Terms and Conditions
In the digital era, many new products or services are delivered or provided online or via apps. These online tools provide entrepreneurs with invaluable and easy access to huge potential markets. You only need to consider some of the world’s most famous app successes such as Snapchat, Uber or Deliveroo to see how online markets can help to get your business off the ground.
However, do you know the rules or risks associated with providing digital products or even just your company’s website?
App and Web T&Cs are not necessarily the same
The critical difference in relation to T&Cs between apps and websites is the way users access them. Users will visit a website and have access to its content, material and features without first reviewing or accessing the terms. By contrast, the app industry requires a user to download an app and potentially make an account before the user can access or use the content made available via the app.
The requirements to properly set out how you will manage data that you collect from users will become even more critical with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018. Please see here for further information on GDPR.
Incorporation / Battle of the Forms
Once you have all your policies in place, it is vital that the terms of these documents are accepted and incorporated in your interactions with users. If they are not correctly incorporated or agreed to by users then they will not govern the relationship between you both and this would instead be subject to statute. As noted above, apps tend to require the user to actively download your app or create an account of some form. It is, therefore, very important that a copy of the relevant policies are made available to a user on the app store before downloading, so that the act of
hitting ‘download’ amounts to acceptance of the terms. By way of example, you may have noticed many apps appear with a pop up box before download commences, showing the user the T&Cs and offering them an ‘I accept’ button. Early incorporation is particularly important if you’re asking users to provide personal data as a part of the registration process to use your app. The terms governing the use of this information need to be available beforehand and not once the user has already input the information.
made available, typically at the bottom of the webpage.
For terms of sale via a website it is crucial that these are shown to the user during the checkout process before the user proceeds to hit the ‘pay now’ button. This can be done by way of link and for confirmation a tick box confirming that these terms of sale are accepted.
It’s not just about compliance
Your T&Cs and other policies are an opportunity to set out in clear express terms how your product or offering will work, what you expect from your users and what they can expect from you. It can even be an opportunity to create brand value and favour with users. For example, some companies, such as John Lewis or M&S, are well known for offering customers above and beyond the statutory return rights and having ‘quibble free’ returns policies to give customers greater confidence in buying their goods. Web terms are also great opportunity to offer something more to the user than their statutory rights, such as free delivery/extended returns, price matching with competitors or extended warranties and guarantees.
If you want to discuss getting your website or app compliant with the necessary terms and policies, or if you just want to discuss how commercially they can work for you. Please contact Kirsty Simmonds, or you can give us a call on 0345 070 6000.