General terms and conditions are provisions that set out the rules and conditions that you want to apply to the agreements that you enter into with your customers. Drawing up general terms and conditions is not mandatory, but definitely advisable. Your general terms and conditions can cover a large part of liability issues that may arise. For a webshop, the general terms and conditions usually specify the terms and conditions of service, delivery conditions, payment conditions, guarantee provisions, right of withdrawal and the settlement of disputes. When drawing up your general terms and conditions, factor in the difference between private and business customers.
When do your general terms and conditions apply?
From a legal perspective, general terms and conditions must meet two requirements – otherwise, they may be declared invalid later. You will not be able to invoke your general terms and conditions in the event of a dispute. Let’s explain the two legal requirements:
- Prior to the agreement, your general terms and conditions must be made available to the consumer.
During or prior to a purchase, you have to show the general terms and conditions to your customer. The customer then needs to officially accepted them. The customer automatically accepts the general terms and conditions after they have seen them and makes the purchase. The general terms and conditions must always be available. Customers should even be able to save the general terms and conditions and view them again later. If that option is not available to them, you must offer them the option of sending them free of charge upon request.
Tip: Before making a purchase, remind your customers of the general terms and conditions and ask them to agree by ticking the box. You can also insert a link to your terms and conditions.
Tip: You can also ensure that an order cannot be completed before your customer agrees to your terms and conditions. That way, you can be sure that the customer has been made aware of and knows about your general terms and conditions.
- Your general terms and conditions may not contain any unreasonable provisions. The law determines whether your terms and conditions contain unreasonable provisions. Unreasonable provisions are provisions that are unreasonably onerous for your customer. The law distinguishes between provisions that are unreasonable and provisions that could be unreasonable with two lists. The two lists apply to purchases made by natural persons and not to purchases made by businesses. We’ll discuss them below:
- The black list: contains provisions that are unreasonable by default. These provisions may never be included in your general terms and conditions and are always voidable. The black list laid down by law is available here.
- The grey list: contains provisions that could be unreasonable. If you include a provision that appears on the grey list in your general terms and conditions, you must be able to prove to your customer that the provision is not unreasonably onerous. If you can’t do that, then the provision will still be considered unreasonably onerous and voidable. The grey list laid down by law is available here.
Please note that not all provisions that are or could be unreasonable are included in the lists. You are responsible for ensuring that your terms and conditions do not contain any unreasonable stipulations!
Content of your general terms and conditions.
There are various important conditions that webshops often include in their general terms and conditions. Keep in mind that some conditions may be more important to different webshops, depending on the sectors that they are in. These include:
- Delivery conditions: such as the delivery time of your products and who bears the risk of damage or loss.
- Warranty conditions: which guarantees does your webshop offer and what is the validity period?
- Payment conditions: such as the consumer’s payment period at the time of purchase.
- Terms and conditions of service: what is your complaints procedure?
- Disputes (settlement): specify which law applies to any disputes.
Drawing up your general terms and conditions.
There are no official guidelines for drawing up general terms and conditions. You can outsource this task or do it yourself. It’s entirely up to you! Here are some tips for drawing up your general terms and conditions:
- Use the knowledge of your sector organisation. Many sector organisations offer their members a standard document containing general terms and conditions. All you have to do is complete the document. Examples include Thuiswinkel.org.
- Have your general terms and conditions drawn up by a lawyer with a thorough knowledge of webshops and internet law.
- Draw up your own terms and conditions yourself. You can always check what other webshops have included in their terms and conditions for inspiration. There is also a lot of information on the internet.
- Draw up your general terms and conditions yourself and have them reviewed by a lawyer or sector organisation.
We hope that this blog has highlighted the importance of general terms and conditions. As we have mentioned, drawing up general terms and conditions is not mandatory, but it certainly helps prevent problems relating to your business. It also helps build up a relationship of trust with your customers.
If you have any questions, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 023 – 30 30 315. We’re here to help. If you would like more information on something, such as a MyParcel service, just let us know and we’ll look into it for you!