Do you read Terms and Conditions?

Barry Riley

A few months back, in what must surely be considered an inspired moment of genius, Gamestation inserted a new condition into their online terms which granted them a “nontransferable option to claim, for now and evermore, the immortal soul of the customer”. It went on to state that a notice claiming the soul may be sent in “six foot high letters of fire” and that collection of the soul may be undertaken by one of Gamestation’s “minions”.

Gamestation, in order to assess how much attention they were paying, allowed customers an opt-out if they clicked a link contained in the terms. Clicking this link would also entitle customers to a £5 voucher.

Of the 7,500 customers placing orders on the site on the day in question, not one clicked the link, demonstrating that either they hadn’t read the terms, or they were more than happy to handover their immortal soul to a retailer as long as they got the video game they had ordered. Whilst this was a prank, it does show the danger in not reading terms and conditions (whether online or in physical form) whilst agreeing to contract on the basis of them.

Whilst English law provides good protection for consumers in these circumstances (in as much as the terms have to be reasonable) this is not the same for businesses who are expected to understand what they are agreeing to: not having read a document is no defence.

Of course a more devilish interpretation of this story is that you can pretty much get anybody to agree to anything, as long as its easier to click “I agree” than it is actually to read the text.

Barry Riley
briley@metcalfes.co.uk
DDI – 0117 9453 042

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