Killing time on Internet can be murder

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 May, 1998, 12:00am

Beware the terms and conditions in the fine print of contracts. They can prove daunting, even for the most innocuous of services.

Reader Ray Bange was considering AT&T as an Internet Service Provider, so he turned to their web page to check out their terms and conditions.

What he came across was multi-faceted, and at times incoherent, jargon from the company that came to 10 pages when printed out.

We are talking about a service costing about $130 a month here.

Early on, the terms and conditions reveal that any bills not paid within 30 days of being received would be subject to interest at the rate of 20 per cent a month - which seemed pretty steep.

In another instance, it is mentioned that 'if you die, become bankrupt, compound with your creditors, go into liquidation, have a receiver appointed over any of your assets or take or suffer any analogous action as a consequence of debt, you shall be in default and AT&T may cancel this agreement'.

It is noted elsewhere in the conditions that AT&T would have 'no liability to you for negligence on the part of AT&T [save for personal injury or death caused by the negligence of AT&T]'.

There seems to be a preoccupation on AT&T's part here with death. We've been wondering all weekend, trying to work out how you can die by simply using the Internet.

Death by boredom perhaps - or by reading a never-ending set of conditions? Still on the subject of technology, we thought all those nasty pirates who copy disks had been driven off the streets by the recent spate of Customs raids, but apparently there's still at least some around.

A friend of a reader came back from Shamshuipo last week with a wide-ranging collection of up-to-date computer programs on one CD-Rom.

The price of the magic disk? A trifling $25.

Our trusty reader suggested to his friend that he would like to make a copy of the programs off the disk. However, it was pointed out that this might be breaching the law.

After all, printed prominently and clearly on the cover of the disk were the words: 'Copywrite [sic] 1998 Golden Pirate'.

Some international companies employing expatriate workers in Indonesia have been adopting an 'evacuate at all costs' policy in recent days.

We hear of one executive at a European bank operating in the country who was not particularly keen to leave - despite the turmoil - because of her attractive salary package.

However, in the event, she wasn't given much choice in the matter.

The ultimatum from her company was as follows: 'Leave immediately or you're fired.' This was far from an isolated instance.

We heard over the weekend of companies from Australia and the United States adopting a similarly abrupt policy: no doubt because of fears of workers' compensation claims if the staff happened to be injured.

In case there was any doubt, the salad days of the expatriate in Indonesia are well and truly over.

You might recall there was a debate last year about some bogus $1 million bills that a charity planned to sell to the public to raise funds.

The plan was eventually ditched, because of worries they might be taken for legal tender.

Well, now you can go one better.

In his travels in the weird and wonderful world of the Internet, Lai See came across the ultimate status symbol: a US$1 million bill.

It was the sales spiel that really grabbed us: 'Walk into any store and hand them a crisp new US MILLION DOLLAR BILL and you can be sure to get attention and smiles'.

It goes on to persuade us that million-dollar bills 'are great conversation openers', and good for companies who want to promote their business by saying 'Thanks a million!'.

How much would you expect to pay for such a status symbol? Well, a 'fun pack' of 12 of the bills costs US$14.95; but a 'wholesale pack of 500 sets you back a $199.95, or a mere 40 US cents per million'.

And here's the clincher: a money-back guarantee.

Wonder what type of notes they refund you with?