Can Terms and Conditions Be Changed for Websites?

Having a business is great. Having a successful business is even greater. As your business grows, so are the demands and requirements to ensure smooth operations and continuous growth.

With that, you may come into question about changing your terms and conditions to make sure it reflects your current state of business.

However, can terms and conditions be changed for websites once customers have already accepted them?

In this article, I’ll explain the risks and consequences of unilaterally changing terms and conditions and provide some best practices for making changes to your terms without any negative consequences.

Let’s dive in!

  • Update terms & conditions regularly to maintain relevancy and comply with laws; review at least annually.
  • Avoid unilateral changes; inform customers in advance, provide clear explanations, and set an effective date.
  • Prioritize user experience; make changes simple and straightforward for easy customer understanding.

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Can Terms and Conditions Be Changed for Your Website?

Yes, terms and conditions can be changed for your website. In fact, it’s a good practice to review and update them regularly to ensure that they accurately reflect your business and comply with any changes in laws and regulations.

For example, if you decide to offer a new product or service, it’s important to update your terms and conditions to cover it. Other common changes include adjusting payment terms or handling customer-related issues.

Don’t hesitate to make changes as needed to keep the terms relevant and effective.

PRO TIP: I highly recommend that you review and update your terms and conditions at least once a year to ensure relevancy and compliance with laws.

Can You Unilaterally Change Your Terms and Conditions?

Unilaterally changing terms and conditions means that you make changes to your website’s terms and conditions without informing your customers in advance.

I obviously wouldn’t recommend this approach because it can not only cause legal problems but even damage your reputation.

If you make a change to your terms and conditions without notifying your customers, they may feel that their trust has been violated and you may lose them as customers altogether, not to mention that you may also face legal challenges.

ALSO READ: Sample Terms and Conditions Template for Websites

Best Practices for Updating Your Terms and Conditions

Having worked with numerous online businesses helping them draft and review their websites’ terms and conditions, I’ve seen my share of silly and sometimes downright unacceptable things some of the businesses do.

It made me wonder if they even read their own terms before publishing them.

To help you avoid becoming one of those businesses, here are some of the things you can do when updating your terms and conditions:

Notify Customers of the Changes in Advance

Inform your customers of the changes you are about to make to your terms and conditions prior to making them. This can be done via email or some kind of pop-up notification on your website.

By providing plenty of advance notice, you give your customers sufficient time to review the changes and understand any possible implications.

Provide Clear Explanations of the Changes

From my experience, people appreciate transparency and appreciate it when businesses are upfront about any changes. This helps build trust with your customers and create a positive relationship with them.

Don’t try to be sneaky by using jargon or complicated wordings. It’s actually a good idea to provide a bullet-point summary of the changes to make it simple for your customers to understand them.

Set an Effective Date for the Changes

Setting an effective date for the changes is important to ensure that your customers have time to review the changes and decide if they want to continue using your services.

By providing a specific date when the changes will take effect, you won’t rush anybody to read the new terms right away and can avoid misunderstandings.

Make Changes With User Experience in Mind

When making changes to your terms and conditions, it is important to keep the user experience in mind. I have seen numerous instances where complicated changes have caused confusion and frustration.

So, it is essential to keep them as simple and straightforward as possible to ensure that customers can understand them easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I review and update my website’s terms and conditions?

It’s recommended to review and update your terms and conditions at least once a year to ensure relevancy and compliance with laws.

What are some common reasons for updating terms and conditions?

Common reasons include offering new products or services, adjusting payment terms, or handling customer-related issues.

How should I inform my customers of changes to my terms and conditions?

Notify customers in advance through email or a pop-up notification on your website, providing them sufficient time to review the changes.

How can I ensure a positive user experience when updating terms and conditions?

Keep changes simple and straightforward, set an effective date for the changes, and prioritize clear communication with customers.

Joao Vitor Sales, CIPP/E, CIPM, GRCP, OneTrust Fellow

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Joao is a privacy professional with a unique skill set and certifications that encompass legal, cybersecurity, and technical expertise. Having worked with companies of all sizes, from startups to Fortune 500 corporations, he’s dedicated to helping individuals and businesses navigate the ever-changing landscape of technology and privacy laws including HIPAA, PIPEDA, GDPR, CCPA, POPIA, LGPD, ePrivacy Directive, and more.