Study on Consumers’ Attitudes Towards Terms Conditions (T&Cs) Final Report

Report for the European Commission, Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) on behalf of Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers.

184 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2016 Last revised: 12 Oct 2016

See all articles by Maartje Elshout

Maartje Elshout

CentERdata

Millie Elsen

CentERdata

Jorna Leenheer

Avans University

Marco Loos

University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL)

Joasia Luzak

University of Exeter - School of Law; University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL)

Date Written: September 22, 2016

Abstract

Previous research has shown that when buying products and services online, the vast majority of consumers accept Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) without even reading them. The current research examined effects of interventions aimed at making consumers aware of the quality of such T&Cs. This was done by 1) shortening and simplifying the T&Cs and 2) adding a quality cue to an online store, such as the presence of a logo of a national consumer organisation accompanied by the statement “these terms and conditions are fair”. The main study consisted of three experiments and was conducted in 12 Member States with 1000 respondents in each Member State. In each experiment, consumers visited an online store and went through all the steps of an ordering process. One of these steps was accepting the T&Cs. Key findings are that shortening and simplifying the terms and conditions results in improved readership of the T&Cs, a slightly better understanding of the T&Cs, and a more positive attitude towards the T&Cs. Moreover, adding a quality cue to an online store increases trust and purchase intentions. Which quality cue is trusted the most depends on what type of online store consumers are visiting. For domestic online stores, a quality cue by a national consumer organisation is trusted most; for foreign online stores, a quality cue by a European consumer organisation is trusted most. The patterns were similar across Member States.

Keywords: Terms and conditions (T&C's), Unfair Contract Terms Directive (UCDT), Consumer Rights Directive (CRD)

JEL Classification: K12

Suggested Citation

Elshout, Maartje and Elsen, Millie and Leenheer, Jorna and Loos, Marco and Luzak, Joanna Aleksandra, Study on Consumers’ Attitudes Towards Terms Conditions (T&Cs) Final Report (September 22, 2016). Report for the European Commission, Consumers, Health, Agriculture and Food Executive Agency (Chafea) on behalf of Directorate-General for Justice and Consumers., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2847546

Maartje Elshout

CentERdata ( email )

PO Box 90153
Tilburg, NL 5000 LE
Netherlands

Millie Elsen

CentERdata ( email )

PO Box 90153
Tilburg, NL 5000 LE
Netherlands

Jorna Leenheer

Avans University ( email )

Professor Cobbenhagenlaan 13
Tilburg
Netherlands

Marco Loos (Contact Author)

University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL) ( email )

P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA
Netherlands

Joanna Aleksandra Luzak

University of Exeter - School of Law ( email )

Streatham Court
University of Exeter
Exeter, EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

University of Amsterdam - Centre for the Study of European Contract Law (CSECL) ( email )

P.O. Box 1030
Amsterdam, 1000 BA
Netherlands

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