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Provider 911: Don't Use TOS Generator for Your Hosting Business

Provider 911Every now and then I look at a provider’s site and find a  Terms of Service that was generated by the infamous TOS Generator.

If you’re not familiar with TG, it’s a web site where you can fill out a few pieces of information and then it spits out a form-filled Terms of Service for you to use on your web site.

While there are plenty of legit places to get legal forms done (besides going to an attorney’s office), TOS Generator is free.  Needless to say, using this copycat form as the legal basis for your relationship with your customers is insanity, but you’d be surprised how often TOS Generator shows up.

Here’s an example I just did for Dead Pool Hosting.  They conveniently make the text available for copy/paste (including HTML).

The actual TOS is not only wholly unsuitable for a hosting company because it’s a TOS designed for a web site.  It’s terms and conditions for using that web site, not for your entire business.  So if you have a landscaping business and you want to put up a brochure-type web site, this kind of TOS governs someone reading your web site, not all the business aspects of signing up for service, exactly what work will be done, how payment will be made, etc.

Most real hosting companies have TOS that spells out in loving details all the details about payments, suspensions, cleanup fees, SLAs, jurisdiction, etc.  TOS Generator does none of this.

Yet you’d be surprised how many fly-by-night hosts use TOS Generator as their entire TOS.

Some of the Amusing Terms

Not only is TOS Generator not suited for a hosting company, the actual document they deliver is not quality work.  Let’s look at a few sections.

By accessing this Website, accessible from http://www.dead-pool-hosting.com, you are agreeing to be bound by these Website Terms and Conditions of Use and agree that you are responsible for the agreement with any applicable local laws.

So it generates a document called Terms of Service…and then refers to it as “Website Terms and Conditions of Use”.  We’re off to a grand start.

Permission is granted to temporarily download one copy of the materials on Dead Pool Hosting’s Website for personal, non-commercial transitory viewing only.

Read literally, that means you can visit the web site exactly once.  And then you must scrub your cache.

Also, you’re only allowed to come view the site as a once-in-a-lifetime art appreciation experience.  Your use must be “non-commercial” so don’t come to the site expecting to sign up for hosting.

These Terms of Service has been created with the help of the Terms Of Service Generator.

Yes, it inserts an ad for itself in the TOS!  Some hosts remove this…some don’t bother to read the TOS it generates for them and the ad remains.

even if Dead Pool Hosting or an authorize representative of this Website has been notified, orally or written

A grammar checker would have caught that.

Please read our Privacy Policy.

There’s another option on TOS Generator to generate a PP.  Full service!

Any claim related to Dead Pool Hosting’s Website shall be governed by the laws of us without regards to its conflict of law provisions.

Get out of here, mortal.  It’s the LAWS OF US that will decide, and we will disregard our own provisions!

Actually, this is a TOS Generator bug.  What happens is that instead of printing out “United States of America”, TOS Generator erroneously prints out the country code.  I decided to relocate Dead Pool Hosting to Vatican City and got this:

Any claim related to Dead Pool Hosting’s Website shall be governed by the laws of va without regards to its conflict of law provisions.

This gets into some strange sentences:

  • Indonesia: “shall be governed by the laws of id without regard…”   So forget your ego and superego, this contract is only governed by the id.
  • Macao: “shall be governed by the laws of mo without regard…”  Apparently the Simpsons bartender will rule.
  • Morocco: “shall be governed by the laws of ma without regard…”  I guess I’d rather have my mother adjudicate than Mo.
  • Panama: “shall be governed by the laws of pa without regard…”  Same.
  • St. Martin: “shall be governed by the laws of mf without regard…”  Watch your mouth!
  • Virgin Islands: “shall be governed by the laws of vi without regard…”  Thank God it’s not the laws of emacs.

So what have we learned?

  • If you’re going into business, a few bucks to have a pro do your core documents is table stakes.
  • People who try to get a free TOS online end up looking foolish.




1 Comment

  1. That’s hillarious, but scary for them—I’d hate to think of what it would be like for them to have to go through that, line by line, in a court battle…

    January 26, 2023 @ 10:53 am | Reply

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