Monday, May 03, 2010

Small print and your immortal soul

You may have read about the computer game company who inserted a new clause in their small print as an April Fools' Day jape. Around 7,500 customers apparently assented to terms and conditions that included the transfer of rights to their immortal soul to Gamestation.

On the basis that 12% of customers ticked an opt-out clause, Gamestation estimate that 88% of people fail read the small print before making online purchases. I'm surprised as many as 12% read them - I've asked this question at a number of conferences where I've spoken, and I reckon 2 out of about 400 people have put up their hand and admitted to reading the small print.

I found a nice comment about this on Mumsnet (in case you're wondering, no, I'm not a Mum - I googled it).

According to commenter GerbilMeasles, these are known as Friday Sandwich Clauses, and are sometimes inserted by playful solicitors to check if the other side is actually reading the contract they are supposed to be negotiating: 'They normally read something like "On completion and for a period of fifteen years from completion, the Vendor's solicitors shall on request from the Purchaser's solicitors provide on each Friday that is a Business Day a selection of sandwiches, pastries and other snacks as specified by the Purchaser's solicitors."'

Apparently a surprising number of these make it through to the final draft.