Protect Your Ass(ets): Why your website needs Terms & Conditions

Executive DirectorBusiness & FinanceLeave a Comment

Protect Your Ass(ets)

Nowadays, more and more business owners are primarily conducting their business online.  In this digital age, why wouldn’t you?  It costs less than a brick and mortar storefront, it allows access to a larger customer base, and gives you the convenience of working from anywhere.

What a lot of biz owners don’t realize though, is that there are actually certain legal requirements that are needed in order to maintain their presence online.  We’ve all purchased or downloaded something online and had something pop up asking you to check a box and sign your soul away, right? Just like i’m also pretty sure we’ve all seen the terms “Privacy Policy” and “Terms & Conditions”. But what do they mean really? Why are they necessary?

Allow me to shed some light…

Privacy Policy

If you offer an online service like a webstore, a monthly eNews, or anything else that requires you to gather someone’s personal information (like credit card info, mailing address, name, email, etc…) then you NEED to have a Privacy Policy.

Basically, a Privacy Policy should insure the reader that all information shared will remain private and protected, and will not be shared with anyone but “trusted 3rd parties”.  Adding that last part in is important because it leaves you room to selectively share information with necessary 3rd parties, such as your distributor for example.

The Internet reaches all over the world, but the majority of your website visits will probably be from various states within the U.S. Because there are a bunch of specific federal and state-level regulations on Privacy Policies, you will be opened up to the liability of whichever state your potential customer is in.  Some are stricter than others, but most insist that you have your Privacy Policy  in an obvious, highly-visible location on your website.

Terms & Conditions

You may have also heard this referred to as “Terms of Service”.  A Terms & Conditions policy basically acts as a metaphorical contract between your business and the other person.

 It’s where you will include things like your return/delivery policy, liability limitations, warranty information, etc…  It should also include a notice of intellectual property (stating that some/all of the content on your site belongs exclusively to your business).  This will let them know the “rules” or “laws” that your business follows, and essentially protect you from potential legal action from a visitor of your website.

Depending on what your business type is, the terms that should be included can vary a bit, but it’s usually fairly easy to look up template samples online!  Which brings me to my next point…

While it sounds pretty straightforward, you cannot simply copy/paste the T&C policy of another website and tweak it to reflect your business.  That would actually be copy write infringement, which is no bueno mi amigo.

I hope that this helped clear things up a bit about the importance of having these 2 policies present on your website! Especially for those of you who solely operate your biz online!  

If you have questions or something to add that I may have missed, drop a comment below!

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