They do, and they don’t according to a United States District Court in New York. In September of 2009 the court case of Hines v. Overstock.com, Inc. provided a perfect example of why it’s important to not only have the right website legal forms in the right place, but also to link to those documents where your customers will be most likely to see them.
For Overstock their legal troubles revolved around a $30 restocking fee (See the Google Scholar document for full details). That’s right, $30 prompted a full blown lawsuit. That’s rough, when you think of all of the minor transactions that occur on the internet every day. $30 dollars to restock something may seem a bit high to me, but I don’t think I would have gone to court over it. But plaintiff Cynthia Hines did, and the court sided with her. The court decided that:
“the defendant had not carried its burden of demonstrating that the plaintiff either had notice of the Terms and Conditions of the website, or that a reasonable user of the site would have.” Ouch!
So what’s the moral of the story?
You need to have the proper legal forms for your website, and you need to make sure that they are used in a way that upholds the spirit of their intended purpose. Placing links at the bottom of your website isn’t a guarantee that your customers will see them.