Terms and conditions for consumers
The importance of Ts and Cs for consumers
Businesses providing goods, services or digital content to consumers are far more restricted when it comes to setting or negotiating terms than their B2B counterparts. This is because consumers are regarded as being in a weaker position and are therefore afforded substantial protection in the form of legal regulations. A vast array of consumer protection laws have been implemented over the last few decades, including the:
- Sale of Goods Act 1979
- Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
- Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
- Consumer Rights Act 2015
Keeping track of the various rules can be tricky but ensuring you have an up-to-date version of Ts and Cs which takes into account the latest consumer regulation is important to keep terms enforceable.
What kind of terms should be included in Ts and Cs for consumers?
Deciding what terms to include will be largely dependent on your type of business. Specifications for goods or services are particularly important, especially when doing business online. Detailed pricing and rights of return or cancellation should feature, as should delivery procedure where relevant. Outline the payment process and make sure you don’t include any extra charges for different payment methods beyond the amount it will cost you to process (e.g. credit card payments). It’s also a good idea to mention your data protection policy.
Making sure consumer terms are fair
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, B2C businesses must be particularly vigilant about ensuring that all their terms of trade are fair to the consumer. Any terms which cause a significant imbalance in the parties rights and obligations to the detriment of the consumer are deemed to be unfair and therefore unenforceable. Unfair terms include any, for example, which:
• attempt to prevent a consumer from taking advantage of their legal rights
(such as returning faulty goods)
• exclude the liability of your business for injury or death caused by products or services
• apply excessive payments for cancellations of a contract
Furthermore, Ts and Cs aimed at consumers need to be written in plain and
intelligible language which can be understood by the people buying your
products. You therefore need to avoid legalese and keep things clear and
straightforward. Any terms which are unclear will be interpreted by courts
in favour of consumers.
Terms and Conditions for B2C businesses can be downloaded from our Business Documents Folder. Click on any relevant templates in the list, below, for further information.