Does Anybody Read Terms and Conditions?

Time and again, someone pulls a prank getting consumers to agree to outrageous things that are included in the terms and conditions and without fail consumers rush to claim the benefit without reading the terms.

2010 – Gamestation

In 2010, UK video game e-tailer Gamestation changed its terms and conditions to add the language below as part of an April Fool’s prank.Gamestation reserved the right to tender notice of its intention to exercise the option “in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however, we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act.”  To its credit, Gamestation included an opt-out link in which the user could receive a £5 voucher, but only 12 percent of user’s exercised this option. Gamestation stated it has no intention of exercising its rights under their Faustian term (but it did not say whether it will it be listed as an asset on their Q2 financial statements).

2017 – Purple

Earlier this year, UK public Wi-Fi provider Purple pulled a prank by inserting the following in their terms and conditions

The user may be be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following. Cleansing local parks of animal waste. Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs. Manually relieving sewer blockages. Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events.  Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence. Scraping chewing gum off the streets.

Over a two week period, only one person flagged the fake terms – out of 22,000 users.

2015 – Jena Kingsley

I just discovered this 2015 prank from comedian Jena Kingsley thanks to Santa Clara Law Professor Eric Goldman who showed this to his internet law class this week.  It would be funny if Kingsley recreated the prank in the lobby of an ABA or state bar convention.

Fortunately, Kingsley prank is not quite as extreme as the South Park parody of the Apple iTunes agreement.