A dog lover set up a pet care service in a town swarming with pet owners desperately needed someone to care for their beloved animals when they went away for weekends or on holiday. The dog lover and newly self-made entrepreneur knew that although people love their pets, they can’t spend every waking hour with them – there was definitely a gap in the market for pet care. She set up a day care and boarding business for pet owners. Her business was a tremendous success without any competition in her town, but she ran into difficulties with her clients because there was no formal agreement that protected her company, the pet owners and their pets. Because hers was a small company, she decided to draft her own terms of service with the help of Google search and plenty of experience running her own business.
Although it sounds impressive to show your clients you have the capacity to draft your own terms of service, that capacity lies with a legal expert. Your expertise is with the services your company provides, not with law. If you’re not a qualified solicitor, what serious problems do you think your company will come up against with amateur terms of service signed and countersigned by your clients?
And all because you thought you could write your own company’s terms of service without the help of a qualified solicitor.
Your terms of service need to be very comprehensive and cover aspects of your business that will affect you and your clients, but they also need to help build your clients’ confidence in your services. For instance, one clause, or rather, one paragraph of the pet care company’s terms of service informed the client that they would charge the client for a brand new car seat if their dog chewed or caused any damage to it. This of course left their clients very uneasy because they couldn’t supervise their own pet when out with its carer. Common sense would dictate that it was the carer’s responsibility to make sure no harm came to both the dog or their property, because it was out of the dog owner’s power to keep the pet carer’s property protected. If the pet carer’s company ended up in court with the pet owner because of damage to property, they would really stand no chance of winning the case against their own client. And what would be the repercussions whether they won or lost the case? Would you want to pay for services by a company that takes its own clients to court over something outside the client’s power? By Sandra Garcao
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