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How to Handle Refunds and Unhappy Customers

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Today we’re talking about a very important, and sometimes upsetting subject: how to deal with refund requests and unhappy customers.

Whether you’re just getting started, or you’ve been in business for a while, it’s vital to get this right – especially in our hyper connected, social media based world.

In this video, learn six strategies every business owner should put in place to ensure you’re handling refund requests and unhappy customers in the best way.

Click here to share the Tweetable from the video.

I think we all have lessons to share here: both from being an unhappy customer and from having them.

If you have insight or experiences to share (respectfully, of course!) please leave a comment below. I’m REALLY interested to hear your stories on this one.

Marie Forleo

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Erin Bowe

Perfect advice Marie! Unhappy customers tend to expect a hassle, so when you’re polite and respectful, they’re pleasantly surprised and leave with a positive image of your company (and tell their friends how awesome you were too).

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Doka

To be honest, I EXPECT that response when I am unsatisfied. If I receive anything other than that, I really do not view the company highly.

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Andrea Goodsaid

Can totally see this for products … info products in particular … but what about for services.

If someone hires you to coach them – then 6 weeks later after having had access to you and your content says “I want a refund” … do they get one?

Is a better filter process required?

Will for sure get clearer up front about “no refund” once the coaching ball is in motion … but are there times when standing your ground and being ‘right’ just don’t serve? And where to draw the line?

Thanks for sharing your very cool energy Marie :)

Andrea

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Jenn

I asked that same question of a master coach I knew. She said that if they paid already – and don’t qualify for the refund, then it’s up to them to leave. She had only had a few people quit – one had paid for a lot of time and left anyway.

Set it up ahead of time. If they pay for 12 weeks, do you want to offer the refund if they quit at any point? If they quit at week 2, is it different (for you) than if they quit at week 5? Once you figure it out, then put it in writing.

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Andrea Goodsaid

Awesome to have these points validated and YES to putting it in writing.

Thank-you for your comments!

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Carrie Southern

Hi Andrea,
Something else you might want to think about in addition to defining your refund policy is contracting with your clients. I don’t mean contracting as in writing out terms of service etc, but contracting with your client in regards to what they want to be coached on. Getting clarity around exactly what they want, or what would make coaching of value to them is essential before jumping into the actual coaching. I spend 90 mins sometimes contracting with a client. I don’t begin coaching with them until I am confident we are clear. Otherwise, what happens is we jump into the waters with a client but then don’t know what direction to swim in. As coaches we end up working extremely hard, coaching on everything and sometimes not the “right” thing in the client’s mind. Don’t be shy about making your client work to get clarity on what they want help on, more of, less of, etc before you get going. Sometimes the point of focus changes for the client over time, therefore it is necessary to revisit the contracting stage, this helps to ensure they continue to set the direction and as well as get value, which translates into retaining your client.
Best of luck!
Carrie

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Andrea Goodsaid

Oh big YES to not thinking we know what’s going to be valued most by the other person.

You’ve hit the nail on the head with this situation – she heard a presentation and then skipped the part about talking first. Just moved forward and paid … then decided 6 weeks in that it wasn’t what she wanted. It’s a hybrid infoproduct/can answer your questions and guide you thing.

Clarity all around (boundaries) as well as restricting cart access when suitable will make everything flow better as we scale up.

Am glad she appeared when she did! (thinking in this case – retaining the client would not be the best outcome necessarily)

Thank-you so much for your thoughts here Carrie :)

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Renee

Hey Marie, I LOVED this.

Yeah, the first refund is like, “ouch!”, but now it’s far easier. It’s an opportunity to learn, which means I can move forward, and serve my customers better next time.

Thanks for sharing.

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Eleanor

Great advice! Hey, if a business doesn’t hassle me & provides the refund, 9/10 chances I’ll say good things about it to others or, possibly, return to the business another time.
Here’re 2 versions:
1) business that became so insistent & hassling when I wanted to consider entering into a business deal rather than cough up cash on the spot – I put them into SPAM and have no desire for any contact anymore.
2) when I by mistake added an extra 0 to the Obama campaign donation, I was able to find a number, call them up and they were kind, helpful and immediately refunded the amount so I could donate the correct value. This great experience is one that I told again & again – all good publicity for the Obama campaign & other folks were so enthused they actually decided to donate too! Pays to be an Honest Abe.

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Denise Duffield-Thomas

wow – great story about the Obama campaign!

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Julie Hall

Hi Marie… What do you suggest when someone (like RHHBschool) doesn’t put up t’s and c’s for their affiliate programme and then don’t fulfill an affiliate payment? Apparently you have a policy of not paying out on affiliates buying through their own affiliate link, but this was not in any of your correspondence or on the website or affiliate site. It’s not enough to have a policy if you don’t communicate it. I have emailed your team about this, and it would be great to get a response.

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Andrea Goodsaid

Affiliate links are for receiving commissions on Other People’s Sales – not our own. That’s standard across the industry. If you were a highly performing affiliate you *might* be able to negotiate with the product owner, but that’s not something that should ever be assumed.

An affiliate link isn’t to be treated like a coupon … To use your own affiliate link is tantamount to ‘stealing’ that sales commission from whomever introduced us to the product in the first place.

Hard to see from the consumer side maybe, but this is what makes the distribution beast work and is how Marie and other marketers can promote their products widely and affordably.

(you can see I feel pretty strongly about this – grin)

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Julie Hall

Hi Andrea, I stand by what I said; the t’s and c’s needs to be clearly laid out and any exclusions should be listed. I could have bought this product using someone else’s affiliate link and got $500 of that money back, but didn’t. The course was fine, my issue is with the lack of clarity and transparency around this. I am a ‘drive by’ internet marketer, I promote products infrequently and am not familiar with in’s and out’s of what is ‘accepted practice’ so think it should be explicitly communicated somewhere, especially on a business site. This was a product that I did promote to my list and also decided to buy myself.

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Louise

Thank you so much Julie for writing in. We really appreciate you keeping us in the loop of things like this because it is going to help us continue to improve our business practices. We did receive your email on 8/23 and responded on 8/25. I’m sending you an email off-blog so we can follow up and take care of everything.
More soon,
Louise

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Julie Hall

Hi Louise

I just want to say thank you very much for your quick and gracious response. It’s great that you guys walk your talk and a perfect example of what Marie talks about in her video! Thanks again.
Julie

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Sam

Julie, none of my business, but if you saying you’re trying to purchase a product which you are an affiliate of, using your affiliate link to buy the product and receive the affiliate payment/discount, that’s widely known as a no-no and will get you banned from most affiliate programs.

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Julie Hall

Hi Sam, thanks for your feedback…. I have bought products using my own affiliate link for other things and not had a problem and when there have been terms and conditions, I have known whether this was acceptable or not, but without t’s and c’s, it’s impossible to know.

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Doka

If it helps, I had no idea about that. I thought you were SUPPOSED to use your own link to buy at a discount since you are bringing the company money. That’s how other programs I’ve worked with were. I would have done the same thing Julie did, LOL.

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Denise Duffield-Thomas

hmmm – would love to hear Marie’s opinion on this. To be honest, it never crossed my mind with programs, although I buy books through my own amazon link (when I remember).
hmmm, it feels kinda naughty though.

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Andrea Goodsaid

Yes it does feel kinda naughty doesn’t it?? – grinning (nothing is ever quite so black and white as we might like to think)

For me – it’s hugely more gratifying to search out another affiliate to bless with a commission than it is to essentially ‘get the discount’ on larger price point items and programs.

There’s also a “golden rule” thing going on here for me. How do I want people buying things that I refer them to? Through my link or their own?

One connects us … the other is very “everyone for themselves” energy.

But maybe that’s just me …
(thinkin’ not ;-)

Appreciate you!
Andrea

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Ooh! This is *such* a juicy Q&A!

It’s SO true that it’s hard NOT to take it personally when someone asks for a refund or wants to discontinue your service. But like you said, it’s so important not to take it personally — because it’s just *not* personal. Like you said, they tried it out, it wasn’t a good fit, they want a refund (or to cancel service), bless them, learn what you can, and move on.

I made a template for my response to my clients who ask to cancel my services and it has helped me so much in not taking it personally *and* giving my clients the care and respect they deserve.

I thought it might help your awesome readers if they saw my template. Of course, I personalize it every time, but it’s very nice to have something to work from so I don’t stuck. Here it is:

Hey !

Thanks so much for your kind note! I really appreciate hearing from you.

I completely understand that you need to cancel your membership for now. I just want to thank you for investing in yourself through , and it was a pleasure to work with you!!

I canceled your membership. You will not incur any further charges.

If you have any feedback about how I could make the program better, or if there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know!

I really appreciate you, and I welcome contact from you any time!

Take wonderful care, and much love,

Stacey

****

I almost always get back a “Wow! Thanks, Stacey!” response and that always takes off any last remaining sting from the canceled service. :-)

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Andrea Goodsaid

This is a great template Stacy – ty for sharing.

Question though – do you refund membership fees when the story is “well I never logged in”? Or do you consider that non-refundable?

And is it different for you for people who don’t keep appointments? ie. you were available at the agreed time (that they picked) and they weren’t?

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Hey Andrea!

I have a “100% Be-Happy, No-Questions-Asked, We-Part-As-Friends” approach to refunds or cancellation of service.

I know from personal experience that it’s hard to take a chance on something new, especially coaching, and I really try to treat my clients as I would like to be treated.

Do all of my clients go into coaching with as much thoughtfulness as I do? No. But it is rare that I feel that someone is doing me wrong.

That said, I do continue to tweak the language on my summary/sales pages to make sure I am as clear as I can be with respect to what my clients can expect and what *my* expectations are.

I changed this summary page: http://www.staceycurnow.com/innercircle/ half a dozen times before I felt like I got the language right.

And every bit of feedback I got from clients who canceled the service helped me make it better.

Interestingly, I haven’t had as many issues with my higher-investment programs (I don’t have public-access summary pages for those), but I spend more time on the phone in initial “strategy sessions” with those clients to make sure it’s a good fit.

I am planning to add more “contract” like language to my future high-level investment coaching program agreements — to make it even *more* clear that I am running a business, and I want to be as sure as I can be that my potential clients take it as seriously as I am.

But I never see a time when I would go into litigation if a client decided not to pay. Nothing, in my opinion, is worth that kind of bad energy. My peace of mind is worth more than any amount a client promised to pay and then didn’t. I’d rather live and learn and move on.

Again, this is SUCH a juicy topic! So glad for this Q&A!

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Leanne

Fabulous, Stacey, thanks so much for being generous and sharing both your template and your overall attitude and approach to this. I found it really helpful to me just starting out, much appreciated.

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Merna Dwyer

Hi Stacey,
That is a great response to a refund request. I imagine it would make the customer feel validated – that they are ok with asking for the refund, their opinion is important to you and you are aware that perhaps they have other things going on.
I imagine that because it leaves such a nice feeling with them, that should they require your kind of assistance again, or they know anyone who needs your help – they would still refer you.. so its win – win.

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Hi Merna!

Thanks so much for letting me know you like my template! What you imagine my clients would feel is *exactly* what I hope they would feel! Thanks so much for confirming that! And I certainly love a win — win situation!

Thanks again for taking the time you appreciated my comment!

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Vanessa - Custom Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands

Stacey, this is incredibly helpful and I really appreciate you posting your template. I love your “100% Be-Happy, No-Questions-Asked, We-Part-As-Friends” approach. Well done! : )

~Vanessa
Custom Engagement Rings & Wedding Bands
http://www.VanessaNicole.com

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Hey Vanessa!

Thanks so much for letting me know that you find my template and approach helpful! That make my day!

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Johanna

Stacey

Agreed! Thanks so much for your template and link to your Inner Circle page. I found them both to be incredibly helpful and will use them as a guide and inspiration moving forward! Thanks for all that you do.

Johanna

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Awesome! Thanks so much for letting me know you appreciate the template and the link, Johanna! All the best to you as you develop relationships with VERY happy customers!

Victoria

Great video Marie. Dealing with unhappy customers has to be the low-side for most entrepreneurs especially when you’ve worked hard to create great value. But like many things in life we have to take it with a pinch of salt.

One thing your video didn’t address (understandably) is how to deal with customers who are abusing refund policies? For my particular business, a customer could by and use up a whole product and then complain they didn’t like it (even if they secretly did) so that they could get a refund. The point I’m trying to make is, should all refunds have a disclaimed? e.g “we’ll give you a refund if…” What do you guys think?

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Shauna Washington

Hi, Victoria!

First off, I think your product idea is great! I haven’t tried your actual products but I used to have a curly fro and it was very very hard to get products and info on how to keep it looking great.

I understand your concern. I’ve seen the policy that people must return the unused portion if they want a refund, which shows they didn’t use all of it up. If the product was a small amount in the first place – a few ounces at a few ounces for 2 or 3 uses each – then I could see how someone would use it, try it again once or twice to make sure it’s not what they want, and then have no product left. But if it’s a whopping big amount of product that only requires a few ounces per use then I think it’s understandable to have a lot left over to show for their disapproval.
Do you want people to return the remainder of a product as proof? Perhaps that would sate your concern of possible abuse of the refund policy – ?

Offering free return shipping would be a perk that would look great to me as a customer. I would be more inclined to express my dissatisfaction instead of me merely being dissatisfied and not buying again because it would be easier to return the product. It wold look generous and helpful on you as a merchant and give you a perfect opportunity to turn me into a raving fan by using Marie’s advice. But that’s just something I like and may not fit your business model.
And maybe the answer to your question lies in your biz model: What can you afford to lose and what would be gained from a more generous policy?

Hope this helps! :-)

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

Awesome response, Shauna!

Your take on this issue reminds me of Tony Hsieh — who, if anyone doesn’t know him, is the CEO of Zappos.

He created a multi-million dollar business by selling shoes online. What woman would buy expensive shoes online without trying them on first?

Women who knew they could return them (with free shipping both ways!) with no questions asked — for a year!!

Tony Hsieh says he’s really not in the business of selling shoes — he’s in the business of making customers insanely happy. He wrote a book about it, too: Delivering Happiness.

How cool is that?!

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

I loved Shauna’s response to Victoria’s Q. (Forgive me if this comment ends up posting more than once. The first time I didn’t see it posted, andI suppose it might be retrieved from Spam later.)

Her take on this issue reminds me of Tony Hsieh — who, if anyone doesn’t know him, is the CEO of Zappos.

He created a multi-million dollar online business by sellling shoes online. What woman would buy expensive shoes online without trying them on first??

Women who knew they could return them (with free shipping both ways!) with no questions asked — for a year!!

Tony Hsieh says he’s really not in the business of selling shoes — he’s in the business of making customers insanely happy. He wrote a book about it, too: Delivering Happiness.

How cool is that?!

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

I loved Shauna’s response!

(Forgive me if my comment ends up posting twice – the first time it didn’t come up, but maybe it will be retrieved from Spam later?)

Her take on this issue reminds me of Tony Hsieh — who, if anyone doesn’t know him, is the CEO of Zappos.

He created a multi-million dollar business by selling shoes online. What woman would buy expensive shoes online without trying them on first?

Women who knew they could return them (with free shipping both ways!) with no questions asked — for a year!!

Tony Hsieh says he’s really not in the business of selling shoes — he’s in the business of making customers insanely happy. He wrote a book about it, too: Delivering Happiness.

How cool is that?!

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Victoria

Hi Shauna, Thanks so much for your comment! Really appreciate your viewpoint especially as I’m trying my best to think of things from a customer standpoint and not just a business one (it’s trick isn’t it!) I’ll definitely take your idea of a free returns shipping policy into consideration, I’m thinking about it but want to make sure it’s the best approach for my business.

If you feel like swapping hair tips feel free to get in touch!

Many thanks, Victoria

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Stacey - Midwife for Your Life

I loved Shauna’s response! (Forgive me if my comment ends up posting twice – the first time it didn’t come up, but maybe it will be retrieved from Spam later?)

Her take on this issue reminds me of Tony Hsieh — who, if anyone doesn’t know him, is the CEO of Zappos.

He created a multi-million dollar business by selling shoes online. What woman would buy expensive shoes online without trying them on first?

Women who knew they could return them (with free shipping both ways!) with no questions asked — for a year!!

Tony Hsieh says he’s really not in the business of selling shoes — he’s in the business of making customers insanely happy. He wrote a book about it, too: Delivering Happiness.

How cool is that?!

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Caroline

Hi Marie,

I first came across your work when I read your superb make Every Man Want You book. I really look forward to your emails and videos as they are really uplifting and full of excellent ideas and good advice.

I’m a lawyer in the UK targetting SMEs and it’s really hard to get going but I do try to apply your advice where possible and it keeps me feeling positive. I wish you could come to London and do a RHH gig. Your customer advice is crucial in my line of work and you’re spot on about how to handle people.

Kind regards,
Caroline

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Sam

Victoria,
Refunds should be a small manageable percentage of your sales. If they get anywhere near 20% you have a problem with your marketing, in that it’s not accurately representing the product. That being said, you can test several techniques with digital products.

1. Contact the clients by phone or personal email. You can many times find out why they want a refund, if they’ve actually tried it, insert your success social proof and simply ask them if they want to give it another shot and restate your support for them and the product.

2. Other ways are to offer another product (free) or bonus in tandem with it…arriving at a later date (three or four days). If you make the second offer attractive they won’t want to miss it and they’ll see the hightened value in your overall offer.
There are actually several ways…depending on your product…
Hope that helps a little.
Sam

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Johanna

Marie
Clearly this Q&A was meant to be as I have recently been hit with a string of customers who are disputing paying and/or have totally disappeared on me. I am curious your response about how to deal with fulfilling payment obligation on a service. For example, client signs up for 3 months of coach, paying by the month. One month of coaching is done and then client decides it’s not for her.

We have both signed an agreement which states that client will be responsible for balance of payment should client choose to discontinue services. After stopping coaching with me, she originally said she would honor contract and now after dragging her heels on paying me for a couple weeks, doesn’t want to pay the balance. I also spoke with her about donating her 4 remaining services to someone as my preference would be to coach someone else.

I happen to know this woman, so want to make sure we end on good terms but irregardless, how do I keep the energy positive around these types of situations? I recognize that it seems silly to point out she has signed the contract where it explicitly states that she is responsible as I know she has read the contract.

I am not 100% sure which way to turn. Also, FYI, I have spoken with her about why she was stopping services and got some feedback about where she was with things.

Thoughts? Or better yet..how to ensure that what you are selling is what people feel like they are getting? (perhaps I will submit that question for your weekly Q&A!)

Thanks and keep up the good work. You keep me inspired.
Johanna

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Rachel Luna

Hi Johanna,

Thought I’d chime in on your post. I’m a coach as well, but before I became I coach, I got coached. Here’s my personal theory on charging people for services not rendered: It’s not cool.
Take for example this situation – You schedule a massage and a pedicure but then decide you don’t have time for the pedicure. Do you still feel good about paying for both services even though you only got one done? Probably not.
When it comes to coaching, it’s really subjective. Either our clients dig us, or they don’t. Or maybe they love us but they can’t afford it (or won’t find a way to afford it). We shouldn’t penalize them for not being ready to make the commitment. Besides, you don’t want to waste your time with that kind of client. That client will end up draining you and you’ll end up resenting the relationship.
On a side note, I know how frustrating the coaching biz can be and especially how unreliable our paychecks can be. So we often try to overcompensate by “locking” in our clients with a 3 month contract. Here’s the deal: If you’re gonna do a 3 month contract where the client either completes all the sessions or forfeits the cash, then make sure you charge them the full payment upfront. Don’t allow a pay as you go plan. This way there’s no “hunting” down the client. You’ve got the cash and they can choose to stay or go.
I’ll tell ya though, in my experience, whenever I’ve had clients terminate our relationship sooner than anticipated, I am always super nice about it and let them know it’s no trouble. The result, is that most of them have come back to me at a later date and asked to rekindle our coaching relationship. ;-)

Good luck Johanna!!! Keep rocking the biz girl!

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Johanna

Rachel

Thanks so much for taking the time to reply. I totally appreciate it. I JUST started my business and it’s going really well (considering the issue I posted about!) so I appreciate learning from others who have the experience that I am working on.

Keep up your good work :)
Johanna

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Denise Duffield-Thomas

Hi Johanna – same thing happened to me recently – she signed up for 12 weeks on a x3 payment. She actually didn’t show up for her 9th session and instead sent me an email saying she afford to continue.

I could have charged her for the session she missed, but decided not to and just blessed her instead.

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Jennifer Fugo

This video was very helpful for me as I begin to launch products from my biz. Thank you for the auto-responder tip! Never thought to put the info there!

I had a bad experience earlier this year with someone who deal with video marketing. She hosted an event to which I couldn’t attend, but promised to have all videos and handouts for those who COULDN”T make it within 6 weeks of the event. I even emailed the staff to alert them that I wouldn’t be attending but was excited for the materials. Six weeks came and went with no word from them. Finally, I started emailing to kindly ask what was going on. One week later, I was promised to have materials in a month. Another month comes and goes, no materials. I email again and was told that when the material will be released (in another month), I’d have to purchase it. At this point, I gave them my number asking for a call (they’ve got no phone numbers posted on the site) and said I needed a call or else I’d be canceling through my credit card.

Anyways, I was given access to this online forum of teaching videos as an ‘I’m sorry” with the assurance that I’d get my stuff by July (event was in Feb). The videos weren’t all that great and it’s Sept and I’ve never received anything. Needless to say, I won’t ever buy anything again from this woman whom I thought knew her stuff. It was a big bummer and, especially for a small biz where the money I paid isn’t just a drop in the bucket, it has made me much more weary of online marketers. Although it was a great learning experience of what NOT to do.

Again, great video and thoughts!

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Lisa

Hi Marie!
Another great video and an important one. One of the things I would add is tell how you communicate with a dissatisfied client – mentioning what you CAN do versus all the things you CANNOT do goes a long way – after you have completely heard them out. In my wireless retail store, some of the returns are governed my the parent TELCO so I teach my team to give the client options when they are not happy – try and list 2-3 things you can do to help them and sometimes you will be surprised by what they want – it is not always a refund.
Lisa

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Rachel Anzalone

Hi Marie! Great post… falls in line with my centuries (seems like!) of customer service experience. My favorite part ~ “Don’t take it personally!”

Thanks for the goods!
xoxo

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Nicola

Hi Marie!!!

I’m launching my first online coaching course to help beginner gardeners make an abundant veggie patch this week, so it’s possible I will need to follow this advice in the coming weeks. Hopefully I won’t need it too soon, but I’m sure it will just be part of doing business.

If anyone is interested in registering for my free gardening videos that go with the launch (they’re fun, inspiring and entertaining) you can register for free at http://www.creatingabundance.net

I’d love to see you there :) xxx Nic

PS. I realised I couldn’t apply for your cool scholarship, because I’ll be in the middle of teaching my course! But next year, I’ll be at Rich Happy and Hot Live xxx Can’t wait.

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Julia Kious Zabell

Love what you bring up, Marie!

The stop ‘em in their tracks with kindness is such an awesome rule of thumb for returns…and listening. You really get the gold in what to tighten up in your marketing AND in the program or service itself.

I notice that a few talk about coaching services being refunded/not paid for, and all I can say on that is get the payment up front and be clear about what happens if they don’t show or want to stop.

It’s the refund policy I am curious about…What does everyone do for their info products and services? I’ve been doing a 100% return if they aren’t satisfied with all info products based on integrity (I explicitly say, that Karma will bite you & your biz in the booty…and stealing is tacky!), but haven’t created one around my coaching.

Since I ask for payment up front AND a six month contract, I am thinking no-refunds….But if they’re unhappy with their coaching from me, then perhaps I’ll donate the money left on their contract….

Would love to hear your thoughts….both as the consumer AND as the provider!

Thanks everyone, and Marie!

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Johanna

Hi Julia

I haven’t dealt with this yet, but my advice would be to donate the remaining services/sessions. Good luck!

Johanna

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Jessilicious

Hi Marie! :)

Great topic! And you’re definitely right about that first refund – it doesn’t feel good at all! ;)

My biggest struggle with this topic is with offering a service. For example, my first client who asked for a refund was a web design client, and she didn’t like any of the designs I did up for her. I had already put a LOT of work into the project by the time she requested a refund, and I felt resentful for having to give her any money back because I had worked so hard.

Thankfully, this doesn’t happen very often – but I’d like to figure out the best way to handle it when it does, so that I don’t feel resentful, and the client feels like they are understood and respected.

So with a service like this where you get halfway through a project and have already put in a lot of time and energy on it, what kind of refund or no refund policy is expected and what is fair? OR should it be on more of a case by case basis, depending on who the client is, their reasons for wanting a refund, how far into the project we are, etc?

Enjoy your flight home! :)

xo
Jess

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Sue Ann Gleason

I just had my first request for refund. The program hadn’t started yet but I had this intuitive hit, from all the questions that were bubbling up for this client, that she was having second thoughts from the start. Refunding her money, graciously, was so liberating for me. A lesson in letting go and not feeling “responsible” for her process. She is still very much a part of my community and I suspect I’m going to see her in a future program, when she’s ready.

Love ALL of your wisdom, but especially: It’s not personal.

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Cherie

Love this answer Sue!

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Melissa

When I had 10 customers, everyone’s opinion was life and death! Slowly but surely, and now with 4K customers, I have learned to not cry over spilt refunds. I give back the money and offer them suggestions for other service in my field. It’s a game changer to be OF SERVICE to your clients no matter what happens.

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Denise Duffield-Thomas

haha – love this response – no crying over spilt refunds!

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Michael Fishman

Hey, Marie :) Great video! For me, refunds (and also complaints) are to be savored and handled with the greatest of care because MANY of those people will go on to be your biggest fans with biggest lifetime value. One company proved via analysis that those customers whose first transaction incurred a mistake went on to spend DOUBLE the average customer. Why? Because the company handled the mistakes so brilliantly and overdelivered beyond expectation. Any growing, scalable business is going to have a certain percent refunds/complaints, that’s just natural . . . the key is to treat those customers for the extraordinary possibilities they represent (and of course, the living, breathing human beings they are) — not just a nuisance to get past.

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Shakaya Leone

This is such great biz advice!
I am very new to all of this and love learning from the BEST- thank you Marie for doing these great tutorials with the sexy sass we love so much. (I LOVE how fun you make business!!!)

I had a chargeback my second month of biz and emailed the customer to let her know all was in process and would love her feedback…she emailed me back apologising- apparently she didn’t recognize the charge on her statement, but said she absolutely loved my book and could she please send me a check right away- and she did :)

Last week, I received my first refund request by email on my 21 Day Transformational Detox. I emailed the client and asked her for feedback (I was so curious about what this client needed because 100 women had already gone through the program and I received dozens of raving testimonies) This client apparently didn’t even receive the Welcome packet with all the materials and was only receiving the daily Sacred Beauty Rituals emails- which is a problem with the auto responder in 1 shoppingcart which needed to be worked out.

I asked her if she would like me to manually send her the full program while the bug in the cart was being troubleshooted, and she admitted she felt from what she saw that it wasn’t a strict enough program for her…I listened deeply and wondered if she felt she needed more guidance than an online program to create the changes in her diet/health that she was seeking, and she agreed.

I suggested that she might be more suited to a one on one mentoring structure…she liked the sound of that and asked for more details. She said her schedule just wasn’t open right now but said she would look at when she could do something like that because it sounded exactly like the perfect fit.

In the end I told her I was happy to refund her (my product didn’t roll out with the standard of excellence I wanted) and she complimented me on my beautiful website and service and said how inspiring I am; then she asked if it was possible to refund only HALF of her money!

That interaction was worth more than money and taught me how important it is to be as gracious as possible with ALL aspects of my business.

I noticed others had the same question I have about coaching/mentoring- unsatisfied clients who have experienced hours of a coach’s time and then feel they aren’t breaking through their stuff fast enough or whatever and demand a refund…

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* Akua *

Thanks Marie! You’re the best. Sharing on FB now!

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Christy

Marie,
I love what you say here. It’s 100% spot on. It’s always better to give your customers what they want. Even if it means NOT getting their money. We’re in business to serve and serving pays in the long wrong.

I love the example of not taking it personally. If we could all use examples of what happens when we shop and transfer those to our business we’d take away a lot of the drama. Whether it’s returning or asking for money, there’s no drama at the grocery store. Same should go for your business.

Thanks for doing what you do.

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Jessica

Hi Marie,

Thank you for sharing this video. I had a bad experience with actually two of your affliates that publicly criticized me for complaining about customer service (of course without stating my name ;) . I ended up doing a public write-up on a consumer website.

While I apologized myself for the manner in which I handled this, as I got a little bit angry to say the least, what happened after I sent an email a while later to try to mend things personally as someone who is starting up my own biz, is the owner of the orginal service I worked with said she didn’t believe me and I got a cease and dissist letter for publicly ‘defaming’ her.

Now I get to start from scratch since I hired her to coach me with my start-up and I’m out $300.

I’ve worked in plenty of ‘sleezy’ financial firms in NYC who wouldn’t treat a client like that. Thank you again for sharing this.

Thank you and Thank you!

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Hadley Gustin

Thanks as always for the great advice, Marie. I, too, found it difficult to refund at first when I started my own eBay business, but like you said, it gets easier with time and the more you do it. Using similar techniques and strategies to handle dissatisfied customers, I have found that all of them so far have given me the highest seller rating on eBay. The proof is in the pudding. If you treat customers with returns like you do those who are purchasing from you – with the same enthusiasm and respect – you will see positive outcomes in your business. This may not translate to money right away, but anything positive – feedback, seller ratings, referrals, etc… – will give you the means necessary to move forward with more to offer your next client or customer.

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Anne Samoilov

Marie,
I’ve dealt with this issue before and I really think the absolute best piece of advice you gave is #1. Be super clear about your refund policy and put it everywhere! Be kind, respectful, but always refer to it when customers ask.

Clarity on the policy for each program and overall is really important. If you’re clear, your customers will be clear. They won’t think it’s a bummer even if you have a No Refunds policy. They will respect you and your business more.

Not to say that it will stop the requests for refunds or complaints…and you may even have to make exceptions as time goes on, but starting from that point of clarity helps your customers (and you!).

Great Vid Marie! Can’t wait for RHH Live!

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Maryellen Smith

Marie is so right about being graceful! Many years ago when I was working at the San Jose Airport I was watching a customer (a man who was with his wife) treat one of my co-workers, Jerry, very badly. I was getting mad because Jerry was one of the most gracious people that I had ever met.

The husband excused himself to go to the restroom and the wife said to Jerry: “You’ll have to excuse my husband’s behavior. He just found out that he has cancer this morning and he’s very upset.”

Holy cow! That was a wake up call for me! You can never assume that you know what’s going on with someone and it’s a huge mistake to make everything about you and your product, service or company.

If you take the high road and react with grace, you’ll always come out ahead!

http://reinventionqueen.com/2011/09/20/customer-service-magic-phrases/

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Sukie Baxter

Wow, that’s a great example, Maryellen. You just never know what’s going on in other people’s worlds.

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Katrina Marie

Every time I ship a dress I always send an email asking them to “Please let me know who your dress fits”. I’d say 95% of the time they say “Perfect”. Last week though I had a customer who’s dress was quite right. She wanted to know what she could do to fix it. I said “Don’t worry about it, I’ll just make you another one”. It really made her happy and that’s the whole point…to make your customers HAPPY! : )

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Sukie Baxter

People don’t typically ask for a refund for their sessions with me, which is good. However, if someone purchased a package of sessions and then did, say, 3 of them and didn’t want to continue because it wasn’t a good fit, I would refund them the difference. It’s never happened yet (fingers crossed!) and I like to think that’s because I work very hard to build a personal rapport with each client so that there is a great personality match.

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Viola

Thanks Marie for this advice. I learned the hard way about unhappy customers, something that was small grew into something huge and became ugly. Well I learned my lesson . . . as the old motto for Sears, “The Customer is Always Right” period. When customers want a refund or are unhappy I now do everything in my power to turn that frown into a smile. Unhappy customers can be vicious, so always remember to turn a mad pit bull into a smiling poodle.

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Lewis LaLanne aka Nerd #2

So many companies get themselves in trouble when they don’t address refund requests with love like you talk about.

People have little to no reason to bad mouth you if you listen to them and take care of their refund graciously and do what you can to make it better. If you ignore them or act like a douche canoe, that’s when you’ve got world war III on your hands.

One thing that massively helps too is something I learned from Joe Polish and Eben Pagan was the concept of sending a stick letter along with whatever you deliver that spells out how to get the most out of the product and what to expect.

One of the greatest stick letters I’ve ever seen came with Eben Pagan’s Guru Mastermind course. You can see it here . . . http://www.mynotetakingnerd.com/blog/money-slashing-refund-rates/

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Sean D'Souza

Hey Marie, I did a couple of videos a while ago on the “Screechy Sound of Feedback”

Here are the links:
The Screechy Sound of Feedback
http://www.youtube.com/user/psychotactics#p/u/11/5lp4tWfr0GU

Understanding the Three Levels of Feedback
http://www.youtube.com/user/psychotactics#p/u/12/D1COQ91aKWU

P.S. My shirt isn’t tight, but the video is kinda focused on the background at times :) :) :)

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Terry Crowe

One thing that I think really helps (and can get them to stay or become a customer) is to also give them something else as a thank you.

This is easiest when you have information products, but will still work if you have a tangible product, it just costs you more up front.

If you give away another product that you think will knock their socks off (after hearing why they didn’t like the one they are returning), there’s a good chance they’ll become a raving fan after all.

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Maria Ross

Great vid, Marie! This is such a sticky wicket because deep down, we really want people to be happy and to “like us.” But the main point of everything you said is reallly not to take things personally. Some people are a good fit for your product and service, some are not. That’s why it’s so important to clarify your ideal customer in your brand strategy and ensure all your communications and visuals are meant to attract that person.

Dissatisfied customers are an opportunity to practice handling things with grace and dignity. Sounds silly, but if I’m ever faced with something like this, I try to imagine, “How would Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn handle this situation?!” While it’s hard to control my natural fiery Italian/redheaded temper at times (!), I really try to look at tough situations like this objectively, like I’m watching a film, and distance myself from the personal. This helps open me up to listening, learning and taking away how to do things better next time.

Also, like someone else here said, responding with grace, dignity and an open ear is often such a surprise to someone expecting a fight that they kind of get the wind knocked out of them a bit! People can only push against a resistant force, and if you choose to be open and encouraging, they have nothing to “fight” against and their anger will deflate.

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Rosemary Breen|Compatibility and Love

Great video Marie.

I know what you mean by the kick in the g*** feeling with the first refund and yes, the trick is not to make it personal.

The other reason for acting promptly to minimize damage when a refund is requested is to minimize personal and professional stress.

Better to say ‘so what, now what’ and move on I reckon.

Cheers

Rosemary

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DivineYoganista

I feel I can totally apply this to both my businesses; the retail one as well as the Tarot Reading. The key really is t be graceful.

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Ann Moller

Great thoughts on this important topic, Marie. Thanks! The first time I had a refund request (about 6 months ago), it was a bit of a jolt, but I stayed in a spiritual, open-hearted mindset, and handled it graciously, and the client and I ended the interaction with a great deal of mutual respect and warmth–even better than I could have imagined! It was a real learning experience for me in exactly what you’re saying in terms of clarity about what I’m offering, and to whom. Also love the suggestion about the clarity of the refund or no refund policy up front, and announced in multiple places. I shall add that to my next business agreement.

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Camille from Ignite Mr Right

Hi Marie, great video as always! I offer a 100% money back guarantee and haven’t had a refund request so far, but it’s only early days and I’m sure it will, especially one I’ve got products.. I’ll be able to deal with it with grace and confidence when it happens in the future. Thanks Marie! : )

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Denise Duffield-Thomas

Hey Marie – perfect timing! (as usual)

This has happened to me twice over the last two months – definitely a symptom of having a bigger business.

I have to admit – it made me feel a little crap at first, but I know it’s a learning process in business. Nothing personal!

It gave me some great things to put into my program for next time. Refining is fabulous!

Thanks for the tips!

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Lora Sasiela

Marie, Thanks so much for this sage advice! xo

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Tracy aka Chief Princess

Reading the comments was just as insightful as the video.

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sheila Holdsworth

Hi Marie,
Absolutely!! I’m ridiculously nice about returns and the odd mistake/complaint we get and I did wonder if I was being too nice so I was really pleased to hear what you had to say. Even if it is a complaint, one handled well and quickly (took me a while to learn to deal with them quickly, do an excellent impression of an ostrich!) means you can turn their negative experience into a positive one. Isn’t there a stat about unhappy people telling their story to 10 people and a happy one to 5 or something? I’d rather be a positive story than not!
Thanks very much for your advice!
Sheila

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Tamara

Thanks so much for these tips! I am in an industry that I don’t have a formal degree in, but I have personal experience. I make desserts and blog about them. I also promote small dessert businesses through my blog and blog talk radio show. You’ve confirmed what I heard this weekend at a bootcamp, pitch to the media to increase your exposure. Thanks so much! Oh, love your videos! :-)

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Judith

Once again you mirror my thoughts on the subject exactly. Not taking a refund personally and refunding creates great personal energy by not feeling defeated and \or angry or disappointed energetically about it. Have a policy that is respectful to both you and the customer and move on to happier events.

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Rachel Resnick

What a fantastic video and comments conversation. Dealing with refunds is the baptism by fire of growing a business. In the past, when I split w/a boyfriend, I’d add a new beauty regimen — pedicure, blowout, bikini waxing. So I’d celebrate my singleness and build my self esteem. With business, each time I get a dissatisfied customer for my service (I’m a published author and solopreneur. My business, Writers On Fire, offers luxury writing retreats both locally in California and abroad, in places like St. Tropez; plus private coaching and ongoing workshops) and a request for a refund, I learn something new. Like, er, forge a policy on refunds or no refunds and post it. That was my first lesson! Your recommendation to post that policy in various places is golden. Crucial. People are so inundated w/info these days, they may not read carefully. Then, you can warmly but firmly refer back to it if something comes up. Since I offer a service which hinges on my energy, personality and style — and am known as an ass-kicking nurturer who seeks creative breakthroughs — there are bound to be some people who don’t dig it. I also learned to ask for payment up front, with a clear policy about being able to roll the fee over for other services that might suit them more. Interestingly, the learning experiences from customers can mirror other relational issues you might have. E.g., I once agreed to take on a client who was sprouting red flags. I knew this client would be trouble, but I ignored my instincts in favor of just saying yes to business. As you can imagine, it backfired. Spectacularly. I realized I did that out of fear I wouldn’t attract more clients. Now I’m more confident as a business owner. So that comment of yours was so spot on — these experiences are great opportunities to learn and grow — as people and as business owners. Thank you to everyone who chimed in. I learned a lot. And thank you Marie. Look forward to seeing you at RHH Live shortly!

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Harmony Scott

Hi, thanks for the energy and spirit of this video…but I have a few thoughts to add. I totally agree about putting your policy in multiple places and always handling people with respect and kindness. However,I have a bit of a different take due to my business. I am a jewelry designer and have two stores, a website, and sell wholesale to other boutiques and galleries. When people purchase jewelry, it is hard to tell if they have worn it (unlike clothing or shoes.) Unfortunately people can be unscrupulous and wear something multiple times (or just for a specific event) and then return it. So as a small business person I have a policy of store credit or exchange IN MY STORES. On the website, we offer store credit/exchange/ or full refund. Why the difference? Well, my feeling is in our store people can try things on and see them in person, on the website they are relying on photos and descriptions.

We also offer free repairs within a year for “normal wear”, and 98% of people are cool- but you do get those oddballs who think they can wear a delicate earring 24/7 for 2 years and then expect a refund (on a $68 item). Personally, I don’t need people like that to shop with me, especially if they get verbally abusive or nasty with my salespeople. Some people are unhappy, and are just looking for a way to let off steam. Thankfully, they are in the minority, and “not taking it personally” is key. Thanks!

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Aradia

This is such a great hot button topic for us biz peeps! For me I haven’t had to deal with a refund with any of my products, but I have gained valuable insight into the type of service I’ve rendered via two separate complaints. While neither were directly brought to my attention (I found out about both through channels) it made it clear to me that some of my policies or explanations of how I work were not clear enough.

At the time I got really upset on both accounts because I didn’t feel I was being treated like a person but rather some faceless entity and felt attacked. Which needless to say caused problems! But I also realized that I have full 100% knowledge on how I do everything little thing and someone who doesn’t do the work I have wouldn’t necessarily have any reason to be as in the know as I am unless I tell them!

A tip from me: if you are super emotional (like I am) and you receive something negative, acknowledge it, maybe even read over it then stop and *take a break away from it*! Responding immediately can be your worst enemy if you haven’t given yourself time to process the emotions it might have brought up. Don’t take too long to do this, because you still want to give timely customer service and you don’t want someone feeling like they are being ignored. But be honest & real with yourself and maybe if you need to buy a little time to do that you can send a scripted message somewhere to the affect of:

Dear (Their First Name),

I just wanted to let you know I received your concern and am working to amend and correct this issue. I will be back to you within (give a reasonable time period hours or days) and will be more than happy to work out a solution!

*I’m sure this will also work best for something that isn’t necessarily a direct refund of a specific product.

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Kath

My current issue is trying to deal with a client who is asking for a request that isn’t justified.

I run an events business and just after the party I received a text message saying “thanks so much it was amazing, everyone was entertained- i’ll upload photos to your facebook it was awesome”

My employee also said that everyone there said it was great and they paid her as she was leaving.

5 hours later the client sent me a text message saying she was distraught and couldn’t believe how awful the party was, all of the kids hated it she is so upset etc. Said my employee did nothing and she wanted a full refund.

Going from one extreme to the next makes it a very difficult decision. I am still unsure how best to handle this. She also started mentioning things she didn’t get which weren’t in the party package she paid for.
I have sent her the exact description of the party package she asked for and she has totally ignored that and has come back saying she would record videos of how distraught she is and how awful my company is and post them online.

I haven’t received many negative reviews in the past, but when I have they have all been very justifiable and easy to manage with a really mature conversation and I usually offer something free or something to make it up to them.

This client has been extremely difficult- and has gone from extreme positive to extreme negative in about 5 hours, she got exactly what she paid for so I am reluctant to give a refund and she is refusing a free follow up party for myself to do.

I fear giving her a refund and sending her on her way will still leave her feeling bitter and crazy about the whole situation.

Thoughts?

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Audra

What if the product is a virtual product, like an ebook? For example, an ebook can be copied and isn’t a physical product that can be returned.

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Melissa

Hi. So I’m the Customer the other end, who paid $500 for a coaching program. That’s a lot given I was promised some things and never got them not to mention the communication has been horrible and let’s say the woman who calls herself a “coach” has even ignored my emails, FB messages with questions including voicemails. I barely logged in to view her 4 videos that are part of this program. Being a business owner myself I would never treat a customer this way especially after money of that amount was invested into a program that promises it’s different from all the rest out there. Anyway, I’ve even emailed her assistants sharing my frustration and have also been ignored by them. So a month has passed I still haven’t received what’s been promised, so I sent another email since no one will return my calls rightfully so asking if someone could call me back. Finally, I get a call back two days ago from her the assistant apologizing and saying it’s her fault. She ends with she will be in touch. Another day passes and I call her like she said and no answer so I leave a message. No response I even try texting and nothing. I’m purely frustrated and would just appreciate my money back as a person who is in the customer service biz myself this is not professional at all. I get it we are all busy, but this in my opinion is wrong to treat a client so poorly. So I tried this woman again and she finally answers. I asked her “did you receive my voice mail”. She responds with “no, but I don’t like to check voicemail just because… ” .. I honestly didn’t even know how to respond to that…and ended with she will call me back in a few minutes. Now another day has passed and nothing.

I just want my money back and for all the frusteration and these women being so unprofessional about everything I feel I deserve it back. I’m a nice person and don’t ever like asking for a refund, but there is a time I think when a customer should be honored. I don’t even know how to ask for a refund that’s how bad I feel about the situation and things not working out… I don’t know what to do. This has never happened to me and I couldn’t imagine doing this to any client or future client of mine. By the way 2 months have passed since I signed up and paid this “coach” in full for her program. I’ve reached out to her multiple times this past month isn’t the first. What would you do? Anyone have any advice? Thanks so much

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