19 Jul Three Things for Doing E-Commerce Right
- Make sure your customers actually can read and understand the most important Terms and Conditions up front. Most Terms and Conditions, for example, contain a mandatory arbitration provision. But if you customers don’t know they are giving up the right to go to court in a dispute, you could end up fighting a battle just to get the case sent to arbitration. Put items such as arbitration clauses, payment terms, refund terms and limitations in bold and at the start of the document. In fact, California law requires a very specific language of waiver that has to be included or you cannot compel a California resident to go to arbitration.
- Make sure to have an “active acceptance.” In order for the terms and conditions to be enforceable, the customer has to affirmatively consent to the agreement. Businesses have several options to choose from, such as having the terms and conditions appear on the page as a step in the purchase process which then requires the customer actually click they have read and understood the terms before continuing. A second, slightly less explicit is a link to the Terms and Conditions with a check box or radio button to affirmatively accept the terms. While it is permitted, it is not as blatant as the page itself.
- Regularly and at least once per year, review your Terms and Conditions. Just like any contract you have for your business, regular review of your Terms and Conditions can ensure that the document is current with the latest law and reflects the manner in which you actually do business. If you business practices change, you Terms and Conditions should as well. Cases exist which the business owner did not think to update their online terms and conditions and they were stuck holding the bag when a customer sued under an older version and succeeded.
Terms and conditions are a contract, just like any other contract in terms of their enforcement. But a court may not enforce the Terms and Conditions if the customer was not notified of the terms in a proper manner.