A Roku Terms of Service Update Locks Up Your TV Until You Agree

Roku customers are threatening to stop using, or to even dispose of, their low-priced TVs and streaming gadgets after the company appears to be locking devices for people who don’t conform to the recently updated terms of service.

This month, users on Roku’s support forums reported suddenly seeing a message when turning on their Roku TV or streaming device reading: “We’ve made an important update: We’ve updated our Dispute Resolution Terms. Select ‘Agree’ to agree to these updated Terms and to continue enjoying our products and services. Press * to view these updated Terms.” A large button reading “Agree” follows. The pop-up doesn’t offer a way to disagree, and users are unable to use their device unless they hit agree.

Customers have left pages of complaints on Roku’s forum. One user going by “rickstanford” said they were “FURIOUS!!!!” and expressed interest in sending their reported six Roku devices back to the company since “apparently I don’t own them despite spending hundreds of dollars on them.”

Another user going by Formercustomer, who, I suspect, is aptly named, wrote:

So, you buy a product, and you use it. And they want to change the terms limiting your rights, and they basically brick the device … if you don’t accept their new terms. … I hope they get their comeuppance here, as this is disgraceful.

Roku has further aggravated customers who have found that disagreeing to its updated terms is harder than necessary. Roku is willing to accept agreement to its terms with a single button press, but to opt out, users must jump through hoops that include finding that old book of stamps.

To opt out of Roku’s ToS update, which primarily changes the “Dispute Resolution Terms,” users must send a letter to Roku’s general counsel in California mentioning: “the name of each person opting out and contact information for each such person, the specific product models, software, or services used that are at issue, the email address that you used to set up your Roku account (if you have one), and, if applicable, a copy of your purchase receipt.” Roku required all this to opt out of its terms previously, as well.

But the new update means that while users read this information and have their letter delivered, they’re unable to use products they already paid for and used, in some cases for years, under different “dispute resolution terms.”

“I can’t watch my TV because I don’t agree to the Dispute Resolution Terms. Please help,” a user going by Campbell220 wrote on Roku’s support forum.

Based on the ToS’s wording, users could technically choose to agree to the ToS on their device and then write a letter saying they’d like to opt out. But opting into an agreement only to use a device under terms you don’t agree with is counterintuitive.