Why Should You Have Terms and Conditions on Your Website?
As users or customers, we look for Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) before signing up or buying a product from a website. To make sure of what we agree to and how we can use their services, T&Cs works as a legal document or contract.
What are Terms and Conditions?
Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) is a contract between a service provider and an individual who wants to use that service. A buyer and seller agree on those particular T&Cs to form the contract.
These terms and conditions identify the rights and responsibilities of both parties, such as payment, copyright, price, penalties, variations, delivery, refund, return, guarantee, liability and other staffs. T&Cs can protect your business as you get the chance to set your own rule and other copyright conditions.
Does your company need “own” terms and conditions?
T&Cs often don’t get that much attention, so the owners often end up copying and pasting from others, thinking that the visitors will ultimately accept all the T&Cs without even giving a glance. This can create wrong impressions with customers, and in case if you are in dispute, you will face a lot of trouble for adding such T&Cs which are not even related to your business. Your website’s T&Cs should be tailored to your own particular business to create an explicit agreement with your visitors or customers no matter whether they read it or not.
Pitfalls of not having terms and conditions
Not having any T&Cs and not reading the T&Cs put both the owner and the buyer into something they cannot quickly get out of, or anyone may end up paying or losing a considerable amount of money. Here we explore some of the risks you might have to face if you run your business without any T&Cs.
Your intellectual property might be at risk
You built your website, putting a huge amount of time and energy, designed it from the ground up, published it, and shared it on the internet. Later you noticed that there is another website which exactly looks like yours and they got a tremendous response and making money from it! If you don’t have T&Cs, neither you can claim your own design nor you can enforce a Cease and Desist letter. Having a T&Cs can explain clearly what exactly belongs to whom, and without it, you put everything at risk.
You can’t clear out about your goods and services policy
Being an owner, you would like to let your users know your payment processing and terms expectations. Whether your clients are allowed to late with their payment and what would be the penalty, what about the cancellation or return policy, how you handle refunds and returns, etc. Without T&Cs, you cannot clear anything to your users, which creates space for misunderstanding.
You will find yourself up in multiple liability situation
T&Cs often use disclaimers and limitation of liability clauses, and without these, the website owners will be responsible for several actions over which they might have nothing to do with. Any situation such as website error, website viruses, use of website information, the act of users, and advertisers can cause potential lawsuits against the owner.
You can’t tell users what they can or cannot do
In many T&Cs, many companies include a clause for user rules and guidelines for the website. Such as users cannot use the website for any illegal acts or what actions will be taken for such a scene. Without T&Cs, you are placing yourself at risk of allowing your visitors to use your contents and services the way they like without any guidelines and repercussions.
Any of these possible situations might show up in your business in the absence of T&Cs.
Benefits of having terms and conditions
You should not keep T&Cs at the bottom of your priority list because a robust set of T&Cs actually can help you to reduce the risk of uncertainty. Let’s look at some advantages your company can have if it has a T&Cs policy.
Clarity and certainty
Mentioning T&Cs, you can clearly explain to your customers what might happen in a given situation, such as the product’s price, billing procedure, return or refund system, delivery policy, etc. For example, if you clearly state in your T&Cs that you can change the price of your products without any notice, you make yourself clear that you reserve the right to modify the price anytime. Along with that, the chance of a legal dispute is also minimised.
Preserve your business legally
If any problem arises, your company’s T&Cs can resolve that problem with legal protection in your favour. If you ever face a legal battle, having a set of T&Cs can help you minimise legal disputes, and you are less likely to be taken to court when the court will get your T&Cs policy. Also, the copyright notice informs the users that you are the site owner of all centre, logo and brandings.
Minimise your liability
Having clear and transparent T&Cs can limit your liability to the maximum extent possible. Sometimes your website’s products or services may lead to unwanted results for which you might end up losing a vast amount of money. For example, suppose you run a clothing brand’s website. When you mention that your company don’t guarantee or warrant that the customer’s use of your services will be uninterrupted, error-free and timely, your customer can not accuse you of such interruptions.
Termination of your website’s access and usage
It helps you to give your users better service.
A good, transparent set of T&Cs can enable you to provide a better service to your customer. For example, if you use any third parties such as payment processors, business partners, shipping companies, affiliates or others in your business, you clearly mention the name. Even you can disclaim your liability for any actions a third party might do.
These are some of the essential advantages of having T&Cs on a website. There are also multiple other facilities you can gain and use to protect your business from a variety of possible problems.
Essential clauses to include in terms and conditions
The T&Cs contains all the rules to protect your company from liability and prevent misuse. Here are some commonly used essential clauses you need for your T&Cs agreement.
Acceptance of terms
In this clause, you will mention that all the included T&Cs are the following terms you want your users to follow. This clause will constitute the agreement between you and your customers and ensure that these T&Cs will not be enforced until the users agree.
Payments and billing
You can claim here that you reserve the right to change the amount of charge, what charge is applicable for which subscription or services, and clarify to the users that they are responsible for all the prices and charges for services.
Disclaimers of liability and warranties
This clause will explain that you are not and cannot warrant that the system will operate without errors as some operations might not be available all the time. There might be some problem with timeliness or accuracy. This clause shows that the business or organisation can in no way be held liable for any unfortunate situation which might occur while taking their services.
Acceptable use clause
With this clause, you can explain how the users will be accountable for their activities such as abuse, harassment, threats, intimidating, or using contents without permission. Make sure to mention that by agreeing with this clause, they decide not to do certain things.
This clause will protect your own property rights. Make it clear to users that they cannot post, modify or reproduce any copyrighted or proprietary contents without the owner’s consent.
You can clarify what national law you wish to govern the agreement. Depending on where your business is located or based, you can choose your local courts and laws.
Third-party content clause
Clearly explain that you will not be responsible for any action of your third parties. For example, there might be some third-party content available through your site, which might lead elsewhere; you will not be liable for such a situation.
Contact details clause
You can outline all the details of who owns and maintains the website and how to contact you. You can mention your address, online form, email address or phone number.
There are other clauses that you can add which are relevant to your business type. For example, if you run a web design and development company such as WebAlive, you can add clauses like website license, software license, Java technology, application law etc.
In conclusion, we can see that T&Cs might not be an enjoyable read and might not a mandatory requirement but don’t you think rather than involving in a lengthy and costly lawsuit; it is far better to go for a bunch of T&Cs to run a successful business!
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