The Fair Contracts website summarizes it very well, so I'll just quote them:
“Many businesses use standard form contracts, pre-printed contracts filled with fine print, in transactions with individual consumers. These contracts are usually "boilerplate," "take-it-or-leave it," non-negotiable contracts.
The problem presented by many of these contracts can be summed up as unequal bargaining power -- between the consumer and the corporate entity that uses them.
Corporations use these contracts to have uniformity and efficiency by reducing the costs to them of negotiating with consumers on an individual basis. Consumers sign these kinds of contracts routinely -- usually never reading, much less understanding, the fine print they contain. And there is the rub.
The party with superior power -- the corporate entity that drafts the contract -- can use the fine print, coupled with the knowledge that the consumer rarely, if ever, reads the terms, to take advantage of the unsuspecting consumer in the underlying transaction.
Consumers often make purchases based on price and quality, but there are a number of other factors in the fine print of these transactions that merit consumer attention: These provisions may, and often do, work against consumer interests. Though some say consumers can always walk with their feet or dollars and choose to not engage in these transactions, often the consumer, having not read the fine print, is completely unaware of these provisions until the corporation tries to enforce them against the consumer. Worse, often entire industries have contracts containing these unfair provisions, thereby leaving the consumer with no meaningful alternate choice. Even worse, businesses often reserve for themselves the right to modify or change the terms of the contract, making comparison shopping pointless if the contract or the prospective contract is always subject to change.”
And the sum up sentence is: “(This) makes a mockery of the idea of consumer freedom in a free market.”
What's even a bigger mockery is the fact that many of these non-negotiable contracts include clauses like “The company reserves the right to change the rules and conditions at any time after the signing of the contract, with or without notice.”
!!!!!!!!! I don't know how many exclamation marks would be necessary to express the ridiculousness of a contract with such a clause. But it's definitely more than what I put here.
This is the Cruise Contract of Royal Caribbean. But you can be sure they are not the only ones with such articles in their contracts. "Provisions of the Agreement, all applicable laws and rules, policies and regulations of the Carrier, the Vessel and the Transport may be changed from time to time." Oh yes, they can be changed of course. And even if they are changed without notice, you are still obliged to comply with all these provisions, laws, rules, policies and regulations of everybody at all times! Oh yes, you are OBLIGED! Obliged to comply at all times with whatever they dictate to you!