Today’s post on what should be included in the Terms and Conditions of your website is written by Donata Kalnenaite, Esq. from Agency Attorneys.
If you have your own website for your business, you should have Terms and Conditions. Why? Terms and Conditions are a contract between you and everyone who visits your website and establishes the rules that everyone must follow. Having this contract increases the legitimacy of your business and shows the users that you are transparent, thereby increasing positive customer relationships. Finally, the Terms and Conditions allow you to retain complete control of your website, thereby protecting you and your business.
These benefits will be yours only if you have properly written Terms and Conditions. Here is a list of what should be included in the Terms and Conditions of your website:
You should absolutely include this section if you are selling anything on your website. This section should specify what customers can buy, how they will pay and what information you will need from them to collect the payment. This section should also include an explanation of how fast you ship, how you ship and when your customers should expect the product to arrive. You should also include that you have the right to refuse or cancel the order if you suspect fraud or illegal activity.
This section specifies how a customer can cancel their order. Or, if you are selling a service, you should specify how a customer can cancel their account or subscription.
In this section, specify if you offer refunds and under what circumstances a customer can get a refund.
Availability, errors, and inaccuracies
In this section, you should state that you are not liable for the availability, errors, and inaccuracies on your website. The reason why you are disclaiming liability here is that the less you promise, the less you will be on the hook for mistakes, which happen to everyone all of the time. For example, you are a graphic designer who is doing a promotion for a logo design for a fixed price of $500. However, you accidentally put $50 on your website as the price. This section will help protect you from the people who insist that they should get a logo for $50.
Links to third party websites
You do not want to be liable for what is on other people’s websites. If you include a link to a third party website on your blog or website and someone clicks on it and gets a virus that deletes all of their files, you could potentially be held liable. In this section, you limit your liability and protect your business by stating that you are not liable for what is on third party websites.
In this section, you show your users that you are not kidding around when it comes to the IP rights that belong to you or others. First, you provide users with your contact information where they can reach you if they discover that a third party is infringing on your IP rights by, for example, using your logo as theirs. Second, you provide the procedure for users to contact you if someone posts material on your website that infringes on third party IP rights.
If your users can open an account on your website, in this section, you explain what information is needed to create an account and how a user can terminate his or her account. You should also explain that if a user posts violent, graphic, inappropriate or discriminatory content, you can terminate his or her account at any time in your sole discretion.
In this section, you limit the amount that users can recover from you if they were injured by the use of your website. For example, if a user’s computer was infected by a virus from your website, you limit your liability so that you are not responsible for consequential or punitive damages.
In this section, you explain how you will resolve disputes with your users or customers. Will you go to court or arbitration? Where will it take place and what state law will you apply?
The above are the main sections of the Terms and Conditions. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive and that you may need to add more sections depending on your business and the risks that you may face. At this point, you may be asking yourself, “where do I go to get Terms and Conditions?” Before you go on Google and pick the first template, you should know that the templates that you find online are bad news and are insufficient to protect your business. The best place to obtain this contract is from an attorney who specializes in website contracts and who knows your business. And don’t forget, having Terms and Conditions is the best way to retain control of your website and to protect your business.
*The photo used in this post is from Creative Convex
About the author
Donata is the owner of Agency Attorneys, a Chicago-based law firm that helps protect the work of graphic designers, software developers, startups and small businesses. She specializes in the drafting of Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policies. She takes a collaborative approach with her clients and ensures that they understand everything they sign.