Taylor Solicitors Cork reviews the importance of Terms and Conditions from a business perspective.
Last night I treated my mother to dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Cork… Spice of India in Bishopstown. I’ve been going there for years and if you’re in the mood for Indian food it really is one of the best Indian restaurants around. Even on a weekday evening, the place was buzzing. I am a creature of habit. I would say 99% of the time that I visit Spice of India, I order chicken jalfrezi. I want exactly what I had the last time and exactly as it’s described on the menu. And that’s what I get. From a consumer’s perspective, the key to their success is consistency and clarity.
No I’m not on commission from Spice of India!
But as someone who provides legal advice to businesses on a daily basis in my experience and particularly in this economy, clarity is the key to success. In particular, clarity when it comes to Terms and Conditions and what’s on offer to your customers.
Whether advising businesses or consumers, this is where we see many existing and start-up enterprises fall down and leave themselves open to disputes and ultimately open to litigation.
As a business you are obliged to ensure your customers know what they are getting, get what they expect and are dealt with according to industry standards and as set down in legislation. And when I speak about “Terms and Conditions” this is essentially what I’m referring to.
At some stage or another, most people have signed the dotted line without actually reading the Terms and Conditions.
But you can be sure when things go wrong most customers dig that receipt out of their wallet and start paying attention to the fine print. So get it right from the beginning and protect your business.
A few points to consider when putting Terms and Conditions together:
What exactly is the customer buying and have I made this clear in my Terms and Conditions? For example, if I walk into an electronics shop and agree to buy a flat screen TV, what exactly comes with it? Scart cables, other connections etc. Is this clear to me as a customer or do I find myself home on Friday night trying to put my fancy new TV together without the proper connections.
What about after sales service?
Am I obliged to offer a warranty?
Even if I don’t offer a warranty, what are my obligations under consumer legislation?
What if I’m trading online?
What happens if things go wrong? For example, if my TV breaks within one month, six months, one year… who bears the cost? What are the procedures for repairs, claims etc.
Whether we’re advising corner shops or multinationals the basic principles of clarity, consistency and compliance remain the same.
– Be clear
– Be consistent in how you furnish and abide by your terms and conditions
– Be compliant with the legal obligations relevant to your business
This not only makes good legal sense, but it undoubtedly makes good business sense. You want your customers to be satisfied with not only the product or service on offer but with the entire purchasing process. Happy customers become repeat customers and recommend your business to their friends, family and business associates.
So get it right and start with your Terms and Conditions.