Around 22,000 people have found themselves legally bound to 1000 hours of community service, including cleaning toilets at festivals, scraping chewing gum off the streets and “manually relieving sewer blockages”, among others, all in exchange for free WiFi.
The Manchester-based wifi company Purple is behind the clause inserted in the terms and conditions. The period for said work is two weeks, with the company aiming to show “the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free wifi”.” Purple operates wifi hotspots for various brands, including Legoland, Outback Steakhouse, and Pizza Express.
What’s perhaps more interesting is that the company also offered a prize for anyone who actually read the terms and conditions and reported the “community service clause”. The final result was just one person claiming it or numerically speaking, 0.000045% of all WiFi users throughout the two-weeks period.
A “Community Service Clause” was added to Purple’s usual terms and stated:
“The user may be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service. This may include the following:
- Cleansing local parks of animal waste;
- Providing hugs to stray cats and dogs;
- Manually relieving sewer blockages;
- Cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events;
- Painting snail shells to brighten up their existence;
- Scraping chewing gum off the streets.”
“WiFi users need to read terms when they sign up to access a network,” said Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple, commenting on the results. “What are they agreeing to, how much data are they sharing, and what license are they giving to providers? Our experiment shows it’s all too easy to tick a box and consent to something unfair.”
Luckily for thousands of free wifi hungry people, Purple doesn’t intend to go through with the spoof clause. It’s a shame really as “cleaning portable lavatories at local festivals and events” would surely be a lesson to remember.
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