A popular type of consumer transaction is called "No Contract." Businesses lure consumers with the "no contract" assurance - a promise that consumer can walk away anytime, without any commitment. This scheme is increasingly common in cable and phone services, health clubs, security services, and other transactions that used to require minimum duration. What is a “No Contract” contract? What does the misnomer “No Contract” intend to signal to consumers? What effects does the “No Contract” arrangement have on other elements of the transaction? What do consumers have to give up in order to enjoy the “No Contract” guarantee? Is it overall good for consumers? In this talk, recorded for the Chicago's Best Ideas lecture series on March 27, 2012, Professor Ben-Shahar discussed the place of “No Contracts” in broader context of consumer protection, and his ongoing work on the failings – and the promise – of consumer law.
Easterbrook on Contracts and Copyright
This panel discussion was the first in a series of three events, initiated by the University of Chicago Law Review, celebrating Judge Frank Easterbrook's 25 years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The panel, which featured professors Omri Ben-Shahar, Randy Picker, Eric Posner and Judge Easterbrook, was held on January 11, 2010.
What if consumer contracts were legally enforceable only against the consumers, but not against the business? The idea of "one-way contracts," to which consumers are bound but the businesses are not, is offered as a basis to explore alternative, non-legal consumer protections. Despite weakening legal protections of consumers, the one-way contracts regime has the potential to improve consumers' well being. In fact, in many area consumer contracts are already disguised "one-way contracts." The conclusion is that the focus among consumer protection advocates on enhancing access to, and the scope of, legal remedies may be misguided.
Omri Ben-Shahar is Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded October 13, 2009, as part of the Chicago's Best Ideas series.
Myths of Consumer Protection: Information, Litigation, and Access
Omri Ben-Shahar is Frank and Bernice J. Greenberg Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. This talk was recorded February 17, 2009 as the annual Ronald H. Coase Lecture in Law and Economics.