If you have a website for yourself or your business, you should absolutely have Terms and Conditions. Why? The Terms and Conditions are a contract between you and every visitor or user of your website. By having comprehensive Terms and Conditions, you can set the rules of what behavior is acceptable, where you will be resolving disputes, as well as protect your trademarks and copyrights. This contract also helps you establish and keep good customer relationships and will lessen the number of costly disputes.
The beauty of Terms and Conditions is that visitors and users of your website are automatically subject to the rules simply by being on your website; there is nothing to sign and no extra steps to take.
A big advantage of these rules is something that will improve customer experience: you can specify what actions are acceptable and what actions will not be tolerated. For example, you can specify that spamming is not allowed and that hateful, violent language will not be tolerated. Finally, you can specify that you can delete anyone’s account if they are breaking these rules. This step will give you control of your website and will improve user experience by making your website a positive and welcoming space.
Another advantage of having Terms and Conditions is that you can specify where disputes will be resolved. For example, let’s say that you are a business coach based in Chicago that offers a few classes online on your website. A client took the class but did not receive as much value for his money as he wanted and is now suing you. How do you ensure that you do not have to go to New York, for example, to litigate this lawsuit? Your Terms and Conditions should specify where you will litigate so that you do not have to fly from Chicago to New York and spend large sums of money litigating far away from your home state.
Terms and Conditions are also useful because you can use them to inform your visitors and users that you are the owner of content, logo, design of the website, and other intellectual property.
This will help remind users and visitors that they may not take anything from your website without your permission. It also helps ensure that you do not lose the trademark or copyright by nature of multiple companies using your intellectual property. This small part helps deter theft of trademarked and copyrighted materials, thereby possibly saving you thousands of dollars.
Lastly, you should have Terms of Service because they help establish and maintain good customer relationships.
If you own an eCommerce store, having the returns and cancellation policy makes your company look more legitimate and puts your customers at ease. Payment terms also help prevent future disputes regarding when the client is supposed to pay. If you have a membership service on your website, you can specify how one can become a member and how they can cancel their membership, thereby increasing transparency and positive relationships with your clients.
As you can see, having proper Terms of Service on your website is very beneficial - you can set what types of behaviors will not be tolerated on your website, where you will be resolving disputes, safeguard your intellectual property and help with customer relationships.
Having Terms and Conditions on your website will protect both you and your business. So what are you waiting for?
Donata Kalnenaite is an attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois and is the owner of Agency Attorneys. She protects the work of her clients by offering Website Terms of Service and Privacy Policies, as well as business entity formation, employment contracts, and contracts with clients.