By Jon Festinger on October 23, 2014
This week EULA’s, citizens and double standards of literalism.
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I ought to mention that I came across a news story out of Russia which seemed very much on point here:
“$700k windfall: Russian man outwits bank with hand-written credit contract”
There is apparently a Russian gentleman who received an unsolicited credit card offer including a standard form contract in the mail. Rather than just signing the contract and mailing it back, this fellow first scanned the document and altered the terms, granting himself unlimited credit with no interest, and no right to the creditor to collect any fees. Upon receiving the altered document the credit card company ironically accepted it without reading it or noticing the changes. In subsequent litigation a Russian court upheld the amended contract.
One aspect of this that I find interesting is the apparent reality that even major industry players don’t necessarily put any more time into reading and understanding many of the legal documents they are dealing with than consumers do. I am reminded of an episode from the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, in which major lenders were supporting their foreclosure proceedings with affidavits and other documents that were essentially churned out by a machine and signed by a lawyer who had not even glanced at them. The result was that the purported foreclosure targets involved the wrong names, wrong addresses, wrong loan information, sometimes even naming people and properties without any mortgage at all.
Very interesting, Judmicha. I might try that if I’m really bored. If enough people do this, they will have to hire people to read through these contracts and the overall cost of borrowing would increase (to absorb these extra costs).
While we are on this topic, I believe there may be good reasons why people do not read EULAs. Most people I know would read contracts such as credit lending contracts, mortgage applications, etc. These contracts have very real and tangible effects and can change the course of action for most people (i.e. financial planning, allocation of capital, etc.).
My theory as to why people do not read EULAs is because under ordinary usage (i.e. playing the game), people do not risk running into trouble. So regardless of whether they read the EULA or not, it doesn’t change the way they act because there are little up or down-side to not reading them.