Online Legal Documents

Online Terms and Conditions Legal Document

Terms and conditions are required if you are selling a product or service or other activity where the website visitor is required to agree to terms – such as a competition.

If your company sells products, you will require a ‘terms and conditions’ agreement. Whereas, a ‘terms of service’ agreement is relevant to those companies offering a service. The terms documents are contracts that bind you and your customer, upon purchase of your products or services.
You must ensure that the terms and conditions are compliant with the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). I have given a brief overview of the ACL a little later.

If you are selling physical products, I recommend a shipping policy and refund and exchange policy. If your terms agreement is drafted properly, it can also have the consumer agree to your policies.

Your refund policy should contain provisions about ACL consumer warranties if something is damaged or faulty. Although, you are not required to exchange a customer’s purchase unless you sent them the wrong item or an item that is damaged. As far as the shipping policy goes, you should tell consumers how long it takes to dispatch, if they receive postal tracking, expected delivery times and more.

Further to this, although you may be compliant with the ACL and you may be within your rights to refuse a customer to return a product, give your customers the benefit of the doubt.

Consider the commercial aspect of your decisions. For example, you may be within your rights to refuse a return under your policy, however, consider the lifetime value of that client, your company’s reputation and adverse word of mouth advertising – not to mention the potential negative ramifications of not allowing a particular return. In some cases, nothing says “we don’t’ trust our customers” like a refused return or exchange. However, that is ultimately up to you.

terms of service

Online Terms of Service Legal Document

If you are selling services online, you need to identify your risk so you can address it in your agreement.

For software as a service (SaaS) companies, such as MailChimp, the terms of service (or terms of use) will establish the rules by which you may use the service. For example, if you use the services to send spam, they have the right to terminate your services. Facebook’s terms stipulate that if you post discriminatory or hateful information, they may delete your account.

Likewise, if you are selling hateful or racist content on a Shopify e-Commerce platform, your services will likely be terminated under the terms of service. Web hosting companies have similar elements of risk as to the above companies. However, they have another type of risk that could lead to potential damages. That risk is data loss. Hosting companies’ contracts avoid responsibility by stating in their contracts that they are not responsible for data loss.

The companies above have identified their risk and have mitigated that risk in their terms of service agreements. If your startup is a SaaS company, you need to do the same.

In the case of service apps such as Airtasker, where service providers visit customers, there is an additional risk of accident and injury which their terms of service agreement contemplates.

With most SaaS companies, financial risk can be relatively low, which means that the risk of litigation over the cost of a small $99 membership or service fee, for example, is minimal. This will not be the case if you are offering design or consulting services, where the total price will be in the thousands.

For example, if you offer digital marketing consulting services, you may ask for a 50% deposit and 50% upon completion of the campaign. So, one obvious risk is that you may not be paid the balance. You need to consider precisely what is ‘completion’. What triggers the job’s completion? How many days after completion is the final payment due?

You must be clear on terms with your customers. Most people are happy to sign a reasonable agreement. A reasonable agreement is excellent for business. You should always use agreements with your clients. They make the basis for a very successful business relationship, of trust, clarity and understanding. Once you begin to think about your business agreements as a means to limit risk, agreements will become clearer to you, and they will be much easier to address.