Law: If I could take pro bono mass torts cases…..

December 13, 2007

Today we finished our crim law class for the semester (minus final of course).  At the end of the class, Danny MPC told us that we will eventually enter a professional monopoly and that we have an obligation to give help to those than cannot afford it when we have a chance.  It was honestly a fairly touching moment. 

Anyway, a few minutes ago I was doing what all good students do, no not Wikipedia’ing something I don’t understand……. I was killing time on facebook.

After I made my move in facebook chess, did a few trivia quetions for my undergrad basketball fan application, wrote on somebody’s wall, checked out a few picturs from a pretty awsome looking party “random evening” that my fraternity had, stalked a few friends on facebook, declined multiple requests to become both a zombie and a vampire, read a message, poked two people, and untagged a picture, I came across this ad.

How did I get there?  I was on facebook, made a move in facebook chess (HLS student places chess on facebook, whats next Captain Stereotype?  Overweight with glasses?  (looks around awkwardly)….

Anyway, so I make my move and see a little link that says “you have 11 crushes”.  For no reason other than to see what facebooks newest way to fake social interation is, I click the link, which then asks for my name.  I put in my first name and click enter.  It then asks for my sign, which I put in and click enter.  Now it wants my phone number….. hmm, this seems odd. 

Take a close look at the bottom of the link.  By putting in your phone number, you agree to have $1 per month billed to your cellphone bill.  Now, first of all, let me say that I don’t know if a class action naming all people that entered their phone number without understanding that a fee was assessed would be an appropriate class, I suspect it would not, none-the-less, this sees like a complete fraud. Lets look at the problems.

1.  It only mentions fees in the small print at the bottom.  This isn’t like when you sign up for a one month trial and it is intuitive that if you don’t cancel you will be billed.  This also isn’t a service that you would think would charge.  This is a page linked off facebook, a site that provides many many many free applications to users.  First and foremost, it seems more likely than not that a user would have no clue there was a fee.

2.  After a User Pays, They Likly Won’t Notice The Fee. The fee here is a dollar charged to your phone bill.  Home many people really look at their bill closely enough to notice an extra dollar?  Even if you did notice a random dollar, would you really think “oh rght, that is that thing I signed up for on facebook, or would you assume it is another of the random fees that show up on your bill?  For me it would be choice two.  Even if you did notice and call to find out, is the drone at the other end of the line going to know “oh ya, thats the service you signed up for on facebook?  No.

A Large Portion of Facebook Users Don’t Pay Their Phone Bill.  Talk about intentionally praying on an unknowing audience.  This company knows that a large amount of facebook users have their cell phone bills paid for by their parents.  Even if the parent figures out the cancel the fee, the user may very well re sign up, or not know there was ever a fee.  More ways to keep the fact that there is a cost from the user. 

It Is Clearly Designed So You Don’t See It.  Disclaimer at the bottom of the page, light colored font, etc.  Ya, they TOTALLY wanted you to know the terms of the bargain you were agreeing to. 

Does anybody else think this is questionable?  I don’t know what exactly the next step would be, but tomorrow in Civ Pro I’m going to pay attenion (we are doing class action) and see if I can gleam some pearls to apply to this.  Seriously, this is garbage.


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