There I was hanging out at my favorite Caribou Coffee in Westminster, Colorado, waiting for a meeting when I jumped onto the wireless network as always. It’s comfortable coffee shop and the surrounding area is growing like wildfire with lots of new restaurants and other retail establishments suddenly cropping up on the edges of its parking lot by the big AMC 24 screen movie theater. Twenty-four screens!
But I digress. So there I was about to accept the terms of service of their wireless network access:
Nothing notable, right? Until I scrolled down and kept reading. I mean, to put this in context, I’ve swiped down and clicked “Accept” on this agreement hundreds of times without ever actually reading it.
In fact, this is in the category of “shrink wrap agreements” and according to one legal site “Several US cases have indicated that shrink-wrap agreements are unenforceable…”
But, again, we digress. A bit further down on the agreement, I was a bit surprised and taken aback by point #6:
Yes, it says “I am 18 years old or older.” What the heck? I realize that the vast majority of people ignore these agreements and that they’re probably not legally enforceable anyway, but still… most curious…
So I emailed the customer service team at Caribou Coffee and asked them what the deal was with this age limit. I said that I was concerned about letting my children use wifi while at a Caribou shop given this clause in the usage agreement.
Okay, yeah, with tongue firmly in cheek. Still, aren’t you curious what they said?
They responded within an hour – impressive! – and here’s what they said:
Thank you for taking the time to write to us. We use a standard WiFi agreement and that clause is meant to protect us from litigation, specifically if there was an issue with what a minor under 18 years old found while browsing on the internet. As long as you are okay with them using a public WiFi server, it’s okay if they are using our store’s available WiFi.
It’s not really a standard wifi agreement as neither the Peet’s terms of service nor the Starbucks terms of service include an age clause as far as I can find, but we can let them slide on this one. More importantly, they basically punt on the issue with a vague hand wave about porn and inappropriate content. I’d categorize this as “because the lawyers said so”.
Now you know. If other coffee shops don’t exclude under-18 can I sue them for letting my little Susie or Johnny look at inappropriate content? Hmm…. 😛
Hello Dave, this morning while at my local Caribou coffee I asked myself the exact same question. Thank you for posting this article, but I do have a few criticisms if I may.
My eldest daughter is 13 years old and often feels very inadequate simply because of her age. We live in a society where age determines importance, and as much as I try and teach her that isn’t true, she still gets very discouraged when she sees things like this. I adopted her about two years ago, she was taken from an abusive family and one of the main things they would do is use her age to harm people she loves. Along with physical abuse, her birth mother would tell her that if she goes over to her fathers house, or her grandmothers house or anybody else she loves that they will go to jail because they are kidnapping a minor. She would tell her that she could never do anything, or amount to anything because she was too young.
And basically what I’m trying to get at here is that this was a great article, but the ending about suing a coffee shop for what YOUR child (and responsibility) looks up on THEIR Public while wireless network is not only demeaning, but is also contributing more to the assumption that age determines importance. What is the child had been reading my wireless network for him? Your article is the only article that pops up, after getting to the bottom of it how do you think they would feel? I know if I were in their shoes I wouldn’t feel very good.
Once again, I love your work, I just think you could’ve portrayed the same message, with a kinder, more uplifting tone. As a society we have to work to build each other up, not down. All members, all of the time. Thank you so much for reading, I really hope you take this into consideration.