Terms and conditions: 13 scenarios you might not have considered
You’ve got that sinking feeling in your gut. This project isn’t going well. Your client keeps changing their mind and you’re spending way more time than you had allowed. They can’t expect you to do all this extra work at no charge, can they? Well, unless you told your client this situation wasn’t covered in your quote – yes, they can.
Enter: terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions are much like the rules of a game. They let everyone know the basic parameters in which they must operate and how all the players interact.
When I started Copywrite Matters I had about five terms and conditions nicked from, I mean ‘inspired by’, examples I found online. As I started working with more and more clients, I encountered specific scenarios that pushed the relationship into murky water. I crave clarity and find that clear expectations make life so very easy. So each murky situation resulted in a new T&C.
We both knew the process should something go astray, and the general expectations and boundaries of the relationship.
Benefits of T&Cs
If you’ve ever wondered if you really need terms and conditions, here are three big reasons why they’re a must.
- They boost your professional image.
- They are good risk management practice, which should keep your Indemnity insurance costs down.
- They clarify what happens in challenging scenarios, helping to settle disputes faster and more amicably.
Here are some tips on creating your own terms and conditions (or terms of service) and some scenarios you might not have considered.
Tips on creating your T&Cs
Make sure they are clear. This is not the time to get all highbrow with your language and pretend you’re a legal eagle. Ultimately, you want your client to understand their responsibilities, and yours.
Make sure they are comprehensive. You don’t need to cover off every single possible scenario but you should cover the most common areas of change or challenge.
Here are 13 scenarios that you might not have considered.
Does your client need to send you anything before work can commence?
Some examples are written approval of your quote, a deposit, reviewed or approved project brief, specific information about the business, or a nominated contact person.
What happens if the project scope changes?
As you and your client start digging into the details and ideas start to surface, project scope changes can enter the picture. Copywrite Matters requests the right to requote based on new project requirements. The key is to let your clients know any extras ain’t free!
What happens if the project is cancelled after work has commenced?
You might charge your client for the full amount, or just for the work that has been done.
What are your payment terms?
Your T&Cs are a great place to outline your payment terms, especially what happens if the client doesn’t pay within the payment terms specified and what happens if you incur a debt as part of your debt collection work.
Are there any specific circumstances or charges for “urgent” work requests?
It’s quite common to charge a surcharge for “urgent” work, offering you two benefits. Firstly, the client may just rethink how “urgent” the work is, taking the pressure off you and, secondly, you are compensated for any work you’ve had to put off.
Are you happy working with teams or do you prefer one contact person?
Copywrite Matters requests that one contact person is nominated to centralise project contact and revisions. This one came about after I was getting phone calls and constant requests for updates from five different people!
Do you have any limits on time frames, such as how long clients can take to respond with approval or revisions?
Copywrite Matters has a 30-day cap on revisions to ensure each project is wrapped up in a timely fashion. This time limit helps everyone involved, copywriters and clients alike, stay focused enough to ensure the end result is amazeballs.
What happens if you can’t meet the agreed deadline (for whatever reason)?
A common response to this one is to let the client know in writing as soon as the situation is known, with revised delivery dates. Your client may want recompense for late delivery so be prepared to handle this.
Do you offer any guarantees of results? If not, spell this out.
Copywrite Matters doesn’t offer any guarantees on conversion or traffic, etc. This is because there are so many factors that contribute to successful marketing– from the graphic design and distribution to other marketing activities and how nice the receptionist is when people call.
Is there any exclusion your client should know about?
Copywrite Matters quotes don’t include liaising with other agents such as graphic designers, web developers and so on, or meetings outside of the initial brief. These might seem like little things but they can really eat up your time if they blow out.
Do you work with subcontractors?
If you do, it’s good to let your client know in your T&Cs and give them assurance of your quality control. You might want to explain if your client can, or cannot, contact subcontractors.
Do you hand over or retain copyright of the work undertaken? If you hand it over, at what point?
Copywrite Matters retains copyright of all work produced until the final invoice is paid. Until then, the copy can’t be used.
Are you responsible for how your work is used?
Copywrite Matters has a statement indemnifying us from claims, costs and expenses incurred as a result of the work we undertake at the request of a client. I’m not sure how it would stand up in court but I know the indemnity insurance companies like it!
So there you have it – 13 scenarios that might help you flesh out your terms of service. I’d love to know if you cover off any different scenarios in your T&Cs.
The Copy Detective