If you’ve used public Wi-Fi lately, you could be working community service very soon

I, like many of us, don’t tend to read the terms and conditions when signing up for a service. Sure, I might skim through the seemingly endless wall of fine print as I scroll past to click the “Accept” button, but I rarely pay attention to what I’m agreeing to.

If you’ve used public Wi-Fi lately, you could be working community service very soon

That lack of care has come to bite 22,000 people in the bum as they discovered they’d unwittingly signed up for 1,000 hours of community service cleaning public toilets. The clause was hidden away in the terms and conditions of public Wi-Fi provider Purple’s signup page.

“The user may be required, at Purple’s discretion, to carry out 1,000 hours of community service,” read the clause. “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.”

Purple says the silly clause in its T&Cs was placed there to highlight the “lack of consumer awareness” around what people sign up to. In fact, Purple claims that only one person actually spotted the joke during the campaign’s two-week run – clearly they had too much time on their hands.

The prank actually comes as part of Purple’s latest announcement on its compliance with the government’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into force in May 2018. GDPR requires users to provide “unambiguous consent” before companies can use personal or behavioural data for marketing.

Back in 2010, the now-defunct games retailer GameStation pulled a similar prank with their T&Cs to prove that nobody actually pays attention to them. The retailer slipped in a clause on 1 April allowing them to claim the “immortal souls” of 7,500 unwitting shoppers. Those who noticed and opted out of said clause bagged themselves a £5 voucher in the process.

Just like GameStation, Purple has said that it won’t be holding those 22,000 people to that particular clause of its T&Cs. All those worried about having to manually relieve sewer blockages or painting snail shells can breathe a sigh of relief.

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