Sunday, 30 May 2010

One click could save your soul

Conducting an April Fool's Day joke a British game maker found out exactly how many of its customers read contract terms and conditions (full story here).

The following clause was added to the contract signed before making any online purchases:

By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from or one of its duly authorised minions (...) we reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act. If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.

You had an option to opt out from this clause, by ticking a box, which actually would have rewarded you with a 5 British pound voucher. So how many people have seen that clause (read: how many have read the contract terms and conditions?)? About 12%. Your automatic reply would be: "12% only?", however, previous research has shown even more discouraging numbers. I guess we should rejoice that we care more about our rights to our eternal souls than about our consumer rights?

Paper: 'Does anyone read the fine print? Testing a Law and Economics Approach to Standard Form Contracts' may be found here.

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