Do you remember the familiar joke that the biggest lie on the Internet is to read the terms and conditions of a service? The fact that virtually no one reads it has all kinds of jokes, such as that once had to offer the soul legally to a company but this time can be a joke that really has consequences.
22,000 people have legally committed to providing close to 1000 hours of community service, including, but not limited to, cleaning banquets at festivals, scraping gum from the streets and undoing traffic jams in sewers, a growing problem in many cities.
The clause was introduced as a joke (or at least is expected) under the terms and conditions of Purple, a Manchester Wi-Fi company, for a period of two weeks, ‘to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness Of what they are signing when they access free wifi ‘. The company offers people access to different wifi for trademarks, including Legoland, Outback Steakhouse and Pizza Express. Purple herself also offered a prize to anyone who read the terms and conditions and noted the ‘community service clause’. Sadly only one person claimed it, giving to see the problem that nobody really reads what it signs.
Community service in exchange for WiFi
It’s no surprise that people will accept the T & Cs of any service to get free wifi. In 2014 the cybersecurity firm F-Secure conducted a similar experiment in London, operating a Wi-Fi hotspot that anyone could use if it promised to offer their first child. The so-called ‘Herod clause’ was clearly stated in the terms and conditions, and six people were still enrolled.
F-Secure also noted that while the terms and conditions are legally binding, it is not legal to sell children in exchange for free services, so the clause would not be applicable in a court of law that is considered decent.
It is not clear whether the terms and conditions in general are actually applicable to the regular customer. Although they are contracts, and generally considered legally binding as such, some have argued that the inability to negotiate violates the principles of the law in many places.