Benoliel and Becher, ‘The Duty to Read the Unreadable’

ABSTRACT
… Numerous scholars have suggested that consumer contracts are indeed written in a way that dissuades consumers from reading them. This Article aims to empirically test whether this concern is justified. The Article focuses on the readability of an important and prevalent type of consumer agreements: the sign-in-wrap contract. Such contracts, which have already been the focal point of many legal battles, are routinely accepted by consumers when signing up for popular websites such as Facebook, Amazon, Uber, and Airbnb. The Article applies well-established linguistic readability tests to the 500 most popular websites in the US that use sign-in-wrap agreements. We find, among other things, that effectively reading these agreements requires, on average, more than 14.5 years of education. This result is troubling, given that the majority of US adults read at an 8th-grade level. These empirical findings hence have significant implications for the design of consumer contract law.

Benoliel, Uri and Becher, Shmuel I, The Duty to Read the Unreadable (January 11, 2019).

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