Positive Terms & Conditions earn their keep

| January 12, 2010

Terms & Conditions can be a genuine force for commercial good… as long as they’re written with your customers in mind.

When T&C go wrong

T&C are almost always legal gobbledegook, often lifted wholesale from a template. From a communications perspective they’re criminally poor. Which is a shame. Every communication is an opportunity to promote your business. In a world packed solid with dodgy dealers, positive, honest, transparent Terms & Conditions can be powerful marketing magic. The thing is, most lawyers would probably advise you to leave your T&C well alone.

The solution – How to get terms and conditions right

  • provide a plain language version of your T&C for people to read in tandem before signing up to the legal version. Say something like: Because our Terms & Conditions are legally binding, they’re difficult to understand. We think it’s nice to know what’s what, so here’s a plain English version.

or

  • summarise each term and condition in plain English above or below the legalese. Say something like:  Because our Terms & Conditions are legally binding, they’re difficult to understand. We think it’s nice to know what’s what, so we’ve summarised each section in plain English.

or

  • Take the view that your T&C are a formality. Some terms and conditions are just common sense written in legalese. For example when you join a forum it is usually a condition that you don’t swear at your fellow members. There’s absolutely no need for simple concepts like good manners to be expressed in legalese.

or

  • If you’re 100% risk averse, say what the hell and get a good copywriter to create a palatable document that means the same as the legalese – but communicates it properly.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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