Browse By

New CafePress Terms: Shop Owners Must Pay $250 to Disagree with Us

For some time, the authors of Irregular Times have paid the cost of maintaining this website by selling political messages on buttons and bumper stickers made in the USA. We’ve used the CafePress platform for doing this because it’s offered a user-friendly interface and because we’ve been able to specifically verify that the items we sell aren’t made in sweatshops.

That said, the CafePress corporate offices have a worrisome history when it comes to its relationship between the designers who create images. Starting in 2013, you’ve needed to avoid the CafePress “Marketplace” interface (we do) to keep your designs from being used without permission to sell sweatshop-made junk. CafePress has also tried to seize effective ownership of all user-contributed images. In addition, CafePress has been known to open up venues and selling items featuring graphics it doesn’t own without informing the graphics’ owners. With that history, it’s worth our time to carefully watch what Cafepress does.

This summer, CafePress introduced a new Terms of Service document. You know what I mean: these are the square miles of small text that you don’t read and click “agree” to so you can get back to business. Well, we read them, and “>you can too. What we found is disturbing.

CafePress Terms of Service: $250 fee to disagreeThe new CafePress terms of service feature a section forcing CafePress designers to make a choice when CafePress does something that violates their rights: either roll over and go along with CafePress’ actions, or head into “arbitration” in which a body chosen by CafePress decides whether CafePress or the designer is right. To initiate the “arbitration” process, designers have to first pay a fee of $250. That’s right: when you’ve been wronged, you have to pay $250 to complain about it, to an arbitrator chosen by the corporation you’re complaining about. In effect, that’s no right of complaint at all.

This kind of trap is used by corporate America with alarming frequency. Fortunately, in this case there is one escape clause:

Procedure to Opt-Out of Arbitration Provision. You may opt-out of this arbitration provision only by written Notice via U.S. Mail, or by any nationally recognized delivery service (e.g., UPS, Federal Express, etc.) to CafePress Inc., Attn: Legal Department, 11909 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243.You must send such Notice within thirty (30) days of your acceptance of this Agreement. You must sign and date the Notice, and include in it your name, address, and a clear statement that you do not wish to resolve disputes with CafePress through arbitration. If you do not follow this procedure by your thirty (30) day deadline to do so, then you and CafePress shall both be bound by the terms of this section entitled Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitration.”

It’s a good thing we read the terms of service. We’re sending our letter today, and if you sell via CafePress we suggest you do too. Here’s some text you can modify to make the letter-sending process a bit more manageable:

USER NAME: _________
PROFILE #: _________

CafePress Inc.
Attn: Legal Department
11909 Shelbyville Road
Louisville, KY 40243


To the Legal Department of CafePress:

On the morning of [date], I clicked a button to indicate “agreement” to the terms of service changes by CafePress, which include the “Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitration” section.  I do not agree to the “Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitration” section of the terms of service.  By signing and dating this notice, I clearly state that I do not wish to resolve disputes with CafePress through arbitration and am not bound to do so.  According to the terms of service, the delivery of this letter succeeds in nullifying the “Dispute Resolution by Binding Arbitation” requirements of the terms of service in my relationship as a shop owner with CafePress.


USER NAME: _________
PROFILE #: _________

3 thoughts on “New CafePress Terms: Shop Owners Must Pay $250 to Disagree with Us”

  1. Al Hopfmann says:

    Thank you for being a good watchdog on this matter. It sad to see a commercial business venture emulating the sleaze of the federal government and its dispute resolution structure.

  2. Dave says:

    Build a wall.

    Just kidding. The people who run the site probably came up in institutions that taught that values are relative, there is no absolute truth, and right and wrong can be placed on a sliding scale. I applaud your astute resistance.

    1. Jim Cook says:

      You’re right: the institutions of corporate America are very much like that. This is why corporate domination of America, why the prioritization of corporate benefit over the well-being of actual living people, must be resisted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Psst... what kind of person doesn't support pacifism?

Fight the Republican beast!