Last summer Temple University Bookstore decided to capitalize on the electronic craze
among college students.
For the first time ever, the Bookstore started selling laptops, laptop
accessories, and other electronic devices.
Sarah Smith, an 18-year-old Temple freshman, moved into the dorms in late August
Excited about becoming a Temple Owl, Sarah went to the main Temple Bookstore to buy
a Temple University t-shirt, sweatshirt, sweatpants, and baseball cap.
While she was at the
Bookstore, Sarah saw the new electronics section.
Laptops of all sorts of colors, shapes, and
sizes were on display.
Sarah selected and purchased a laptop for $500 on September 1.
she purchased the laptop, the salesperson asked Sarah to fill out a form with her name, address,
phone number, and TUID.
The form had a lot of pre-printed writing in small print.
the salesperson, “What is this form for?”
The salesperson responded, “It’s just a standard Sales
Agreement that we have all laptop purchasers fill out.”
Sarah didn’t bother reading the form,
filled in all the blanks, and signed her name at the bottom.
Sarah paid for her laptop.
salesperson gave Sarah her new laptop, a copy of the completed Sales Agreement, and her sales
Sarah went back to her dorm room, tossed the paperwork in a drawer, and opened up her
Over the next week Sarah started using her laptop, but found that it was too heavy to
carry around campus to take notes in class.
She decided that she wanted a smaller, lighter laptop.
On September 10, Sarah took her laptop, along with the receipt back to the Bookstore and tried
to return it.
The salesperson told Sarah that they would gladly take the laptop back since she was
returning it within the 14-day return policy.
However, there is a 20% restocking fee.
Sarah declared that she didn’t know anything about a restocking fee.
The salesperson calmly
showed Sarah that Clause 8 of the Sales Agreement (that Sarah had signed) clearly stated that
non-defective returned laptops were subject to a 20% restocking fee.
Feeling defeated, Sarah
returned the laptop and got $400 back ($500 minus $100 restocking fee).
The following week Sarah discovered that Temple Law School has a free Consumer
Sarah stopped by and spoke to a law student who was working in the clinic.
The student reviewed the Sales Agreement and offered to have the clinic represent Sarah in a
lawsuit against the Bookstore.
Since the services were free, Sarah ecstatically agreed thinking
maybe she would get her $100 back.
The clinic filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania on behalf of Sarah Smith against the Temple
University Bookstore alleging that the Sales Agreement (and thus the restocking fee clause) is
not enforceable because (1) the terms of the contract were unconscionable, and (2) the contract
was an adhesion contract.
Temple University’s Office of University Counsel declared that the Sales Agreement is