I’ve discussed terms of service, or terms and conditions for your website. You can always go check that article out here. But today I want to discuss another area where having some terms and conditions on your website is so very crucial to the success of your online business.
Online Stores protection 101:
So no, this isn’t a cybersecurity article because to be honest, I don’t know the first thing about that. When I say protecting, I mean protecting you and your business, and the products or services you sell via your website.
Almost everyone in the online space sells some type of e-book, or coaching program, or workout plan, or nutrition and recipe plan…the list goes on. That said, how many of these people actually know what they would do in the event of an unhappy customer?
The answer is likely none.
I personally see it all the time!
It blows my mind, but again, being the attorney in the room I can see the issue right off the bat. Not every online fitness coach or mindset guru knows the legal basics of an online store. But, that’s ok because I need a job, and I love sharing this information.
Is money changing hands?
Anytime someone visits your website and decides they’re going to give you their hard earned cash there needs to be a terms of sale in place for that customer to read, review, and accept prior to making any purchase from you.
Don’t drive people to a website? Are you simply having someone “swipe up” or follow a link in your Instagram profile that takes them directly to a purchasing page or a PayPal link? First of all, you should stop doing that and second of all here’s why.
Your customers and clients need to agree to the Terms of Purchase prior to making a purchase!
Even if your website is equipped with expertly drafted terms of service (email me if you need some of those) you still likely need to either a) ensure those terms cover key provisions for the sale of your products or b) present your customers with a whole new set of terms specifically for the sale of goods before they send you money.
Why is the before so important?
Legally speaking if your customers don’t agree to the terms of purchase before making a purchase they have an out, or a leg to stand on in an argument with you.
What exactly do I mean by that? Let’s say a customer signed up for your 12-week mind and body challenge. But, a few days later they decide they don’t have time to devote to this and they want their money back, stat. Your terms of purchase were sent to them in an email confirming their enrollment in the challenge along with the receipt. Those terms cover what happens in the event someone wants a refund, and your policy is that sorry, you don’t get refunds. However, this customer had already made the purchase and they make it a point to tell you that if they had seen that you don’t offer refunds, they wouldn’t have signed up. And you know what? This person likely isn’t wrong, and you will likely end up forking over a refund even though you don’t allow those.
How do we fix the issue?
Luckily, it is actually a pretty easy fix. I suggest having your terms of purchase linked on your sales page in a very conspicuous easy to find place or even better, have them as a pop up that your customers have to accept prior to moving on to the payment screen.
I do suggest having your terms of purchase contained within your terms of service on your website so that it can be found 24 hours a day 7 days a week by anyone visiting your site. But, the extra step of requiring a customer to accept the terms of purchase first, is going to guarantee that they have the chance to read what it is they are agreeing to.
Just remember, if the customer doesn’t see what they are agreeing to in advance and they decide they want their money back they can complain to PayPal or their bank and contest the sale. But, if you have detailed and specific terms of service to point to, you’re likely going to win the argument.
What should the terms of purchase cover?
I’m glad you asked. It will depend on what type of product you are selling, but you can have one term of purchase on your site that will cover everything you sell. From challenges to group coaching to one-time e-book downloads.
Include how you manage your challenge groups or one on one coaching packages, address payment acceptance, and have a refund policy. Other things to include will be intellectual property considerations. What can your customers do with your content that you are selling? Do they have the rights to reuse your coaching templates, can they share your e-book with friends? There are many other considerations for the terms of sale so if you have questions be sure to reach out to an attorney in your jurisdiction that can help ensure your terms are specific to your business.
Don’t be afraid!!
I know it seems scary to force someone to “accept the terms of purchase” and you may worry it will scare some potential customers off. But, it is always better to be safe than sorry in the legal world. There are plenty of times to take a chance on your business when you’re an entrepreneur, ensuring you get and stay paid isn’t one of those times.
Please note that this is not meant to be legal advice for you or your situation, this is merely some legal research and knowledge on the given topic.