Protecting Your Business with Terms and Conditions
Keeping with my renewed New Year’s intention to eat healthy, it seemed fitting to be packing a healthy lunch instead of eating out (or worse, going through a fast-food drive thru). I definitely packed my lunch on March 10th because was National Pack Your Lunch Day. I’ve got a ton of lunch bags—polka dots, prints, flowers, and promotional lunch bags in different shapes and sizes; some have separate pockets for drinks or utensils.
Lunch bags have come a long way. It’s so different from the lunch boxes we had when we were kids back in the 1970s. Do you remember your Six Million Dollar Man or Charlie’s Angels metal lunch box with the matching insulated thermos and plastic cup lid? Or maybe you had the one with the Superfriends, Donnie and Marie, or Holly Hobby. While you were cool with Fonzie from the Happy Days in the 1970s (“Aaaay!”), the same lunch box could set your social status back after Fonzie “Jumped the Shark” and we realized Mr. T of the A-Team could kick the Fonz’s butt (“I pity the fool.”).
For a lot of us, our lunch boxes served multiple purposes: In addition to protecting our lunches from harm and heat, they were an outward express of who we were. Believe it or not the Terms and Conditions page on your website does the same thing.
What You Talkin’ ‘bout Willis?
In addition to protecting your business (your lunch) from harm and heat (trouble), your Terms and Conditions page is also an outward expression of your online business presence. It’s an expression of what your social media relationship is with your peeps and what ethics and online behaviors are acceptable (and not) for your website interactions.
A poorly drafted “cut-and–paste” template Website Terms and Conditions can wreak havoc with your business. I recently knew someone who had copied Website Terms and Conditions and unknowingly agreed to a dispute resolution process that could have ended up costing him thousands of dollars in travel expenses and arbitrator fees. So while you may be attempted to DIY it, not knowing what your terms and conditions really mean can end up with you agreeing to something you really didn’t bargain for.
A set of well-drafted Website Terms and Conditions:
- Limits your liability: Courts will consider Website Terms and Conditions as part of legal contracts when your in a dispute.
- Brings you additional revenue: A Website Linking Policy with a License Agreement can provide affiliate links with additional revenue with very little effort.
- Upgrades your “social status” or SEO: The theory is that illusive Google algorithms rank trusted and quality websites higher. Website Terms and Conditions increase your likelihood of being categorized as a quality website.
- Provides you with “damage control”: Let’s say you have an unruly online customer— your terms and conditions allow you to terminate the relationship. For example, Facebook says, “If you violate the letter or spirit of this Statement, or otherwise create risk or possible legal exposure for us, we can stop providing all or part of Facebook to you. “
- Shows users your standards for ethical and online behaviors.
- Prohibits unlawful uses of your website.
- Protects your brand: You spent a time and money creating your brand so consider protecting this valuable asset of your business. Yes, your brand alone (like a business name) had a value separate from the hard assets of your business.
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