Kenji

Website Policies

General Information

For businesses with websites or an app it is important to have a well-designed and thought-out set of website policies. Every website should have Terms of Use and a Privacy Policy. If your website is also selling products, physical or digital, it is important to have a Refund and Returns Policy. Many payment processors require this as part of their agreement to process your payments.

Collectively your website policies:

  • establish your relationship with the users of your site,
  • explain any information you collect and how you use, store, and protect user information, and
  • explain your online store’s refund and returns

Although it may be tempting to use free website policy templates or copy another site’s, because of the crucial role they play in your website it is important that your website policies are carefully crafted for your unique business needs. An experienced Kenji attorney can help you develop or update a set of website policies that are fair to the business and its users and are legally binding.

Terms of Use

Terms of use (ToU) establish your relationship with the users and set the rules for use of your website or mobile application. They are also commonly referred to as terms of service (ToS) or terms and conditions. Depending on the type of website, terms of use can range from a simple disclaimer to full user agreements.

Terms of use are particularly important for websites that rely on user-generated content, such as social networking sites, or handle transactions, such as e-commerce stores. When terms of use are properly thought through and drafted they can constitute a legally binding contract between the business and the user.

Terms of use frequently include sections pertaining to:

  • User acceptance
  • User rights and responsibilities
  • Ownership of user content
  • Acceptable & unacceptable use
  • Payment details
  • Opt-out information
  • Account termination procedures
  • Disclaimers
  • Limitations of liability
  • Privacy Policy incorporation
  • Modification procedures

It is important to ensure that your website’s terms of use are properly drafted and implemented so that they are enforceable with users. Improperly designed or implemented terms of use can be unenforceable, as some major businesses such as Safeway and Zappos have found to their dismay. Additionally, it is important to maintain and update a website’s terms of use, making sure they remain accurate and properly protect the business as it grows.

Privacy Policy

A privacy policy explains what information a website collects and how it uses, stores, and protects user information. Though it technically is a section of the Terms of Use, because the Privacy Policy is important and can be lengthy it is frequently set out as a separate document, incorporated into a website’s terms of use.

Website privacy policies may include sections pertaining to:

  • What information is collected
  • How collected information is used
  • How information is stored
  • How information is protected
  • If cookies or other tracking software is used
  • Situations when info may be disclosed to third-parties
  • Use by children
  • Disclaimers

While there is no generally applicable law in the United States governing privacy policies specifically, it is an important part of a well-run business and website. It is important to note that there are some federal laws governing privacy policies in specific circumstances.

Returns & Exchanges Policy

A good returns and exchanges policy can help protect your business and gain customers’ trust. A website’s returns and exchanges policy lets customers know what to expect if there are questions, problems with the goods or they need to make an exchange. Clearly setting reasonable, fair expectations can not only limit potential disputes, but can help increase sales. Over 50% of consumers check returns policies before purchasing.

It is important that the language used is clear and concise. If you offer exchanges or store credit, let your customers know in plain English. Making your returns and exchanges policy easy to find is also important. This not only leads to a more professional looking website, but helps drive sales as consumers know they can trust the website.

While it may be tempting to copy another website’s returns and exchanges policy or use a free template, they are not one-size-fits-all. Your business is unique, your customers are unique, your returns and exchange policy should be customized to fit that unique situation.

Browsewrap vs. Clickwrap

There are two types of online agreements: 1) “browsewrap” – where the terms of use are linked to at the bottom of the webpage and 2) “clickwrap” where the user must click an “I agree” box.

Many sites rely on browsewrap type website policies, which are easy to implement. Although many sites rely on a browsewrap agreement, they can present serious issues when a business tries to rely on them because there is no clear manifestation of user notice or assent. Many times a user may never scroll to the bottom of a website and see the footer containing the website policy links. Browsewrap agreements can provide some protection to the website, but because they do not necessarily provide clear notice to users there are potential enforceability issues.

Clickwrap agreements provide much clearer notice of and agreement to a policy because a user must actively click a box before moving on. Therefore, clickwrap agreements provide more protection to the business and are generally easier to enforce. While clickwrap agreements provide better enforceability, they must be implemented correctly and use well thought-out language. An experienced Kenji attorney can help with developing your website’s policy and advise on proper implementation to ensure your website is protected.

Costs

Cost vary depending on the type and length of the policy, attorney rates, attorney experience, and necessary turnaround time, among other considerations. If you simply need a terms of use reviewed and commented on it will be much less than if you need an attorney to draft a full set of website policies.

Since each business and agreement is unique, with Kenji you can now easily request custom proposals from vetted attorneys and find the best one for your business – saving you time and money.

FAQ

Do I have to have a terms of use, privacy policy, or refund & exchange policy?

Best practice is to have a set of website policies designed for your unique site. Additionally, many third-party services, such as GoogleAdWords and payment processors, require that you have these policies and clearly display them.

How often should website policies be updated?

Website policies should be updated whenever there is a change in the business model, operations, or other changes to the business. Quarterly reviews of your website’s policies to ensure they remain accurate and will protect your business can help identify when they need to be updated. Unfortunately, many businesses implement their policies when the website is first set up and forget about them, only updating the policies after the business is adversely impacted by their outdated policies.