Reading the fine print before we click "Agree" to online contracts is a disagreeable task for most of us -- and that most definitely includes our Faith Salie:
When's the last time you thoroughly read one of those contracts you have to sign in order to post on Facebook or download iTunes or even watch a movie? You know, the fine print that says you can't sue the company, even for negligence -- the contracts that say, in negative-3-point font, that you'll now be billed by the Cheese of the Month Club for the rest of your life?
If you answered "never," then you're like me, and just about everyone on Earth.
Fewer than one in a thousand people read these things. Of course we click "agree" -- we have lives to lead!
Well, here are some things you're "agreeing" to.
In case you're thinking of suing Apple, you've already agreed that:
To avoid muscle, joint, or eye strain... you should always take frequent breaks....
Apple's warning us about iTunes, but they could just as well be describing how it feels to read their mind-numbing contract.
Many e-contracts average 74,000 words. Instagram's contract is ONLY 5,000, but if you agreed to it, there's no telling where your selfies could end up.
A few years ago, an online game company's contract actually called for its customers to surrender their immortal souls. And guess what: 7,500 people clicked goodbye to their souls!
This kind of legalese is not easy on the eyes or brain. If only I had a lawyer to help ...
When asked if he reads these things, attorney Lance Koonce replied, "The short answer is almost always no. I don't. I read contracts like that if it's for a big transaction or for something expensive. It's not surprising, Justice Roberts in the Supreme Court a few years ago said he didn't read them, either."
Salie asked, "Is there any risk to just clicking 'agree' so I can go on with my life?"
"There's always some risk," Koonce replied. "Generally speaking, I think consumers don't have great risk when they click because most transactions are small transactions. And anything that was really outrageous or egregious that someone tried to sneak in, the courts probably would not uphold."
Well, THAT'S good news.
- Give up firstborn for free Wi-Fi? Some click "I agree" (09/30/14)
- Can a company sue you for a negative review? (CBS Moneywatch, 09/29/15)
- Texas couple sued for thousands over negative online review ("CBS This Morning," 02/19/16)
Look, I wear my seatbelt; I don't smoke; I've earned the right to live life on the edge and sign these contracts without reading them.
But if YOU are more prudent than I am, I have some good news for you: Contrary to what your mom told you, doctors now say that reading super-fine print is actually GOOD for your eyes.
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