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Of course people read these things... Well, sometimes. Okay, maybe enough just to see that you are legit - and that, outside of protecting you, is what's important!

A Terms of Service or "TOS" (also commonly referred to as "terms of use" or "terms and conditions") is the legal agreement a service provider (you if you're operating a website or app) and a person that wants to use that service (website or app) and outlines the relationship and expectations between the parties.  While it is not typically mandatory that websites contain a TOS, having a properly drafted TOS is just good business.

Believe it or not, customers will choose not to do business with you simply because your website doesn't contain a TOS or the one you have seems overly generic and doesn't seem like it actually fits the business whose website they are on.  Moreover, having a properly drafted TOS helps protect you not only from a copyright perspective but can also set legal jurisdiction and limit liability, if for example, your website malfunctions.

Let's face it - there are a lot of shady characters online these days and anyone, including the basement boy that steals credit cards, can purchase a domain and set up a website.  If you want to stand out to customers as being, well, "not shady" then you want to pay special attention to things that help build customer trust and enhance your business reputation online.  One simple way to do that is through incorporating a properly drafted TOS on your website.

We say "properly drafted" a few times above.  Why? What are we talking about?  There are a lot of free or low cost DIY (do-it-yourself/fill in the blank) online forms that tout to be able to protect you, even from other law offices, without knowing a single thing about your business and its goals.  Unfortunately, many businesses, especially start ups with small budgets will opt for these free or low cost documents rather than seeking the professional help they actually need.  The problem is, these types of one-size-fits-most forms are not going to be drafted with your specific business and operations in mind.  Consequently, it likely won't adequately protect you/your business where you need it most.  This is true regardless of whether it's a DIY document from one of those professional companies who market free or low cost online forms (who typically hire lawyers to draft them so they can be given away for free in hopes to upsell you on other services) or from some law firm marketing such documents to you.  The truth of the matter is, unless someone actually sits down with you to learn about your business and operations, the chances of any DIY document being appropriately drafted, in a way that adequately protects your business, is slim.  Is it worth the risk?

If you don't have a website Terms of Service or started with one of those generic free or low-cost forms, that's okay! You learn something new everyday and you don't know what you don't know, right?  If this is you, and you're ready to elevate your business reputation and protect your business by having us draft or otherwise review your existing Terms of Service, contact us!  

Not sure where else your website might need some TLC in order to help avoid legal liability?  Contact us to inquire about having us prepare for you our multi-point Business Website Risk Audit Report which includes a section on website Terms of Service.  It's better to let us tell you ahead of time where you can improve so you can address issues now instead of waiting until an issue arises - because at that point, it's likely to cost you a lot more money to deal with.  Trust us, being proactive is a lot better than being reactive!

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