5 Templates for Dealing With Terms of Service Issues

Richard Moy Richard Moy · 5 min read

Feel free to tweak these templates slightly, but above anything else, make sure that each of your responses puts the customer first.

When it comes to Terms of Service, people tend to fall into one of two camps. You either accept them without thinking twice, because you know you have to. Or, you agonize over every line before you even consider accepting any terms. Although a Deloitte study found that 91% of consumers don’t even read terms of service agreements, they’re still a lightning rod topic around the world. Some journalists have gone so far as to call Terms and Conditions the biggest lie in technology.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re going away anytime soon. Neither are customer complaints. Even if you have the most ironclad legal document on the planet, it’s really important to handle each customer interaction with care—especially when someone is unhappy with your terms of service.

While each customer interaction is unique, a carefully crafted email template can help you resolve any complaints. So, we’ve put together a few templates to help you deal with the trickiest Terms of Service issues.

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Responding to Customers Who Violate Your Terms of Service

Unfortunately, we have a feeling that you’ll need to use this template often. And in many cases, you won’t be using it to respond to someone who has written in.

There are two keys to responding to customers who violate your terms of service. First, be explicit about the violation. Don’t make the customer dig for the specific line or bullet point that they didn’t adhere to, and make the consequence abundantly clear. Second, be brief. You don’t want your message to get lost in a wordy email.

The template below will help you achieve both goals in this scenario:

Dear [customer name],

When you created your account on [insert date of creation], you agreed to our TOS [link doc]. Part of those TOS includes not [insert violation(s)].

As such, we are issuing a formal warning. If you continue to use our service in a manner not in agreement with our TOS, we will suspend your account.

If you have any further questions, simply respond to this message and we’d be happy to help.

terms of service

Responding to Customers Who Require Clarification About Your Terms of Service

It’s no secret that even the most straightforward terms of service can be difficult to understand. But that’s exactly the point—the terminology is already difficult to comprehend, so when the font is small or the quality of the document isn’t clear, you’re bound to hear from a few unhappy customers.

Here’s a really simple, but effective template you can use whenever someone is frustrated by the readability of your terms of service.

Hi [customer name],

Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention. I’m happy to help clarify a few of those points for you.

[Insert clarification about any TOS points]

Secondly, we understand that these documents are difficult to read and are always looking for new ways to make them easier to comprehend. I’ve passed this feedback on to our legal team so that customers in the future don’t run into the same questions.
Again, we thank you for bringing this to our attention. If you have any additional feedback to help us optimize our agreement documents, please let us know.

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Responding to the Customer Who Couldn’t Find Your Privacy Policy

Data privacy has been a hot-button topic since 2018 when GDPR legislation changed the way companies around the world handled customer data. Nobody was exempt from making sweeping changes to how they processed, shared, and purchased customer data. And as GDPR made international headlines, customers became acutely aware of how companies could (and had) used their personal data for business matters.

In the past, privacy policies were buried in Terms of Service documents. Today’s customers expect more—and if your privacy policy is difficult to find, the best course of action is to admit your failure and redirect them to the information they’re looking to find.

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Hi [customer name],

Thanks for getting in touch! I’m sorry to hear our Privacy Policy was tough to locate. Our organization takes your privacy very seriously, and we definitely want to make that document easy to find!

To read more about our commitment to privacy, click here: [insert a link to your privacy policy]

We are also working to create a separate PDF that outlines our Privacy Policy. You should expect to see that in the coming weeks. If you have any additional questions or feedback, please let us know.

Responding to The Customer Who Didn’t Read Your Terms of Service

OK, so let’s get one thing straight. Technically, this isn’t your fault. As we stated before, a large majority of people don’t even bother reading terms of service before agreeing to them. But when they find something about them that they dislike, the blame naturally falls onto you as the service provider. That makes it tempting to turn the conversation and respond by redirecting the blame. After all, the customer didn’t read the document, right? How is this your fault?

But it’s really important to resist that urge. In fact, the opposite approach will help you smooth over the interaction and improve your chances of retaining them. Here’s a quick email you can send whenever a customer is angry about something they agreed to, but never read.

terms of service

Hi [customer name],

Thanks for letting us know about your concerns regarding our Terms of Service. We regret that this was not clear when you read the document and we’re working to make the language across our entire ToS easier to comprehend.

Regarding your concern, these conditions are in the document because [create a few scenarios that a customer might complain about]. We do this to provide the best possible experience with our service, but are always looking for new ways to optimize our terms and conditions.

If you have any other concerns, please let us know, and thanks again for bringing this to our attention.

Responding to Customers That Don’t Want to Sign Your Terms of Service

Over the last few years, people have been working to debunk long Terms of Service documents. In 2012, one developer built a website geared towards people who wanted to understand what they were agreeing to without actually reading anything.

That brings us to one reality: Many customers will be unhappy at all that your Terms of Service even exists.

To overcome this simple, but major objection, here’s a template that should help your customers understand why Terms of Service are so important.

Hi [customer name],

Thanks for your note. We understand your concerns about Terms of Service agreements and have worked hard to create a set of terms that protects you as much as it protects our company.

That being said, we understand the history of ToS documents and how many of them are impossible to understand. Rest assured, we work incredibly hard to prioritize your best interests when we draft documents like these, and we take feedback like this very seriously.

In order to continue using our service, acceptance and adherence to the Terms of Service is required.

Please feel free to continue to raise concerns like these, as we are constantly updating how we approach our Terms of Service.

Final Thoughts

Terms of Service agreements will continue to be a hot-button topic for years to come. Most customers will sign them, but they’ve also become more aware of what they’re signing—and in many cases, they might refuse to do so without a little more clarity from you.

These templates were built with the modern consumer in mind, who will grow increasingly critical of them over the next few years. Feel free to tweak these templates slightly, but above anything else, make sure that each of your responses puts the customer first.

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Richard Moy Richard Moy

Rich is a writer, editor, and stay-at-home dad based in New York. Previously, he was a content marketer at Stack Overflow, where he covered the latest in technology, advertising, and hiring. His work can also be found in publications such as Fast Company, Business Insider, and Inc., among others. 

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