Scary terms and conditions in South Africa

Have you ever wondered what you are signing up for when you click agree to Apple’s 14,800-word iTunes terms and conditions, or when you are using OLX’s online classifieds platform?

Most people do not think twice before agreeing to the terms and conditions of a new service, but it may be advisable to scan these documents next time.

In South Africa there are many examples of terms and conditions which may surprise people who use that service. Here are some examples.

OLX’s big dollar penalties

OLX is aggressively targeting the South African online classifieds market, battling its main rival Gumtree.

Many people who use OLX may not know that they can be fined thousands of rands if they do not abide by the company’s terms of use.

OLX’s 8,924-word Terms of Use document includes the following:

If OLX establishes any limits on the frequency with which you may access the Service, or terminates your access to or use of the Service, you agree to pay OLX ninety nine dollars ($99) for (i) each message posted in excess of such limits or (ii) for each day on which you access OLX in excess of such limits, whichever is higher.

If you post a message that (1) impersonates any person or entity; (2) falsely states or otherwise misrepresents your affiliation with a person or entity; or (3) that includes personal or identifying information about another person without that person’s explicit consent, you agree that OLX in its sole discretion may disclose identifying information about you to the victim, and that should OLX bring a claim against you in court, that you will pay OLX one thousand one hundred dollars ($1,100) for each such message.

If you are a Posting Agent that uses the Service in violation of these Terms, in addition to any liquidated damages under Section 20(e) below you agree to pay OLX ninety nine dollars ($99) for each and every item you post in violation of these Terms.

If you post messages in violation of these Terms, other than as described above, you agree to pay OLX ninety nine dollars ($99) for each such message.

If you aggregate, copy, display, mirror, reproduce, or otherwise exploit for any purpose any Content (except for your own Content) in violation of these Terms without OLX’s express written permission, you agree to pay OLX ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for each day on which you engage in such conduct.

Tracker terms and conditions

Tracker recently informed its subscribers that they will be increasing their rates from 1 October 2014.

The company also announced changes to its Terms and Conditions “as a result of new laws”, which the company said will “have important consequences for you”. Here are some of the new additions.

If we interrupt or delay the service in any of the above circumstances, we do not have any legal responsibility to you. You accept that:

  • We will not be able to locate the vehicle if it is stolen or hijacked
  • You are not entitled to any refund of any fees
  • You must continue to pay the fees

You accept that by agreeing to the Tracker privacy policy you are giving up some of your rights to privacy and giving us the right to use your person information according to the Tracker privacy policy. You accept that you do not have the right to take action against us for any loss or damages you suffer from us processing your person information according to the Tracker privacy policy.

You do not have the right to end the agreement because we add, remove or change a value-added service during your agreement with us. We are not legally responsible to you for any loss or damage you suffer because of these changes.

Pay Telkom, even if you have no service

Telkom Internet says in its terms and conditions that it “may from time to time and with notice where possible, suspend the Telkom Internet Service”.

The reasons for a suspension include non-payment by the customer, technical failure, and if a customer does not comply with Telkom’s terms and conditions.

Some Telkom customers may think that they do not have to pay for a suspended service – they would be wrong. Telkom has the following clause in its terms and conditions:

Notwithstanding any suspension of service under this clause, the Customer shall remain liable for all charges due in respect of the Telkom Internet Service throughout the period of suspension.

Vodacom Voice over IP warning

Voice over IP poses a significant risk to mobile operators. To protect themselves against this threat, Vodacom and MTN filed higher rates with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) for VoIP traffic.

MTN has filed the rate of R25 per Megabyte (MB) for VoIP traffic, while Vodacom has filed a rate of R10/MB.

In its terms and conditions Vodacom warns that it may charge these higher rates.

Vodacom reserves the right to charge a differentiated data usage rate for any voice over the Internet Protocol (VoIP) traffic on any of its data bearers as amended from time to time.

Sanral not taking responsibility for faulty e-tags

E-Tolling is a contentious issue in Gauteng, and the fact that Sanral is not taking responsibility for possible faulty e-tags may concern some road users.

In its terms and conditions Sanral has a section called “Limits to our responsibility arising from e-tags”, which has the following clause:

…we and our representatives are not responsible for any loss or damages you suffer because of lost, stolen or faulty e-tags

E-tag registrants are also giving Sanral a fair amount of legal power to take action against them:

You agree to accept any notice and legal processes under this Agreement at the physical address you gave to us when you registered.

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Scary terms and conditions in South Africa