As business manager of the Native American Jewelry store at Horsekeeping, I take care of the day-to-day details of order fulfillment, banking and other business details.We rarely get an item returned but thought the following case studies would be interesting.
Each case makes an interesting story from a merchant’s point of view and also from the customer’s standpoint in terms of shipping costs required to send things back and forth.
There are some useful, positive morals to both stories, so please read on.
As with most independent online businesses, unless an item is defective or not as described, shipping is non-refundable and return shipping is the customer’s responsibility.
Note that when the word “shipping” is used it means the actual cost of packaging materials, postage, delivery confirmation, and insurance rounded to the nearest dollar.
OK …….now onto to the two Case Studies.
Neckace #1 Customer A used a credit card to purchase Necklace #1 which cost $272 plus $10 shipping.
Although the description clearly states the length and size of beads, the customer returned the necklace because it was “too short to fit my neck and the beads were too small”. I refunded her credit card $272 because she said she was going to purchase another necklace. Return shipping cost her $10.
“The necklace is too tight !!”
The same customer then purchased a longer, graduated necklace for $325 plus $10 shipping.
Although the description clearly states and shows in the photos that the necklace is made from graduated beads ranging down from 18 mm at the center to 9 mm at the ends, the customer returned the necklace because “I wanted beads all one size.”
“I wanted beads all the same size !!!”
I refunded her credit card $325 even though I could have charged her a restocking fee (see later in the article). Return shipping cost her $10.
When the customer contacted us about another necklace, we replied that we had nothing to fit her criteria.
The bottom line: A lose-lose situation.
Merchant sold nothing and paid $18 in credit card processing fees. That’s part of doing business and with returns a tiny fraction of 1% of our total sales, $18 is not a big deal.
But Paula (that’s me !) spent precious time and money dealing with the customer. The time (spent fulfilling the orders, processing the returns and refunding and replying to all the emails from this customer) was a greater outlay than the loss in credit card fees.
Time is Money
The customer ended up with no necklace and paid $40 for shipping and insurance ($10 x 4 = $40).
Customer B used PayPal to purchase a silver twist bracelet for $95 (plus $7 shipping) but found it was too small and too thin for her taste.
“Bracelet too small”
She returned it for a refund of $95 through PayPal because she said she would be buying another bracelet. The cost of her return shipping and insurance was $6.
Customer B then purchased a larger, thicker bracelet for $198 (plus $8 shipping) but found that it was a little bit too large and slipped off her thin wrist several times.
“Whoops – where did I lose that bracelet?”
She returned it for a refund of $198 through PayPal because she said she would measure better and purchase another bracelet. The cost of her return shipping and insurance was $8
Then customer B purchased another bracelet for $198 (plus $8 shipping) and it fit.
The bottom line: A kinda win and sorta win situation
Merchant sold one bracelet for $198 but paid THREE $6 fees to PayPal to receive the three payments. That cuts into the slim profit we have on items. And the merchant spent quite a bit of extra time with this customer.
Customer was afforded excellent customer service and appreciated it ! But she could have avoided excess shipping costs by more careful measuring of her wrist size and knowing what diameter bracelet she wanted. We have plenty of information on How to Choose and Fit a Cuff Bracelet and More on Cuff Bracelets.
For best fit, measure your wrist
Morals of the stories:
Read informative articles. See above for articles specific to this post