Running an online business, especially if it’s an eCommerce site, is very challenging, especially when it comes to return and refund, goods delivery, and everything that’s related to order fulfillment. While we want our customers happy, we can’t always do that, for one reason or another; moreover, not trying to point our fingers to our customers, some of them are using the ‘loopholes’ in the T&C (Terms and Conditions) – e.g. returning purchased products after the deadline, claiming for flaws in products even though they are caused by careless handling of the customers, etc.
Unfortunately, the same thing happens to customers; using similar loopholes, some eCommerce sites still can get away with sending faulty products, late deliveries, and other sub-par performance, such as non-existent after sales service.
To facilitate a marketplace that’s fairer for both sellers and buyers, the Government attempts to regulate things. In such an attempt, UK Government is regularly updating the consumer regulations, to which the UK online businesses need to adhere to.
This infographic by Waterfront Solicitors was released shortly after the consumer regulations update in June 2014 and lists statistics and tips for online businesses.
As an online business that sells a product or a service, it is essential that your terms and conditions are not only available on your website but are clear, precise and do not leave any room for any misunderstanding such as late payments. Late payments can be a fact of life for businesses that sell a service such as web design companies and marketing agencies for example. These types of businesses often rely on regular monthly payments that can be less of a priority for customers to pay, however with the right terms and conditions in place you can avoid slow and non existent payments and ensure that you have a legal leg to stand on should a situation with a client arise.
The terms and conditions should clearly establish exactly what agreement the customer is entering before making the purchase, it is down to the consumer to then make sure that they thoroughly read the terms and conditions available to them before entering the agreement to avoid disputes at a later date.
The exact requirements of your terms and conditions depend on the type of business you own but bare in mind the following:
- clearly define what product or services will be provided/included
- clearly state the payment terms (when payment is expected i.e. at time of purchase, monthly installments etc)
- timelines for delivery of goods or service (for example for a product purchase you would state the delivery type and time for the customer to receive the item; standard delivery 3-5 days delivery)
- the outcome if either party decides to change their mind or wants to end an agreement
- explain any guarantees or warranties that are included.
So, what do you think – are the new regulations fair? Are they helping your online business (or not)? If so, why? Please share your opinion. Also please feel free to share the infographic if you find it useful – much appreciated!