Knowing your P’s and Q’s – Business Terms and Conditions

Let’s face it, who reads Terms and Conditions? Most of us, simply don’t have the time, and remain unbothered by the position they tie us into. That being said – Business Terms and Conditions are vastly different to clicking a box on your new streaming subscription.

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner, or starting on your first business adventure, ensuring a smooth transactional process is crucial. Your first step is having clear terms and conditions (T&Cs) set out from the get-go. In this blog we will guide you through what T&Cs are, why they’re important, and how they apply to your business.

What are terms and conditions?

Terms and conditions, simply put, are an agreement between your business and your customers. They outline the rules, expectations, and limitations that apply when someone uses your business, whether that be; products or services sold. They act as a roadmap that guides your customers through the businesses processes.

In most cases, these terms and conditions are treated as a legally binding document. Therefore, it is vital that each business implements them. Before we continue it is important to note, that terms and conditions should be as fair for the seller, as they are for the buyer, they form part of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Why use standard terms and conditions?

When developing your T&Cs, consider the below points. As these will form the structure to your completed Terms and Conditions:

Clarity and Consistency: Everyone must be on the same page. There should be no grey areas regarding things like payment methods, shipping policies, returns, and warranties. This consistency helps prevent confusion and in-turn: disputes.

Protection: T&Cs can limit your liability in certain situations. For instance, they can outline your responsibility for product defects, or delays caused by unforeseen circumstances.

Professionalism: Having well-defined T&Cs portrays your business as professional and trustworthy.

What do they cover?

Each business is unique, you may need to modify standard T&Cs to align them with your business methods.

Formation of the Contract: This clarifies when a purchase agreement is formed between you and the customer.

Payment Terms: This specifies accepted payment methods, any fees associated with them, and your payment deadlines.

Order Acceptance and Delivery: This outlines your order processing timelines, shipping methods, and any restrictions on where you deliver.

Returns and Cancellations: This details your policy on returns, exchanges, and order cancellations, including timeframes and conditions.

Intellectual Property: This protects your ownership of any copyrighted material on your website, such as logos or product descriptions.

Exceptions to standard T&Cs

Whilst it’s recommended to have standard T&Cs, there may be situations where exceptions are needed.

  • For instance, whenever you offer special promotions with unique terms that differ from your standard policy.
  • Shipping via a 3rd party, your shipping T&Cs would not be in effect.
  • International payment and shipping times may differ considerably. Be sure to include these points as exceptions.

How to make sure your terms and conditions apply to online orders.

There are two main ways to ensure your T&Cs apply to online orders:

  • Display them prominently on your website: Make sure your T&Cs are easily accessible on your website, often on a dedicated page or during checkout.
  • Require customers to acknowledge them: During checkout, you can include a checkbox (highly recommended) where customers agree to your T&Cs before completing their purchase.

Using terms and conditions

It’s important to remember that T&Cs shouldn’t be one-sided. They should be fair and reasonable for both you and your customers.  They protect your business; they should also ensure a positive customer experience.

If you are seeking business funding, potential funders will ask to be provided with your terms and conditions. From this document they will also review your payment terms, we will go deeper into payment terms in our upcoming Invoicing blog.

By having clear and well-defined T&Cs, you can streamline your sales process, protect your business interests, and create trust with your customers.