like the hardware, but don't like the EULA, look into a custom ROM before you decide to return it.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:50 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hmm. It sounds like, based on your replies, that you just really don't like Google (as a company). I think that is certainly influencing your reaction to this particular situation.

Being asked to enter personal data to set up your device before you use it sounds pretty standard to me. I bought a new laptop (Sony) not too long ago and it had me set up the device before presenting its terms of use to me. This has also been the case with other laptops (HP, Dell) I've had, and even MP3 players (Sandisk, Apple).

This is also pretty standard when signing up for accounts on various websites/forums---you create your account and then are presented with the terms of its use. Sometimes you must agree to them before you can use the account or sometimes your use of the account means you have automatically agreed.

I don't see anything abnormal about this--it's the same process other tech companies use (including Apple--You have to download itunes before you ever get presented with terms), so I'm not really sure where the outrage is coming from. By all means return the tablet if you don't want it (for principle or whatever reason you have), but all you're doing is essentially saying you disagree with their terms. They don't owe you anything for that.
posted by stubbehtail at 5:08 PM on December 30, 2013


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