TIME TO UPDATE YOUR TERMS & CONDITIONS OF SALE?
Many business owners think of Terms & Conditions as the tiresome fine print that customers should be given in the hope that nothing will go wrong, but the business owners are reluctant to take the time to get them right. One small business owner put it like this:
To save time and money, I pinched a set of Terms and Conditions from a competitor, combined that with something I found on an American Internet site that sells the same product
If that’s the approach you’ve taken, you’ve done yourself a major disservice.
Terms & Conditions are critical documents and can assist a supplier when typical issues arise such as:
- the customer is late paying.
- worse still, the customer goes bankrupt or becomes insolvent.
- there’s a complaint about the quality of the goods.
- the customer refuses to pay for the goods and wants to return them long after they were delivered.
Unfortunately, many businesses fail to ensure their Terms & Conditions are up to date or adequate to deal with these issues.
With a little foresight and by allocating no more than 30 minutes to ensuring your Terms & Conditions are up to date and Australian law compliant, you can ensure that you’re protected when common legal issues arise.
How do I know if my Terms & Conditions are out of date?
Do your Terms & Conditions or trading agreements give you a specific right to register a “security interest” on the Personal Property Securities Register? The Register was set up under the Personal Property Securities Act 2009 (Cth) and many older Terms & Conditions fail to include the terms that a supplier requires for efficient protection under the Act.
Do your Terms & Conditions refer to the Trade Practices Act 1974? If so, you’re probably in trouble. Remember, people were wearing flares back in 1974 and while fashion has changed so too has the law. The Act dealing with consumer rights is now known as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 so if your documents still refer to the old legislation they are probably out of date.
Are your Terms & Conditions up to date with the Australian Consumer Law? This law made sweeping changes to consumer rights and took effect on 1 January 2011 as part of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
How can I update my Terms & Conditions?
Download a Terms & Conditions template from Legal Zebra and spend a few minutes customising it to suit your business. If you sell fashion, furniture or other wholesalers goods on credit, try the Terms & Conditions for Wholesale Supply of Goods.
A supplier can quickly tailor Legal Zebra’s Terms & Conditions template to suit their needs by specifying details such as:
- payment terms
- interest charged on late payments and
- other details that relate specifically to the supplier’s business.
We appreciate that you want to keep your legal documents simple and you want to ensure your customers understand and accept them with a minimum of fuss. That’s why we’ve provided a short, sharp one page Terms & Conditions template. You can put this on the back of your invoices.
To make sure customers accept your Terms & Conditions, you can have them confirm their acceptance by signing an Account Application Form. This document is also useful for obtaining key details from your customers, like their ABN, so you can check whether they are properly register. And, references on their trading history so you can assess whether they pose a credit risk.
You never know when a company you are supply goods or services to might not pay you because the company becomes insolvent. To guard against that risk, you should seek to get a Personal Guarantee from the directors of the customer's customer. Legal Zebra provides a simple one page Personal Guarantee Form you can add to your new customer sign up package.
KEEP YOUR TERMS & CONDITIONS UP TO DATE
- Terms & Conditions are critical if a customer is late paying, goes bankrupt/insolvent or there is a dispute about the quality.
- Ensure you have the right to register a “security interest” on the Personal Property Securities Register introduced in 2009.
- Stay up to date and comply with the Australian Consumer Law.
- Use Legal Zebra's templates to create Terms & Conditions for Wholesale Supply of Goods, get a Personal Guarantee from your customer's directors and prepare an Account Application Form.