Terms and Conditions are written agreements between the service provider and the customer, in which the user must agree to abide by the terms set by the provider.
Having a clear Terms of Service allows you to legally bind the policies and procedures you wish to operate your business with. This protects both you and your customer by keeping your business accountable to its Terms and Conditions, but also protecting you from any legal disputes that can come about.
What is usually included in Terms and Conditions?
What is included in your business’s policy will depend on the nature of your business, however, though your business is unique there are some items that should generally be included within any ecommerce business. The following items are aspects that should be included among your Terms and Conditions documentation:
This policy should inform the visitor on what information your website collects, where and why you collect the information, and how you use it. There are no federal laws in the US in regards to Privacy Policies for businesses except for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. However, there are specific State laws in regards to Privacy business owners should be aware of. It would be good to look up these terms for your state. For example, to view California’s terms click here.
Privacy Policies should also include information on how the website user can opt out of data collecting, and how they can retrieve the information from your hands or change it.
Limitations of liability
A limitation of liability allows the customer to know exactly what you are liable for and what you are not. It provides you with a safety net and eliminates uncertainty in the event of a contract breach.
It should contain clear information about whom the terms apply to, the parties involved, what the terms are, and when they go into effect (e.g. when someone arrives on your website and begins to browse or when someone submits a purchase).
It is also important to include information on risk allocation, website disclaimers, and any important information for the customer to be aware of.
Payment and Terms of Delivery of Product / Service
This aspect is probably the most crucial within ecommerce stores since it is how you are providing the service/product and how you expect the payment transaction to occur. These policies should include payment method, refunds, shipping, returns, exchanges, damaged goods, back order information, cancellations, and any other aspect pertaining to the customer, the purchase, and the delivery.
Other Items to work into your terms and conditions
- Information Accuracy
- Intellectual Property / Trademark Protection
- External Links
- Loyalty Programs and Promotions
- Product Information
- Dispute Resolution
See below for some examples of live Terms & Condition Pages:
- Alchemy + Aim Terms & Conditions
- The Vintage Rug Shop Terms & Conditions
- Quilted Health Terms & Conditions
Who writes out the policies and terms and conditions?
The wisest decision you can make for your business in this process is to have legal help in writing out the documents. A lawyer can help you accurately write specific clauses, policies, and procedures fit for your business, and protect you from any unforeseen dispute that could happen. For example, C. Handy Law helps with custom contracts and can provide you with 1:1 legal help as you form your Terms and Conditions.
Another option is to draft your own Terms and Condition Documentation and have a lawyer review it. There are several businesses that offer policy, contracts, and Terms and Conditions templates for a cost so you know exactly what to cover for each policy, however you would be doing the writing.
One of these businesses is Boss Contract Society whom Alchemy and Aim is affiliated with. They have a comprehensive contract template store that could help anyone get started in writing their documents.CLICK HERE to browse the Boss Contract Society Template Store.
If you are seeking more affordable options, there are websites that can generate the documents for you. Shopify provides these tools for free (as a trial) for different types of contracts and policies. You can click and view some of these below:
Where do I display my Terms and Conditions?
It is important your Terms and Condition documents are easily accessible for everyone who visits your website. It is best to include a link in your site’s credits (usually the footer) so it is always visible.
It would also be wise to have the Terms and Conditions linked whenever guests fill out a sign up form or before checking out of a purchase.
Creating your Terms & Conditions documents may be one of the more tedious tasks in forming your business, but is absolutely essential to the wellbeing of your ecommerce store. It can help build trust with your customers, and protect you against any legal dispute that may arise. If you have an online business, but have no Terms & Conditions
on your website, it is highly recommended to get that started today.