The different types of terms and conditions for your business

By Vivian Michael | Startup Contracts

You are likely most familiar with website terms and conditions, but there are others too. 

Here’s what  you need to know about the different types and ways you can use them in your business. 

All-in-one terms

All-in-one terms sound appealing but they are not ideal. 

I am referring to terms that cover website use, affiliate and reseller terms, refund policies and everything else in between one set of terms and conditions.

Why?

Terms like this can be confusing because you are covering many topics. 

Worse, they may cause overwhelm for your customers and your customers may give up on reading them.

While it may not be practical to have separate terms and conditions for each aspect of your business, you may wish to try grouping, I will explain this next. 

Terminology 

Before we get into the different types of terms and conditions, you’ll hear some terms that all mean the same thing. These are: terms of use, terms of service, terms and conditions and website terms. 

Titles aside, what matters most is the content of your terms. 

If you are unsure, check with your lawyer before work starts. 

So what should you be aiming for?

Your goal 

Aim for terms that cover key aspects of your business operations, are clear and limit your liability wherever legally possible.

Grouping terms 

What’s a happy medium?

I suggest grouping your terms and conditions wherever possible for each set of your business activities. 

Below are some examples of how you can group your terms and conditions.  

Website

The website terms and conditions are perhaps the most commonly known by clients. They cover: 

  • Product delivery 
  • Simple payment terms including refunds 
  • Pricing errors 
  • Disclaimers of liability 
  • Indemnity 
  • Viruses 
  • Hacking incidents

Do you have many offerings sold on different terms? In this case, you may want terms for each offering.

Terms for each offering

As you develop more offerings that have different features, delivery, payment and refund rules, you may wish to have separate terms and conditions for each.

An example would be if you supply your products online and in a bricks-and-mortar store.

In this case, you may want to give your online shoppers more generous return time frames compared to your bricks-and-mortar customers, to give peace of mind.

Promotions 

You can have terms and conditions for each promotion that you run.

Below are sample items you may cover in your terms: 

  • Whether the offer is available with another 
  • How long the promotion will run 
  • Locations where the promotion is available 
  • Quantity limitation - e.g. one person per coupon, one person per day etc. 
  • Use limitation - e.g. coupon is only for person x, y or z

Complex aspects of your business

If you need to explain a complex process in many words, a new policy is useful. 

Terms and conditions vs client agreement

You can have terms and conditions, but in some situations you may also need a client agreement. 

For example, where  you are delivering bespoke services to a client that you are not delivering to all your clients, in this case, a client agreement is appropriate. Here are some examples: 

  • Loyalty discounts
  • Free product offer for a loyal customer 
  • Additional work to customise a product or service for a customer. 

I’ve written about the choice between terms and conditions and client agreements here.

Nutshell 

In a nutshell: 

  • Terms are also known as terms and conditions, terms of service, terms of use and simply terms.
  • Break up your terms and conditions into categories for each aspect of your business
  • Example terms include website, promotions and product offerings.
  • Check if you also need a client agreement. 
  • Make sure your terms are clear and protect you from liability as far as legally possible. 

Always get advice if you are unsure.

I wish you success in  all your ventures! 

Questions? Comments? Leave them below.


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About the Author

Vivian Michael is a lawyer and founder of Michael Law Group. Vivian's mission is to make quality business legal services accessible to entrepreneurs launching in Australia that would otherwise DIY, rely on legacy contracts or go without.

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