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Terms of Use and Terms of Sale for Single & Subscription Sales

September 2016

It is hard to believe that buying goods online was once the exception rather than the rule. In a comparatively short space of time, however, this is precisely what has happened. Even customers who opt for the brick and mortar store are all-too-often told (often somewhat casually) “you can order it from us online”. For the customer seeking instant gratification, this can be frustrating, but the simple fact is that while a shop is constrained by the capacity of its shelves and stock room, the online retailer is much less restricted.

Online selling can be advantageous for businesses in many ways. Lower set-up and operational costs, quicker and cheaper order processing, a wide geographical audience, quick and secure transactions, a broad array of online marketing tools, and efficient access to a range of useful customer data (if properly managed) are just a few of the many significant advantages to plying one’s trade online rather than on the high street.

Selling Online - The Legal Stuff

Consumers in the UK are protected by some key legislation. Of particular importance is the Consumer Rights Act 2015. In addition, for e-commerce customers, the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 set out important information requirements and the all-important “cooling-off” period. Other examples include the Data Protection Act 1998, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, and the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

It is important that consumers are made aware of their rights and obligations (as well as your rights and obligations as the trader) when they buy something from you. If you are trading online, this will include their use of your website as well as the actual sale of goods. Having terms of use and terms of sale in place is vital, in addition to other key documents such as privacy and cookie policies. Your terms and conditions (collectively) should aim to address every aspect of your relationship with your customer and should do so in language that the customer will understand, keeping legalese to a minimum.

New and Updated Sale of Goods Website Terms and Conditions

To help you provide the best user experience to your customers, we have updated our existing business-to-consumer sale of goods website terms and conditions (including both terms of use and terms of sale).

The terms of use template has been thoroughly reviewed and has received a number of small but useful alterations to its wording, improving clarity for your customers. Similar changes have been made to our other website terms and conditions templates and will be rolling out later in the year.

The terms of sale template now includes an optional “goodwill guarantee”, allowing you to enhance your customers’ basic legal rights (for example, by extending the 14-day cooling off period to a longer term of your choice). It is important to remember that traders cannot cut back on consumers’ legal rights, but there is nothing stopping you from going beyond them, and many do, particularly where the cooling-off period is concerned. A number of clauses throughout the template have also been updated with more detailed provisions designed to explain your customers’ rights and obligations more clearly.

In addition to the updated template, a new variant has been created, designed for use in situations where customers will receive regular deliveries of goods on a subscription basis. Under this popular business model, customers can now easily receive regular shipments of anything from healthy snacks (naming no names!) to shaving products. This kind of selling means that additional matters should be addressed in your terms of sale, dealing with important points such as future changes to your products, delays or temporary suspension in delivery, ongoing customer payments (and in particular what will happen if the customer is late paying for a particular instalment), and customers’ rights to end their subscriptions (including situations where they may wish to end them early). Our all-new template does just that. For those who wish to engage in good old fashioned one-off sales alongside subscriptions, the new template continues to apply and includes the same provisions for one-off sales as its updated companion described above.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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