Sunday 18 April 2010

Times That Try Men's Souls

I was mailed this story by a member of the family on Sunday, which figures. From Yahoo News it is entitled “Did you sell your soul for games?” and asks “Answer this question honestly – do you read the small print when you buy games on the internet?

High Street retailing giant GameStation decided to put this to the test and inserted a new clause into their terms and conditions earlier this month that granted them legal rights to the immortal souls of thousands of their online customers. Here, in darkest legalese, is how they got away with such a heinous act:

"By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from or one of its duly authorised minions."

GameStation’s fiendish clause specified that they might serve such notice in “six foot-high letters of fire” too, but also offered customers an option to opt out, rewarding them with a £5 money-off voucher if they did so. Alas, hardly anyone noticed the clause, let alone the substantial bonus for spotting the gag. More to the point, the fact that it passed more or less unnoticed raises an important issue – too few people actually read the small print when they make online purchases.
According to GameStation, around 7,500 customers carelessly signed their souls away on the day. Were you one of them...?”

Well, it’s a good story, but but me no buts, as they say. I ask, does buying in souls for a hypothetical return really give added value to the marketing? Moreover, is it of any real benefit to return on capital employed and shareholder return? Also, I have not seen any real market developing in either packaging soul mortgages, credit soul default swaps, or that they help with securitisation of income streams or enhanced asset value.

The market leaders in soul transference have not shown any real interest in these features. It may be that they have missed opportunities for turnover and incremental additions to revenues but given the scope they have in market penetration and share it is unlikely.

I think the best thing Game Station can do is unload them on Ebay as ephemera that might have a future value if the market picks up.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure Game Station doesn't already own my son's soul in the form of his reward card. He left as many areas blank as possible but even so, it's worrying how much they want to know.

    As for soul mortgages, I'm surprised there weren't a few of those knocking around in the midst of the expenses scandal. I suppose there's still time...

    If you haven't read it, I thoroughly recommend John Wyndham's entertainingly apposite short story 'A Long Spoon' (in 'Consider Her Ways and others')