How often do you actually read the terms and conditions? Think of how many times in a week you are confronted with a simple text box, asking you to tick to confirm that yes, you've read the legal jargon presented to you. Personally, you'd be lucky if I read the first paragraph let alone the whole thing.
I recently read a story about British firm Gamestation, who as a genius experiment, added the 'immortal soul clause' to their terms and conditions on their website. Any customer who signed up prior to making a purchase in April 2010 had to agree to the terms and conditions, in the same way most other sites require users to. Had customers actually read the page, they would have read the following:
"By placing an order via this website 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 gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions."
GameStation's form also points out that "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."
While the T&C's where updated on April Fools as a prank, they also did so to highlight a very serious point: Few if any, read the Terms and Conditions, and companies are free to insert whatever they want into their documents.
Shoppers where in fact given an 'opt out' tick box, which would have rewarded them with a £5 voucher, but very few actually did this. In fact, some figures are showing that more than 7,500 customers fell for the ploy. From the figures, Gamestation concluded that 88% of people do not read T&Cs before making a purchase.
GameStation executives are now assuring all customers that they are not enforcing the Immortal Soul Clause and will be contacting customers via email with a notice of nullification. Now the question I want to ask - how much would you sell your soul for?