Is Your Website Refund Policy Deceptive?

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When you sell goods or services online, it’s important to have a website refund policy. And it needs to be accurate to avoid claims you’re engaging in false or deceptive marketing practices.

Because you don’t want the government coming after you, lawsuits from unhappy customers, or negative Google/Yelp reviews of your business.

What if you have a “no refunds” policy? Assuming it’s legal (some states have a “buyer’s remorse” mandatory refund period for certain purchases), then that should be clearly disclosed too so that prospective customers don’t find out after buying that it’s too late to get their money back.

Now if you do have a website refund policy, make sure that there are no hidden “gotchas.”

For example, if you charge a restocking fee for returned merchandise, that should be disclosed.

And if the customer is responsible for return shipping costs, be sure to make that clear too.

Of course, an experienced website lawyer can prepare a refund policy that’s designed to limit your liability exposure. And while you’re at it, have him review or prepare your other website legal documents (e.g., privacy policy, terms of use, etc.).

Is Your Website’s Privacy Policy Dangerous?

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If you haven’t updated your website’s privacy policy recently, it could be dangerous to your business. Because you could end up getting investigated by the government or even sued by website visitors or customers.

There are two common ways this risk arises.

First, privacy laws and regulations change often. If you haven’t updated your site’s policy in the past couple of years, there’s a good chance it’s obsolete because there are gaping holes in it that don’t reflect new privacy requirements.

Second, you’ve changed the way you’ve done business online in some way but haven’t updated your privacy policy to reflect those changes. In other words, you say one thing in your privacy policy but the way you do business online is different. This can be considered deceptive or even fraudulent despite your intent.

Now if you don’t know whether your privacy policy is creating legal risks for your business, chances are it’s time to speak with a website lawyer.

Has Google FLoC’d Your Website Privacy Policy?

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Google is testing a new tracking method for interest-based advertising in its Chrome Browser. It’s known as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC).

If you own a website, it’s important that your site’s privacy policy accurately reflect how visitors are tracked and the type of data being collected…even if you’re not the one doing the collecting.

So, it’s a good idea to update your privacy policy to acknowledge visitors to your site using the Google Chrome Browser may be tracked using FLoC.

You may also want to let visitors know how they can disable FLoC tracking in their Chrome Browser. Most won’t but it’s a visitor-friendly feature that will be appreciated by those who are concerned about their personal privacy enough to read through your site’s privacy poicy.

And if you haven’t updated your privacy policy in a few years, chances are you’ll want an experienced Internet Business Lawyer to make other changes to your privacy policy to address important new laws and regulations.

Social Media Deplatforming

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At the time this article is being written, the Florida state legislature is considering a bill that would fine large social media platforms up to $250,000 per day for deplatforming political candidates.

Why is this proposed law being considered?

In the past couple of years, there’s been trend of suspending or terminating the social media accounts of politicians whose views are different from those of the platform owners and their employees. Perhaps the most notorious was the case of former U.S. President Donald Trump involving his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

To be clear, there’s no First Amendment speech protection that applies to social media platforms. Those free speech rights are targeted against government censorship, not social media companies.

And it remains to be seen whether social media platforms will be able to successfully sue to strike down any federal or state government restrictions imposed on their ability to discipline political candidates.

If the Florida bill becomes law and is upheld by the courts, it sends a strong signal that one cannot censor social media to favor some political candidates at the expense of others.

It’s important to note that the proposed legislation is written is such a way that it targets only the very largest social media sites. However, that’s the camel’s nose under the tent on this issue. One can easily see it being applied in the future to small social media sites and even blogs that permit comments.

If you own a social media platform, the safest path right now is to: (1) have a set of rules for users; and (2) apply those rules uniformly to users. Don’t play favorites.

And if the rules protecting political candidates become too draconian, you may want to consider banning candidates from having accounts rather than spend a small fortune for regulatory compliance.

Don’t Let Your Domain Name Lease Expire

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I went to the URL for a local company I’ve done business with for years. The site had disappeared because they had let the domain name expire.

Fortunately, I had the owner’s cell phone number to let him know so that he could renew the domain name. But if one of his competitors had registered the domain name before he got it, that would have been a disaster.

And he doesn’t know how much business he’s lost while the site was down.

So, how did this happen?

Like many website owners, he thought that both site hosting and domain name registration were a single thing, not two separate expenses. When he recently renewed the site’s hosting plan, he failed to pay to renew the domain registration fee.

How do you avoid this fiasco? Here’s a few tips.

  • First, register your domain name for a longer period of time (e.g. 10 years).
  • Second, using a contracts manager, add a reminder for when the registration is about to expire so that you can ensure it’s timely renewed.
  • Third, set up registration for auto-renewal with auto billing. However, you can’t solely rely upon this because your payment method (e.g. credit card) may no longer be valid when the current term expires.