Customer Return Request - WWYD

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by amd, Aug 28, 2018.

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  1. Aug 28, 2018 #1

    amd

    amd

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    Today I received a message from a customer who ordered through Etsy. The message says that while she thinks my soaps are adorable, she can't use them because they have an animal product (tallow) in them. She's asking if she can return the product for a refund.

    I do currently have Etsy's generic return policy listed on my store (my bad, I meant to update to my actual return policy, but never did).
    upload_2018-8-27_20-3-33.png
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    Now I would be be ok with this... but ... I do list all of my ingredients on each of my listings so she should have known that there was tallow in it before she bought it.

    What would you do as a business owner, or expect as a customer? (I'm only asking because, as stated in a previous post today, this week I'm a jerk and I'm not apologizing for it. So if this is a jerky move to not do the refund, I'd like to know.)
     
  2. Aug 28, 2018 #2

    DeeAnna

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    Your refund/return policy is quite clear. It doesn't say anything about the customer being required to accept responsibility for having read the ingredients list, so you don't have a leg to stand on regarding that point.

    Smile through gritted teeth and do what it takes to honor your stated policy to the letter. My guess is you risk bad reviews and potentially having your store shut down if you don't follow through.

    Consider it a lesson in the school of life. I've had a lot of those running my small (not soap) biz over the years.
     
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  3. Aug 28, 2018 #3

    Obsidian

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    Since the policy says you'll gladly except returns, I feel you need to refund this customer.
    Its better to deal with unreasonable customers in a positive way. You don't want to get a bad review for lousy customer service.
    You need to update your terms asap to what you want them to be. Personally, I would only do refunds for damaged or mislabeled goods.
     
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  4. Aug 28, 2018 #4

    Dahila

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    Few days ago my customer brought opened facial lotion. I had refund her because I had not info in my booth that not refund of open products. Now I do and it is good size, In years or selling nobody brought lotion back, or even complained, She told me that she suffers with Lupus and this is why she could not use. Now I will ask even more questions before selling I gave the money back and threw cream into garbage can
    Check if your ingredient list is up to date and ask people to check it for allergies, So you do not have surprises like that.
     
  5. Aug 28, 2018 #5

    cerelife

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    I don't think you're being a jerk at all since you clearly listed 'tallow' as an ingredient in your soap, and you DO have that 'hygiene' portion in your policy.
    But as a business owner myself, I would offer to replace her soaps with non-animal fat soaps (if you offer them) in lieu of a refund. And request that she give the soaps she received originally to a friend/family member/co-worker who doesn't mind animal fat in soap with your blessings and your contact information. This way you have a happy customer and maybe some new customers who love your tallow soap.
     
  6. Aug 28, 2018 #6

    Relle

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    I tried to return sunscreen to a retail shop(only because I could get it 40% off elsewhere )unopened, no seal broken and they wouldn't do it for hygiene reasons and I might have had it in the car in the sun,so if they won't do it in a retail shop, then you shouldn't have to do it online.
     
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  7. Aug 28, 2018 #7

    Alfa_Lazcares

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    I am gonna go on a bit of a tangent here but i was really surprised when i saw a bunch of youtubera buying makeup, using it, deciding they dont like it and return it and noone bats an eye. Same with perfume or whatever. People are getting way too used to buying stuff and taking it back.

    In your case I honestly wouldnt give a refund. You have stated the personal items cant be returned and soap is as personal as it gets. Also you have your list of ingredients on display. Its not your faul people wont read what is written. Is not there to look pretty (another of my pet peeves is why oh why people wont read!). As a customer i wouldnt expect a refund because it was my mistake not to read, specially if i know I wont use something because it has a certain ingredient. If you didnt have that info on display, then fine, you should have told me what i am buying, that would be on you, but in this case nope.

    Sorry for the ranty post. It does kind of irk me.
     
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  8. Aug 28, 2018 #8

    lsg

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    I agee with Deann. Your return policy clearly states that you gladly take returns. Is it better to honor the return statement or to risk a bad review and a customer complaint filed with etsy?
     
  9. Aug 28, 2018 #9

    Lin19687

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    Yeah I would change policy ASAP and then say you will refund of the soap price only. BUT they have to pay for shipping back and if they paid for shipping to them, that is not refunded
     
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  10. Aug 28, 2018 #10

    dibbles

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    First I'm going to comment on what would I expect as a customer. Upon receiving the soaps and realizing there was tallow in them, the first thing I would do is go back to your Etsy store and see if the ingredients were listed. Finding that they are, my feeling would be this was my stupid mistake and I'd give away the soap I bought. You wouldn't have heard from me.

    But, since she has contacted you about a return, I agree that you should just give it to her if she returns the product in the same condition it was sent to her. You may be right and she may be wrong, but it isn't worth a bad review IMO. And I doubt she will think she is at fault either. People can be pretty dense.

    And I would put Change Etsy Return Policy on the top of my to do list.
     
  11. Aug 28, 2018 #11

    amd

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    Thanks, all, for your input. I appreciate it. This is a gray area for my black & white brain. I agree that if I had been the customer I wouldn't have contacted the seller because I didn't read the ingredients before purchasing. After giving it some thought and reading what everyone wrote, I am going to message her that I will honor the return. The return policy states that she has to pay shipping, so I will make sure she knows that shipping will not be refunded. I don't have a vegan line (in three years this is only the second person who has said anything about the tallow, so I haven't played with vegan recipes at all), so I can't offer her a replacement. I will take this as a learning lesson and get my return policy updated. (@Lin19687 remember when you told me months ago that I should update it? You can say "I told you so" and we'll both laugh over it :p ) Fortunately her order was only two bars of soap, so really, I'm not hurting over receiving the product back. Hopefully she learned to read listings as well.
     
  12. Aug 28, 2018 #12

    SaltedFig

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    I picked a "cute" soap at random. Something curious about the way your etsy listing appears ... the text ends with the lines
    "Fragrance: A good for you blend of oatmeal, milk, honey and almond.
    Special Ingredients: Honey for luxurious bubbles."

    Initially I thought that there were no ingredients listed as they weren't in the overview, where I often find them.

    Now that I've done it, I know that a further click, on "more" a few lines under the listing leads to the ingredients, which makes me think there is a distinct possibility that the customer never actually saw the ingredients and that their first knowledge of the ingredients was on receipt of the soap.

    The reason I'm writing this is because even if you change your refund policy, you may still get the same thing occurring ... only then you'll have a "tight" refund/return/exchange policy and the same decision to make.

    What I would do (for what it's worth): If she were my customer, I wouldn't ask her to pay return shipping. I wouldn't ask her to return it at all, I would refund the soap and put it down to experience. I certainly wouldn't resell a returned soap (no matter how good it's packaging looks). In addition to modify the default refund policy (to one better suited to how you like to do business), I would mention in the overview either that the soap contains animal fat, or alternatively, that the full ingredient list is available below - then either the information, or the location of the information, is available on the first page.

    Sorry this has happened, but it is rather lucky you got this thought provoking situation with what seems to be a very nice customer.
     
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  13. Aug 28, 2018 #13

    DeeAnna

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    I'm not saying I would be happy giving a refund, but I'd do it. My thinking is the same as yours -- customers need to read what you provide. But that doesn't necessarily mean that will happen, especially if the list isn't super easy to find.

    I don't interpret "intimate" items as including soap. The word is way too vague, a lot like the word "natural." IMO, deodorant, makeup, perfume, lotion, lube, underwear ... yes, those are intimate items. Soap ... not really. Soap needs to be called out by name in the returns policy, not left to people's interpretation of what "intimate" means.

    The "customer pays return shipping" clause should be a discouragement for her to return a mere 2 bars of soap, but obviously not. Sometimes people don't really understand the cost of shipping until they actually have to ship something, so maybe she's not really realized what she's getting herself into. Hard to say.

    My experience with customers who return things has been really variable (and thankfully rare.) I've dealt with customers who have a righteous head of steam built up by the time they contact me, as if I have and will continue to personally and intentionally offend them. Then there are others who are civil and matter of fact. My goal is to make sure they get pretty much what they want (even the annoyed customers usually have reasonable expectations) and end the transaction with them being reasonably happy. I refuse to show apologetic or fawning behavior, but I do try to make them understand I see they are dissatisfied and I will work to resolve their dissatisfaction.
     
  14. Aug 28, 2018 #14

    shunt2011

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    I too would give a refund but would make the customer return the items at their expense just because, if it's that important to them to return it. Then of course throw it out. I personally always look for all information on the product I'm purchasing and if in doubt ask questions. It's a hassle but not worth a bad review.
     
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  15. Aug 28, 2018 #15

    earlene

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    I agree with your decision, of course.

    But where the ingredients are listed seems pretty normal to me for an Etsy listing. In looking at other soapmaker's soap listing, some use the Overview section for the ingredients list and some do not. It does not appear to be a uniform thing where to put the ingredients list on Etsy. But, as SaltedFig says, maybe some users of Etsy expect to see it only one way and don't bother to look at the + More area.

    I've learned with Etsy that if I want to get as much information as I desire, I have to read all of the listing and sometimes I have to ask the seller questions. But then, I choose to be an informed consumer. Not everyone does that. However, even an informed consumer has to send things back sometimes and I have learned to appreciate the thoughtful and conscientious seller who honors a return. I have also learned that my mistake is my own fault and not the sellers. Financially, it's not a fun lesson, but perhaps this customer will learn it when she has to pay the return shipping and in future will pay closer attention to details before purchase.
     
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  16. Aug 28, 2018 #16

    Dennis

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    Not a seller now but have been in the past. I too have a black and white brain and it has been the source of difficulty with people in the past.
    I agree that the customer should get a refund but for a different reason than most might think. A couple bars of soap is just not worth the drama and negative effect it would have on you. I'm willing to bet you have far more customers who are positive and love your products than the few who are negative. You will run across them from time to time. Don't view it as a win/lose situation. Once they pay to return (bet they change their mind) and get their refund you'll never hear from them again. After it's all over, go outside and SCREAM as loud as you can.
    It feels good.
     
  17. Aug 28, 2018 #17

    DeeAnna

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    My experience with my customers is that many skim the product listing and don't do well at comprehending the info. I've had people ask questions about an item's size, color, weight, etc. or how to use an item when all of that is clearly listed in the main description section. It's really weird sometimes to answer their questions with a straight face -- it's like they're not on the same planet that I am on.

    @Dennis -- I totally get it about minimizing the drama quotient. I'd rather have a difficult conversation that ends well than one that ends badly. I can more easily let go of any negative feelings I have about the experience if things end reasonably well. Sometimes bending over backwards a small amount will make all the difference in the outcome. I can't expect my customer to do that, but I can.
     
  18. Aug 28, 2018 #18

    cmzaha

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    I know what I would do but that is just me. I would contact the buyer ask if they would like a vegan soap in it's place and let them keep the other soap to do with it as they may. Actually we have done such, maybe for other reasons but still it can gain a customer. If the customer bothered to visit and purchase from your Etsy store do you really want to lose the customer forever or keep them as a customer? You may lose a few dollars but may gain a customer. Although it can happen that you will come across a habitual returner or one that expects a new free product, so we would not usually do such a second time. Out of my daughters hundreds of customers we only had that happen with one person. We tended to replace any product a customer was un-happy with except for our one customer.

    If your description list is on a second page they very well may have not clicked on the more or next tab. It happens. As I get older I notice at times I miss reading something that was right there. All our brains and eyes just do not always work the same and maybe she honestly missed the ingredients and maybe her brain was not thinking tallow soap because she always buys vegan. Many sellers today do not use animal fats in their soaps. I also use a second line under my soap name and state if it is vegan friendly.

    I also do not consider soap an intimate item. I forgot to mention there are times I have told a customer if they do not like a particular soap I recommended they are more than welcome to bring it back and pick a new soap. Never had any do such, but I am sure one day someone will.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2018
  19. Aug 28, 2018 #19

    reinbeau

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    If it was opened and used then I'm sorry, I would *not* take it back. Why involve shipping at all? Refund her the cost of the soap only and be done with it. Definitely change your refund policies. This is one reason I have no desire to sell online.
     
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  20. Aug 28, 2018 #20

    SaltedFig

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    My thinking takes Denis' desire to minimise drama one step further.To me, the idea of waiting for a return before refunding means that the whole thing is going to be on my "to do" list for as long as it takes the customer to send the bars back (if they do at all).

    I'd much rather refund and write it off as soon as it's obvious it's going nowhere (no usable soap, no viable customer). It's not a big deal - nothing more has been lost by doing this than has already been lost, and I am really not interested in throwing out my own product - that's never going to feel good.

    Then you leave it up to the (former) customer to dispose of the soap. They might end up giving the soap to a non-vegan friend (it's not often that a good product will get thrown out, especially when a person feels like they've "achieved" a win) so there's a chance you will get free advertising, and potentially a replacement customer, in return for soap that can't be resold.
     

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