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NET303 - Policy Primer - Pawshake (2016)


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Student submission for Curtin University of Technology.

Published in: Social Media
  • I had never heard of Pawshake before yet found this very interesting to read. I like how you highlighted the discrepancies between the Terms of Service (TOS) and the FAQ. Given at least 74% of users skip TOS completely and of the remainder 80% spend less than a minute on them, only giving them a quick skim (Obar & Oeldorf-Hirsch, 2016, pp. 20-21), it is safe to say most would not have read the TOS. Yet arguably many users would read the FAQ when deciding if a service is right for them, so numerous people would join Pawshake thinking that all the sitters are verified, where from the TOS this is clearly not the case. I found the combination of having to regularly provide content, including pictures, while having content non-private something that would turn me off using the service. Does the TOS more specifically define ‘regularly’? If not this is very ambiguous as regularly for one person would be quite different to the next. It is interesting to note that ambiguous TOS mean that companies cannot enforce their TOS easily from a legal perspective (Clancy, 2011). I found your SlideShare easy to read with the text broken down into manageable chunks. However, slide on 13 some of the text flows off the bottom of the slide so is unreadable, and compared to your other slides is quite wordy. Splitting your points from this slide over two slides would have fixed this. Overall I found this to be an interesting, easy to read, and informative policy primer. References Clancy, T.K. (2011). Cyber Crime and Digital Evidence: Materials and Cases. [ebook] LexisNexis (Ch16). Retrieved from Obar, J.A. and Oeldorf-Hirsch, A. (2016). The Biggest Lie on the Internet:Ignoring the Privacy Policies and Terms of Service Policies of Social Networking Services. SSRN. Retrieved from
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  • Hi Adam, Well done on your policy primer. I had never heard of Pawshake before reading your presentation and was very interested to see what it’s all about as I am a pet owner myself :) Your presentation is very effective in giving the reader/viewer an overview of the service and the terms of use, as well as highlighting the hidden terms that users may agree to without realising. By drawing on details about the verification process from both the FAQs and the terms and conditions, you’ve emphasised how important it can be for users to read the full-length terms and conditions rather than just skimming over the FAQs, as often the depth of information varies. Since completing this assignment, I’ve found that the ‘release to claims and liability’ seems to be a common thread in a lot of terms of use agreements. In my own presentation I discussed the Pokemon GO arbitration policy that prevents users from suing Niantic Inc. in the event of a legal dispute, and other services including Uber and Airbnb have similar policies (Said, 2016). You’ve done a good job of explaining the downfalls of the $3000 cap offered by Pawshake for veterinary care in the event of pet injury, although I think it would be helpful to include in your presentation exactly what constitutes as ‘injury’ under the Pawshake policy. In my opinion the 19% commission fee charged by Pawshake is way out of proportion to the service they offer. Since they don’t really offer any sort of comprehensive verification, a petsitter might just be better off posting an ad for their service in an online forum, bypassing Pawshake’s commission fee (and the $250 cover in the event that something did go wrong).
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NET303 - Policy Primer - Pawshake (2016)

  1. 1. Policy Primer By Adam Savage Student No. 16437759 Curtin University (October, 2016)
  2. 2. What is Pawshake? Pawshake is a web service and app that allows users to “find verified pet sitters in your community to take care of your animal when you can't” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016). You can use it to “find a host family that will board your pet, or a pet sitter who will come take care of your pet at your house” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
  3. 3. Can I trust Pawshake’s Pet Sitters? Pawshake would like us to think so! However, in reality “Pawshake is a platform built on trust” (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016). There is no way of truly knowing a particular sitter or owners real identity or intent for using the service.
  4. 4. Then how do they “verify” them? In the “interest of everyone’s wellbeing”, Pawshake verifies the contact details of users in “various ways” (address check, email verification & SMS) before allowing them to be publically viewable on its website or an app. If a user’s profile is deemed inappropriate or that they do not think it meets their “high bar” standards (details of which are not explained) they will delete them without notice. (Pawshake - FAQ for Pet Owners, 2016).
  5. 5. Well that sounds alright.
  6. 6. Well, yes...but...
  7. 7. All of that information is from the easily readable and accessible FAQ.
  8. 8. However, if you read Pawshake’s Terms & Conditions… “Pawshake does not screen or verify any content submitted by a User...Pawshake has no control over the accuracy, reliability, completeness or timeliness of Profiles, Reviews, background check information...and has no control over the quality, timing, legality, failure to provide, or any other aspect whatsoever of the services provided by Hosts” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
  9. 9. Further to this… “Users must resolve any issues, disputes or concerns directly with each other. You agree to release Pawshake from any claims or liability that may arise from any disputes between you and other Users” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
  10. 10. Surely there must be some safety net or insurance? There is a capped $3,000 limit to veterinary expenses paid on “an injury” to a pet during the service. “Once the full amount of money has been spent, the treatment of illness or injury won’t ever be covered again.” (Pawshake - Insurance Details, 2016). So if the pet succumbs to an illness, extended or lifelong injury, once the vet bills exceed the capped limit, it is up to the owner to pay all costs. This is on top of a $250 excess payable by the pet sitter, even if it wasn’t their fault.
  11. 11. So it covers only vet bills? Yes, although there is a $250 cover for any 3rd party damage. Nothing else. You ARE NOT COVERED if your pet is (or is a cross-breed of) a Pit Bull Terrier, Basset Griffon Vendeen, Tibetan Mastiff, Mastiff, American Staffordshire Terrier, Bouvier des Flandres, Leonberger, Toy Fox Terrier, South African Boerboel, or American Bulldog, even if they have been trained well. (Pawshake - Insurance Details, 2016).
  12. 12. What about privacy? As explained, Pawshake do not acknowledge any obligation to screen or monitor any user profile or images, but will delete them if deemed inappropriate. They DO however make you agree that by using the service “Pawshake may, at its sole discretion, publish these photos on the Site and across social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and similar sites” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016).
  13. 13. Well, I just won’t post any pictures... Nope, “Hosts are required to provide periodic photo updates to the Members and Pawshake via text message or email. Failure to do say may result in suspension from the Site.” (Pawshake - Terms & Conditions, 2016). Even by using the messaging feature of Pawshake means that you acknowledge that your conversations “are not private”, and that you agree that Pawshake may “review, save, edit, decline to transmit, and otherwise use the messages or their contents or disclose their contents to third parties, in our sole
  14. 14. Blimey, none of that was clear when I signed up! Nor was the 19% commission Pawshake TAKE from a successful sitter’s pay for every completed booking! (Pawshake - Payment Policy, 2016).
  15. 15. But it’s not all bad. Pawshake works as promised.
  16. 16. There are just some hidden costs and tricky terms & conditions to get your head around. Just be sure to always read the T&Cs and other policies thoroughly before using an online service.
  17. 17. End.
  18. 18. References: Pawshake. (2016). FAQ for Pet Owners. Retrieved from: Pawshake. (2016). Terms & Conditions. Retrieved from: terms-conditions Pawshake. (2016). Privacy & Cookie Policy. Retrieved from: cookie-policy Pawshake. (2016). Pawshake’s Premium Protection Coverage Details. Retrieved from: Pawshake. (2016). Payment Policy. Retrieved from: Pawshake. (2016). Pawshake Logo. Retrieved from