Policies 101: Terms & Conditions

If you have made it as far as to this article you should be somehow connected to e-commerce, perhaps you even own and/or manage a website where consumers may place orders and can directly get in contact. You must then be aware that a very important section on your website is the Policies Page(s). It’s not only an important legal protection tool, but also one of the main means of communication between you and your customer/visitor. Thus, two things must be in your mind when drafting them:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Keep it readable.

So, you know you need Policies on your website, but you might be wondering – what are the different types of Policies?

There are merchants that in the Terms & Conditions Page include all the information related to the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, Return & Refund Policy, and Shipping Policy. In this case, you would have all the information condensed into only one document. However, you can also create different pages for different policies.

If you are a merchant that usually processes a lot of personal data from your visitors, perhaps, you should consider creating a separate policy only related to the privacy issues. Moreover, depending on where you are based and where your customers are based, you will be obliged to structure at least a simple Privacy Policy.

This article will focus on the structure of the Terms and Conditions, but it will not include the considerations for the Privacy, Return, or Shipping Policies. This will be covered in a future article.

Terms and Conditions

The T&C works as a contract between you and the customer, i.e, it is an agreement on how to use your website. For instance, it can cover the payment method or how the newsletter functions. It is important to highlight that the T&C is not a mandatory legal document to insert into your website. Nevertheless, depending on national/regional laws, you must display some information to your customer, and if you have a T&C, this would be the ideal place for it.

Let’s have some examples before going to the main clauses in a T&C.

  • If you sell products to the French and/or German marketplace, as of 2022, you will have to display to your customer the Extended Producer Responsibility number you received from the aforementioned national authorities. This number discloses that you fulfill your obligations related to the circular economy regulation of these countries, contributing to recycling the waste of household packages, papers, etc.
  • Furthermore, if you establish a consumer relationship in the EU, you will need to comply with the EU Consumer Law. One of the main legislative documents is the Directive 2011/83/EU related to Distance Contracts. In its article 6, you can find the whole set of information that you need to disclose to your customer at some point in this relationship. Besides, the Directive sets forth a very important right for the consumers: the right of withdrawal during the first 14 days of a sales contract (article 9).
  • You should also be aware of the Directive (EU) 2019/771, which sets forth requirements concerning contracts for the sale of goods. It outlines a Legal Guarantee to all Sellers (art 13) in the case of a lack of conformity to the contract (arts 6 and 7). For instance, if you sell supplements and you say that one package comes with 100 capsules, but it comes with 98 capsules; although you fulfill the objective requirements for conformity (i.e, you sell supplement capsules), you do not fulfill the subjective requirements for conformity (i.e, there is a disconformity in the quantity as required by the sales contract).

T&C is an essential section of your website, you know that it provides legal protection to you and your customer, and therefore, this stimulates a good relationship with the people visiting your website. Hence, what are the main sections you must consider including in your T&C?

One important section not to forget is the “consent” clause. This section lets the customer know that when entering the website, they are accepting the terms of service. This section can also be named “Acknowledgment”.

Alongside the “Acknowledgment” section, you should also consider having a section regarding the Limitation of Liability. For some sellers, this is the only reason why they create a T&C page. Therein, the idea is to limit the Seller’s responsibility when the use of the website does not go as planned for the visitor/customer. We can say that the main goal is to prevent customer litigation. 

If you are a US Seller, you will likely come across with an “as is” and “as available” disclaimer. The “as is” clause will establish that the buyer accepts the purchased product in its present condition. On the other side, the “as available” clause establishes that the buyer acknowledges that the product may not be available to them at the moment of sale. This would be important if, for example, you only deliver to certain areas of the country, or if you cannot guarantee the stock of the product.

Lastly, if you are interested in selling your business to another company (who knows, an aggregator…), you should consider inserting a Business Transfer Clause. This is usually located in the Privacy Policy (or in the Privacy section inside the Terms and Condition Page, if you choose this route), and it deals with the data transfer conditions to a new entity in the case of a merger or an asset purchase.

Make sure to stay alert for future Policies 101 articles to learn more about website, e-commerce and Amazon policies. 

 

Legal disclaimer

The information provided on this website and post do not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site and post are for general information purposes only. Information on this website and post may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. We highly recommend the consultation of a Legal Professional when drafting the Policies of your Website.

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