"In no event shall the Expedia Companies, the Expedia Affiliates and/or their respective suppliers be liable for any direct, indirect, punitive, incidental, special or consequential damages arising out of, or in any way connected with, your access to, display of, or use of this Website or with the delay or inability to access, display or use this Website (including, but not limited to, your reliance upon opinions appearing on this Website; any computer viruses, information, software, linked sites, products and services obtaining through this Website; or otherwise arising out of the access to, display of or use of this Website) whether based on a theory of negligence, contract, tort, strict liability, consumer protection statutes, or otherwise, and even if the Expedia Companies, the Expedia Affiliates and/or their respective suppliers have been advised of the possibility of such damages.
"If, despite the limitation above, the Expedia Companies, the Expedia Affiliates or their respective suppliers are found liable for any loss or damage which arises out of or in any way connected with any of the occurrences described above, then the liability of the Expedia Companies, the Expedia Affiliates and/or their respective suppliers will in no event exceed, in the aggregate, the greater of (a) the service fees you paid to Expedia, Inc. in connection with such transaction(s) on this Website, or (b) One-Hundred Dollars (US $100.00) or the equivalent in local currency.
- The various exclusions apply not only to Expedia, itself, but also to its suppliers. That means when you arrange, say, a hotel room through Expedia, your agreement lets the hotel off the legal hook as well as Expedia.
- The second paragraph says, in effect, that even if Expedia partially loses in court, you can't claim more than you paid Expedia for the hotel room.
You can't avoid such waivers by buying directly, either. Hotel chains and other supplier websites typically require that you accept similar fine print as a condition of purchase. Only airlines can't do the same, because their terms are governed by federal requirements, but they can and do exclude liability for consequent damages in all cases.
One-sided, non-negotiated agreements of this sort are called "contracts of adhesion" and may not always be fully enforceable. But published legal opinions say that courts often uphold them, anyhow, and fighting them is an uphill battle.
I wish I could come up with some suggestions for how you can avoid putting yourself in this sort of legal hole whenever you make travel arrangements online, but I can't. Sorry. Be warned.
Ed Perkins on Travel is copyright (c) 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Are You Waiving Your Legal Rights When You Buy Travel Online?
Follow Ed Perkins on Google+ or email him at email@example.com.