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Ecommerce Forum

Dealing with late returns
How does everyone handle it?

 9:13 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Our stated policy (both on the website and in materials packed with shipments to customers) states that we'll except returns of merchandise within 30 days of when we ship the original package.

Every once in a while, we get a customer who returns something to us well after that 30 day window. How do you all handle returns that are well past your stated policies? Do you issue a refund, issue a partial refund, or issue no refund at all?




 9:25 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

It depends on the situation. How strict are you about your policies?


 9:41 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

That's really the question. I'm trying to guage how strict others are with their policies.

I'm trying to draw a balance between exceeding customers expectations and being a patsy.

The one policy that we are very strict on (and have never had a problem with) is that returned and exchanged items MUST have the price tags still attached. (Usage of the product is all but impossible with the tags still on them.) This keeps us from having to give credit for returns that we have to turn around and throw in the garbage.


 9:45 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

We do the refund even though it is after the 30 day limit.
I don't look at it as being a patsy, it's more like living in a society that is populated with procrastinators.


 11:12 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

Our fluffy product doesn't fair well packed tightly in its shipping container so we are firm on our 30 day deadline, we don't accept the excuse that they had the product laying around the house for most of that time... picking up smells and whatever.

Most of the time the returned product can't be resold as new and we take a big hit on it.


 11:50 pm on Feb 2, 2004 (gmt 0)


So when a return does come in past the 30 day deadline, what do you do with it?

Or, do you never get them past the deadline?


 12:09 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

We try to be fair, but when the request for an RMA comes after 30 days we don't budge on our policy and we never offer incentives for the client to keep the item. Requiring an RMA does make the client think a little more about hanging on to their purchase and we feel it does reduce returns.

If a client calls, say within 4 days of the delivery receipt we make it easy for them to return the item. We have never received a complaint about our policy and we even believe that it improves our sales because we don't act hungry.


 12:18 am on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

For everyday (non-winter holidays) returns, we stay strict to the 30 day return. In the case of the winter holidays, we extend the return to 30 days after the last of the year. This gives the recipients of Hanukkah, Kwanza, and Christmas time to think about their gifts.


 8:56 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

We will take the return. I have found that failing to take the return, even with crystal clear policies, causes more problems and costs than just accepting it and moving on.

MQ (the patsy)


 9:10 pm on Feb 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

I deal with apparel and we take anything back. Our stated policy is "with tags intact" but in reality we'll take anything. I'd rather eat the product cost than get a chargeback.


 1:06 am on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

We'll often offer an exchange if it's past the 30 days. I've noticed that the ones who wait until it's past the 30 days to attempt a return are usually the same people who paid extra to have the order rush shipped out to them.


 1:16 am on Feb 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

we actually offer a 90 day return policy as a way to stand out from the crowd - and it definatly works and shows that we have great confidence in our product. Our return rate is very low - but anything over the time limit is simply returned to sender with a copy of our return policy enclosed.


 6:03 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


What happens if the customer returns the product after the x days the policy states and also contact their credit card comapny to stop payment?

Do the CC company contact you about it?

And can it be resolved by you sending the CC company a copy of your returns policy - which clearly states that you are in the clear?

A colleague of mine had a case where the customer purchased an item (motorcycle part), put it on his bike, used it and then returned it. If the customer then disuputes with the credit card company, then surely we can win that case by showing our policies?

I've been told that the customer usually wins with CC companies, is that true?

Also, what about if the customer sends it back and you send it back with a copy of your policy. I'm assuming that you foot the shipping cost. If they send it back again, do you just keep it?

Sorry for the mass of questions!


 6:19 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

we always take returns even though we have a stated 7 day return policy,

as mentioned by badtzmaru we would rather take a return than get a chargeback, the punter is always right with a customer not present sale.


 6:28 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)


Online credit card transactions are considered "card not present" transactions which essentially means that you can not currently win a customer dispute since you do not have a signed sales draft.

Visa and Mastercard both have online authorization systems that they are testing that will allow for password authentication of credit card sales. These password-signed transactions will have the same validity as a signed sales draft would, thus making it possible for online merchants to actually refute a disputed transaction.


 7:09 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Thank you for that!

What about some websites I've seen that ask you to check a box accepting their terms and conditions prior to completing the sale?

Would this get around the card not present as the customer has literally agreed to your terms?


 7:24 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately not, the visa and mastercard merchant agreements are specific and universal in that a signed sales draft is the first thing necessary to refute a dispute.

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