Why your website needs Terms of Service
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The fact is, in today’s connected world, Terms of Service is not just for the big companies – small businesses need it too and can obtain it at a reasonable price with a minimal investment of time. But, before we get to all of that, what is Terms of Service and why does your small business need it?
A Terms of Service (also called Terms and Conditions) is a set of rules that a user must agree to follow in order to use your website. Think of it as “take your muddy shoes off before you go into my carpeted living room” kind of rules but for your website. If you sell things on your website, Terms of Service may mean “this is our refund policy” or, if you have links to social media on your website, the Terms of Service may mean, “it is your responsibility to use social media wisely and I’m not liable for what you do on social media even if you got there through my website.”
Why do you need Terms of Service for your small business website?
- Answer commonly asked user questions. Terms of Service is an excellent way to answer user questions and take them through their concerns to purchasing your products or services. Users making purchases online may have questions for you such as what is your refund policy, do you offer cancellations and what are my rights in the case of products being damaged during shipping or if I underestimated my size. When you have Terms of Service, all of those questions will be answered there which means that the user will feel reassured and will continue on their path to purchasing.
- Protect your property. Your website has a lot of your property on it (think logo or company name). Terms of Service ensures that anyone using your website knows that those things are your property, thereby preventing theft of such property.
- Prevent others from taking advantage of your platform. The reality of the internet is that while it is filled with nice people, there are a few jerks out there trying to ruin it for the rest of us. There are people who are going to try to take advantage of your platform by making mean or inappropriate comments, failing to pay for subscriptions or spamming other users. Terms of Service will put those jerks on notice and will allow you to delete their comments, terminate their accounts or disallow access to other users. Terms of Service will make sure that you have all of the power over your platform so that you can keep it a nice and fun place for everyone.
- Limit your liability. Even though we all hate legalese, Terms of Service will help limit your liability in case of a lawsuit regarding your website. This type of protection is not just for the big companies, your small business needs it too.
Where can you find a good Terms of Service? As a small business, your next question may be, “this all sounds great but where I can get these if I don’t want to engage a lawyer?” Having a lawyer write your Terms of Service sounds great but, the truth is, it just may not be feasible for some small businesses. We hope that you check out Termageddon – a generator of Terms of Service that automatically updates them whenever the laws change. At a much lower cost than an attorney ($99/year), you can generate Terms of Service that are customized for how you do business and be protected.
About the Author
Donata is the President of Termageddon and the engineer behind the policy questions and text. She is a licensed attorney and a certified information privacy professional. She often volunteers at the Illinois State Bar Association holding courses on the General Data Protection Regulation where she teaches other attorneys on the importance of privacy and what Privacy Policies should contain. In her free time, Donata enjoys bee keeping, hunting for morel mushrooms and walks with her fiancé and two dogs.
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