You’re ready to launch an online business called Funflix, a virtual playground for kids where they can buy super cool games and play for hours.
But before you press the “go live” button, have you ever considered whether you can actually sell stuff to people under the age of 18 without an adult’s consent? Oh.
In this blog, we explain how contracts work, whether you can sell to minors and what you can do to ensure that your contracts stick.
The rundown on contracts
First things first, a contract is a legal agreement made between two or more people to do something in exchange for something valuable (i.e. moolah).
For a contract to be valid, you need to have these four things:
- An offer: Person A offers something to Person B. In other words, Funflix offers games for kids to play for $10.00 each.
- Acceptance: Person B accepts the offer made by Person A. For instance, Person B agrees to pay $10.00 for the game that Funflix offers.
- Consideration: Person B pays Person A in exchange for a good or service. Funflix receives $10.00 from Person B and gives Person B the game in return.
- Capacity: Person B must not be under the age of 18 and fully comprehend their rights and responsibilities under the contract.
Can I sell to minors?
I bet you read point 4 above and thought to yourself, “What the heck? I’m screwed”.
Well, the problem with selling items to minors through your online business is that they don’t have legal capacity.
People under 18 years of age can only enter into contracts for necessities (think food, medicine, housing) or education (i.e. apprenticeships) if they’re fair and benefit them in some way.
Now, friend, you could limit this problem by refusing to do business with anyone under the age of 18 but this is difficult to police annnnd sorta impossible, unless you’re in every kids’ lounge room ensuring that someone over the age of 18 is signing off on their purchases!
Never fear! We’ve got your back. There is no need to pull the plug on your online biz as we’ve got some helpful hints to ensure that you protect the business you’ve worked so hard to create:
- Put a guarantee somewhere on your site/platform – Ensure that a parent, guardian or someone over the age of 18 guarantees that the minor has been permitted to buy your goods or services.
- Fix your online terms and conditions on your website – Include a clause in your T&C’s that deals with selling goods or services to minors. If yours currently doesn’t have this, no stress. Let's have a chat, we can definitely help you with that.
If you need anything to help you stay legally legit, you know where we are.
Riz McDonald is an e-commerce business owner, business coach, podcaster and a lawyer for over 16 years. She’s also a mum and a lover of good wine...she only ever drinks the cheap stuff when she’s stoney broke.
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This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance. It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.
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