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How to Protect Your Business With Solid Terms and Conditions

As a small business owner, it’s important that you’re protected when it comes to doing business online. You want to make sure that what you expect from your customers, and what your customers can expect from you, is clearly stated on your website. This is essential as marketing your business.

This is where drafting solid terms and conditions comes into play. The terms and conditions statement you set for your website is the only way to keep misunderstandings at a minimum.

You want the terms and conditions that will reside on your company’s website to act like a manual for doing business, according to Joanna Tall, commercial lawyer and founder of Off To See My Lawyer.

What Should Terms and Conditions Include?

Each business has different points they should hit and include depending on their business structure and type of brand. Beware though, using a generic terms and conditions page, or simply copying it from a competitor’s site, can create a problem for your company, as it may not cover everything that you need for your particular business.

There are a few items that every terms and conditions page should include:

  • Refunds, Returns and Losses
  • Privacy Policy
  • Limiting Your Liability
  • Copyright Notices
  • Protecting Minors

Your terms and conditions don’t have to be long, they just have to include enough information to cover all of your bases.

Additionally they need to give your customers the tools they need to make their buying experience smooth, advises Sarah Brown, freelance writer for The Online Seller. You want to make sure that you protect yourself from as much legal liability as possible.

1. Refund, Returns and Losses

If you’re in the business of selling products, then you want to include a section in your terms and conditions that specifically states your policy on refunds, returns and any losses that your customers may incur. If you accept returns for 30 days, make sure that’s clearly stated in this section.

If you only accept returns for defective products, this is the place you want to state this policy. Fill in the details on Shopify with the personalized Terms & Conditions Generator that would make things simple for you.

You also want to include disclaimers informing readers that your company will not be liable for certain losses that the customer might incur by using your site or from using your products. All of this information is important to keep your company from suffering from any legal action that may be taken against it.

2. Privacy Policy

If you’re gathering any kind of information from your customers, you must include a privacy policy clearly outlining what information you may be gathering and what it will be used for.

To get an idea of how to create a privacy policy, check out your competitors’ sites, just don’t copy what they have written because it may not cover everything that you need for your business.

Once you have an idea of what to include, you can either write your own privacy policy, hire an attorney to write it for you or use a policy generator to generator a generic policy that you can use on your site. It doesn’t matter which avenue you take, as long as you get your terms and conditions written clearly and posted on your site.

3. Limiting Your Liability

When it comes to your company’s liability, you want to make sure that your terms and conditions do the job of limiting your liability. You want to include a disclaimer that states that you do not endorse any statements that are made by third parties, advises Rich Stim, an attorney consulting for Nolo.

This disclaimer should mention that you are also not responsible for the accuracy of these statements. Customers may still be able to take action against you, but this will limit the amount of damages that you may have to pay.

Copyright laws protect the information that you post to your site. Although this is something that happens automatically, it is best to clearly state that your information is copyrighted.

This is a simple step that should be included in your terms and conditions and should also appear on the bottom of your site’s pages, or on a separate page of your site. This will help keep your intellectual property from being used without your permission.

5. Protecting Minors

Protecting minors is a big deal. If your site caters to children under the age of 13, there are special rules you must follow and there are specific items that you must include in your terms and conditions.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, if your site caters to children, you must comply with the following policies when it comes to collecting data:

Post a clear and comprehensive online privacy policy

Provide direct notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent

Give parents the choice of consenting to the operator’s collection and internal use of a child’s information

Provide parents access to their child’s personal information to review

Give parents the opportunity to prevent further use or online collection of a child’s personal information

Maintain the confidentiality, security and integrity of information collected from children

Retain personal information collected online from a child only as long as necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected

When it comes to protecting minors, even if your site isn’t geared toward children, it is always good practice to have this information included on your terms and conditions page as a safety precaution.

Legally Protecting Your Business

Knowing what to include and what not to include in your site’s terms and conditions statement can be daunting. You want to make sure that you are covered to limit the damages that your company could sustain if a customer becomes unhappy with your service.

If you are unsure about what to include, a qualified attorney could help you establish your site’s terms and conditions, usually for a steep price. If you are just starting out, this may not be an option for you. If you still don’t feel comfortable creating your own terms and conditions, you can try an online policy generator.

A policy generator is a great way to the terms and conditions correctly written without a lot of effort on your part. You simply have to answer some questions about your business and the generator takes care of the rest.

There are a number of services online that provide these generators for a small fee, as well as some that you can use for no cost at all. If you decide to try a policy generator, make sure you do your homework so your business is protected.

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