Terms and conditions are an essential part of any business that trades.
It is especially important to businesses that trade online. This is because the terms and conditions provided to your shoppers are part of the contractual process when making purchases.
When the shopper progresses through your site to purchase they should be presented with the terms and conditions of your business.
At the bottom of the terms and conditions your shopper should, ideally, be required to “tick” a box to indicate they have read, understood, and agree to the terms and conditions on your site before progressing to complete the purchase.
We would also advise that the shopper should not be able to progress beyond the terms and conditions before the page has fully loaded.
If this doe s not occur you are allowing the shopper the chance to progress through to purchase without having fully read your terms and conditions.
You should also present your terms and conditions in a format that can be easily saved, or printed. Avoid displaying your terms and conditions in pop-up windows, and ensure they fit your web page correctly.
Although there is no responsibility on your business to ensure each shopper has read your terms and conditions, following the above advice will demonstrate that you have made reasonable effort to bring them to the attention of your customers.
It is also helpful to include a term similar to:
"By clicking the 'Accept' button you agree to these terms and conditions. By completing and submitting the following electronic order form you are making an offer to purchase goods which, if accepted by us, will result in a binding contract."
The words, "if accepted by us," are very important.
You are free to add the terms and conditions to your site however you see fit.
The above method is classed as the “best practice” approach for relaying the terms and conditions to your shoppers, and ensuring they have been read.
We know that this is not the best customer experience to be shown a screen full of small text in the middle of a normal shopping experience.
A number of retailers offer a “second-best” approach to the way in which the terms and conditions are displayed to their shoppers.
This is to include a link directly to the terms and conditions on the website, along with including a tick box on the main screen shoppers must select to state they have read, and understand the terms and conditions before proceeding forward.
This approach, although not as legally secure as the first method but is acceptable in a number of purchasing methods.