If your website sells or reviews products, you can use different product disclaimers to set user expectations and limit legal liabilities.
There are four basic product disclaimers that most ecommerce platforms use:
- product warranty disclaimer
- product review disclaimer
- product description disclaimer
- beauty product disclaimer
In this article, we’ll explain how product disclaimers work in the US, show you examples of the four main product disclaimers, and give you tips on how to write your product disclaimer.
What Is a Product Disclaimer?
A product disclaimer is a statement used by sellers, marketers, and manufacturers to let consumers know what to expect from their products or product reviews.
Product disclaimers help companies avoid legal trouble if customers misuse their products and end up with damages/injuries.
There are many types of product disclaimers but let’s take a look at the 4 common ones:
1. Product Warranty Disclaimer
This type of disclaimer states the warranty status of a product. If the manufacturer does not offer any warranty, then the sellers/ marketers should indicate the same.
For online shops and service providers, the warranty disclaimer tells customers that they are not responsible for any warranty or warranty-related claims. Typically, most of these disclaimers have the phrase “as is” and “express or implied.”
“As is” lets customers know that they’re getting the product exactly as they see it in the store or online platform. Since customers saw and evaluated the product before they bought it, the manufacturer and seller do not take responsibility for the product not working correctly.
“Express or implied” is used to protect sellers from any injuries sustained or damages incurred. Put simply, if a customer uses a ladder the wrong way and then is injured or damages their house, then they can’t take the manufacturer or seller to court for it.
Online sellers often offer limited warranties that cover any manufacturing defects or failures but do not apply to misuse, abuse, etc.
2. Product Review Disclaimer
In 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided revised guidelines that made it mandatory to disclose any compensation received to review products.
So, if you are reviewing products on a website or blog, you need a product review disclaimer or an affiliate disclosure.
Your product review disclaimer can say something along the lines of:
I have no affiliation or relationship with the supplier of this product
we are a professional review site that receives compensation for the products we review. However, we test every product thoroughly and assess them fairly….
The other type of review disclaimer is less common and seen on ecommerce platforms where customers can leave reviews.
3. Product Description Disclaimer
A popular disclaimer that sellers and platforms use is the product description disclaimer.
This statement lets users know that the descriptions and specifications of the products listed on their site are provided by the manufacturer. Using a disclaimer like this protects sellers from liability in case of manufacturing defects or inaccurate product specifications.
4. Beauty product disclaimer
Beauty product disclaimers usually focus on the product’s ingredients and proper usage instructions. They also warn of potential allergic reactions.
Sellers can use beauty product disclaimers to state that the product cannot be used to diagnose or treat actual medical conditions.
Since many beauty products deliver varying results, they usually have a disclaimer stating their claims are based on valid research, but the results may vary. For example, an anti-aging serum can claim to make you look “X years younger” but if it doesn’t work, you cannot sue the company.
Do I Need a Product Disclaimer?
Businesses need product disclaimers for three main reasons:
1. Warn or Advise Users
Disclaimers are used to advise consumers about proper product usage and storage conditions. Disclaimers often repeat important information that’s otherwise found in a site’s terms and conditions.
You can also use product disclaimers to warn users against any misuse/abuse, or caution them about specific product features (like in the case of beauty disclaimers).
2. Limit Legal Liability
Disclaimers are used to state usage information, warnings, and warranty terms or products. They can also address any specific points of liability for each product. So, if a consumer misuses a product or claims to have received the wrong one, the seller is not liable for it.
Product disclaimers can also imply third-party liability, meaning the manufacturer of a specific product is responsible for any product defects, rather than the seller.
3. Protect Your Rights
Reviewers and content creators can use product review disclaimers to limit their responsibility over how others choose to use products that are mentioned or reviewed by them.
Product Disclaimer Examples
Product Warranty Disclaimer
Ashop, a British ecommerce and shopping cart software provider, uses the following product warranty disclaimer on their site:
The language used in a warranty disclaimer is important since improper wording can make companies vulnerable to lawsuits.
Ashop has a comprehensive warranty disclaimer that includes both critical phrases mentioned above: “as is” and “express or implied.”
Product Review Disclaimer
AIW² Branding and Design provides a great example of a product review disclaimer. It is detailed and covers multiple aspects of their services:
This is an ideal disclaimer to disclose any compensation or affiliation to the supplier of the reviewed products.
It’s concise and builds trust with the readers by adding links to the exact section of the FTC’s guidelines. While this step isn’t necessary, it can show readers that you know what you’re talking about.
A detailed disclaimer can help cement your place as a trusted and impartial source for information.
Product Description Disclaimer
Avoid any legal liabilities that arise from customers’ understanding of product descriptions by using a legal disclaimer for products.
Here’s a product disclaimer sample from 3M that lets buyers know that they are solely responsible for evaluating and buying products:
Detailed product description disclaimers are especially necessary for sellers and marketers in some niches, such as electronic, industrial, or healthcare products, where minor inconsistencies in descriptions can have significant consequences.
Beauty Product Disclaimer
Beauty product disclaimers mainly focus on listing major ingredients that could lead to allergic reactions. They also list elements that some consumers might be sensitive to, along with instructions for pregnant women.
True Mindful Beauty, a store that sells cleansing oils, face masks, and other items, provides a great example of the ideal disclaimer language for beauty products:
The disclaimer is split into two easy-to-digest parts, with one-line sentences that clearly highlight allergy and safety guidelines. This makes it easier for consumers to read and understand the policies.
How to Write a Product Disclaimer
While every product disclaimer is different, here’s a basic four-step process you can use for creating your own product disclaimer:
- Identify any areas that require warnings or usage advice.
- Address these areas clearly in the product disclaimer using plain language.
- Check the language of your disclaimer for errors or incorrect statements. You can hire a professional to check this for you. For example, most product warranty disclaimers for sellers use the phrases “as-is” and “express or implied” to protect themselves from customer claims.
- Link to any pertinent laws or acts that are necessary. The product review disclaimer in the previous section, for example, states the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Online product disclaimer templates and generators make the creation of disclaimers effortless. Using an online product disclaimer generator, you can pick from a wide range of pre-made disclaimer templates and edit them to create the right one for your website.
Place your product disclaimer in a prominent place where users can access it without too much effort.
Most ecommerce websites have a dedicated disclaimers page that’s linked in their footer, header, or main menu. This page should include all disclaimers found on the website.
Create Your Product Disclaimer
Product disclaimers can help advise your customers or readers, and limit your legal liabilities.