Apple Will Rewrite T&Cs After Oft Objections

Apple will have to rewrite its terms and conditions for the UK after action by consumer protection regulator the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the Office has said. As well as specific changes it will have to redraft the terms in plain English, the OFT said.

The OFT said that it had 'raised concerns' with Apple over its terms and conditions and whether they complied with the consumer-protecting Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCR).

The OFT said that Apple has agreed to make changes in four areas.

"Following constructive discussions with the OFT, Apple has agreed to revise its standard conditions to ensure these do not exclude liability for faulty or mis-described goods; are consistent with consumer rights under the Distance Selling Regulations; are drafted in plain or intelligible language; [and] do not potentially allow changes to be made to products and prices after an agreement is made," said an OFT statement.

The UCTCCRs are designed to protect consumers because sales contracts are written by companies and must by agreed to by someone if they want to buy a product. Because they are not actually negotiated between the two parties they require extra protection for consumers.

"The contract or terms of use between a company and a consumer, whether they are found online or on paper, must be clear, fair and easy to understand," said Jason Freeman, the OFT's legal director for consumer markets.

"In particular, it is important that consumers are given clear and accurate information about their consumer rights in case things go wrong. We have worked closely with Apple to secure these changes and we believe they will improve confidence and clarity for consumers," he said.

A number of high profile companies have been ordered by regulators to rewrite contracts or terms and conditions to comply with the Regulations.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has demanded that mobile operator 3 make the language of its terms and conditions easier to understand. It also told the company to remove a clause that bound a consumer to conditions that 3 might impose in the future.

Ofcom also censured broadband provider UK Online in 2006 for its consumer contract, several aspects of which it found to be in breach of the Regulations. The company was asked to emphasise the importance of consumers actually reading the contract and to take out clauses limiting its liability for a loss of service, amongst other requirements.