Writing website terms and conditions may not appear to be fun, yet they are necessary for a variety of reasons. They help shield you from liability and avoid conflicts and misunderstandings with website visitors.
While writing website terms and conditions is highly suggested, it is not required by law.
This agreement establishes the terms users must agree to use your website.
General terms and conditions are the rules that you use by default when a customer buys something from you or when you provide a service. Again, you are not obliged to have terms and conditions, but they apply to you and your customer if you do use them.
What are terms and conditions?
General terms and conditions are part of the (purchase) agreement. In the general terms and conditions, you describe the rules about, for example:
- Terms of payment
The general terms and conditions are about the preconditions that apply by default. The terms and conditions do not deal with the product or service’s unique features—for example, the price, the color, or the quantity.
Why general terms and conditions?
It is immediately apparent which rights and obligations you and your customer have with general terms and conditions. In other words, your customers know where they stand. For example, what about warranty, liability, and payment. And you can reduce the risks you run as an entrepreneur.
There are several rules that you must adhere to when drawing up general terms and conditions. For example, conditions may not be unreasonable, and you must provide information.
Writing website terms and conditions – how do I do that?
General terms and conditions can be drawn up in various ways. You can draft them yourself, hire a professional to do that for you.
Is writing website terms and conditions mandatory?
You are not obliged to have terms and conditions. There are always legal rules for you and your customer in a purchase agreement that you can fall back on. Some trade associations require their members to have terms and conditions in place.
a. Unreasonable Conditions
You may not put unreasonable terms in your terms and conditions. The law states what is undoubtedly irrational and what provisions may be unreasonable.
b. Information obligation: informing your customer
Before agreeing, you must inform the customer well and in good time about your general terms and conditions. Use understandable language and make sure that your customer knows your terms and conditions, for example, by having the customer confirm that they have read them.
c. Change of terms and conditions
If you continuously provide products or services, such as a subscription, you may not just change your general terms and conditions as you want. You must adhere to these rules:
- When purchasing, it must be clear that you can change the terms and conditions anytime when necessary.
- You must send changes to your terms and conditions to your customer. A short message about this is not enough.
- The changes must be reasonable. For example, your customer must be able to cancel the agreement in the event of a change. And you may not change the price of a subscription within three months.
d. Inform your customer clearly and on time
Your terms and conditions should be clear to your customers. If you mainly do business in the Malaysia, you should write them in English or/and Malay. You can do a translation for international customers.
Your customers must read the terms and conditions before concluding the purchase agreement. You can therefore not deliver the conditions only with the product. Do you provide an ongoing service, such as a subscription, and do you want to change the terms and conditions? Then it would help if you abode by the rules.
e. Termination of terms and conditions
Do you not comply with the general terms and conditions? Are there unreasonable provisions in the terms and conditions? Or do you change the terms and conditions without informing your customer? Then your customer can have the general terms and conditions terminated by letter or e-mail. The general terms and conditions are then invalid.
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What do the general terms and conditions say?
What is important to mention in the terms and conditions varies by industry. Entrepreneurs also sometimes make different purchase conditions and sales values. Some points are often included in the general terms and conditions:
As an entrepreneur, you can, in principle, be held liable for all direct damage (for example, repair costs or replacement costs) and indirect damage (for example, water damage in the event of a fire). You can never exclude all liability, but you can reduce your liability with your terms.
2. Term of payment
You may determine a reasonable payment term for consumers yourself. You put that in the general terms and conditions. A statutory payment term applies to companies and the government. Would you like to use a shorter or longer payment term? Then you must record this in your general terms and conditions. You can also agree on this payment term in a contract.
3. Retention of title
If you put the retention of title in terms and conditions, the goods remain yours until your customer has paid. You can then, for example, reclaim your goods if the customer goes bankrupt.
Your product must do what it promises. Your buyer has a legal guarantee. In your general terms and conditions, you can put information about, for example, extra warranty. Or the duration of the warranty. You cannot limit the legal warranty on your product in the general terms and conditions.
5. Terms of delivery
With delivery terms, you make agreements about everything that has to do with delivering a product or service, such as delivery time, cancellation, contracts about transport, and delivery costs.
6. Cancellation policy for booking
When booking, you ask your customer to agree to your terms and conditions. Your terms and conditions also contain your cancellation conditions. Cancellation is the termination (stopping) of an agreement after the booking. Both you and the booker (vacationer) can cancel the agreement.
The cancellation conditions you describe within which period the holidaymaker may cancel the stay. And what costs they still have to pay. You can also describe which conditions the holidaymaker must meet to be allowed to cancel. In the event of cancellation, the holidaymaker often has to pay you a percentage of the pre-agreed price. Even if they do not use the holiday accommodation.
How much the holidaymaker has to pay depends on when he cancels the stay. The sooner the holidaymaker withdraws, the lower the percentage he still has to pay. Does the holidaymaker cancel the booking shortly in advance? Then you can oblige the holidaymaker to have the agreed amount paid (almost) in total. You can also consider repaying the holidaymaker if he proposes someone else for the holiday accommodation in the same period.
7. Coronavirus crisis and force majeure clause
If you cannot keep to your agreements, you are generally responsible for the damage to the other party. In some cases, you can invoke force majeure.
Use an example for terms and conditions. Examples for general terms and conditions (model texts) can be found at branch organizations, professional associations, or other customized and sample contracts providers.
Check whether you should use the general terms and conditions of your industry or professional association. Some trade associations require their members to use terms and conditions.
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Writing website terms and conditions
By writing terms and conditions with an agreement, it is clear to your customer or guest what matters include warranty, cancellation, liability, and payment. Cancellation policy is part of your terms and conditions.
a. General terms and conditions for web shops (e-commerce websites)
Do you have a web shop or online store? The rules for a web shop are different than for a physical store. If you also have a physical store, setting up separate conditions for your web shop is helpful.
b. Reflection period (right of withdrawal) for online sales
Customers who buy a product or service from you online are legally entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period. In these 14 days, they can cancel the purchase or contract. This is called the right of withdrawal. Do you have general terms and conditions for your web shop? It would be best if you put the reflection time in that.
What to include when writing website terms and conditions:
- What exactly does the statutory cooling-off period mean?
- The length of the reflection period. It may be longer than 14 days, but not shorter.
- For which products and services there is no cooling-off period. Please note: the law states an exception applies for which products and services. You are not allowed to make up your exceptions.
a. Easy to find
It is not enough if the cooling-off period is only mentioned in your general terms and conditions. Make this information clear and easy to find on your website. If you do not adequately inform the customer about the cooling-off period, your customer can cancel the purchase for one year longer. The statutory cooling-off period does not apply to entrepreneurs. Read more about the statutory cooling-off period.
b. Delivery costs and costs for return
If your customer returns the product within the cooling-off period, you must refund the purchase price and the delivery costs. Also, mention in your general terms and conditions for whom the costs of the return shipment are. You must let us know before the sale.
c. Save terms and conditions
Your customer must be able to save the terms and conditions. So that he can read back later which conditions applied at the time of purchase, making the conditions available not only as a web page (in HTML) but also as a PDF, for example.
d. Checklist for online sales
The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) has a checklist to check compliance with the rules. Also, read the rules for online sales.
So, what are the essential elements when writing website terms and conditions for online or e-commerce stores?
You should Include the following:
Payment policies: List the payment options you accept. Specify which techniques, if any, you do not accept.
Refund policy: Make it clear what your refund policy is. If any expenses can be deducted from the return, specify what they are and how much they are. You might want to specify the circumstances under which you will not issue a refund.
Copyright: Recognize and safeguard your intellectual property.
Logos and trademarks: Make sure that no one uses your trademarks or logos without first obtaining authorization.
Data and privacy: Clearly state what data you will collect and how you will utilize it.
Third-party material –Make explicit whether your website uses external third-party content, such as user-submitted content. Users must understand whether they are granting you rights to the content and what you may do with it.
Change notification: We have the right to change the terms and conditions at any moment.
These are just a few crucial points to mention in your website’s terms and conditions. You must carefully assess whether your company requires any additional unique criteria. For example, an e-commerce company that distributes actual things to customers should have a shipping policy. This will define where your risks and duties begin and finish.
How do I put website terms of service in place?
A visible link to your website’s terms of service should preferably be available from every page on the website. A link should be available from your homepage at the very least. The more prominent your terms are to website visitors, the more likely they will be regarded as efficiently applied.
A registration procedure can handle user acceptance of your website’s terms and conditions if you have a registration procedure.
You can also require users to agree to the website’s terms to access certain features. Asking visitors to expressly agree to the website conditions, for example, by clicking an ‘I accept’ button, could be especially significant if they enter a restricted portion of the website that requires registration.
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Why should you not copy and modify the terms and conditions of another website?
This is never a good idea because every business is unique. Adopting the terms and conditions of another company blindly is meaningless. If you simply service the local community, a rival with a regional or worldwide presence will have completely different aspects than you.
Adopting your opponent’s terms and conditions will expose you to risks because there is no match of business risks between you and your competitor. You should also not presume that the competitor’s terms and conditions were carefully thought out and correctly worded.
Is it necessary to hire a lawyer for writing website terms and conditions?
The answer is no. You do not always have to hire a lawyer to write your website terms and conditions agreement.
Depending on the size and context of your organization, you should be able to hire a copywriter to assist you in creating a valid Terms and Conditions agreement.
More complex and large-scale activities will necessitate the assistance of a legal counsel or a dedicated legal team. However, for smaller and simpler enterprises, you may be able to avoid hiring a lawyer if you engage a professional copywriter who can help you plan and research carefully.
How may Word Philocaly assist you in writing website terms and conditions that is practical?
Professional copywriters at Word Philocaly specialize in terms and conditions, annual reports, tenders, bids, and proposal writing. At the same time, we handle the responsibilities of business writing. We’ve worked with hundreds of businesses on their writing needs, assisting them in creating great website content and winning new business so they can focus on their profession.
With our professional terms and conditions writing services, you’ll have detailed, practical, and professional terms and conditions, which lay out all of the laws and regulations. This allows you to reduce liability, avoid future legal ramifications, and give you the best chance of winning business.
Our writing method has been fine-tuned over a decade, focusing on all types of business writing and analyzing our clients’ results.
Some seek our assistance in obtaining the relevant information to write their terms and conditions.
Most, however, want us to manage the entire process as their business writers. If you’re weary of creating business documents or don’t have enough in-house resources, hiring Word Philocaly as your expert terms and conditions writer or business writer will provide you with a far greater chance of success. You’ll find that running a website or your business process is considerably less intimidating and stressful, and you’ll accomplish significantly better results at the end of the day.
Interested in how to have a successful website that protects your business? Contact us for more information and let us guide you.