Some time ago, when I was still unemployed, I tried to keep busy taking small assignments like creating websites. One time I got a bigger job to make some templates for an organization. Some of the templates were for Word. Being an Apple fangirl, I don’t care much for Microsoft. I love Pages and when I need a simple word processor I have a couple of free office suites I can use.
I wasn’t going to pay for the whole Office package so I downloaded the trial version. It was for 30 days and that would be enough for the job. I finished the job and got paid for it. A while after I started to get strange withdrawals from my PayPal account. The company that took my money was Microsoft. I tried to contact PayPal, but they just told me to contact Microsoft. It was out of their hands since I had “signed an agreement” with the company.
I didn’t have any contact information with this branch of Microsoft, since I had never signed anything. I had even stopped using the trial after I had finished the job. Still the withdrawals from my account continued. One day, a VAT invoice came in my mail. Not in my email inbox, but in paper form. The name of the one that had entered into the agreement with Microsoft was one of my Second Life avatars. This avatar, no matter how real I sometime feel that she is, is not a real person. Microsoft obviously thinks she is, but I’m sure no law would support that belief.
With that paper, scanned and emailed, to PayPal, I thought I would have a chance to stop the payments. They got back to me pretty fast. Their reply was strange. Although, they still claimed that everything was right and that we had an agreement, they would be kind enough to pay back the money that was withdrawn from my account. They did, not all, but some of it, so I stopped arguing with them.
I am just wondering what will happen next time my avatar wants to buy something, perhaps something even more expensive, will I be able to stop it? It’s obviously legal to enter inte agreements with digital personas without the owner’s knowledge about it. Or perhaps it’s just Microsoft that claims that right.