Consumer Participation in Online Contracts – Exploring Cross-Out Clauses
ISSN der Zeitschrift
Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.
E-commerce is reality. Millions of consumers buy goods or subscribe to services online. However, they are often presented with take-it-or-leave-it decisions: consumers must accept standard business terms and privacy policies as they are or the contract cannot be concluded. We explore the idea of letting the consumer cross out unwanted clauses online, giving back what was possible for offline contracts. We built a prototype and conducted a user study of 24 face-to-face tests with subsequent interviews in public space, applying both a between-subject and a within-subject experimental design. Results show that the participants of the study appreciated the idea and actively made use of it. Additionally, we observe a tendency that users read contracts more thoroughly if they know that they can alter them. This may help coming closer to the intended notion of informed consent when contracting online.