Terms and Conditions Change Notice: Always Notify Your Customers

Imagine you’ve spent countless hours fine-tuning your website’s terms and conditions to ensure your online business remains legally protected and transparent. However, as your business evolves, so do your policies, and you find yourself needing to update those critical terms and conditions.

The question is, how do you go about informing your customers about these changes without causing confusion, frustration, or even losing their trust?

In today’s increasingly connected digital world, your customers value transparency more than ever.

In this article, I’ll dive into the importance of sending a terms and conditions change notice, the potential consequences of neglecting this step, and effective ways to communicate policy updates to your customers.

Let’s get started!

  • Notice of terms and conditions change is necessary to ensure legal compliance, customer trust, and enforceability of the agreement.
  • Failing to give notice of change can lead to legal disputes, customer confusion, and a loss of trust, negatively impacting your business.
  • Notify customers of policy changes via email, website notifications, or app notifications, and allow them to opt out or close their accounts.

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Why Do I Need to Send a Terms and Conditions Change Notice?

Providing a change notice is not just a good practice. In many cases, it’s legally required. In countries like the United States, the law requires businesses to notify customers of any changes to their terms and conditions. Failure to do so can result in legal consequences.

The ESIGN Act mandates that businesses must provide customers with a “clear and conspicuous statement” of any changes to their agreements and obtain customer consent to those changes.

Beyond legal compliance, a notice of change also demonstrates transparency.

It builds a foundation of trust with your customers by showing them that you value their trust and are committed to being transparent about any updates to your policies. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and retention.

Additionally, it can help ensure the enforceability of your agreement. If you make changes to your policies without informing your customers, those changes may not be legally enforceable in the event of a dispute.

By providing an advanced notice, you’re giving your customers the opportunity to review and agree to the updated terms, which can help protect your business in the long run.

PRO TIP: When creating a change notice, make sure it’s written in clear and concise language that your customers can easily understand. Avoid using legal jargon or technical terms that may confuse them.

Consequences of Not Notifying Your Users

Failing to provide any notifications can have serious consequences for your business. Not only is it a legal requirement in many countries, but it’s also essential for maintaining trust with your customers.

ALSO READ: Terms and Conditions Template and a List of Required Clauses

Here are some of the potential consequences of not providing a change notice:

Legal Disputes

If you make changes to your agreement without notifying your customers, you could be opening yourself up to legal disputes. In the event of a disagreement or misunderstanding, customers could argue that they weren’t aware of the update, which could put you in a vulnerable legal position.

Customer Confusion

Without being notified, your customers may be unaware of any updates to your policies. This can lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and even frustration, which could negatively impact your business reputation.

Loss of Trust

Customers value transparency and honesty from businesses. Failing to notify your customers can disrupt trust and make them feel like you’re not being transparent about your business practices. This can lead to a loss of customer loyalty and potentially negative reviews.

For example, let’s say that you’re a subscription-based online business that recently changed its billing practices. If you don’t let your customers about it, they will likely not be aware of the new billing terms.

This could lead to confusion and frustration, and potentially cause customers to cancel their subscriptions.

In contrast, by keeping them in the loop, you can ensure that your customers are aware of the updated terms, which can help build trust and maintain positive customer relationships.

PRO TIP: In the U.S., Federal and several state laws offer protection to consumers from unfair, deceptive, and fraudulent business practices. Hiding unusual terms deep in the fine print of your agreement could be considered misleading. Make sure your terms are reasonable and fair.

How to Inform Your Customers of The Changes in Your Terms?

Once you’ve decided to make changes to your terms and conditions, the next step is to effectively communicate these updates to your customers.

In this section, I’ll explore different methods used by successful online businesses to notify their customers of any changes to their policies.

Email Notification

One of the most common methods for notifying customers of changes to your terms and conditions is through email. Send a clear and concise email outlining the changes, the effective date, and what actions customers need to take, if any.

"Update to the Twitter Terms of Service" clauses on email notification.

Website Notification

Posting a notice on your website can be an effective way to inform customers of any changes to your policies. Make sure the notice is prominently displayed on your website and easy to find.

"About the updates to our Terms" clauses in Airbnb website.

App Notification

If you have an app, consider sending a push notification to notify customers of the changes. This is a great way to reach customers who may not check their email or visit your website regularly.

You can also prompt users to review and consent to the updated terms before they continue to use the app.

"WhatsApp is updating its terms and privacy policy" clauses on app notification.

PRO TIP: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires you to include in the notice any changes that were made in handling consumer data or acquiring additional info from your consumers.

Regardless of the method you choose, you must allow customers to opt out or close their accounts after receiving notice, which gives them the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to continue using your service under the updated terms.

When notifying customers of changes to your terms and conditions, it’s important to be transparent and clear. Make sure customers understand the changes and what actions they need to take.

Additionally, make sure the notice is easy to find and prominently displayed.

Finally, be responsive to any customer questions or concerns that may arise. It will help build trust with your customers and maintain positive customer relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to provide a change notice when updating terms and conditions?

A change notice is essential for legal compliance, demonstrating transparency, building trust with customers, and ensuring the enforceability of your agreement. It helps maintain customer loyalty and retention.

What are the consequences of not sending notifications for terms and conditions updates?

Not notifying your users can lead to legal disputes, customer confusion, and a loss of trust in your brand. This can negatively impact your business reputation and result in a loss of customer loyalty.

What are some methods to inform customers about changes in terms and conditions?

Some methods include sending an email notification, posting a notice on your website, and sending a push notification through your app. Ensure that the notice is clear, concise, and easy to find.

How should businesses handle customer consent when updating their terms and conditions?

Customers must be given the opportunity to review and agree to the updated terms. Allow them to opt out or close their accounts after receiving notice, so they can decide whether to continue using your service.

What should be included in a terms and conditions change notice?

You should outline the changes made, the effective date, and any required customer actions. It should be written in clear, concise language and avoid legal jargon or technical terms that may confuse 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.