When you work for a company that provides any kind of services, there’s always a chance for you to get involved in writing up the Terms of Service (ToS) or Terms and Conditions (T&C).
The terms of service contain special and general arrangement, rule, requirements, standards, and basically everything there is regarding the services that your company offers. Business, big or small, need to get their ToS and T&C right to avoid misunderstandings and uncertainty.
ToS/T&C protects your business, so you really want to get it right from the start.
Writing Terms of Service – Things to Consider
First thing first: What are the things you absolutely must include in your new ToS? Before you go and write a ToS, you need to understand why your company needs one. Jot down all the things that the company wants to accomplish with the ToS and make sure nothing is left out of the list.
The very top of your list is the mother of the rules. It could be that customers must make all payment in advance before using the service. It could also be the limitation of use. For example, if you offer a blogging platform, you may prohibit any content that suggests breaking the law. Pirating movies and such is completely off limit.
Now, before we get to writing, you also must make the users accept the ToS or all your effort will be in vain.
The ToS must be enforceable. One way to do that is to make the user accept it before using your service. In the signup or login page provide a checkbox accompanied by the following: “By using this website you are agreeing to your Terms of Service.” It’s that simple.
The next step is to cover your bottom with disclaimers.
Disclaimers or limitation of liability protects your company from costly lawsuits or any legal trouble. State that your users that your company is not responsible for any damages resulting from the use of your service. Make it clear as day to anyone reading the ToS.
“But our service is totally harmless!”
Doesn’t matter. Put that disclaimer anyway. In the one in a billion chances that something bad happens, you’ll be glad you have your disclaimer up.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your ToS must be tailored specifically for your business. Other companies within your industry may include many similar points in their ToS with minute differences in details. Those details are important too.
You may use other companies’ ToS as a template for yours. However, always make sure that the details cover what your business is and what your business does. If things get tricky and your team can’t come up with the right ways or wordings with the ToS, consulting a lawyer is advisable.
Last but not least, double check everything for any misspellings or grammar mistakes. You can’t have any of those in your ToS. They will bite your bottom hard in the future. Guaranteed.