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Beware of Internet Contracts

Service providers using the Internet to market their services can change terms and conditions of your contact any time they wish.  I had a one hour discussion with a mediation expert from my charge card company regarding an unauthorized charge to my account.  After canceling my account with Joiphone for VOIP services, they reactivated it without my permission and billed my credit card.

During our discussion I learned, this is standard practice used by many companies offering service through the Internet.  When I originally signed up I read the terms over carefully, like I always do.  There was no language concerning any type of advanced notice, instructions to cancel service, or agreement Joiphone had the right to alter the agreement.  All of this information was added after providing initial service.

None of this matters.  Neither I, nor Joiphone can produce a copy of the original agreement, customers are at the mercy of the altered terms, which of course benefit the company.  This is how the challenge process was explained to me.

Your credit card company files a complaint with the bank representing the company in question.  The final decision lies in the hands of the company’s bank.  If the company claims they have the right to change the terms, you loose your money.

In this case the terms supplied in writing to the charge card company on 9/22/2010, do not agree with the terms posted on Joiphone’s Internet site as of 10/12/2010.  So what does that mean?  The terms only have to appear on the site for one day to be considered enforceable?

I’ve filed a complaint with the Consumer Division of Justice in the State of Wisconsin, to find out if this practice if legal.  In the mean time I am trying to find a way of protecting myself so this will not happen again.  At the present time I am dealing with at least 6 other service providers with terms posted on the Internet.  If you have any ideas or solutions to share I would greatly appreciate them.

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