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100% Money back Guarantee offer for clients?

offers money back



4:28 am on Dec 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

What do you guys thing about this, i recently purchased a "web design business kit" from sitepoint.com, in it it gives you some pointers and forms to use to help close sales etc.

The author who owns a successful web design co. in Australia suggests that you offer clients a 100% money back guarantee if theyre not satisfied. to quote one of the sales pitches he suggests using

"100% money back guarantee, if for any reason (or no reason at all!) you are not completely happy with the quality of the site, we'll refund your money! no questions asked"

Would any of you offer such an offer, again I am not advocating this offer, just asking for your thoughts.

Their are advantages and disadvantages.

Playing devils advocate the advantages would be having a higher rate of clients, since the client doesnt feel their is such a risk, this can be likened to someone buying a new car, knowing that if its a lemon he can return it and isnt stuck with it.

the DISADVANTAGES I'd presume would be working on a page that costs $10,000 only to have the client not jumping with joy about the page and wanting a refund, also unscrupulous clients, might have you design for them and not pay the balance and using the HTML anyway. Which actually happened to me once, luckily I had a feeling he'd do this so I used a HTML encrypter, (which leads me to a side question, these HTML encrypters,besides for being a pain, do they have any negative affects on the navigation/operation of the page, Id assume more people would be using them to protect pictures and HTML etc.)

I look forward to your opinions and debates.


3:03 pm on Dec 23, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'd generally associate a 100% money back guarantee with a manufactured, or pre-packaged commodity that required no additional effort from me other than to maybe post it.

If you're selling your services and investing your time in it, I think it would be very odd offering a 100% money back guarantee. It would be more sensible to offer something like, we'll work with you until you are happy with the page. Or something to that effect.


11:23 pm on Dec 24, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

We did it as a test. Had phenominal results. It brought us in a ton of business - but we had the guarantee thrown in our face a lot. We'd have to keep reworking and reworking everything because customers started thinking that satisfaction guarantee = lets try this..ok now try this...ok go back to #1 and try something else, etc, etc. When people are paying hourly or with a tigh project scope, it stops that from happening.

We also had a case where a guy worked and worked us, then right before we went into implementation, he dropped us and said "sorry, i'm not 100% delighted, overjoyed, thrilled, etc" as we had in our guarantee. We tried to work with him, but he just demanded his money back. After working over 40 hours on the site already - we had no choice but to give it back. However, a month later, we noticed his new site using an extremely similar layout. We filed copyright infringement notice with his ISP and he send us a check to license the use of our work overnight.

We also had a few chargebacks months later due to the guarantee - and someone even came back 7 months after we made his logo and asked for his money back, saying he didn't like it anymore.

It did churn up a ton of business, however, I would say that 50% of the problems my company faces today is due to the guarantee in some way or another. We have since dropped the guarantee and everything is completely speced out first or billed hourly.


6:13 am on Dec 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

notice what nahdoic says. I agree with him.


7:58 am on Dec 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Clients with a 100% guarentee can (and will) drain your time revising everything.

Its better to bill hourly and make them pay for revisions.



1:11 pm on Dec 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Did they offer a 100% money back guarantee on the web design business kit?

Do they believe in their business model?

I would guess not because it's not a good business model. Web design is subjective.

Also on the subject of "HTML encrypters"...Not a good idea. Browser standards are tough enough as is without adding alternative char sets or whatever method they are using. If they are using a java jumbler for lack of a better term, then you expect the spiders to execute the java. That would be news to me.

Understand the the spiders can only see what is there. Does it make sense to hide your site from the spiders?



1:37 am on Dec 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

got in trouble over the phone with a client/friend the other day who was hoping not to pay until I finsih the job and yes he did not like colours etc but could not give any suggestions and yet talking about money back guarantees!
Stopped all work, emailed him saying I never offer money back g and he has to pay the full invoice before I resume work on site
I do not like threats but this is the only way you can deal with some poeple

I could consider guarantees for seo but no way for web design


11:50 pm on Jan 10, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As a new web designer I took the "we'll work with you until you are happy with the page" route and so far have not had any problem. Not sure if I would do it for more than 10 pages though. And when I get established I will probably change.


3:21 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tell my clients that I want them to be 100% happy with my work, but I never tell them they can have their money back. My process works like this:

1. Client signs contract and pays deposit. Contract states that if they cancel, they forfeit all monies that they have paid so far, including the deposit.

2. I work with clients to ask them what they want in the look of their site. I also ask them what they don't like. Colors, layout, etc.

3. I design 1 mockup for them and they have 2 times to give revisions. I have only had 1 client ask to do another mockup. I'm sure there will be more, but that was almost 2 years ago. Clients know this process and I tell them that it's important to get the design down. If a client wants to change something after all the pages are designed, an hourly fee is added on.

I haven't had any problems with this process and it helps a lot. If someone will not sign my contract, I will not work with them. It weeds out the people who are out to screw you out of your work and the serious people who want a REAL website.

Hope this helps!


5:52 pm on Jan 19, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Another thing that I did that really helped, was raise my prices way up. Rather than getting every bottom feeder who will suck you dry with change after change and trying to squeeze every cent for all its worth, you get more laid back upscale clients who trust your professional judgement.


8:55 pm on Feb 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

How about this? We offer a 100% no-questions-asked guarantee that will kick in if we deliver the site late or not in accordance with the design brief which is signed off by the custy.

If the client delivers their deliverables such as copy or images, later than scheduled, the guarantee is voided by them.

It is very hard for custy to claim on this guarantee if you are well organised and always deliver on time.

If they signed off the spec themselves and you show them what you're developing and allow them to make modifications (within the scope of the design brief) then effectively they have designed the site themselves and so cannot claim that it is wrong.

We also use the 2 rounds of modifications system to place a cap on the amount of changes a customer is allowed to have. Otherwise changes and tiny mods can spiral out of control and cause the project to never finish. Getting to the finish line in any web dev project, and getting there on time (not one month late, 6 months late, 1 year late) is the golden chalice.

This system works very well for us. We haven't had to refund and money so far because it forces us to deliver on time and to spec. It also forces us to work very closely with the client to find out their needs. It also forces custy to deliver their copy, images etc on time. Late delivery by client is the bane of most web designers lives and makes it nearly impossible for us to plan and co-ordinate multiple projects. So it's a win-win situation.

I am sure one day someone will claim on the guarantee. We are committed to using that event as a learning tool.


5:33 pm on Feb 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I would offer the guarantee on the initial design samples. Once they are approved there is no turning back.


4:59 am on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I often work in 25% increments. Work is done on spec, and I'm happy to make sure the clients get what they want. If I'm getting abused, I am free to stipulate additional terms. If they are not acceptable - I walk. Each 25% increment is final. Once approved and paid - they own it. No getting to the final leg and having a gun put to my head with a ton of "little things" that never came up before and shouldn't be coming up then.

I've walked twice after being paid 75%, and then getting hit with ridiculous changes for work approved and paid. It was pretty unpleasant on both ocassions. One worked out and is probably a client for life.

Almost always, the character of the client is clear during/after the first increment.


11:41 am on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

BTW Very interesting thread.

Okay now down to business.....

The clear issue is a problem of communication, this happens a lot, now i am not a web designer, i am a web developer, so perhaps i am not in the exact same picture.

However it occurs a lot when i am assigned work, and my idea of work disagrees with theirs then its' because i didn't get their complete agreement before going ahead with all the work.

If i were in your shoes, i'd do a staged web design.

After each stage of the preview to finished design, i would ask for that stages approval and payment. And in the contract they would have no legal right to any of the work, unless they went all the way through.

The problem is that so many people are wishy-washy, can't seem to make up their mind.

So you have to force them to, in both a design and legal way.

They can stop before the end of any stage, as long as they paid for the preceding stage.


1:00 pm on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

As an end user of Webdesigners..ie a client, I deal in trust and relationships as well as the money. I did quite a few jobs with various designers usually with 25% in advance and got varying degrees of satisfaction. I usally found them through freelance bidding sites, Thes can help the anyone new to contracting webdesigners as you can use an Escrow service to keep the money on hold as it were until both parties are happy.

I found one I eventually could do business with, which meant they were professional in their approach and I have stuck with them.


9:37 pm on Feb 22, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

----The problem is that so many people are wishy-washy, can't seem to make up their mind.

So you have to force them to, in both a design and legal way.

They can stop before the end of any stage, as long as they paid for the preceding stage.


Yes - exactly. And communication is always key. Some people are so bad at it that they have to be pushed to particiapte in their own work. Time management then becomes a factor. I've seen clients take a month to do a half day of work. Sometimes I'm stuck with it, but am always Johnny-on-the-spot, ready to go, which in the end is usually impossible not to recognize, and the benefits follow.

Undead Hunter

7:25 pm on Feb 25, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm familar with that guarantee, and the company that provides it.

The point of it is to ease the final purchase decision, and it can very effective.

Here's a couple 'o things working in the favour of the guy who wrote it:

- he outsources his work. If he charges, say, $5,000 then I'll wager he's not even paying $1,500 for the actual work. So, minus his time he'd "only" be out $1,500 and not $5,000.

- yes, he has a money back guarantee on his book - but for a limited time, and hell, its a book. It's a solid product that can be sold unlimited times. So one sale means little.

His idea is sound. But I'd have to agree to specify the guarantee around "delivering everything as you signed off on to spec, on time" with the OPTION of "your money back" if not delivered on time, AND with a sign-off that says you won't use any of the material developed in anyway.

I think its more important to specify all the materials and deliverables up front, than to focus on a money-back guarantee. I always work to make my clients happy without that - in the end, it gives me more power, and "surprises" them. Essentially, going without the guarantee but *acting* like there is one is "underpromising and overdelivering", which everyone knows is the cornerstone of great customer service.


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