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The Official T.O.S. Post

As Artists_Beware is always looking for ways to help our members continue to better themselves and their fellows, we are bringing you another all-encompassing advice post! Today's topic: Terms of Service.

Feel free to post your answers to the following questions, and whatever other TOS advice you can think of!

1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
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sigilgoat
Dec. 7th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Contact information, typical art process, changes allowed, refund information, shipping info.

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
I have no idea, haven't figured this one out yet!

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
I have mine on my FA journal with a link in my header and on my profile page.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
I should be keeping mine on googledocs as well! That's a great resource for forms, spreadhseets and documents.

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Artist

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
No refunds ever

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
Easy to read, clear and consise, friendly attitude while still protecting themselves.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
Large gaps in important information such as queue times, refund ability and so on. Naiive or overly protective air where I feel like I'm a criminal before I've placed an order.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
Most of my TOS has come from experience, watching others or this community, so I'm glad we have this entry now to kind of distill down all that stuff!

For those of you who are curious, here is my own TOS, which I have heard is a good one. I still need to do a bit of updating as some of it is a little wordy, but here ya go c:
http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/790554/
skysealer
Dec. 7th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
In regards to your no.2 (although of course it's not a sure-fire way to make sure they've read the TOS) I sometimes make a remark to the customer to make sure that they have 'read and agreed to the TOS' before I go into any details or price quotes of the commission contract.

I typically do this for new customers who admit to being first-time commissioners, younger commissioners, etc.
puppetmaker40
Dec. 7th, 2011 07:17 pm (UTC)
Please make sure that your TOS has some way to contact you that is CURRENT and when you change how you should be contacted, then please change it on your TOS
tanginello
Dec. 7th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
REFUNDS!!! Payment policies (ie. when you are expected to pay and how), how re-drawing a sketch or changes are handled (ie. when it is okay to request changes, how much you are allowed to request be changed before you get charged extra).

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
Maybe you could hide a secret phrase in there. Honestly, I have never had a problem since putting mine up so I just assume people read through it while they're checking prices.

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
Mine is on the FurAffinity journal as my commission prices, so you have to encounter it anyways if you want to see what I offer. (Kekekekekeke.)

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
Anywhere you take commissions. I think people really hate having to navigate to a different site to check things, so I try and keep everything together.

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Artiste

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
I'm not sure. But if you put a "I can cancel whenever I want" clause in there, I guess that's pretty awful.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
Concise and to the point. Wishy-washy or long-winded info makes me nervous.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
See: I can cancel whenever I want/I never give refunds/who cares about turnaround.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
None, really! Since putting up my TOS I've had slightly smoother commission processes, but that's about it. Looking forwards to hearing advice from everybody else.
grandioze
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:17 pm (UTC)
What about if an artist says they can cancel whenever they want and refund the money if the client is causing problems? I have something like that in my TOS draft so that I'm not forced to work with a client who is being extremely rude, impatient, demanding, picky, etc. etc. etc.
(no subject) - tanginello - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grandioze - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gaaralover85 - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grandioze - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - amocin - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
fenrirs_child
Dec. 7th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Any and all policies you want to be able to refer someone to if there's a problem. Refunds, wait times/deadlines, contact info, repost rights if you do art, etc.

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
I have mine as a checkbox on my quote form, with a link to my TOS right there with it. If that box isn't checked, you can't submit a quote! Easy-peasy.

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
See above. It's also a tab on my website for easy any-time access for anyone curious.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
I have mine on my personal website, because I don't trust FA for anything important like commission info or personal info.

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Artist/craftswoman

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
No refunds ever, no contact, no repost rights, etc.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
A well thought out, professionally worded TOS that makes me feel that a professional person will be the one doing the commission.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
An overly emotional, flecked with emotes, poorly spelled confusing mess. Bad grammar always makes me skeptical of someone's level of competence, though this is sometimes excusable for international artists with a language barrier.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
I feel well-served by my TOS, even if there may be some arbitrary points in there that may turn some people off to commissioning me. I feel safe to say that those who wouldn't be comfortable with the terms listed there I'd not be comfortable working for anyway, so I'm not too worried about it. Overall, I feel a TOS should accurately present guidelines for how the artist would be most comfortable working, so customers can know right up front what to expect, and not have either party be surprised after the transaction is already underway.

My TOS is here, I don't mind people taking inspiration from it, but please don't just blatantly copy it, I worked very hard to get it where it is!

http://www.fenrirschild.com/tos.html
beetlecat
Dec. 7th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
I want to address ToS which are heavily weighted to the seller's side. Remember that they were there to protect BOTH the buyer and seller.

In addition to explaining what you DON'T do and-here-are-the-rules-you-must-abide-by-or-I-will-take-legal-action I like it when they explain what the artist WILL do and what rights they agree to afford to the customer. It shows that this is likely to be a very fair and happy arrangement where the customer does not feel cowed and worried about addressing issues later on (which can hurt the seller in PR and failing to realize quickly enough what things need to change).
temrin
Dec. 7th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
sigilgoat
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
While we do appreciate these types of lists, we're trying to get entries from people with personal experience with these sorts of things, and with more information. Unfortunately some information on there is incorrect, or outdated. For example, there is no listing of how Alert Pay currently cannot accept credit cards, or that Dwolla is US only.
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - temrin - Dec. 7th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sigilgoat - Dec. 8th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC) - Expand
clockmagic
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
I kind of want to answer this too. :x

1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Process , limitations? (What you can or cannot do), *I can't think of the word right now* average wait time?, payment method, refund info, shipping, contacts,

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
Ask them to confirm they've read it at the end of your TOS? I do not know, I read before I agree to anything. :s

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
Email, website, journal page. Best if someplace everyone can see it.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
I wouldn't know. Same answer as #3?

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Customer 'orz

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
No updates or W.I.P pictures on anything?, no refunds, I can quit if I can't handle it kind of clause.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
Easy to read, does not come off as rude

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
Ones that do not make sense, unprofessional tone, and no contact listed

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
I do not have a TOS as I am just a customer. Do I still answer this?
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - clockmagic - Dec. 10th, 2011 08:15 am (UTC) - Expand
amocin
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:54 pm (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Contact inofrmation, samples of art and price quotes, refund information, will not do list, shipping info, expected time frames.

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
My terms of service are located right under my commission information, so it is all on one page. There is no way to make sure they have read it, but when getting their info one should ask "Do you agree to the terms of service?" and make sure that they stated 'Yes'.

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
In the template that you get commissioner info from.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
With your commission information/price guide. On an FA journal or somewhere within the site that is easy to get to and find. Like in your profile information, or your featured Submission.

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Artist

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
No refunds, making it difficult for users to contact you during the process, no changes/edits allowed at any time.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
Easy to read and follow, even more so if they offer you a date they will be streaming the commission so you can help during any editing process. Polite in their way of speaking about what they will and wont draw.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
Not having a TOS at all, not allowing edits during any point of the process, super long turn around times (a couple of months). Things that show any kind of rude behavior towards future commissioners, for example "I hate drawing females, so dont bother asking." When it could be stated "I am unfamiliar with the female bodies, and at this time I am not accepting commissions with them in it."

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
I have forgotten my own a time or two, but it has never been on anything big that created an issue. My TOS was mainly made with the advice of others who helped me fill in anything that was important and needed mention.

I have seen many TOS's that are a little harsh with their 'will not draw' list. It should just be a list, not a list with a min-rant attached as to why they wont draw such and such.
celestinaketzia
Dec. 7th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
I am genuinely curious as to why people are leery of the "I reserve the right to cancel at any time and issue a refund." clause? I have it in my ToS and I generally keep it there just in case of emergencies on my end or a customer is difficult.

I've never had to issue a refund, but I thought it would be good to have there. Or should I specify that I will only cancel if I am having an extreme personal emergency or if a customer is being overly rude?
clockmagic
Dec. 7th, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
I am wary of the ones that do not offer a refund of any kind personally. I have seen a few written like that and even asked if a refund was possible and just not mentioned.
(no subject) - houndofloki - Dec. 8th, 2011 01:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestinaketzia - Dec. 8th, 2011 02:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
eski
Dec. 8th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
You're free to copy mine, I just commented below you!
eski
Dec. 8th, 2011 12:02 am (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Your process/what a client should expect, protection/transference of rights for both the artist and client, cancellation clause, some payment details (if you require up front money, or anything as such), what is required from the client other than payment to begin work, what content an artist will/will not handle or depict.

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
Make a digital signature required, or make sure they have a link to it wherever you do business, and ask if they've read it all (require a clear direct answer for this that you can save for your records).

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
Link in commission sign-up journal, put in your online store's information, email link or form directly to clients.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
formsite.com/
blogspot.com
livejournal.com
Any reliable online journal hosting
Your own website

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Artist

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
Any clause that strips the client or artist of their legal rights for the transaction, or puts an unfair hardship on either party.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
A thorough well thought out TOS without any "attitude" laced in the words.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
One that clearly strips me of my rights as a client, or perhaps a TOS that has a lot of defensive emotional wording.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
I can link my TOS, which everyone is free to take inspiration from or outright copy!

http://fs12.formsite.com/Eskiworks/form724230382/index.html

I also think it's really important to stick to your guns on your Terms of Service, even if a customer is getting uppity about it. Just remain polite and professional, and remember that your TOS is for your protection AND theirs.
gaaralover85
Dec. 8th, 2011 08:31 am (UTC)
I have to give you a personal thank you, your TOS was a base for mine, and it helped wonders with clarifying certain points, which people always seem to niggle with me. So thanks wolf-nymph! You're a star <3
(no subject) - skysealer - Dec. 10th, 2011 05:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - eski - Apr. 30th, 2012 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - roanoah - Jul. 14th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
loganberrybunny
Dec. 8th, 2011 12:03 am (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
What you will/won't draw, refund policy, how best to contact you, reposting rights (it's amazing how many artists leave that one off), changes, shipping/postage if applicable -- very much including international if you're advertising globally.

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
Ask me! A friendly query of the "And you've read my TOS and are okay with it all?" type is absolutely fine.

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
This sounds a bit suspicious of me, but ideally somewhere it can't silently be changed after the initial agreement -- so sending me a copy by email would be great even if it's also on your FA journal.

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
Wherever's obvious. If you're offering commissions on FA, then I'd like to see a copy of the TOS on FA.

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Customer.

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
A bald "I don't give refunds" will ensure I don't give you business. If you fail to provide what I'm paying for (assuming I'm not the one at fault) then I expect my money back.

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
A TOS that's easy to read and understand, written in good, clear English. If you're selling art, even for $5, you're a professional artist, and if you come across as though you appreciate that then I'll respond to that.

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
As well as the converse of the above, anything which suggests that a person doesn't appreciate that not all potential customers are American. If you only want to offer commissions to the US, that's no problem. If you advertise to the world, agree to draw me (in the UK) a picture and then tell me I'll have to pay $10 over the odds for shipping, that is a problem.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
Nothing that really stands out. I'm not a prolific commissioner, and the few problems I have had haven't been TOS-related.
houndofloki
Dec. 8th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain:
Subject matter you will and won't draw, how many revisions, cancellation and refund information, how to get ahold of you, typical turnaround times

2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service:
Put it towards the bottom of your commission form, or copy-paste your ToS to the bottom of the email or note you use to reply to their commission inquiry

3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service:
The two ways I already mentioned, linking it in the FA/DA journal you announce your commission openings, etc

4. Places to host a Terms of Service:
Google docs, whichever art site you're using to accept commissions

5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman?
Both :p

6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable?
Unprofessional - anything overly emotional, whiny, or defensive. Things to the effect of "I don't agree to deadlines and I'm finished when I'm finished"
Unenforceable - no refunds ever

7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person?
Clear, concise, and professional language, polite demeanor, clear estimation of turnaround time

8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person?
"I reserve the right to cancel at any time and issue a refund less my fee for work already done" - I was burned by that one.

9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad:
The above mentioned. I had an artist cancel a $40 commission due to family problems, give me a refund minus the "work already done" fee (the refund I got was $20) and then give me a sketch that was barely recognizable as any character, much less mine :p It was useless to me, and I hadn't agreed to purchase a rough sketch anyway, and the whole thing was kind of annoying - so now I'm leery of that clause.
onesteptwo
Dec. 8th, 2011 02:55 am (UTC)
If the artist uses a form site to get their information all in order, why not have a question at the end that says "And the dinosaur is which color?" In the TOS, just simply state somewhere that "My favorite dinosaurs are the purple ones".

That way the commissioner needs to fill it out and if they don't answer it, you can know they didn't read your TOS. Just make sure not to make it its own paragraph so that it's not easy to skim through and find.
crazy_onna
Dec. 8th, 2011 01:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe even making that hidden sentence a picture file, or mispelling the key word within the ToS so that they can't cheat by using Ctrl+F
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Dec. 9th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC) - Expand
myenia
Dec. 8th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
1. Subjects that Terms of Service should contain: Clarify your legal rights, even if they're already enforced, so there can be no confusion...Include exactly what your prices include...include your return policies..."In sending payment, you are agreeing to these terms of service, which will not be superceeded by any other terms unless agreed upon in writing." Unfortunately I've seen commissioners write up a "ToS" for their characters and then expect artists to abide by them. Yea right!
2. Ways to make sure customers have read a Terms of Service: Have clear links to your ToS any place you offer commissions, specify that by sending payment they are agreeing to the terms of service.
3. Ways to deliver a Terms of Service: On your website or any other online location. I print the link to my ToS on the back of business cards I have at cons and make sure customers take one. It is their responsibility to read or just "check the box and click "I agree.""
4. Places to host a Terms of Service: Online.
5. Are you a customer or an artist/craftsman? Artist.
6. What kind of clauses would you consider to be unprofessional/unenforceable? IMO, if its in your ToS AND the customer agrees to your ToS prior to initiating a commission, anything is fair game. It may be insanely stupid, but if both parties agree, then that's that.
7. What TOS content would encourage you to commission a person? ToS that limits both the commissioner and the artist, holding both to certain standards of behavior. Particularly clarity around payment, refunds, delivery, and the file management (exact clarity around what the commissioner can do with the product), so that the customer does not have to ask for it.
8. What TOS content would discourage you to commission a person? The lack thereof. If its flimsy, or claims too many restrictions or rights on one side or the other. A good ToS should give structure to what is expected out of both parties.
9. Any other TOS experiences, good or bad: I've had commissioners try to show me THEIR ToS for their characters, claiming they own the copyright. I've also had some that believe they own some kinds of rights to the image they commission. Since this is a major pet peeve of mine, (misguided entitlement), I clarify the laws in my ToS, even though I don't legally have to. This is because furries are a little (incredibly) stupid when it comes to understanding their own ownership of their characters and of the art they commission. In fact, the only reason I bothered replying to this is because I wish more artists would make this more clear. I've even heard artists, who are equally ignorant of the laws, encourage these issues and give up their own rights to their own artwork because of this rampant misconception!

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