Friday, December 30, 2011
You might have noticed my new "Terms and conditions" page, above. But then again, if you're like most users, you probably haven't.
Which is the whole point.
Nobody reads those pointless agreement pages, yet they are legally binding. This is crazy! I don't want to be legally bound by contracts I haven't even read.
For this reason, today, I counter-attack using my own "Terms and conditions" page. I am not a lawyer, but if I ever get into trouble with one of the many agreement pages I have not read, my opponents should not be able to claim that I am bound by their terms and conditions without accepting that they are also bound by mine.
It is not legal to encourage someone to sign a contract without reading it. Similarly, it should not be legal to encourage a user to click "I agree" without reading and understanding the conditions he or she is agreeing to. Yet, that is precisely what service providers are doing! Successful service providers streamline their website's user experience to encourage a particular behaviour, for example, signing up for the service. And my experience with online agreements is that the encouraged behaviour is always to click "I agree" without reading anything.
For example, service providers often go to great lengths making sure the product offering is crystal clear, by using short punchy sentences or video presentations. By contrast, those same service providers use many pages of long-winded, cryptic legalese to describe their legal agreement. And even when I do take the time to read and consider such terms, I am often rejected with a "this page has expired" message.
The only way to reach the service, in this case, is to click "I agree" without reading the contract. Since that is the expected behaviour, that's what I am going to do from now on. But since you don't expect me to read your contracts, don't expect me to be bound by them.
Posted by gelisam on Friday, December 30, 2011