The End User License Agreement Provided No Protection for My Ovaries
Quite some time ago I agreed to an end-user license agreement in order to install a game that frightened me. Well, the license agreement frightened me, that is – the game didn’t frighten me a bit, which was a shame, since I paid good money for it.
I wont quote the whole thing again (my co-workers always make fun of me for actually reading these things) but the part that bothered me said: “LICENSEE IS OBLIGED TO FORFEIT ANY OR ALL REPRODUCTIVE MATERIAL UPON REQUEST OF LICENSOR AT THE LICENSOR’S EXPENSE.” I’m not a lawyer, but I do have some experience with binding contracts, and I was fairly certain that this clause entitled them to collect my unfertilized eggs.
The game had long since been removed from my hard drive, but recently an announcement came into my email. I can see why my office-mates always bug me for entering my real information into the user fields! The email told me that if I would be eligible for free upgrades and special discounts and offers provided I filled out a software registration form and stopped by a clinic to have my eggs harvested. Ordinarily I would have deleted it, but you know, announcements of upcoming product releases delivered straight to my inbox so that I could be the first to know is a really tempting offer. I mulled it over for a few days and then decided to mail them a polite decline.
A week later I got a call from one of their customer servicing representatives. “Ms. Honeycut?” he asked, clearing his throat some. I won’t say what company he worked for, but they have a habit of releasing Operating Systems. He continued: “Can I interest you again in registering our product? I just need to ask you a few questions about which products and services you use or would like to see at home or office, and possibly stop by to conduct a throat culture. Also, we’d ask that you [and here he mumbled something and loudly shuffled papers about so that all I could hear was “eggs”] for which you’d be reinbursed for any medical expenses, of course. In return you’ll be an exclusive platinum plus plus member with discounts on all future products. Deal?”
I told him that my eggs were to remain in my ovaries where they belonged, at least until they decided to venture forth on their own.
The Customer Servicing representative breathed tensely and then, steeling his courage, he finally asked: “Okay, well, Ms. Honeycut, could we interest you in breeding with another registered user?” He hushed my protests before I could even get them out of my mouth. “Bear with me! You see, my company is committed to the customer. But to fully provide the features and services that YOU want, we need to collect information about our users and their buying habits. You’re one of the few people who actively fill out user information and registration forms. Well, let’s not beat around the bush. What I’m trying to say, Ms. Honeycut, is that my company is attempting to breed a ‘master race’ of users, a whole new human species, if I’m permitted to say so. They are like you and I in every way, Ms. Honeycut, except they are a race of people GENETICALLY PROGRAMMED TO REGISTER SOFTWARE. Can you see it, Ms. Honeycut? Can you see the dream as I do? Within two generations, a user base incapable of NOT upgrading? Imagine the accelerated growth of human progress, not to mention profit! Are you with me!?”
“This is ludicrous!” I scoffed. “There’s no evidence that software registration genes are carried from mother to son. Although …” and here, I paused, since in my career it’s often wise to seize an opportunity when it arises. “What’s in it for me? Could a swing a lifetime of free software upgrades?”
The other end of the phone line was still and silent, barring a strained gulp. I heard his chair squeak. “A … lifetime? of … FREE upgrades?” he asked.
I heard the man on the other end of the phone frantically start keying numbers into his calculator. “Well … that depends. Are you a smoker?”
“History of heart disease in your family?”
“Yes. And diabetes.”
Through the phone I heard the clatter of keyboard keys and the scribbing of a pencil on a pad of paper. “…DEAL!” he finally said.
I know what you’re thinking. But c’mon … free software upgrades! I’m glad I registered.
It’s a brave, brave new world!
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