Terms and Conditions Agreements are essential for any business wanting to protect their liability, whilst also making it clear to customers the terms in which a product or service will be provided to them. Through this guide, TechRound explores the ins and outs of T&Cs, including what they are, how to use them and things to consider when writing them.
What Do Terms and Conditions Mean?
A Terms and Conditions (T&C) agreement is a contract between a business and its users relating to the use of the good and/or services provided. This document can go by a variety of different names, including “terms of sale” or “business terms”, and essentially outlines the terms on which people are able to use the specified goods/services a business offers.
The Terms and Conditions prevent users from abusing a business’s service (or other users of said service). They are therefore an essential part of how a business offers its products to customers, ensuring this is done in a safe, informative way.
Why Are Terms and Conditions Used?
As mentioned above, Terms and Conditions are used by businesses to prevent inappropriate use of their services on offer. T&Cs are a record of what has been agreed by the user regarding their business with the provider of said goods and/or services. Below is a list with some of the main reasons why Terms and Conditions are used:
- To define the contract between the business/provider and the user.
- To limit liability.
- To establish any ownership in a business’s trademarks, content, copyrights and other intellectual property.
Even when the provider is paid upfront for their goods and services, it is still important to document an agreement of the terms and conditions in which this offering is to be handled.
This is necessary as it can protect a business from any future claims made against them. Litigation can be a stressful, potentially expensive process, and having comprehensive set of agreed terms and conditions can help to prevent this from happening.
Writing the Terms and Conditions – Things to Consider
Creating a Terms and Conditions agreement takes time, with a lot of things needing to be carefully considered before even starting to write this up. There are a few essential things businesses will have to consider before starting to write up their T&Cs, including the following:
- Establish rules: set rules will have to be established for the usage of your products/services – e.g. age limits – before writing these down in the T&Cs.
- Decide agreement location: on a website, for example, the T&Cs should be accessible through links and this should be signed before completing a sign-up form.
- Consider the whole business: it’s important to gain an understanding of the whole business, and all of the parts that will be affected by, and thereby need to be included in, the Terms and Conditions agreement.
It’s also vital for businesses to consider the extensive protection provided to consumers by the UK government. If a Terms and Conditions agreement fails to abide by these protections, customers could take legal actions against the business.
What to Include in a Terms and Conditions Agreement
There are a variety of different things that may need to be included in the Terms and Conditions, this depending on the nature of the business and what is attempting to be covered through the agreement. Some of the major elements most T&Cs will require include:
- An introduction and acceptance of the agreement: most T&Cs make users accept the agreement before the signup or login, this can be done using an “I agree” checkbox or similar.
- A disclosure of advertiser relationships: the Terms and Conditions agreement should provide a statement about the business’s relationships with advertisements and whether they are being compensated to provide that endorsement. It is required by law for a business to state if it is being paid to provide advertisements.
- A statement regarding the delivery of goods: it’s important for a business to include the responsibility they and others hold regarding the delivery of the specified goods. It might also be good to consider including a statement about late deliveries and how these are handled.
- An outline of what’s provided: T&Cs also typically provide a clear definition as to what products and/or services the business is providing to the user.
- Guarantees and warranties: setting out any guarantees/warranties offered by the business as part of this agreement with their customers.
- A payment policy: if the business offers a service that users will have to pay for, it’s necessary to include information on acceptable payment methods, how payments will be processed and how the return or refund policy works.
- The complaints procedure: explaining the procedure for if something goes wrong that concerns this agreement, in addition to any complaints customers/users may have regarding this matter.
- The applicable laws: a business should state which laws govern the contract/T&C agreement, as well as how and where any dispute will be settled.
Those listed above can all be vital components for a business’s Terms and Conditions, helping to clarify to the users the ins and outs of this agreement with the business, as well as protecting said business from various liabilities.
How to Write a Terms and Conditions Agreement
The Terms and Conditions agreement should be written using clear an concise language, helping to make it as easy as possible for everyone involved in the agreement to understand it, and thereby to know where they stand before proceeding.
It’s can also help to use positive language throughout as to make the user comfortable and calm when reading the agreement, and to also set the information out in a logical, well structured way so that it is easy to follow.
To help in doing achieving this, the T&C agreement should be clear and concise (and thereby as short in length as possible), and should use bold sub-headings, numbered paragraphs and pullet points where possible to break up the text and enhance the document’s readability.