Authors, Writers, Publishers, and Book Readers
How to Make a Return on a Non-Refundable Product
Buyer’s Remorse is a retail store’s nightmare. In fact, we downright hate it. But you really can’t blame us since we’re in the business of selling product, not loaning it for an unspecified amount of time. Still, customers returning product is something we have to deal with.
We try and make it easy by posting our Return Policy all over the store at work stations and the front counter, but nobody reads them. I know. You see, I’m a customer, too, and I don’t read them either.
Now just because we hate taking returns doesn’t mean we don’t empathize with customers. After all, people make mistakes. That’s you and me. Here’s why it’s in your best interest to own up to your mistake when trying to return something that’s non-cancelable and non-refundable.
I had a husband and wife buying appliances for their new home and they were downright tickled from head to toe. They came in looking for medium-priced appliances with a $6,000 budget, and after explaining the differences of options they settled for a high-end kitchen package that came to $9,000. Sounds like a lot of money, but in the home improvement business you’d be surprised how easy it is to go from 6k to 9k. And we make it easy too, what with finance options available.
But we don’t sell just to sell and I’m not on commission. The prices steadily rise after qualifying a customer’s needs and explaining the differences in products. Remember, today’s market is no different than yesterday’s market. Meaning, you get what you pay for.
Anyway, the couple bought a 30” double-wall oven and was sure it would work. I even emailed their installer specifications. Since they were installing new cabinets it looked like a no-brainer. Then came the surprise!
A month down the line the wife called saying she wanted to cancel the order. I asked why and she said she has a neighbor who said the appliances she chose were no good and had terrible reviews online. I asked how long she knew the neighbor and if she’d read the reviews herself. She said she’d only just met the neighbor when they moved in, which was three months earlier and no, she hadn’t read the reviews. She was taking the word of someone she barely knew.
I get this all the time and it never ceases amazing me how people will listen so easily to strangers. I explained to the husband and wife that customer ratings and reviews do tend to skip a beat here and there. Some are based on price; others are based on a first-time experience of someone who expects everything to go right all of the time. I further explained how vendors manufacture thousands of products each year and a few are bound to have a quirk here and there. But that’s no problem seeing how the vendor has a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty and our store offered extended warranties for same coverage that adds another 4 years. I further explained as manager I don’t get many issues and when I do we work it out.
Usually this works and I am sincere. After all, I do have a reputation in a career affording my family and me a good life. The last thing I want is issue after issue that keeps me from selling; instead taking a bunch of returns I can’t get credit for in most cases. After explaining to the customer they had not only my assurance, but the vendor’s they were adamant and demanded to cancel their order.
The tricky part here is the items were special ordered and could not be cancelled. I heard the wife crying on the other end of the phone and it got to the point she had to hang up. I called back leaving a message to call me when she felt up to it.
The next morning the husband came to the store to speak with me. Now before you let your imagination run wild hear me out. The guy walked in happy to see me and apologetic over his wife’s lack of control of emotions. So far as he was concerned he wanted to keep the appliances. He liked them and agreed they should not take advice of strangers living next door and on the web. But his wife was unhappy and like all wise husbands he knew if he wanted to be happy he needed to keep her happy.
Now from this point you’re going to learn how to cancel an order, make a return and get a full refund. You see, it’s all about how you talk and empathize. This customer bought what they wanted. Yes, it was what they wanted. I didn’t twist their arm and demand their money. I listened to their needs, made recommendations, and they chose to go with the higher-end products. Special order products that were non-cancelable once ordered.
The husband knew this and said it was not our fault they were now indecisive. He simply didn’t want his wife to be unhappy in their new home and wanted to cancel the order and choose the original items they wanted. Being married myself I know the importance of keeping the wife happy, especially when it comes to the kitchen. My wife loves and lives to cook!
Their decision to cancel is not uncommon. This happens all too often. Again, Buyer’s Remorse striking back. Any business has the right to refuse to cancel an order and/or impose a restocking fee up to 15%. What this customer did is text-book into getting a refund.
He was nice! That’s right! He was NICE! He didn’t accuse me of up-selling. On the contrary, he was grateful and appreciated my advice. He apologized for his wife’s crying and indecision and knew this was putting us out. He was even willing to pay the restock fee. He was so nice I felt like a heel charging him the restock fee.
His attitude was so good I not only agreed to cancel his order, but I did NOT charge him a restock fee. I said, “Other people would’ve accused us and accosted us of selling what they didn’t need.” Listening to him was like a breath of fresh air on a hot day. So much so that I happily canceled and refunded the order.
The customer was so grateful he said he would definitely come back with his wife next week to reselect the appliances. I thanked him and watched him go on his merry way, feeling like a gained a customer for life.
That’s how you get a refund or cancel an order if you want no hassle. Be nice. How simple is that. The whole week I felt like I was on top of my game.
Here’s the catch on my side. When I called the customer the following week to see when they’d like to visit my store I got no return call for the next 3 days. After another week passed I tried again. No return call. A full month passed before the husband returned my call and said he’d purchased his appliances from a competitor.
Right about then I recalled the saying, ‘Nice guys finish last.’