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Dealing with order cancellation

I would like to share what happened to me recently.

A customer bought a necklace online and paid immediately through
Paypal, so far so good.

2 days after payment, I came to the office to find 5 emails and 1
fax from the customer, all sent between noon and late afternoon that
same day, requesting that I cancel the order and reimburse the money
for no other reason that they’d changed their mind. The item hadn’t
shipped yet. To top it all up, the customer had even filed a
"Significantly Not as Described Item" claim with paypal, knowing
full well that the item hadn’t even been sent yet.

Because I want to run an honest business and because the item hadn’t
shipped yet, I cancelled the order and gave the customer their money
back, but what would have happened if the item had shipped? And I
find it outrageous, to say the least, that some people file paypal
claims if they don’t get a reply within minutes.

Has this happened to you and how do you deal with situations like
these? Thanks for reading me.

Isabella Pasche
Arlisa Bijoux - Swiss Handcrafted Jewellery

If this was sold on e-Bay, it doesn’t surprise me. I have only sold
items like beads and cabochons, etc., i.e., not finished jewelry and
have only dealt with a couple of stinkers. However, e-Bay’s system
is not good. If you get screwed royally and leave negative feedback,
the “screwer” will leave negative feedback for you. Therefore, if you
are wronged your feedback score is damaged. This is just the nature
of that beast.

J. S. Ellington

Which is precisely why the buyer should leave FB first to indicate
their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the item/seller…IMO,

Which is precisely why the buyer should leave FB first to indicate
their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the item/seller...IMO,

Actually, this can bite both ways. I, as an eBay buyer, left mixed
feedback for a seller who shipped promptly and well, but shipped a
clay piece with a slight chip, although the auction clearly stated
the piece was in mint condition (which had surprised me, as clay is
so easily chipped). I decided to keep it, despite the incorrect
auction listing, but felt that I should note in my feedback that it
was not as described, and that I did keep the item.

Seller freaked out and left me negative feedback purely because I
was honest in my feedback for them.

So I have real issues with the whole feedback situation, when it is
used as an attack on someone that they really can’t respond to.
Doesn’t matter who leaves first feedback, if the other party is a
jerk they will attack if they don’t like your feedback, regardless of

Beth in SC

Which is precisely why the buyer should leave FB first to indicate
their satisfaction (or lack thereof) with the item/seller...IMO,

IMO this is an example of two wrongs doesn’t make a right. I leave
positive feedback as soon as the buyer pays. I don’t hold feedback
hostage. They have held up their end of the bargain. If there is a
problem I offer a refund if the item is returned within two weeks.
There is no pleasing some people and if you get tagged with negative
feedback you will be able to respond to it. Don’t get into a peeing
contest over it. Move on. With the new eBay feedback system negative
feedback will drop off after a year. Which I think is a good idea.
You really want to know how the seller is doing business now not
years ago.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Thank you J.S. and Soleil for replying.

No this wasn’t an Ebay transaction, my online store is an
independent business, but I have Paypal as a payment option and the
customer paid that way.

I assume what happened to me happened to everybody here at one time
or another, but I was just very surprised by the customer’s attitude.

Isabella Pasche
Arlisa Bijoux - Swiss Handcrafted Jewellery


I’m a little late for this, but I wanted to jump in here.

First, I would have thanked the individual for calling/contacting
with the cancelled order so quickly…precisely because she could
have waited to cancel. She obviously didn’t want to have the item
charged and shipped. Or perhaps she didn’t have funds to cover the
transaction and didn’t realize it until that moment. (Better a
cancelled order than bank fees.)

Second, Papal and other payment options don’t always allow for
original explanations. If the customer’s bank account or card or
what-have-you doesn’t have funds, there isn’t a good option choice to
make sure funds aren’t taken out. My first thought, when reading
this, was that the individual probably didn’t have the funds and
couldn’t afford having the monies taken. There are little options,
when one is in a panic, and she tried quite persistently (as you,
yourself stated) to contact you to reverse the charge.

A rule of doing business is to always have stated, where customers
purchase online especially, your expectations, needs, etc. What is
the rule for when a cancellation needs to be made through paypal?
Contact them and ask them how they handle it, ask to see the pages
the customer will see and find out if there is an option that you
would prefer they choose that still results in the cancellation of
payment but without ‘bad feedback’ accruing against you. Then tell
the customer (in as few words as possible) how to proceed. You can
have it on a page where the customer looks over the order. I’ve seen
others do this as well, and it is a small notation on the page.
Include, wherever possible, the length of time it will be before you
get back to them. Two days can be a long time for the customer who
either needs something that day or needs to cancel an order.

I’d forgotten this, and your post is a good reminder. List the
number of days you wait for items to be paid for (in case they change
their mind), remind them of the timelines and costs involved with
paypal and such, and be very clear. And always remember to
acknowledge the customer’s importance by apologizing for any

While it’s true that there are some stinkers that make purchases and
that those can go bad, far far more purchases are honestly
transacted. I hear a lot of discussions about the irritations and
anger toward customers for changing their mind (if they were in the
store they would be given time to consider their purchase in most
instances, but the web tends to influence hasty buying decisions). I
hear about the awful customers, the rude ones, the thieves…and on
because we tend to complain about the bad and forget to talk about
the good stuff.

I hope that when you talked to the customer you were kind and
obliging, perhaps sent a note saying ‘sorry, hope to do business with
you in the future’. Without customers we’re just starving artists
hocking heirlooms to buy supplies.

this all did get me thinking, and this week I’ll be seeing how I can
work all this into our website. Thank you, though, for bringing it
up. Thanks to this discussion we are going to be changing the process
of payment and shipment of goods and hopefully it will be easy to
find any ‘rules’ governing shipping and customer’s rights/grace
period, etc.


Hi Kim,

first of all thank you for replying.

Like you, I will be adding a clear section about payment/shipping
rules into my pages as I need to cover a situation like this for the
future, if only to make sure that customers know the exact procedure
should they wish to cancel an order or payment.

To answer your questions, the payment had cleared and to my
knowledge, Paypal don’t complete a payment if funds are insufficient
so I don’t believe that was the reason. It is true that Paypal don’t
allow for original explanations and that one has to tick an option in
order to continue, but what I personally can’t understand is someone
opening a dispute after only 3 hours since their first email to the
seller. In my case, I was simply out of the office for the afternoon
and didn’t have access to a computer.

It was the first time I had to deal with a situation like that,
thankfully, all my other transactions go smoothly. :slight_smile:

Isabella Pasche
Arlisa Bijoux - Swiss Handcrafted Jewellery