A promise made to a customer in ignorance.

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by namaan, Jun 17, 2013.

  1. namaan

    namaan
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    Hi,

    We're a small family business running an online retail website. I recently had a customer who called in to request a refund on shipping because they said that they received their order later than promised; that a Next Day Air UPS order (which is supposed to deliver by 10am) had been delivered at around 6PM the following business day. The person was apparently calling back a second time because whoever handled the initial call had, in ignorance, promised her that we would give her the refund as requested.

    They also forgot to actually issue the refund as promised at the time, which is why the customer was calling back - I admit fault here in hindsight. But I say the employee made the promise in ignorance, because they misread the order and the person was never entitled to the refund in the first place. The customer had not, in fact, used Next Day Air, but rather they used Next Day Air Saver, which may deliver at any time the following business day - which it did, and which is why it's cheaper.

    During my conversation with the customer, I felt it was an honest mistake by the initial person who handled the call and explained to the customer that we clearly noted on our policies (which they agreed to when placing the order) when they can expect delivery of their order given the different UPS services. I had during my conversation felt it was the right thing to do to not cave in to what seemed at the time to be unreasonable expectations/demands by the customer. I have little respect for spineless businesses/organizations and so felt I was taking a stand for something right. In hindsight, while I still feel I should have some backbone in conducting day-to-day business, I am sincerely wondering if that was in fact the right action to take. I am wondering about the merits of the argument that a promise is a promise, even when made in ignorance, and when the other party should have known better.

    What would you have done and why?
     
    #1 namaan, Jun 17, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2013
  2. TimeRider

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    Firstly, Welcome to BAF namaan. Well, I want to ask what product was it that you had delivered with it's total price including delivery charges If it's okay to say here. Because some products like birthday gifts should go on the time because late delivery means you have to refund. If it was something else, If maters on you and your company's policy.

    Well, It would matter me on the product I was delivering. If It's costly there can be some talks and apology. Well, If it was normal I would have refunded like a pizza delivery would be free if it took more than 15 minutes.
     
  3. namaan

    namaan
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    Thanks for the welcome,

    To be honest, I think a company is bound by its promise to deliver on time regardless of which product they are shipping. But what I pointed out was that it actually was not late. The customer was assuming it was, but actually received exactly what they paid for on time. And I don't remember the exact figure now, but Next Day Air shipping doesn't come cheap (not that it should matter I suppose).
     
  4. TimeRider

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    If it was not late according to you or your company, I don't think there is need for refund. Your question is confusing me, It was late for the customer and according to you it was okay with the company's time for delivery?
     
  5. namaan

    namaan
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    I'm sorry about the confusion. As a little background, UPS Next Day Air delivers on or before 10am the following business day, and UPS Next Day Air Saver delivers by the end of the following business day with no specific time given by UPS. The customer had selected UPS Next Day Air Saver, and was arguing that they had received their order late because it arrived by 6pm the following business day when in fact they received it on time according to the shipping service they selected.
     
  6. TimeRider

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    I think you should clear the confusion to the customer. It's their discussion or let's say fault to choose the Delivery type because It arrived the way it had to be. And It's not your fault, as far I know such delivery type like Next Day Air Saver doesn't have specific or accurate time of delivery because it's little low on cost.
     
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  7. Rocky

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    If the delivery was not late and the customer received it when it was supposed to then you should clearly explain it to him. And also apologize that the promise to refund was a mistake as the customer was not liable to get any refund in the first place. And if you do feel that since you made the promise even in ignorance and you find it hard to refund then you can provide the customer with a discount coupon as a good gesture for any future purchase. This would not irk the customer and satisfy you as well.
     
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  8. namaan

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    When I spoke with the customer, I had politely explained everything I have explained here, and had initially offered my apology. But the unbending response I received made it clear the customer had no concern whatsoever to my point that they were never entitled to a refund in the first place. So I handled the situation accordingly.

    I appreciate all the feedback, thank you, and I will consider your suggestion Rocky.
     
  9. Constantin

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    If I understood right, you did the job as it was supposed to be done and delivered everything in time. If there were no complaints regarding the state of the product (there was no damage) or anything else, then there's no point to do a refund.
     
  10. fayt

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    While it's good to stick to your policies, it can be seen as bad business practice to change and uphold your policies. Your employee should have been more careful, but giving the refund (as long as it was a low amount) would have been best. This customer is probably going to spread some bad things about your business, but nothing you can do now.
     
  11. Ted

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    I think you handled the situation well enough. And remember, sometimes people try to take advantage of the retailer. Many of the large store retailers allow themselves to be abused by customers who like to complain. Over time some customers have learned to demand unreasonable customer service because some companies give in to them.

    One question you should ask yourself is whether or not your website makes those shipping options clear enough when the person is checking out. Does your site make it obvious that there is a difference between Next day priority and next day saver? Is that difference made clear to the customer?

    One of the easiest ways to do that is to add a small block of text next to the choice of shipping options where it says (delivered tomorrow by 10am) or (devilered tomorrow by 8pm) or whatever the appropriate time frame is. That way the customer doesn't make that mistake in the first place.

    I understand the customer's point of view too though. They were obviously mad that they didn't get the package earlier because they expected it earlier. I hate when a package comes late especially when it is a package that I am waiting for specifically because I need it ASAP.

    I find UPS delivery to be very accurate and very timely whether shipped ground or priority. I find FedEx ground to be terribly slow with unreliable delivery times. Yet, their overnight service is excellent. So, if I was running a business that shipped products to customers, I would not even allow FedEx ground as an option. I would rule them right out just to make sure the deliver of my products was as reliable as possible.

    I realize that this package was delivered via UPS. I just wanted to add in my opinion about FedEx ground as I think people are nuts to use them unless they really don't care about deliver times at all. I swear the United States Postal Service is twice the speed of FedEx ground.
     
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  12. AnushaJain

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    If you have done the delivery at correct time according to you and your company, then explain the customer everything with the proof of what you are saying,and if you are right everywhere on your part then there is no need to refund.Be courteous on your part but we should not pay for that thing which is wrong.
     
  13. thealchemist

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    I actually used to work at the customer service line for a very large company who had a rewards card. We constantly received calls from people who did not read the terms and conditions of the programs which caused a lot of confusion and anger when they attempted to do or receive some discount that was not a part of the program. Whenever I would receive theses complaints, I would always apologize and inform them that they agreed to the terms and conditions of the program, so no compensation can be offered for their perceived inconvenience. However, I was instructed by my supervisors that if they continually complained or threatened to stop using the card, we had to offer some type of compensation, which I always felt was really dumb. We are giving compensation because these people choose not to read the terms and conditions of a service before they join the service, and now they can't understand why they are not receiving rewards points for some purchase that wasn't a part of the program. So, in your instance, I feel you handled the situation exactly as it should have been handled. The customer had a PERCEIVED problem, not a real one, so there is nothing to offer and no compensation to be given. I would have simply explained to them what Next Day Air Saver means and left it at that.
     
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  14. alicemenezes

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    I believe customer service is very important. If refunding her doesn't give you significant loss, I think you should do it. It will be remembered as something that sets you apart from the rest. However make sure you tell her of the different deliveries.
     
  15. platnumcn

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    See, I feel namaan handled the situation well and he should not be giving the refund. However, if you go by the call, even if it is by ignorance or anything, the customer had his point. Irrespective of the discount coupon, the client might have had a point on looking for refund. Some customers are too much into such things, and they would not have let you go irrespective of what you did for them. What I would think should be best to ask caller to make sure that such terms are not used in a call in future. I read it somewhere that callers should be trained to do that. There should be a person, who should monitor the long/conversion calls regularly to assure that if wrong things or incorrect information is given to people, they are corrected with an apology to the earliest.

    What do you guys think????
     

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