Terms and conditions details are important

Today, a customer introduced me to a free(!) fax-to-email service, FaxBetter. Neat idea, looks like a solid implementation. I almost signed up for a free account to try. I didn’t. Here’s why: at the foot of their “Terms and Conditions” (A click-through contract: you do have to check a box saying you agree when you sign up. Legally binding: maybe.

NON-DISCLOSURE/NON-COMPETE AGREEMENT. The DepositDox Non-Disclosure/Non-Compete Agreement located at www.faxbetter.com/Legal/nda.aspx discloses our Non-Disclosure/Non-Compete policy. By signing up for DepositDox and/or by using DepositDox, you consent to the policy described herein as it changes from time to time. (link) Okay, that’s slightly scary, to have an updatable document included by reference. It gets worse. In the referenced document: IV. Prohibited Acts: User understands and agrees that, other than in the ordinary course of business, all Confidential Business Information is to be preserved and protected, is not to be disclosed or made available, directly or indirectly, to any third Persons, whether by private communication or by public address or publication, without prior written authorization of Board or Shareholders (or other authorized Officer) of the Company, and is not to be used, directly or indirectly, for any purpose unrelated to the business objectives of the Company without prior written authorization of the Board or Shareholders (or other authorized Officer) of the Company. Specifically, and without modifying or limiting this Agreement, User understands and agrees that, except in the ordinary course of conducting business for the Company, no Confidential Business Information, nor any part of it, either in original form or in duplicated or copied form, is to be (i) removed at any time from the premises of the Company, or (ii) disclosed or made available, verbally, by electronic transmission, or by any other form or manner of communication, to any Person for any reason or purpose whatsoever, without prior written authorization of the Company. Must defend a company because you used their free service. C. The Company and User agree that it may be difficult or not feasible to establish whether a former employee of the Company was working within the geographical areas served by the Company, was using the Company’s Confidential Business Information or was soliciting the Company’s Customers. Accordingly, for the protection of the Company’s interests, User agrees that, during his employment and for a period ending two (2) years from User’s last day of employment by the Company for any reason, he will not engage in any of the following acts, directly or indirectly, within the “Restricted Territory,” for himself or on behalf of a Conflicting Organization:

1. be employed by, join as a partner or member with, hire out as an independent contractor for, or associate in a business relationship with a Conflicting Organization or Person managing, employing, or contracting with a Conflicting Organization;

2. engage in a consulting practice with a Conflicting Organization;

3. acquire or maintain any financial interest in any Conflicting Organization unless specifically approved by Board; or

4. seek or accept employment, partnership, membership, or association with any Conflicting Organization or acquire a greater than five percent (5%) shareholder or equity interest in any Conflicting Organization unless specifically approved by Board. Can’t get hired by GoDaddy, eFax, or Google for two years afterward. I couldn’t even run my own eFax service.

No, thank you. FaxBetter is evil.