Consumers aren’t perfect and make mistakes, and to keep customers happy, a business may offer a one-time courtesy refund.
We are told to be courteous by our parents; this means listening, understanding, and perhaps being compassionate towards others.
To be courteous also means to be polite and to take on a tone of voice that is sincere. Often courtesy is also used in comparison to the word, free or without charge.
Although it may seem that a courtesy refund is the same as a refund, they have differences.
Today, I discuss the courtesy refund and how it may be used to keep the bond between a customer and a business.
- What does a courtesy refund mean?
- Who should ask for a courtesy refund?
- When might a courtesy refund apply?
- How does a consumer receive a courtesy refund?
- Failure to read the fine print
- Rating a business before contacting customer support
- Escalating a problem to upper management
- Happy Customers
What Does A Courtesy Refund Mean?
Simply put, a courtesy refund reverses charges from a business for failure to deliver as promised.
Sometimes it’s the refund of money due to customer error where a business is compassionate towards the situation.
The money is typically refunded to the credit card or gift card used for the online purchase if there is a courtesy refund.
Perhaps there was a death in the family, and the bill was not paid on time, and interest was charged? A business may offer a courtesy refund of the charges due to the situation.
On a larger scale, a customer may have been part of a scam and lost money because a product did not arrive. These situations are touch and go because they all vary in severity.
Recently a Calgary couple who purchased an item on Amazon for their son, who graduated high school, found themselves in a sticky situation.
The part was to help their son build a computer. However, they did not get the amount they paid for.
But when Matthew opened the graphics card — a $690 part — he discovered the plastic casing had been hollowed out and filled with a putty-like substance to give it weight.
“It was actually a bit of a shock,” he said. “Everything looked pretty official up to the point where I pulled it out and took a second look.”CBC News
When the father returned, the product Amazon refused the refund until the correct item was returned.
I can understand the position of both Amazon and the customer; unfortunately, he was only refunded after he went public.
The history of this customer should have been taken into account, and I agree that an unboxing video of expensive items should be created to protect the buyer,
Other times a business may be dealing with a demanding customer and would instead end the situation than drag it out. Often, a courtesy refund is issued if the refund is small.
When Might A Courtesy Refund Apply?
I don’t have all the answers; however, I have some scenarios from personal experience or friends and family.
Let’s look at a few and see if you’ve found yourself in the following scenarios.
- A new fee a customer was unaware of, but the business communicated to all of their customers.
- Charges on a bill that were made in error due to customer misunderstanding.
- Courtesy refund from a company when dealing with a demanding customer.
- Interest charges or late fees
- Compassionate business owner when refund is past the refund purchase date
- Cancellation fees for sensitive situations
- Damaged or incorrect product
Missed Property Tax Installment Courtesy Refund
When we bought our first home together in 2009, we were so busy that we forgot to pay our property taxes.
It wasn’t until the bill arrived in the mail that we realized our error, so we called the city immediately.
After explaining our situation, the city offered us a courtesy refund for the interest we had to pay.
Rogers Communications Courtesy Refund
Another instance where we were offered a courtesy refund was with Rogers for our mobile phone.
We always get a promotional offer from Rogers since we’ve been long-time customers.
The only problem with that is if we don’t watch the expiry date of the promotion, we end up paying the full price for the service.
Typically when that did happen (it happened twice), we noticed when the bill was due to be paid.
What might have been a $150 Rogers bill would be $250, and the red flags would signal that something was wrong.
Both times Rogers was kind enough to negotiate a new promotion and offer a courtesy refund since our error was caught quickly.
Now we always document the end of a promotion, although we no longer have Rogers cable or a home phone.
Difference Between Refund and Courtesy Refund
When you return a product to a retailer or seller you purchased from, whether online or in-person, following their return policy, you will get your money back.
A courtesy refund is when a customer is unhappy about a product or service that was paid for. The business, head office, or platform offers a one-time courtesy refund.
Also, a courtesy refund may be issued by a business or seller because of circumstances outside the customer’s control and compassion.
This courtesy refund is often up to the business or seller, but most often, keeping customers happy is number one.
What’s not tolerated are customers who scam businesses by consistently crying wolf.
The catch-22 comes into play with the courtesy refund because there are legitimate buyers with an issue.
Below is a scenario for some sellers on Amazon who want to make amends with customers who leave bad ratings.
Amazon Courtesy Refund or Replacement Product
If you shop on Amazon, you may have noticed that a customer can write a customer review.
I’ve noticed that some items we’ve purchased have a button to contact the seller.
This is a great way to deal directly with the seller if there is a problem rather than calling Amazon customer service.
Below is an email that Amazon sent Amazon buyers about a new feature that allowed some businesses to contact buyers directly when leaving a bad review.
I cannot verify this as I’m not an Amazon seller, but I’ve linked to the Amazon forum dated December 2021.
We listened to your feedback!
We’ve been tracking feedback from brands related to the Customer Reviews experience.
We heard that you love having a way to see all your reviews in one place and that it is nice to be able to filter by star rating and time period.
You also shared your frustrations over not being able to directly engage with your customers who left critical reviews.
We’re now offering a brand-only benefit that allows you to reach out to buyers who purchased your branded product directly from you, who left critical (1-3 star reviews) via templated emails that allow you to communicate with buyers via buyer-seller messaging.
We believe this will build brand trust and help establish stronger relationships between you and your customers.Sellers centre forum Amazon
How does the courtesy refund work on Amazon?
According to one website, not all Amazon sellers have the contact buyer button, but those who do can offer a courtesy refund or replacement product.
The courtesy refund option allows sellers to offer the reviewer a full refund for their item or a replacement item.
Once you select “Courtesy Refund,” a review window will appear including a template message to the buyer, product information, order ID, and more.
The customer then has the option to either respond “Full refund” or “Replace item” depending on their preferences.How to contact bad review on Amazon
Amazon Canada Courtesy Refund
As an Amazon customer in Canada, we’ve had a few instances of both a refund and a courtesy refund.
Grocery items and wine are not returnable to Amazon but may be refunded or replaced.Amazon Return Policy
Below I’ve highlighted a few examples where we were offered a courtesy refund and replacement.
- I purchased a phone charger with two extensions, and one did not work. I contacted the seller, and they sent me a courtesy refund and a replacement product.
- We purchased two large jars of mayonnaise, and when the product arrived, one jar of mayonnaise was broken. You cannot request a refund on Amazon directly if there is a problem with a grocery item. A phone call to Amazon customer service quickly solved the problem by replacing both jars, and we could keep the one jar that was not broken. Amazon also offered us a full courtesy refund if we did not want the replacement.
- A purchase of two bottles of hand soap from Amazon arrived, and one of the lids popped off and spilled the product inside the box. A phone call to customer support net either a courtesy refund or replacement product.
Not all sellers offer free returns and refunds, so it’s essential to read the print before you purchase on any online platform.
You can return many items sold on Amazon. When you return an item, you may see different return options depending on the seller, item, or reason for return.
For the 2022 holiday season, most of the items purchased between 11 October and 25 December 2022 can be returned until 31 January 2023.Amazon Return Policy 2022
Always Read The Fine Print
Read the return policy before you purchase, whether it’s eBay, Paypal, Amazon, or any other online business.
One point I forgot to make about the mayonnaise is before we even opened the box, I took photos to show Amazon the state it arrived in.
Not only that, but we had a photo confirmation from the delivery service that also clearly showed a grease-stained cardboard box.
Often taking photos or videos of unboxing products purchased online is helpful for a business such as Amazon or eBay to determine a scam or fraud.
Walmart Courtesy Refund Grocery Delivery
Another example is from a friend who recently purchased two cans of strawberry pie filling from Walmart for grocery delivery.
She had agreed to a substitution if the brand was not available, which was the case.
Instead of sending her a brand substitution Walmart sent her two cans of cherry pie filling.
It was a laughable situation as she sent us a text on messenger to tell us about the problem.
Substituting cherries for strawberries is far from comparison, so she called customer service.
They got one thing right; they were both red. Hahaha!
Walmart agreed and apologized for the error and offered her a courtesy refund, and she could keep the cans of cherry pie filling.
By making the situation right, Walmart saying they value her patronage was evident.
When a customer alerts a business of a problem, it allows them to fix what is broken.
It may have been an error or lack of knowledge on the part of the Walmart employee, but an opportunity for Walmart to investigate.
Similar to the Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP), when a product arrives damaged, a business can look into why the problem occurred so it can be fixed.
With SCOP, when there is a price discrepancy, the customer gets the product free up to a maximum of $10 if the store makes the error.
Escalating A Problem
Consumers don’t always get what they want from the bottom line, and escalating a problem is necessary,
It’s often best to use judgement and understand a return policy is put in place for a reason.
If there is an error and it was your fault, accept it if the answer is no unless it is 100% clear not your fault.
As mentioned above, customers sometimes look to media outlets to help them get a basic refund.
Rating A Business
Before jumping the gun and rating a business with a bad review, take the time to reach out to explain the problem.
I often read bad reviews where customers edit the review after the company refunds their money or sends a replacement product.
If you’ve exhausted avenues to straighten an issue, leave a review comparing it to your experience.
Perhaps the business will reach out to you and offer help.
I admit that I’ve been unhappy a few times when I’ve had to call customer service for whatever problem I have.
I’ve since learned that being pushy and demanding won’t get you any closer to a solution.
Business owners want happy customers who will be return customers and spread the good word about the service they experienced.
Often a business will weigh out the options in terms of a courtesy refund and product adjustment based on a situational basis.
Patience is always a virtue, as is the ability to think objectively about each circumstance.
Always be courteous, especially since you expect the same from customer service and management.
A courtesy refund is often a nice gesture on the part of a business, which goes above and beyond a basic refund policy.
Expressions about the courtesy refund are my own and may not reflect that of the companies mentioned.
Discussion: Can you think of a time when you were offered a courtesy refund? If yes, please share your experience below.
Thanks for stopping by to read today’s blog post.
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