Like many summer-scarf wearing, coconut water drinking, cold brew brewing 30-something hipsters, I have heartily embraced the use of services such as GoGet for car hire, Uber for when I am being super lazy or when getting a ride into the city (no public transport seats for this man’s bottom), and AirBnB when I wish to go to Byron Bay or Noosa or wherever the cool kids are hanging out these days.
When I subscribed to these services, I was almost immediately emailed a copy of each of their respective Service Agreements or Terms of Service, and did the thing that I am sure most of us do of ticking the box on the screen that said ‘yep, read and agreed to them’, even though I had absolutely no intention of actually reading those contracts.
However, due to my desire to
avoid work give back to the community, I have read and summarised the key terms of each of these, and in particular highlighted what I think are the weirdest or unusual clauses in each – the ones you might actually want to take into account in deciding when and how to use these services
You can access GoGet’s latest Service agreement here.
I always like trying to work out what firm prepared this, based on the formatting and styling. For GoGet, I think it is Clayton Utz, but prove me wrong people.
Pretty straightforward for the most part. Kicks off with the definitions, then moves into the nitty gritty like don’t crash the car, don’t let drunk people drive (or drive drunk yourself), don’t use it to teach your kid without telling us first, and so on.
I always like clauses like this:
You acknowledge and agree that in becoming a Member and/or accessing the GoGet services, you have read and accepted the terms of this Agreement.
I am no litigator, or even much of a lawyer, but surely that sort of clause can’t be used in court if the person has not actually read the agreement. I mean, what if it said ‘You acknowledge and agree that in becoming a Member you agree to pay GoGet $1,000 just for the privilege of reading this fine document’. That wouldn’t be binding, right?
Your main obligations under a GoGet contract are:
- pay the required fees;
- not let any other drivers use the car, unless they are approved by GoGet prior to them driving
- not go over your booking time, or you’ll pay for it
- make sure there is at least a quarter tank of fuel in the car when you return it (making it a bit like Russian Roulette as to whether you’ll be the unlucky person who has to fill it up or not)
- try not to crash or do anything illegal – if you do, you’re responsible
- Return the vehicle from where you collected it, in the same condition.
Oh, hello there, what’s this:
Scary. But not unexpected. Let me know if you use a GoGet car to go somewhere like Ikea, and suddenly your Facebook page is full of Ikea advertisements.
What’s with the re-branding, Uber? It’s all a bit… well… ineffectual if you ask me. I quite liked the previous design and logo.
Let’s move on, though. Uber’s latest Service Agreement is available here.
It is hard to tell which firm might have prepared these. I suspect they were done in-house as they use lots of “…” around defined terms, which I think all law firms have now done away with and replaced with the loud, proud bold for defined words.
Uber comes in swinging in the very first paragraph, with the following:
Uber may immediately terminate these Terms or any Services with respect to you, or generally cease offering or deny access to the Services or any portion thereof, at any time for any reason.
Summary: Don’t mess with Uber or else.
Now, this is interesting. Turns out Uber itself is not about ordering cars to drive you around. No, no. Instead, they make it very clear that they are a:
…technology platform that enables users of Uber’s mobile applications or websites provided as part of the Services (each, an “Application”) to arrange and schedule transportation and/or logistics services with independent third party providers of such services
And just in case that was not clear enough THEY PUT THE NEXT BIT IN CAPS:
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT UBER DOES NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION OR LOGISTICS SERVICES OR FUNCTION AS A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER AND THAT ALL SUCH TRANSPORTATION OR LOGISTICS SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY INDEPENDENT THIRD PARTY CONTRACTORS WHO ARE NOT EMPLOYED BY UBER OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES.
What does that mean for you? Once you order the car, that’s Uber out. The rest of the relationship is between you and the driver, so if something happens to you, you’re suing the driver not Uber – at least, that’s what they are trying to do in their Terms of Service.
Again, I’m not a litigator. Do the use of capitals make things easier for judges to agree with? Uber is betting big on this being the case.
One final weird thing. Your use of Uber is governed by the laws of The Netherlands.
Except as otherwise set forth in these Terms, these Terms shall be exclusively governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of The Netherlands, excluding its rules on conflicts of laws.
Conclusion? A US lawyer drafted these. Only they would have such reckless use of capital letters and governing law.
Ah, AirBnB. So controversial, so useful. Thank you for allowing us to stay in a place where maybe 10 to 15 people a year sit on the toilet, rather than several hundred per toilet per room, which happens at your fancy pants hotels.
Terms of Service for AirBnB can be accessed here.
Crap, these are long. And the text gets smaller the further you go. They are really discouraging people from reading this. However, I am going to soldier on, bravely. It’s times like this I wish I drank alcohol.
Don’t drink alcohol to excess. It is not cool. Public service message over, for now.
AirBnB is adopting the Uber approach. They don’t provide accommodation or rental services. They provide an ‘…online platform that connects hosts who have accommodations to rent with guests seeking to rent such accommodations’.
See, phrases like the above is why no-one likes lawyers. Why not just say ‘We make an app, that lets you rent home from people who aren’t home, when you want to use their home.’. How hard is it to say that?! Admittedly, it uses ‘home’ too much, but the point still stands.
What is this? They used the same lawyers as Uber surely, as the next paragraph says:
THE SITE, APPLICATION AND SERVICES COMPRISE AN ONLINE PLATFORM THROUGH WHICH HOSTS MAY CREATE LISTINGS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS AND GUESTS MAY LEARN ABOUT AND BOOK ACCOMMODATIONS DIRECTLY WITH THE HOSTS. YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT AIRBNB IS NOT A PARTY TO ANY AGREEMENTS ENTERED INTO BETWEEN HOSTS AND GUESTS, NOR IS AIRBNB A REAL ESTATE BROKER, AGENT OR INSURER. AIRBNB HAS NO CONTROL OVER THE CONDUCT OF HOSTS, GUESTS AND OTHER USERS OF THE SITE, APPLICATION AND SERVICES OR ANY ACCOMMODATIONS, AND DISCLAIMS ALL LIABILITY IN THIS REGARD TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW.
TOO MANY CAPITALS. I am sorry, gentle reader, it hurts me just as much as it hurts you.
Blah blah blah we can change fees and stuff… Blah blah you can’t sue us ever… Blah blah … wait, what?! You mean I can’t use AirBnB for purposes that are ‘…defamatory, obscene, pornographic, vulgar or offensive’.
That’s it, never using AirBnB ever again. Forget my petition against face-to-face charity collections, overruling this oppressive AirBnB condition that prevents me from using AirBnB for pornographic purposes (why not just say ‘naughty stuff’??) is my new 2016 mission.
Any other terms and conditions you want me to take a look at?