Have you sold your soul?

For one day in 2010, the British online-gaming store GameStation changed the terms and conditions that customers had to click through to complete their purchase to include this:

“By placing an order via this GameStation Web site … you agree to grant us a nontransferable option to claim, for now and forevermore, 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 five working days of receiving written notification from [GameStation] or one of its duly authorized minions.”

Yes, you read that right. To buy a video game that day, you had to agree to surrender your soul to the company upon demand. That’s quite a price to pay for a video game. And 7,500 people agreed to pay it.

Some may have been such devoted video-game players that they didn’t mind the price. But most surely didn’t read the contract before clicking “I agree” to complete the transaction.

Far too many people sign or click through contracts without reading them. Not everyone ends up selling their soul. But many later find themselves in a bind that they could have avoided with some reading.

If you didn’t read a contract and thus failed to realize it had an arbitration clause governing disputes that requires any arbitration to take place in New York even though you live and work in Georgia, tough. Just because you didn’t read a contract before you signed it is not a defense to it being enforced. And one should know that Internet click-through agreements are as valid and enforceable as contracts printed on paper and signed with an old-fashioned pen. You should read all agreements before you sign or click.

Those who agreed to give their soul to GameStation’s duly authorized minions may not have to worry, but it’s only because the technology to separate one from their soul has yet to be invented.

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