For the business owner:
In the marketplace where millions of transactions are made daily, a fair refund and exchange policy is an effective sales tool as advertising, promotion, and merchandising. By taking constructive action, a business can turn customer discontent into greater customer loyalty.
Successful retailers agree that, in the long run, business profits are tightly tied to the company’s ability to satisfy the customer. While a store may take the stance that all sales are final, such as, the desire for good customer relations generally dictates that an exchange or refund program be in effect. Following are some useful guidelines for setting up a system to handle refunds, exchanges, and returns.
Company management first must decide on a refund/exchange policy. In making this decision, consider the company’s suppliers and their “take back” policies, manufacturers’ warranties, and service center set-ups. State and federal laws also enter the policy picture, and the laws should be checked out with your company attorney. When finished, the detailed policy probably will be a blend of policies; yours, the suppliers, and the laws that govern refunds, exchanges, returns, warranties, and service contracts.
Although the “blend” mentioned above sounds complicated, your policy should be reduced to its simplest form so both company employees and customers quickly and easily understand it.
A “No Quibble” or “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back” policy is ideal. This may not be possible in your business, but the policy should be kept simple, understandable, and as consistent as possible.
Use your policy in advertising and post it in your stores for everyone to see. Print it and use it as a bill stuffer from time to time. Not only does this remind your customers that they can count on your company, it helps prevent misunderstandings from arising and can help resolve them when they do occur. Many retailers set aside a special area or station to handle bring-backs and make it accessible to customers.
It is important that employees be instructed to stick with the policy and not make oral promises as to exchanges, returns, refunds, and warranties that are inconsistent with the policy.
Do instruct employees to remind customers to save receipts should merchandise need to be returned. This procedure is often done at the check-out counter by a cashier, although salespersons store wide also should mention receipt-saving if, in the employee’s judgment, an exchange might be possible. Whenever possible receipts, themselves, should carry information on your refund and exchange policy.
Better Business Bureau’s role in consumer complaint handling
Most business owners know that not all customers will be happy with an exchange, return or refund policy. As such, accredited business owners have the optional support from the Better Business Bureau.
Recognizing that consumer confidence is basic to the health of the American marketplace, one role of BBB is that of an unbiased third-party seeking voluntary resolution of legitimate consumer complaints.
BBB’s policy is that consumers first must attempt to resolve any dispute directly with the business involved. If then the matter cannot be resolved, BBB will attempt to bring about a resolution using conciliation and arbitration techniques.