Legal shmegal!

Don’t you just love all the terms and conditions documents you have to agree to before you can do anything online? I have a new iPad and before they will allow you to do about anything you have to endure a series of terms and conditions documents that range from a handful of small print online pages to one that was a full 21 pages.

Ostensibly, all these pages are fully read, understood and agreed to by the customer that clicks the little box saying they have read them.  Really folks, how many of you have actually read them?  In a world where we  use the internet for speed, who among us sits at the computer and reads those agreements?  I’ll tell you – few to none.

You can bet I didn’t read the 21 pages online that stood between me and using the iPad.  I just clicked the box and moved on and I didn’t really think twice about it.

So, don’t feel bad if you have just clicked the box without reading all the fine print.  I’d like to believe you are in good company – namely, my company.  Truly, the whole design and presentation of those terms and conditions agreements are geared toward getting you not to read them.  And even if you did read them, these types of documents tend to be mired in legalese that seeks to make the document difficult to understand by lay people.  In addition, the companies still utilize the well-recognized tactics of shrinking the print and almost completely eliminating white space to make the reading of the document that much more difficult.

All of this effort is put forth to try and bind you into an agreement that removes any and all rights and remedies for recourse against the company that would be of any value to you – the consumer.  After all, you did check the box that said you agree to the terms and conditions – right?

Here’s the thing though, is this approach fair?  Are consumers truly informed of what they agreed to?  Is the language used clear enough so that non-lawyers can understand the content?  I am thinking the answer to all the above questions are a fairly clear “NO.”

Never fear though my non-reading friends (of which I am clearly one), here is my thought – these agreements if ever seriously challenged by a State Attorney’s Office would not likely hold water.  The companies are purposeful in presenting them in a way that ensures that you won’t read them – it isn’t in good faith and you don’t really know what you are agreeing to even if you do try and slog through all 21 pages.

Legal shmegal I say!  This is a case of obfuscation as a deceptive practice and guess what all you terms and conditions writers – we are on to you!

I do encourage all my lawyer pals to chime in though and tell me if they think I have this all wrong…just be sure you read and agree to all 18 pages of terms and conditions before you comment. ;-)

Day seven hundred and eight of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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