I haven’t sat down to write a blog in a fairly long time, but today life decided to teach me a new lesson and I thought of putting it in writing so I can get back to it every time I am faced with similar situations.
In my 8 years of making jewelry I have never had a return of any of my pieces. I had a few customers that came back to me with a request to fix a broken piece or to change/add something to the design that would make them happier. I always did what I was asked free of charge and without any questions. I have happy customers and that reflects in the wonderful support they offer through their reviews, repeat orders and recommendations. For that I am very grateful!
About a week ago I received in the mail a pair of earrings I sold back in December. They were mailed back in the same envelope I shipped them in, which was torn, taped back together and my address was handwritten on a piece of paper glued on top of the old mailing label, with no return address. No note inside, no warning email or phone call from the customer, I was completely in the dark as to why those earrings were returned and by whom.
My return policies are very clear and are posted visibly on my website and additional galleries I sell through:
"Returns are accepted within 15 days of receiving your order. Please contact me within 7 days of receiving the package and let me know the reason for return. Please do not return any items without prior notification. A full refund will be issued to you as soon as I receive the item being returned. All return shipping fees are the responsibility of the Buyer. My goal is for you to be 100% delighted with your order. So if there is any issue with your item I will try to solve it in the shortest possible time and in a reasonable manner".
I believe this is a very reasonable return policy as I am an artisan and not a big retailer that is able to offer 90 days returns. And even the big retailers require a receipt.
Luckily I keep very detailed records of all my transactions and as I make mostly one-of-a-kind pieces I was able to identify the buyer in no time. I sent a very nice email to her asking the reason for return and pointed out my return policies. Even though I am under no legal obligation to do a refund at this point, I offered to refund 80% of the fee she paid, explaining that the remaining 20% will help cover my many fees associated with the transaction, the free shipping and handling I offered at the time of the sale, bookkeeping fees, etc. Also, PayPal doesn’t offer the option of refund for orders older than 60 days, and simply sending money out of my account without a trail would create issues in my bookkeeping.
I was feeling a bit frustrated and thinking that it is really not cool to buy something, enjoy it for three months and then return it without an explanation just because you got bored with it, and then go buy something new with the refund and do the same thing all over again. I am not Target after all…
A week goes by without any sign from the client. My frustration is on the rise, and I keep thinking that I want this issue behind me without the risk of getting a negative review or my gallery being reported by a disgruntled customer that refuses to communicate with me. So yesterday morning I decided to send another nice note, and thinking that maybe she does not get my communications through I sent it this time from both my work and personal email addresses. This is the reply I got today:
"Hi Simona, I have just undergone two major breast cancer surgeries, including a bi-lateral mastectomy. Plus, the surgeon is still this week drawing out lymph fluid. Please help me to receive a full refund. Obviously, this is the reason for returning the earrings now, although I love them. Thanks so much! VH"
A good reminder that things are never as they seem… How trivial my frustrations sound now!… Lesson learned…
Needless to say, I issued a full refund including the shipping fee she paid for the return, and I re-sent the earrings to her as a gift with my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Thank you for reading! Feel free to comment and/or share a lesson that you learned recently.