Last week we wrote about PingMe, an SMS reminder service. I went back to their site for a second look, and I'm now glad I checked their terms of service. If you're thinking about checking out PingMe, I suggest you do the same before you sign up! You're not quite signing over your firstborn, but there were a couple of terms which raised my eyebrows. Click through to see some excerpts. Apart from being written in ALL CAPS (oh my eyes), the folks behind PingMe seem to want rather a lot in return for using their (Beta!) service.
Under the PingMe Terms of Service (let's call 'em the TOS for short), you agree to contact "via email, telephone, or postal mail for the purposes of marketing, advertising, announcing new products and services, or informing you of updates to services you already use." Hmm, ok, but there's no "opt-out" box to tick here. Have our anti-spam laws made us too used to polite online marketing here in Australia, or is this normal?
You also agree to receive advertisements attached to the 'pings' you receive from the service, which is fair enough considering it's a free service and that's how they derive their income. But...
"You grant ZETETIC LLC the right to use your name in promotional materials, interviews, case studies, advertising, customer lists, and other publicity, provided that such use accurately describes the nature of the relationship between ZETETIC LLC and you. You further grant ZETETIC LLC the right to quote and publish excerpts from your communications with us for the purposes of advertising or providing references to the general public or other prospective customers."
I'd probably be happy if they contacted me saying 'hey that email you wrote to use about how much our service rocked/sucked' really helped us and we'd like to reproduce it in our new ad'. But mandating that everyone who signs up for their *beta* service agrees to shill the products seems a little rich.
Ignoring the 'if you breach this agreement we're entitled to damages' clause which seems to be standard American online TOS tosh... this is probably the clause that most got up my nose:
"You agree not to create, cause to be created, or contribute in any way to the creation, development, or marketing of programs or services that provide the same or similar functionality as the service, or would directory or indirectly compete with the service, without the written consent of ZETETIC LLC."
You've... got to be kidding. Under your TOS you're trying to get me to agree to never develop a similar product or service? Right.
I won't point out the spelling error in the TOS (discression!) because that would just be bitchy. Oops.
Funny the things you find when you're trying to work out if Web companies serve Australia!
So, do you read the TOS or EULA (end user license agreement) before you download or install software, or are you one of the many who just hit "agree" to get straight to the good stuff? If you've spotted any draconian TOS conditions lately, leave 'em in the comments!