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Ecommerce Forum

Customer returned item out of policy
also smells like smoke

 12:03 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I own a online clothing store, my return policy is on the site and included with every order on a return slip. 14 days to return for full refund, sale items are only 5 days, RA # must be given if you want to return.

Those items in a nutshell are the bread and butter. I get a few back that are 16, 18 days, etc...but I always let it slide.

Today I got a jaccket back, marked down from 450 to 350, they purchased on may 22, I got it back today June 20th. almost a month, it was a sale item too, and there was no RA given via email, phone, etc. The jacket smells like smoke and is worthless to me.

I assume send it back to the customer stating return policy, etc...BUT, I am afraid they will do a chargeback on me, can they? anyone have other solutions for this IDIOT customer?


Corey Bryant

 12:13 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would email the customer stating that it is past the 14 days. Also state that due to the condition of the item, you cannot accept it. See what the client says. It is possible, but you can always explain your situation as well. And hope that the issuing bank finds for you

(Does your return policy also state that the clothes must be returned "like new"?)



 12:19 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Corey, yes, it states that on website and on return form that included (unworn, unaltered, unwashed, as new condition with tags, bags) and more.

I was assuming just send it back without telling them, because this customer has to be an idiot.

The return form was in the package, and I have a few columns to fill out (what you paid, date, price, reason for return, RA#) and only thing it said was "jacket" nothing else.


 12:39 am on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

send it back stating clearly why. (Condition and timeframe). Apologize and offer a discount on a future purchase.

If they do instagate a chargeback you have more than enough documentation to win the battle. Keep the delivery notifications and tracking numbers.


Corey Bryant

 1:52 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would email them just to let them know. This way - it gets you prepared for all the paperwork. Make the letter stern because if the customer is an idiot :) - that should help. Do not ever mention chargeback etc though.

The problem - sending it back, if the customer does not sign for it or refuses the package it might be a little more difficult - depending on the issuing bank



 6:40 pm on Jun 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

If the jacket smells like smoke, that is already a good enough sign that tells you your client's first intention is to rip you off. Anything you send back will only increase your loss.

Call the person, kindly tell him that the item is not acceptable for return. Offer him an opportunity to get it back if he agrees to pay for shipping.

Either way, due to the foul intention of the return, you are likely to get a chargeback anyway. Don't lose more than you have to.


 11:36 am on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Is there a time limit the customer has to make a chargeback? I believe it is 2 months for my credit card.


 11:39 am on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

The chargeback situation is a big worry, can you wait until the deadline has passed before sending the cost back?

We once had a customer who sent us back some unbreakable cups - with tea stains in them where they had used them and not even bothered to rinse them out!

Customers can be a nightmare sometimes...


 4:18 pm on Jun 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

This "annoying" customer could be a great loyal customer in the future, if you treat him the proper way he should be treated.

If you decide to refund him, there is nothing which can stop him from ordering again and use your jackets. You might soon turn into a second hand store.

I think, a polite explanation of your rules and offering him solutions like free shipping of the "used" jacket back to him again, will be a great help to teach him a little sense of business rules.



 5:18 am on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Who needs customers like these! I'd just tell him it's not refundable. Otherwise you could run the risk he will tell his friends that you're lax with the return policy and everyone will start returning used goods late and you might as well open up a clothes hire business instead!


 4:12 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I sell some size based products (not clothes) - people often get the wrong size and want to return it. I used to get so many back that were unfit for resale that I now always put a note in explaining the terms and that returns will not be accepted without a returns no. I now charge these people 25% re-stock fee and put the items up on ebay as "used" to recover my costs. Not once has anyone contested my decision, and no chargebacks have been made. You have to take a firm stance with your customers otherwise they end up walking all over you, using what little rights retailers have (in the UK anyway).


 4:39 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, few days ago I sent the jacket back, again with my return policy in the box, and a personal note from me (which I also emailed) saying that this jacket was 16 days past the return grace period, smelled like smoke and there was no RA#, etc....there will be no refund given, but I will give you 15% any future purchase regardless of amount.

Package arrived 2 days ago, email was sent monday and have not heard a peep yet?


 4:56 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

IF you require your customer to accept your return policy before processing their order, you're probably safe. Chargeback requests are usually not granted, and in this case you are on solid grounds, I believe.

I would not refund the money. This is not a customer you really want to keep.


 5:06 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

see above....items been sent back, no refund.


 5:09 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I hate to say it, but I think you should give the customer a refund and take the item to be dry-cleaned - and then if you can't sell it through your site again, sell it on eBay.

If you send the jacket back to the customer, they'll probably keep it and charge back the purchase (which would cost you the sale, the item, and an extra $15 - $25 depending on your merchant provider's chargeback fee).

The credit card company will always side with their customer and leave the merchant hanging. Be glad you got the merchandise back, most sellers aren't that fortunate.

:: EDIT ::
Just realized that you have already sent it back ... I hope your customer accepts your terms and doesn't charge back, but if they do there won't be much you can do about it.


 5:18 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am figuring someone who has not answered any emails, sent the jacket back 4 weeks after purchase, and sent back in poor condition doesnt have the time, or brains to do a charge back.


 5:46 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

I would see what some of your bigger competitors return policies are. Or a bigger company that sells similar products. If you have bad policies, the more orders you take per day/week, the more problems you are going to encounter and time you are going to waste. For the next time, you could just refuse any package that does not have the RA number on the package.


 6:27 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is actually the first bad experience with a return, only been open 3 months, but about 400 sales with about 40 returns....so it has not been a recurring problem. Other sites say no returns without an RA, I have been taking them in. Other sites have less of a grace period than me, others more. Honestly, I would not have cared about the late return, but the smoke smell pissed me off.


 9:18 pm on Jun 24, 2005 (gmt 0)

10% is a REALLY high returns rate, Maybe you need to look closer at how your items are being presented to buyers so that they know exactly what they are getting. And do not get confused by color or sizing options.

Is 10% high for clothing? Seem so. We sell some other items with many options and have return rates under 1%.


 6:48 pm on Jul 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

It is impossible to avoid situations like this. What we did was instate a 20% restocking plus actual outbound shipping cost (since we have free shipping on everything). Normally if a customer goes through the proceedures and is polite we will knock the restocking fee down depending on what they are returning and the condition it arrives in.

If a customer sends something back that isn't in new condition and has not obtained and RGA, we decide if we will be able to resell the item in it's current condition, if not it is sent back with a note in the box. If it is resellable, we charge the full restocking fee and issue credit.

So far we haven't had to send many items back to the customer, and haven't had any chargebacks spawning from this policy. We ALWAYS send back unacceptable returns UPS adult signature required.

Of course, we do get the occasional customer who issues a chargeback at their bank on the way to the post office to send somthing back parcel post.


 8:54 am on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am afraid they will do a chargeback on me, can they? anyone have other solutions for this IDIOT customer?

if they do a chargeback and it goes through, make them pay another way - remember credit cards are just a payment method and charging back means they haven't paid for the goods (and have created other costs to you) - if necessary, take them to court

even better would be to save yourself the grief and write it off and never let them buy from you again


 9:01 pm on Jul 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

I can sympathize with your problem because I also sell high end clothing and after an experience similar to yours we posted a returns policy requiring the item to be returned "in arrival condition" within 10 days of receipt. We also send a returns slip along with all merchandise sold giving our returns policy. (We sold the returned and unsalable item elsewhere and lost money on it, too).

Good will only extends so far. Since you sent the jacket back and haven't heard anything, you're probably okay. But do be aware that regardless of your stated returns policy, most credit card companies will not back you in a refund dispute because you have a "card not present" transaction.


 6:56 pm on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

>they do a chargeback and it goes through, make them
>pay another way - remember credit cards are just a
>payment method and charging back means they haven't
>paid for the goods (and have created other costs to >you) - if necessary, take them to court

Then the customer allegs he hasn't placed the order. Of course this depends on prior (provable) correspondence. But there's not much you can do.


 5:19 pm on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>Then the customer allegs he hasn't placed the order.
>>Of course this depends on prior (provable)

not really. if you have a sensible e-commerce policy, then you'll only ship to the cardholder's address so *prior* correspondence isn't required


 6:20 pm on Jul 15, 2005 (gmt 0)

I know the situation has been resolved, but for future problems, have you considered doing a store credit?

Since the item was past its return date, you could offer issue them a store credit for the item. You have a pretty good chance that they will not use the credit (especially if you send the credit by mail) and you still keep the good will of the customer.

Even if they do use the credit, they have to spend the money with you rather than taking it elsewhere.

You can even (to make it even less likly they will use the credit) send an email explaining the situation and that they can either take the store credit or your can send the item back to them. Again, you don't come out the bad guy, you did offer them something and they may just voluntarily request the item is retruned to them rather than take the store credit.

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