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On one of my websites, I offer access to information online. Customers pay to access this information.

Occasionally, I have a customer pay, access the information, then write and ask for a refund with an explanation something like "I made a mistake - didn't mean to order."

Now, that's a hard mistake to make. The person has to choose a service level on my site by clicking on the available options, click again to select from one of two payment processors, go to the payment processor and enter credit card and other details, then the customer is forwarded to the information wanted.

I suspect this is usually someone trying to get something for nothing - "stealing" is another way of saying it in my book.

It could be the person is not happy with the information, but I've never had anyone claim that, and if they did, I would promptly refund the money.

I'm considering implementing a fee for anyone who attempts this. If someone purchases and gets the information then asks for a refund, I will refund the purchase amount minus a "processing fee" or whatever name I might apply.

My concern is that if I just roll over and let people get away with this, sooner or later someone is going to get on a message board and brag about how he "got around the system" and instruct others to do the same.

Any thoughts?

ShelbyBoy
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I'm considering implementing a fee for anyone who attempts this. If someone purchases and gets the information then asks for a refund, I will refund the purchase amount minus a "processing fee" or whatever name I might apply.

As a consumer, I've seen it both ways. Some sites advertise their "no quibble" refund policy. Other sites quietly have a $25 or so processing fee for returns.

In my personal life, I'm leery of sites with processing fees. As a consumer, I think there are far too many sites that fatten their revenues at my expense without delivering any additional value to me. Your efforts to reduce pilfering may also reduce legitimate sales. OTOH, I'm talking about sites whose primary customers are "Joe Six-Pack" and they're selling directly to the end-user.

In my professional life, I'm accustomed to paying processing fees. For example, I may register to attend a professional conference. If I cancel my registration before 30 days before the conference, then I expect to pay a 10% or $100 (or whatever) processing fee. If I cancel my registration less than 30 days before the conference, too bad.

In my mind, the bottom line is your customer base. If you were trying to attract me as a personal customer, I'd avoid your site if you charged for returns. If you were trying to attract me as a professional customer, a return charge probably wouldn't affect me.

Perhaps one way to address the problem is to provide a free sample of your product on your web site. The free sample MIGHT cut down on the number of customers who order your product seeking something for nothing.

David Jacobs
TMFDj111
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As a consumer, I think there are far too many sites that fatten their revenues at my expense without delivering any additional value to me.

That's not the situation in my case. But since I operate several websites, I'm curious and would like for you to provide an example. My first thought is why did you pay extra if you weren't going to get any extra value - unless you didn't know that until after you paid?



OTOH, I'm talking about sites whose primary customers are "Joe Six-Pack" and they're selling directly to the end-user.

My customers are "professionals" in a particular industry. I have been disappointed from time to time in that some of them act like Joe Six-Pack. I have to constantly remind myself not to let the few bad apples ruin my impression of the industry.


For example, I may register to attend a professional conference. If I cancel my registration before 30 days before the conference, then I expect to pay a 10% or $100 (or whatever) processing fee. If I cancel my registration less than 30 days before the conference, too bad.

That's what makes this a tough decision. If you didn't attend the conference, you didn't get the information provided at the conference. In my case, the customer has the information and there is no way to get it back. See below


If you were trying to attract me as a personal customer, I'd avoid your site if you charged for returns. If you were trying to attract me as a professional customer, a return charge probably wouldn't affect me.

Take the hypothetical example of the woman who buys an expensive dress, wears it to a party that night, and returns it to the store the next day for a refund - all planned in advance. In that case, at least the woman no longer has use of the dress after she returns it. I'm selling time sensitive information - it can't be returned - it can be used after the refund is collected.


Perhaps one way to address the problem is to provide a free sample of your product on your web site.

It's really not feasible, each piece of information is unique.

A rough analogy would be one of the personal ads websites where you see a picture and short description and have to pay to contact the person. If prospective customer Bill is interested in "Wanda" but is given "Brenda's" contact information as a free sample, Bill is not satisified - maybe even a bit frustrated.

Instead of a free sample, I do offer very limited access to the information for a small fee. Using the analogy above, Bill would pay 80% less than the usual fee to get Wanda's information but no other information.


ShelbyBoy
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Any thoughts?

There are a couple ways to look at it.

Scenario 1: Some of your customers aren't happy with the value of the information that they received for what they paid, or they felt the description of what it was they were to receive didn't gel with what they got. Regardless, they (at least in their own mind) felt ripped off, so now they're seeking to make things right. And if say 1 out of 100 of your customers actually requested the refund, how many out of that 100 quietly thought to themselves "well THAT was $ down the drain" (but they never seriously considered requesting a refund just because of the hassle).

Scenario 2: You're exactly right in that this small minority of clients is indeed seeking something for nothing.

Without knowing the specifics of the information you're selliing, I'd guess it could be a little bit of both. What's "new information" to some people might be "old news" to another. And if you do indeed sell someone something they already knew or could have easily found themselves in another source, then you just can't blame them for feeling upset about it.

What I would do is first is ensure you have posted in regular sized font a no-refunds policy on the site. This would help protect you in a legal sense should your credit card processor ever have a client protest a charge. This also would probably encourage a few people to read your offer a little more carefully before they fill out that credit card form.

Second, (and maybe you do this already), make it a point to survey xx% of buyers to see if they were satisfied with the value of the information you provided. (This takes care of that segment that might be dissatisfied, but yet they never say anything). It also shows you care, and not a lot of businesses demonstrate that these days.

And lastly, for that small minority that might still request a refund despite your stated no refund policy, make them jump through a few simple hoops. If they are THAT dissatisfied and do feel that they were taken, then make it clear that you'll make an exception in their case and only their case. Refund their $ in full, but only if they explain why they are so dissatisfied about the service you provided. You might email them a PDF form they can print, fill out and fax back, but make sure that paper form forces them to be specific. If they can take the time to articulate their dissatisfaction in a meaningful way, then you've probably gained some insight into what your customers expect, and that insight may be far greater than the value of the money you're out.

james

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Some of your customers aren't happy with the value of the information that they received for what they paid, or they felt the description of what it was they were to receive didn't gel with what they got. Regardless, they (at least in their own mind) felt ripped off, so now they're seeking to make things right.


From the original post:

Occasionally, I have a customer pay, access the information, then write and ask for a refund with an explanation something like "I made a mistake - didn't mean to order."

It could be the person is not happy with the information, but I've never had anyone claim that, and if they did, I would promptly refund the money.



What's "new information" to some people might be "old news" to another. And if you do indeed sell someone something they already knew or could have easily found themselves in another source, then you just can't blame them for feeling upset about it.

I've never had anyone claim that.

Besides, it's information they can't get anywhere else. I have no competition.


And lastly, for that small minority that might still request a refund despite your stated no refund policy, make them jump through a few simple hoops.

Actually, I have tested that with success on a couple of occasions recently. I've asked them to explain to notify me in writing they will not use or share the information they obtained and I did't hear back from them.

I might have to continue that policy. Thanks for the suggestion.

ShelbyBoy
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SB,

Have you considered making one of those decision boxes that says something to the effect:

"I understand that I am going to be charged $xx.xx at this point and that there is a NO REFUND policy as the information provided is time sensitive.. etc, etc.."

From shopping online, they always give you that 'review your purchases one final time before paying' option and the disclaimer could be in that little option window- Yes, I understand and want my cc charged or No- I changed my mind

Hope that helps. I know its belated advice, but I just joined this board!

Stetson20
"Humor is FREE" (not including tax, title, shipping and other expenses- see local dealer for details)
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Have you considered making one of those decision boxes that says something to the effect:

"I understand that I am going to be charged $xx.xx at this point and that there is a NO REFUND policy as the information provided is time sensitive.. etc, etc.."



I stopped offering the subscription payments and they are gradually working their way out.

I started offering one-time payments and giving a choice of using PayPal or another payment processor - Clickbank.

About 95% of my sales now go through Clickbank. I view it as kind of "poetic justice" - PayPal wasn't merchant-friendly and they are losing potential income as a result.

ShelbyBoy
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