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I've been climbing climbing walls for over a decade. It's a lot of fun. But after moving to Utah recently, I find myself at a bit of an impasse. I can't find any place around here that has a climbing wall that will let you climb without filling out what they call "a waiver," except it's totally not a waiver. In every case, it's a big, long form requesting all sorts of personally identifiable information, including DOB, address, phone number, and email address.

I look at this information being requested, and here's what goes through my mind: best case scenario, I get put on a mailing list, which I don't want. Slightly worse: they sell that information to advertisers, which I definitely don't want. Worst case: the data gets stolen by hackers or a disgruntled employee, and sold to advertisers or identity thieves. (It goes without saying that I don't want this to happen either.) So there is no scenario in which I'm comfortable turning this information over.

Never in my life have I been asked to sign a waiver to climb a wall, let alone provide a huge amount of PII to go along with it. One of the places told me that it's a legal requirement. If so, it has to be local, as I've never run across it elsewhere in the US.

Can anyone confirm that 1) this legal requirement actually exists in the state of Utah, or 2) there's a different requirement (such as signing an actual waiver of liability, without requiring PII disclosure) and these are sleazy businesses trying to take advantage of it? It would really be nice to know what's going on here.

  • I suspect you're probably right, that no law requires this, though it is hard to prove a negative. The person who told you it was a "legal requirement" may have been confused, or may have meant "our legal counsel has advised us to do this". It could be that collecting such information would be useful evidence in case you later deny having signed it. But at the end of the day, isn't it rather a moot point? Clearly they insist on having you submit this information as a condition of using the wall, for whatever reason. And it's their wall, so you'll use it on their terms or not at all. – Nate Eldredge Aug 7 '17 at 2:50
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"Legal requirement" can and in this case simply means "it's what is required in order for us to be reasonably able to offer you this service", noting that it would be unreasonable for such a dangerous business to operate, when one moron slipping and suing them could put them out of business. It's a little surprising that you've never had to sign a waiver before, but there are quite a number of similar waivers out there, such as REI (Seattle), The Edge (Vt), Croc Center (Coeur d'Alene), YMCA (MI) and U. Nebraska. They all have in common the requirement of a signature (indicating that you've waived your right to sue them), birth date, date of signature. This is the bare minimum that's required to have a valid waiver, and more info would be better (to uniquely identify the customer out of the 1000 John Smith's in the state and 500,000 in the US). If you break yourself and try to sue, they will trot out the waiver to put an end to the suit. Name, address, phone number and birth date do a long ways towards proving that the person who signed the waiver is indeed you.

  • That's very odd. I've done several climbs at the REI in downtown Seattle, and never been asked to sign a waiver in order to do so. – Mason Wheeler Aug 7 '17 at 11:43

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