Returns, refunds, and exchanges are a part of any online business. There are many reasons why a customer might request a refund. They might have second thoughts or buyers’ remorse, the item may not be as described in your listing, or the sizing may not work for them. It’s your job to handle the situation and to (hopefully) make the customer happy. Let’s take a look at the steps you should take if you are in this situation.
Respond to the Customer Calmly
Always take a few minutes to think about how to answer a return request. This will allow you to stay calm and respond professionally, especially if you have a unhappy buyer (as opposed to someone who just decided your product wasn’t right for them). Your response can set the tone for the rest of the transaction.
Consider Your Shop Policies
Etsy now has a streamlined Shop Policies section, making it much quicker and easier to complete. Instead of the old version where you write everything yourself, you can click the bulletpoints to enter in your shipping and processing times, return terms (how long they have to contact you), etc. If you sell items that are custom or that can’t be returned for hygienic reasons (like bathing suits or undergarments), make sure that is clear in your shop policies. Then if this kind of situation arises, you’ll be able to refer to them. Lastly, try to stick to your policies, but also try to be somewhat flexible and understand the buyer’s point of view.
Ask for Photos
If the customer is messaging you about a broken or defective item, always ask them to send you a photo via Etsy conversation. A picture of the packaging is also essential if it was damaged in transit. If your package was insured you may need to make a claim with the post office or other shipping service, and photos will help with this process. Getting the customer to send photos will also help you improve as a seller of it’s an error on your side.
Arrange the Return
Who pays for return shipping depends on the situation. When it’s an error on my part I’ll cover it (or at least refund the original shipping charge), but if it’s just that the customer changed their mind they should pay to send it back. I also always ask them to mail it back with tracking so it can be followed in the post.
If you’ve agreed to send the buyer a different item for an exchange, make sure to get the first item back before mailing out the replacement. Also get the product back in your hands before issuing a refund if you’ve agreed to cancel the transaction. Include all of these details in your shop policies to make it clear from the beginning of the sale.
Refund and Cancel if Agreed Upon
If you’ve communicated with the customer and agreed to issue a refund, make sure to send their money back first and then cancel the transaction on Etsy from the order page. You’ll need to refund them via the payment processing system they used- typically Etsy’s Direct Checkout or PayPal. Also inform the customer that refunds and cancellations take a few days to process, so they won’t see the money immediately. This can prevent added stress for both of you.
Every situation and seller is different, but hopefully these tips can take the stress out of returns and exchanges in your shop.