This article was ghostwritten for The Workspace. It is written in British English.
Terms and conditions are vital for any business as they provide protection for both the client and the company. Your Ts & Cs dictate the deliverables of both parties and ensure that there are no misunderstandings about what is expected of each.
Such misunderstandings, should they occur, can lead to unhappy customers at best and legal action at worst.
What to include
Your terms and conditions are essentially a manual outlining what your business will provide and on what terms. Likewise, for the client or customer, it dictates what they can expect and what actions on their part are expected or even prohibited.
These are some of the things that should be included in your terms and conditions:
Amongst other stipulations, these include possible payment methods and when payment is due as well as your returns or refunds policy if applicable. In the case of services, it must also state whether or not a deposit is required and when the remaining balance is due.
Guarantees or warranties
If your product or workmanship carries any warranties and guarantees, it is important to state not only the duration but under what circumstances these covers might be rendered null and voice, such as misuse.
Stipulate the time it will take to deliver a product or service within a time range (4 – 6 weeks for example). Also note that lead times can be affected by outside influences, such as delays in delivery from third party suppliers.
Delivery or shipping policy
If delivery is included for your product, it’s important to stipulate the terms of this delivery and your liability, if any, in the event of damage or late delivery. If you use a third-party delivery service, be sure to state that you are no longer liable once the delivery service has taken possession of the goods.
A definition of the service or product
Give a detailed and comprehensive description of your product or service. Describe any limits on the service such as revisions, in the case of design for example, or accessibility, such as might affect a moving company.
Duration or termination of the agreement
If there is a limit on the duration of your services, include these terms as well. This must include the policy for either party in the event of an early termination of the agreement.
If there is any personal information being exchanged, it’s important to include a statement protecting the privacy of this information. If your service collects and retains a customer or user’s information, you must state how this information will be used, how it will be protected and who will have access to it.
Content ownership or intellectual property rights
If you want to protect the intellectual property of your product or service, then include a statement of ownership in your terms and conditions as well. This can prevent others from copying your content, designs or even your brand.
Some of this information might also be required on your invoices or quotes, such as payment specifics or lead times. The validity period of a quote is another example of your terms and conditions and needs to be clearly stated on all quotes.
Writing your terms and condition can be a little tedious but it is essential that you cover everything relevant to your business and your client or customer interactions. Not being specific enough about your terms and conditions can lead to losses or legal issues.
Tailoring your Ts & Cs to your business
Unfortunately, while plenty of templates exist to help you write your terms and conditions, you cannot simply copy this sort of agreement from another business. Your terms and condition need to be specific to your company and must cover the types of interactions and transactions you can expect while running your business.
Having a lawyer help you write your terms and conditions is ideal but not always affordable. Using a template as a base is a good place to start and can help you understand what sort of information is usually included.
It also helps to run through potential scenarios with your colleagues or friends and bounce around ideas for mitigating issues before they occur. Even a bit of roleplaying can help so you can be sure you haven’t overlooked something that could be a potential issue in your day-to-day interactions with clients.
Where to display your terms and conditions
Your terms and conditions are legally binding, so it’s important that your clients and customers are fully aware of them and agree to them before any transactions are entered into.
Most companies or businesses display their terms and conditions on their website and will include a compulsory check box with certain actions, such as making a purchase. This ensures that the client has either read the terms and conditions or absolves the business of any liability in the event that they have not.
If your business is not conducted online or you do not have a website, terms and conditions can be included on quotes or invoices.
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