5 Reasons to Not Use Terms and Conditions from your Ecommerce Shop Provider

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5 Reasons to Not Use Terms and Conditions from your Ecommerce Shop Provider

by | Nov 28, 2019 | Blog, Business, Legal for Small Businesses

That Works For Me has joined forces with independent lawyer Trusha Patel to bring you a series of legal articles to help you – whether you’re setting up a business or just want to have a better understanding of how it all works. Trusha’s fascinating background and broad experience has brought her to where she is now, giving small businesses and freelancers peace of mind that they are legally protected and GDPR compliant. With her commercially pragmatic and easy to understand legal advice and contracts, we are delighted to be working with her. This second in the series is a word to the wise on T&Cs. 

When you set up your ecommerce store and you sign up to platforms like Shopify to help you, you expect to be able to take advantage of all the resources they offer you, such as their standard terms and conditions and privacy policy. However, there are several pitfalls to relying on these, rather than considering having terms and policies put in place that are for your business specifically.

1

They are generic

This may seem like an obvious point but one size does not fit all and, like all legal templates out there, terms that are generic inevitably have gaps and lack of protections that are important for your particular goods or services. Terms for someone selling beauty products online would face completely different issues around liability or returns policy compared to someone selling digital content online, for example. Similarly, some products may be subject to strict accreditations, customised, particularly unusual or may not be suitable for certain people. Each product range and customer base has to be analysed and evaluated for risks and potential pain points, and terms and conditions need to address these for maximum protection.

2

Big brands don’t always get it right

Just because you are using services from big companies like Shopify, you cannot assume they have your business interests covered through their legal team (or that they even have a team – there are many examples where big brands do not invest in proper legal advice and end up being in breach of laws). Shopify, for example, is a Canadian company, and their legal team may not have the experience with GDPR, UK specific consumer rules and regulations and even if they have a UK legal presence, there is no way of knowing how updated or how often they update their standard terms and conditions, and even when/if they do, are they addressing any new legislation that may be specific to your products and services?

3

Basic clauses are often not right

I have come across Shopify sites that I was tasked with amending for clients where the governing law was wrong. In others, the returns policy is bare bone and not entirely compliant with the Consumer Rights Act. Privacy policies also do not address ICO (governing body for information rights) guidelines and seem to rely on the store owner to populate as they deem fit. Incidentally, this is also the risk you run if you use terms that are copied over from competitor websites.

 

4

Omissions and errors are your responsibility

In the unlikely event you have a customer complaint and it transpires you are not protected, as you ought to have been under your standard terms and conditions, the customer has recourse to you but you will not have recourse back to the platform for you using their standard terms which proved to be lacking or inadequate. Therefore, you are responsible.

5

Invest in peace of mind

It may be an additional expense to get your terms of sale and privacy policies drafted and tailored for your business, and perhaps not a cost you envisaged budgeting for, but if you know your terms are both compliant with relevant laws and regulations, and worded to give your business the maximum amount of protection, you can use that peace of mind to focus on growing your sales.

 

Trusha x

Bio – Trusha Patel

Trusha is a consultant lawyer with an entrepreneurial background, she works to give small businesses and freelancers peace of mind that they are legally protected and GDPR compliant, with her commercially pragmatic and easy to understand legal advice and contracts.

With 11 years experience spent between a top 3 magic circle (aka leading!) London law firm and international investment banks, Trusha went on to become an entrepreneur for several years before bringing the wealth of insight and a solid business mind back to her legal practice. She founded an organic spice company in Canada where she was living at the time – and then brought it to the UK. Gaining real-world experience across multiple disciplines in international trade with her small business has enabled Trusha to bring a unique legal approach and perspective when helping her clients across a variety of industry sectors.

On top off all of that, Trusha also writes for lifestyle media brands such as Mindbodygreen and Thrive Global, online magazines and small business blogs. 

Contact: [email protected]