One time to look before you leap | TOS agreements

As an online entrepeneur involved in affiliate marketing, you no doubt have had to encountered the phrase, “I acknowledge that I have read and understand the terms and conditions” or something like that.  This all means that by clicking the little square at the bottom of the page prior to signing up as an affiliate with whatever company, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms and conditions outlined on the applicable document.   Just reading one of these things can be a sure fire cure for anyone with an insomnia problem.  But be advised that the time you take to review these agreements as they can contain many provisions with legal ramifications, is time very well spent.  I was recently getting ready to sign up as an affiliate with a company when something told me inside that I should take the time to review the “service agreement”.  Now these are usually way too difficult to absorb just by reading them on the computer.  So I took the time to print the document in it’s entirety and then got out the handy-dandy highlighter along with my reading glasses.  I was very interested when I came upon some new clauses that I had not seen with any previous service agreement I had read.  One of them mentioned something referring to not enabling “tracking code” to obtain personally identifiable information of visitors.  We all know how much of a sensitive topic that personal privacy is these days.  Another mentioned the need to fully disclose the use of third party technology including that of the company as well as the use of cookies and the options for discontinuing the use of such cookies.  All this talk of cookies was enough to make anyone feel “kooky.”

Finally, it was mentioned that if it was determined that a period of account inactivity had elapsed, thereby rendering the account “dormant”, the company would have the option to close my account.  This was enough to make me stop dead in my tracks and decide to contact the company with some questions prior to signing up just so that I would have the confidence of at least knowing I made a legitimate attempt to understand everything that was involved.  Maybe I should sign up for one of those pre-paid legal programs that offers document review as a service.  Seeing this made me remember other agreements I had reviewed and saw that some of them mentioned the additional monthly charges involved (that would take place automatically, of course!) after a certain amount of time had passed.  Needless to say, I was relieved that I had come across that prior to making my final decision.   So even though reading these potentially lengthy documents can seem a bit frazzling, the end result may be an unsavory situation being avoided due to not being aware of everything involved.  Don’t think of the time spent reviewing terms of service agreements as an arduous and mundane task, however think of it as time spent in the proper preparation for beginning a new (and hopefully very profitable!) business venture.  But be aware, this post is not meant or intended to be construed as professional legal advice. (I just HAD to say that!)

Best wishes for your entrepeneurial success!

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