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Returned goods damaged due to no packing.



3:24 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


customer returned for refund, a relatively expensive collectors' item as 'unwanted'.

unfortunately the item was not returned in its original shipping carton & instead just thrown (without any protection) into a plain plastic bag.

as a result the display box was damaged making it unsuitable for resale
as a collectable item.

this is i first & i'm not sure how to handle the refund etc in view of the damage - anyone experienced similar or could advise?


3:41 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

If the amount of loss is something you can eat, eat it. Thank the user for his return, process the refund, and forget about it.

If your terms and return instructions clearly require him to package the goods well then you could try indicating that you will refund him based on the new value of the goods not their original value; and ask him to take up the issue with <insert name of the shipper he used> to obtain the difference as whether it was under-packaged or badly handled is an issue between the customer and the shipper.

Again; if at all possible, eat the loss, thank the customer and forget about it. Update your instructions and terms. Unless we are talking fairly serious money here it really is not worth the hassle nor the potential upsetting of a customer who may well buy from you again if given good service. Besides.... it's Christmas.


5:47 pm on Dec 13, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whoisgregg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I disagree with vincevincevince's suggestion that the time of year should require you to be taken advantage of by inconsiderate customers.

If they had been mailing the same item as a gift to a friend, surely they would have packaged it better? I don't know why you would bend over backwards to accommodate a person who has demonstrated a complete lack of courtesy and respect to you.

Any time you receive a damaged shipment, you should document the damage. Take pictures of it before you open it, take pictures while you unpack the item(s). Whenever possible, refuse delivery from the carrier. Often, once you accept the package, the carrier will not accept any liability. Better to refuse it and have it sent back to the sender than for you to have to deal with it.

Of course, it's too late for that, so here's my recommendation:

Give yourself a holiday gift and fire this customer. Give them a full refund, then email them the photos, politely explain that you will be unable to resell this item, and kindly tell them that you will be unable to accept their business in the future. You'll have done the right thing and you can sleep easier knowing this person won't be back.

Just make sure you fully and politely explain the situation. That way if they repost your "firing" of them, any reasonable person will be able to tell who was right and who was wrong.


2:32 am on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

How about a restocking fee in this situation as a comprimise between returning it to them (not really feasible since you would have to reship it and worry about them accepting delivery) and a full refund?

Thank the user for his return

Your kidding, right?


2:43 am on Dec 14, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I do agree with vincevincevince comment since he can prove that it has been returned he will win a chargeback

[edited by: Realbrisk at 2:57 am (utc) on Dec. 14, 2008]


6:52 am on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I also agree with vincevincevince. If it's a cost that you can eat, eat it. Update your return policy ASAP and move on.


1:44 pm on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I'd be inclined to agree with the majority here. It's a learning experience for you. Your Returns Policy may need to be more explicit but you have a decision to make with regards to your reputation, level or energy to expend, and the likelihood of changing the ending. Is it worth fighting over this with them?


7:51 pm on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

120 is a reasonably hard amount to swallow - it does state in our returns policy that goods must be returned in all the original packaging & in a resalable condition.

does everyone here 'always' graciously suffer the grief that some customers' give them?

today i had a set of items returned with a really nasty letter stating that they were not properly descibed with regards to height - i phoned the lady & politely told her that the description on the site did in fact explicity show the size - she then accused me of calling her a liar & remined me that she was the customer - is the customer always right no matter what - they seem to think so?


9:22 pm on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

120 is a reasonably hard amount to swallow

Your right, that is a hard amount to swallow.

it does state in our returns policy that goods must be returned in all the original packaging & in a resalable condition.

Then I would fight them on it. If your return policy is rock solid, then it becomes a matter of principal. Even if they meant well, they need to return the product correctly.

Earlier I posted to eat the cost if possible and update your return policy. I guess I assumed that the product was much, much cheaper - and that the return policy was loose. Sorry about that.


9:23 pm on Dec 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

is the customer always right no matter what - they seem to think so?*

*emphasis is mine

Then that is all that matters. If you want their money, they get to dictate the terms. Thank the big guys like Amazon and E-bay and Zappos. These are the brands people know and trust; their policies cater to the customer and these are now the "standard" operations for internet shopping.

As for your nasty customer and poor packaging -- people are idiots. There will always be one who makes the most obvious of mistakes: "How was I supposed to know that the Blue Widget wasn't red? You didn't make it clear enough." What do you do when they just told you they didn't even think, not for one moment, about what they were doing? You smile and nod and take one for the team 'cause that's the type of person will smear you all over every board and customer review website they can find...and enjoy every minute of it.

Re: your customer who didn't bother to package the returned good. If you want to fight them about it, tell them to file a damage claim with their chosen shipper. Until you receive the item back, it's theirs and they are responsible for it -- both the shipper and your customer. Of course, in this case, the customer will get nothing from the shipper as they used insufficient packaging. Which means they will be held at bay for about 2 weeks during the damage investigation...and then come back to you screaming for their money. So, if you want it to end here, refund and eat the loss. Get a good accountant and write it off. I don't think anyone here is suggesting this is what we want to do, just what we have found works to actually solve the majority of problems.


1:45 am on Dec 16, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member vincevincevince is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

As the item value is higher, and the loss harder to eat - you can try meeting them midway: tell them you can't honour the refund as they had not packaged the product sufficiently - however as a gesture of goodwill - give them a refund via voucher. They get their asset value back but your equivalent loss is reduced by your profit margin (e.g. if the customer uses the 120 voucher, you're only out the trade value of the goods, e.g. 60). There is also a good chance they will not use the voucher (remember to add an expiry date) or they will top-up the voucher by using it on something larger in which case you get more than the 60 back.


12:48 pm on Dec 18, 2008 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

If the t&c state clearly that goods should be returned in the original condition, I wouldn't give the refund. It's the customer's responsibility to read the terms before making a purchase and to abide by them. As a gesture of goodwill, you can send him back the item and he can do with it as he wishes. Just make sure you quote the bit of the t&c in any correspondence you have with him so if he causes trouble, you can do something about it.

It's a bitch for him, as this is not a good time to be spending that kind of money on something unwanted, but the situation is not your fault. Imagine if 50 customers did this and you honoured their requests? you'd go out of business sooner rather than later.


6:10 pm on Jan 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

For future sales, as an extra safety measure, when you send a customer the confirmation email that his/her purchase has been processed, add a link to your returns policy page.

Here is an example:

"I'm sure you will be happy with your purchase. However, if the product(s) didn't meet your expectations, you can return it for a full refund. Just follow the steps shown here http://www.example.com/terms..."

[edited by: Argentdreamer at 6:10 pm (utc) on Jan. 5, 2009]


4:32 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We constantly receive returns that don't come with original packaging despite what our return policy says. We receive returns that are well outside of the generous 60-day return policy, and these are high ticket items that range anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars. It sucks to have to accept those returns and issue those refunds, but we do because more often than not, the customer returns to us at some point in the future and makes a purchase they they don't return.

I always thank people for their returns, regardless of the situation. I thank them for contacting us, I thank them for whatever I can. It's a good way to neutralize an angry customer, most of the time before they even show their anger to begin with.

I would let them know that you're going to issue a refund to them despite the fact that the product was damaged due to poor packaging in the return, and then contact the courier and see if you can't file a claim for the amount if it was damaged in shipment. You might be able to please your customer AND get your money back at the same time.


7:46 pm on Jan 7, 2009 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

In our experience, the shipping companies generally will only deal with the shipper, not the receiver, in the matter of claims.

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