“It is Office Depot’s policy to respect and protect the privacy of our customers and the users of www.officedepot.com (hereinafter, the “Site”). Through this Privacy Statement, we want to reassure users of the Site that we will not sell, share, or rent user information to others in a manner different than as set forth in this Privacy Statement. By accessing this Site, you agree to be bound by the Privacy Statement. If you do not agree to the terms of this Privacy Statement, please do not use this Site. Each time you use the Site, the current version of the Privacy Statement will apply. Accordingly, when you use the Site, you should check the date of this Statement (which appears at the top) and review any changes since the last version.”
Whew! Lotsa bold type they had to put in there to prove in court they really emphasized that part. And, just in case you weren’t sure that this was straight from the legal department, pretty soon you come across a paragraph that looks like it should be read only after ripping off the shrink-wrap.
“Unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet, or method of electronic storage, can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. As a result, while we strive to protect your information, we cannot guarantee its absolute security. IN NO EVENT SHALL OFFICE DEPOT BE LIABLE FOR SPECIAL, INDIRECT, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS, WITHOUT REGARD TO THE FORM OF ANY ACTION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO CONTRACT, NEGLIGENCE, OR OTHER TORTIOUS ACTIONS, ARISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE, COPYING, OR DISPLAY OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS SITE, EVEN IF OFFICE DEPOT OR AN AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE OF OFFICE DEPOT HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.”
The bold type, the capital letters, and the overall impersonal tone of “this is our policy” (take it or leave it) does not convey a sensitivity to what customers are concerned about and just isn’t very human or relational.
Doesn’t that convey a totally different tone? Now, OfficeMax’s policy might still not be totally understandable to everyone (this stuff can be complicated), but they sure seem like they are trying to relate to their customers more than they are trying to avoid being sued by them.
Big companies don’t have the luxury of always speaking in plain English, even in their privacy policies. But they can at least make an attempt. Happily, the trend is to more and more readable policies, and I applaud that.