It’s fair to say that today’s consumer is a whole new breed. I recently had a situation with a customer that I really want to share with you as it meant I have had to change a working process in order to protect myself and my business…
In March 2019 I sold a dress and a veil to a customer who paid by credit card. In July she came into her first fitting and decided she didn’t like her dress. It was a simple dress but she had gone off it.
She then found a flaw and delightedly demanded a full refund as she was “within her rights to reject faulty goods and obtain a refund”.
I refused and said I would have a replacement dress within a week and that I was within MY RIGHTS to do this.
She decided to up and leave in a rage. She left the dress and her veil. The next day she wrote and demanded a full refund. Again I refused.
What happened then
I went back within ten hours and informed her that I had a new dress and asked when we could fit it. She refused and said she would sue the designer and me for anxiety due to the first dress being faulty. Let’s not forget she had also gone off the dress so this was just a perfect scenario.
Given the ridiculous drama over nothing and being in peak, I decided to refund her for the dress… some battles are just not worth the fight and I knew this was one of them.
My refund for the dress was a good-will gesture and done on the basis I believed she no longer loved the dress. I got her to sign a document to cover myself so that there would be no comeback. She agreed and was thankful for the refund. I did not agree to refund the veil.
I wrote to her twice asking her to collect the veil and twice she came back and asked for a refund. I declined. Feeling I had more than compromised.
Then, out of the blue, she wrote and demanded we post the veil that day or she would like her money back for non-delivery of goods.
I was unable to make this happen, one because we were insanely busy and two because we don’t have a post office near the fitting atelier. I did however post it the next day on a ‘signed for’ service.
She then refused to accept the delivery saying I was late with it. It was returned to me. I wrote to her and asked her why on earth she had done that and she replied that I had missed the deadline and that she was therefore due a refund!
I refused. I felt I had been beyond reasonable but that was the last straw. It was her deadline and she was clearly just looking for trouble. The veil was worth £395.
Trust me it gets better…
Two months later when I had calmed down and assumed she was married and moved on, I got a letter from the company that processes my card transactions. They decided to refund her and chargeback the amount to my account; they gave me seven days to dispute this and prove my case. I was dumbfounded and totally furious.
Needless to say I disputed this and provided the following evidence.
– A signed copy of her terms and conditions for the veil and dress, stating that the items were made to order and non-refundable.
– Several letters of correspondence stating that I would not refund her as she chose to leave the veil and it was a non-refundable item.
– A copy of the ‘signed for’ proof of postage to her before her wedding day.
– A copy of the returned package saying she had rejected delivery.
I explained the entire scenario above and concluded that I had made every effort to return her item and she rejected it.
I got a standard no-name letter from the processor stating that I had not provided sufficient evidence and they were refunding her. Not only refunding her, but also charging me an admin fee to do so. I went into battle mode with them.
I disputed it once more and asked for them to re-open the case and contact me supplying someone I could speak to. They did and they still refused to give me the money back. All they would say was that within their terms and conditions the customer was due a refund. It took me hours of my time to finally get their customer service manager to explain why they considered a refund was due and here it is… And I quote:
“At the point your customer asked for her money back from us she had no goods and you have her money and that gives us reasonable right to refund.” No discussion, no sense to check with me – nothing.
They then said it was now a civil case and that I should get a lawyer to obtain my monies back. I told them that they were complicit in her obtaining an unlawful refund. They then referred me to their terms – 40 pages of double-Dutch.
I decided there and then to move my business. I won’t bore you with the reductions I was offered in my costs to stay, or emails asking me to contact them and re-consider. I just told them I didn’t want them to handle my money and I referred them to this charge-back issue.
Think very carefully
You wonder why I got so bothered but, you see, this opened up a whole new area of concern for me. What would happen if mid-fitting a bride changed her mind? I would have her dress in-house being altered and I would also have her money.
I posed this question to the processors and whilst they saw my concern they said: “that would never happen”. But we all know that it might.
Are we covered in such cases? When a bride buys her dress from me she signs a very detailed contract basically covering my ass for everything.
When she has her dress fitted she signs a further contract with the dressmaker making them account-able for the work undertaken and stating that she is responsible to pay them directly. Finally, when she collects her dress and accessories, she signs a further document stating she is collecting it, is happy with all the work undertaken, that she knows how to get it on, and is warned of delicate parts.
I felt I was covered, but I don’t get my customers to sign and say they are happy for us to keep it for alterations and that it is insured by us and they now own it as they have paid for it and they will collect it on the agreed date.
Even as I type that it seems totally farcical and I want to get back on the phone to those processors and say: “Are you kidding me?” Sadly, they are not. Bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, if you have items in your possession that a client has also paid for in full you may be at risk of them claiming their money back. Signed terms or not.
Clearly, different card processing companies may handle it differently but in talking to other retailers they too have had similar situations mid order. Check check check those terms. It’s a new year and a new dawn for me and I have reviewed all my processes yet again to ensure that the tiniest of loop-holes are covered. I urge you to do the same.
PS I just bought an Aston Martin on my credit card for this week. Will take it back Sunday and drop the keys through the door of the car showroom then get my money back – wish me good luck with it! x