I want my money back!
I want my money backTerrible statement that, if you are a small business. Big conglomerates don't seem to care they give refunds like free gifts...and a few of those as well to pacify an irate customer who didn't get what he expected or what he felt was promised.Small businesses are different; when you are often the sole representative there is nowhere to pass the buck when things get screwed up.Many small business people forget to train themselves or staff if they have them, for the time when something goes wrong. It may not be your fault it may be the way you have worded what you sell that has been misunderstood by the customer. Mostly they have not read the small print and very few customers ever read the terms and conditions. Sometimes third parties will arrange for a service or an item and then misinterpret the instructions or the arrangements. Small items are easy to refund. Some services are also easy but what about artisan workers who pay a lot for raw materials and spend many hours creating the product offered, usually something unique and bespoke? Have you ever been put in the position where a customer demands their money back?I have definitely had the odd sticky payer, but one write off in 27 years is not too bad. Never had a demand for money back but I know one business that did. A garden designer who had worked really hard and spent a great deal of money on a gentleman's residence only to be told on presenting his bill that the client had decided not to use his services after all and wanted his deposit back. Plants that have been in the ground for nearly a month cannot always be returned and paving slabs and other garden ornaments once used, especially near water will not be returnable. He was all but ruined and learned the lesson of obtaining stage payments up front.Do you have a good set of terms and conditions that you get your client to sign before doing business. Are they publicly available for all to see?Over the years mine have been honed and added to regularly so that all possible events are covered. My Terms and Conditions web page has been plagiarised and lifted many times...often without my name being removed from several parts of it. That's because it is very comprehensive and most people are lazy. Make sure yours are totally relevant to your trade.What about the customer who is unhappy? Some businesses would find it very hard to offer full money back guarantee... a wedding caterer for instance if all the food was consumed and the hired items used, the staff paid... that used to happen a lot way back during the last recession. It became a bit of a game chasing the best man or the bride's father with the bill before all left to go on holiday or honeymoon. Many people deliberately avoided paying for events on time and when they came back from holiday quite often they had gone bankrupt! In those days payments up front were few and far between.At least people understand these days that no one is going to risk a big loss. It's OK now to ask for deposits and money up front. You will not frighten customers off by those...not good customers anyway.Services which are set out well with terms and conditions must inform their existing customers who have paid in advance if any of those terms are to be changed. That change must not occur during the term paid for and the customer must be given a chance to review the situation before committing again.What of long term arrangements, like life memberships to fitness clubs or to some of the dining clubs that used to be a popular way for London restaurants to gain clientele some years back?The original terms and conditions must be very well planned and any changes must be notified and agreed to before being implemented surely? If not would such customers have a right to a refund?Many businesses are still working with ancient conditions that have not been properly updated to take account of up to date expectations. Are yours due for a makeover and have you fully informed your existing clientele of any changes?It's a minefield out there