The Fine Print: Setting Up Your Terms & Conditions for Online Sales

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The Fine Print: Setting Up Your Terms & Conditions for Online Sales

These days, online commerce is essential. As fashion entrepreneurs set up their new online shops, they often ask what should be included in their terms & conditions for  sales. For these terms, it is important to place yourself in the mindset of the consumer. What are things that you would want to know before buying a product? This blog post is going to cover a few topics that are usually in terms & conditions (sometimes called terms of use) so that you can think about the business decisions you’ll need to make for each topic. This list is certainly not complete with everything that you could place into your terms & conditions, but it will hopefully help you to think about the basics before speaking with an attorney about your terms & conditions. Once you have answered these questions, an attorney can help you with the details, and with drafting. Should you have any questions, please contact Rachel at

Placing Orders:

Let your potential customers know all the ways that they can contact you and any restrictions there might be on orders.  Is the internet the only way to place an order with your company or can they call you? Are there maximum size orders that you are willing to accept? Do you want to reserve the right to refuse an order? Will you do any order customization?


For shipping, first you want to define your shipping territory. As you think about shipping territory, consider applicable taxes, and restrictions that may be placed on your product, whether it is a legal restriction, or practical restrictions (such as potential product damage). Also, do let your customers know which third party shipping service you are using and any options available for tracking the package through the shipping service.  If you are doing flat rates for shipping, you may want to include those into this section. Finally, you may want to include how long it typically takes to process an order before shipping so that customers can estimate the arrival date before making a purchase.

Returns & Exchanges:

Unfortunately, you will eventually have a customer asking for a return or an exchange of merchandise. It is important to have a policy that your customers can reference before making a purchase, so they will know what their options are if they are dissatisfied with their orders. Will you offer refunds or store credit? Let your customers know how long you expect it will take to get the refund or credit.  Also let them know the conditions for accepting a return, such as a requirement for original tags to be attached or original receipts to be included. Finally, you’ll need to decide who will be responsible for paying the shipping fees associated with returns or exchanges.

Use of Your Content and Website:

Most websites include instructions for how visitors can use the website, and any prohibited activity. These are particularly important if users have any ability to interact with other users through your website. You also want to alert users to your interests and rights in the content, including photos.  Usually, websites allow access to content for entertainment, information, and placing orders. If you are concerned about your photos or content being copied, do make it clear that you are reserving all your rights to the content. Sometimes you may find others copying your content in an attempt to publicize your products. You may want to include a contact for press inquiries so that those wanting to share your business venture with others can request permission to use photos or content.

Payment Options 

List out the options for which a customers can make a payment. Add details such as which credit cards you’ll accept or if you’ll accept banking information for direct bank withdrawals. You also use a third party payment service, such as Paypal.  Additionally, many companies are now exploring cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin) as a payment option. Be sure to carefully write out any restrictions that you may have when accepting cryptocurrenties. You’ll also want to research the laws of where you are located and where you are shipping to to ensure there are no legal restrictions on accepting this type of payment.

In this section, you may also want to map out how you’ll accept promotions and coupons.

Finally, it is important to specify how you accept payment for taxes and the applicable taxes that may occur on a sale. Remember, for each location that you ship to, you are likely to be faced with different tax rates and taxation collection methods. Be sure to research the taxes of the planned shipment locations before offering to ship.

Complaints & Information

You’ll want to offer ways that customers can contact you with complaints or concerns. In some jurisdictions, there are laws requiring you to place this information on your website. California Civil Code 1789.3 requires the following public information from online retailers. This is only one example of a state law requirement. Check the state and local laws for all jurisdictions that you are selling in.

“(a) The name, address, and telephone number of the provider of service

(b) Any charges to the consumer imposed by the provider for the use of the service.

(c) The procedures a consumer may follow in order to resolve a complaint regarding the service or to receive further information regarding use of the service, including the telephone number and address of the Complaint Assistance Unit of the Division of Consumer Services of the Department of Consumer Affairs”.

To dispel the mystery of the third requirement, the Complaint Assistance Unit for the Division of Consumer Services and the Department of Consumer Affairs as the currently can be contacted with this information:

Mailing address: 1625 North Market Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95834

Telephone:  (916) 445-1254 or (800) 952-5210.

Disclaimers & Warranties 

This section will be very specific to your product and website. Be sure to think about what you are willing to take responsibility for and any implied warranty laws within the places that you are both selling in and making your website available to users in.

Some frequently addressed disclaimers & warranties are:

  1. Color differences based on screens and computer settings
  2. Explaining that the exact product may not be shown, but products are similar with possible minor manufacturing changes
  3. Alerting the user that errors or inaccurate information may be inadvertently within the content of the website
  4. 3rd party website links may not be secure and may also contain errors or inaccurate information
  5. The products are not intended for a particular purpose
  6. Products are sold a”as is” and there may be manufacturing defects unknown to the seller

You will also want a privacy policy which we will cover in another post. In your privacy policy, you will discuss how you collect information from users, who you give the information to, and how that information is used and stored.

If you have any questions regarding terms & conditions or would to discuss your needs specifically, please contact Rachel at