We’ve all been there with online purchases and downloads – that moderate chunk of legalese that comes up on the screen, blocking our access to some form of instant gratification. There might have been a time when you scrolled down to the bottom, and read every word carefully. After the umpteenth time, the thought of parsing such obfuscating language is too much, so you tick the “I agree” box and get on to the good stuff. If you’re buying something from Gamestation, then maybe you should read more carefully. A news item delivered to me by Google News from my least favourite news outlet (a combination extremely unlikely to catch my attention) identifies Gamestation as the legal owner of 7,500 souls, which it received thanks to their “immortal soul” clause in their terms and conditions regarding online purchases:
“By placing an order via this Web site 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.”
You’ve probably noticed that this was an April Fools’ joke, and that Gamestation are not about to claim their harvest. They are also disarmingly fair about the contract:
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.”
Any person who read the terms and conditions were within their rights to opt out, and retain their soul. In fact, the few who did click this link later received a £5 voucher for Gamestation. The souls are apparently in some sort of escrow (the definition of limbo?), and will be returned to the original owners by email.
While bizarre and hilarious, Gamestation played this prank for a reason. We’re all too keen to skip the terms and conditions these days – maybe we should check them once in a while. Especially if you have a copy of iTunes on your computer.