Read the Small Print

Fine print and terms and conditions on a tablet


Read the fine print, they say. Yeah, yeah, you think. But these strange tales prove the value of familiarising yourself with those good old T's and C's.


Ever hear about Amazon's Zombie Apocalypse clause? How about the story of the Wi-Fi hogs who ended up legally bound to clean up... ahem... poo; or the one about the lady who (true story) won $10,000 after finding a hidden Easter egg in her Travel Insurance contract? Hilarious hidden clauses and hefty payouts are just some of the reasons why we encourage you to check the policy details when comparing Insurance quotes.


Strange Clauses


We weren't kidding about Amazon Web Services' Zombie Apocalypse clause. While most people are unlikely to read up to Section 42.10 of any user agreement, it's well worth it when it comes to AWS.


Said section is all about acceptable use of Lumberyard Materials. In case you're wondering (and we certainly were), at AWS, Lumberyard Materials refer to a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine that allows you to create, store and share high-quality games.


'The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems...' the contract states. Fair enough. But wait, there's more: 'However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.' Curse those zombies!


Meanwhile, iTunes feels the need to stipulate that you can't use their app for the 'production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons'. Guess you'll have to engineer global destruction some other way. Maybe WinAmp?


Turns out the techies/comedians at social networking site Tumblr also have a sense of humour. 'You have to be the Minimum Age to use Tumblr,' they stress in Section 3 of their Terms of Service, which we've copy/pasted here for your entertainment and astonishment. 'We're serious: it's a hard rule. "But I'm, like, almost old enough!" you plead. Nope, sorry. If you're not old enough, don't use Tumblr. Ask your parents for a Playstation 4, or try books.'


Your Mortal Soul


How desperate are you for Wi-Fi? Not too long ago, more than 22,000 people unknowingly (one assumes) legally bound themselves to 1,000 hours of community service, which involved thrilling tasks including 'manually relieving sewer blockages'. Lovely. UK-based Wi-Fi company Purple inserted the experimental clause for two weeks 'to illustrate the lack of consumer awareness of what they are signing up to when they access free Wi-Fi'. Reading a bit of fine print doesn't seem so bad now, does it?


Cleaning sewers is one (highly unpleasant) thing; surrendering your mortal soul is quite another. In 2010, GameStation's 'Immortal Soul Clause' was added to highlight how few customers read the terms and conditions of an online sale. Luckily GameStation is not the devil incarnate, so they generously ceded the rights to those souls back to their original owners.


It Pays to Read the Small Print


In terms of joke clauses, the sharp-eyed few are often rewarded for spotting the trap in the form of vouchers and suchlike. But sometimes those suspicious so-and-so's can really hit paydirt. Case in point? American high school teacher Donelan Andrews, who picked up a handy $10,000 (approximately R137,000) for – you guessed it – reading the small print. Going through her 4,000-word insurance policy, Andrews was delighted to be the first to find a hidden clause that rewarded conscientious readers.


A home economics and consumer science teacher, Andrews had always encouraged her students to... wait for it... thoroughly read contracts. Hmm. Not only did US insurer Squaremouth award the diligent teacher more than enough money to fund her 35th wedding-anniversary trip to Scotland, they also made a donation to a children's literacy charity and to the schools where Andrews taught. Seems it pays to follow Tumblr's advice and 'try books'. Or at least start out with a lengthy contract.


Seeking insurance and inspired to catch up on some T's & C's reading? Use Hippo's Insurance quote comparison platforms... and remember to examine all the details.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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