Let’s talk about one of the most dreading things in internet marketing – refunds.
If you are selling lots of products, refund requests become increasing frequent. Quite frankly, they are inevitable. Even if the products you put out are of extremely high quality, you will still get refund requests for one reason or another.
Sometimes, the product just isn’t right for them.
Sometimes, the purchase wasn’t intended.
And sometimes people just want to steal your work and then get their money back.
Whatever the reason, the result is almost always the same – you end up with less money at the end of the day. However, refunds are not something you should spend a lot of time worrying about, because they can be delt with quite easily. Here is how I personally deal with refund requests, and what I’d recommend you do as well.
1. Have A Clear Refund Policy
Everyone selling products online needs to have a clear refund policy that is easy to understand. This refund policy should clearly and concisely cover when and a product is eligible for a refund, and when it is not. This needs to be established before you make your first sale so you can point to it when refund requests arise. This will be your savior.
If you are selling a product through a third-party service, you have a lot less control over refunds because these services often have their own refund policies that you must comply with.
The week I published my Kindle course, I had two refund requests from people who had fully watched the course and reaped the benefits of doing so. Normally, I would never issue a refund to anybody who watched (and probably downloaded) all of the material. However, because I was selling my course through Udemy, they set the refund policy. Both of them received full refunds per Udemys’ 30 day money back guarantee. This was annoying, but not upsetting.
2. Don’t Get Upset
Remove all of your emotions from refunds. This is just another part of business, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Often times, there are a lot of good things that can come from refunds.
First of all, you’re removing somebody from a product they may not like for one reason or another. I would much rather issue a refund than end up with a poor review on one of my products. If somebody doesn’t like something I offer, I want to give them their money back. I don’t want them to be stuck with the product, that just hurts both of us.
Secondly, if somebody genuinely doesn’t like your product, this is a great opportunity to talk with them further and learn how your product can be improved. Some people give really great advice and hearing about the bad parts of your product can not only allow you to improve that one, but improve all of the other products you create in the future as well.
3. The Money Isn’t Yours
You’ve made a sale. Great! You’re probably excited about that extra bit of money that should be waiting for you at the end of the month. Unfortunately, that money is not yours yet.
That money is not yours until the buyer is no longer eligible for a refund.
For people selling digital products, it doesn’t make much sense to offer a really long money back guarantee, because it forces you to tie up so much money that isn’t truly yours yet. And guess what? If people end up needing money for some reason down the line, you’re going to be one of the first people they turn to because they probably think you’re an easy target. This is why refund requests always spike dramatically during the holiday season.
4. Recognize Serial Refunders And Get Rid Of Them
Serial refunders are also a part of doing online business, but they are becoming more and more abundant because people aren’t dealing with them correctly.
Serial refunders are people who buy products, use or download them, and then ask for a refund. They do this over and over again, fully expecting to get away with it. If you try to uphold your refund policy, they will threaten you and do everything in their power to get you to give in.
You can’t let them. If you have a clear refund policy, you need to uphold it. If you give into them, you are encouraging this sort of behavior.
Serial refunders are easy to recognize. They will always download the product before asking for a refund. Their excuse as to why they want a refund will always be extremely vague, stating something along the lines of, “I changed my mind.” or “It wasn’t what I thought it was.” When you ask them how your product can be improved, they dismiss your question or ignore it completely.
Again, serial refunders are a part of doing business, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a part of your business. If I suspect somebody is a serial refunder, I remove them from my email list and ban them from ever buying any of my products ever again. These people are not worth your time and you don’t want them sending you money – you’ll always have to send it back.
5. Be Professional
9 out of 10 refunders are not out to abuse your policy, steal your work, and cause you damage. Most people are honest and would not request a refund if they did not have a good reason to. You want to leave the door open for these people, because maybe they’ll end up buying something from you later in the future that is more suited to their needs.
Be nice to the customer when discussing the refund. Thank them for trying it out. Wish them well. If they hated your product, oh well. Don’t make them hate you too.
How do you handle refund requests when it comes to your business? I’d love to hear how our strategies differ, and the knowledge you can share with us can allows us to provide better service to our customers.
We’re looking forward to what you have to say!
Great Article James! I’m getting ready to launch a physical product in August and I was wondering how others handled refunds. Part of my product is custom made, still not sure how I will handle that. I guess I need to get to work on my refunds and returns policy!
Great to hear about your business. Honestly physical product based businesses are not my area of expertise but I know that many of the concepts here will apply to your business as well. Personally if something is unusable after it’s sent back (which sounds like it may be the case if it’s custom made) than I’d try to have a strict refund policy because that can really cut into your profits if refunds end up becoming a huge issue.
On the upside, I’d imagine product based businesses tend to have a lower rate of refunds because the buyer would have to take the time to repackage and ship back the product. If your product is good of course I’m sure the inevitable refunds won’t be a problem for you.
Thanks for commenting Kristina and if there’s ever anything I can help you with please let me know!
James McAllister recently posted…In Business, You Can Only Ever Rely On Yourself