Hi Grace, I was just having a chat with several merchant companies
about credit card processing, and the question of returns was “on my
list” of questions. All of them told me that under the “buyer
protection plan” terms most items purchased by a consumer using a
credit card must be returnable. But some items are not returnable
(for example, pierced earrings in the state of PA are not supposed to
be tried on before purchase and are supposed to be non-returnable for
health reasons – however, I’ve seen merchants allow try-ons and
accept returns on them so I don’t know how enforced those codes are).
Any item that is non-returnable (special orders, bathing suits,
whatever) must be clearly indicated as such on any receipts and the
buyer must be notified of the fact as well before the purchase is
In the case of items being returned, it is the merchant’s discretion
whether to issue refunds (and in what tender) or to restrict to
exchanges or store credit. If an item has to have something done to
it in order to make it immediately resaleable (cleaning, repolishing,
repackaging, sanitizing, etc.), then charging a “restocking” fee is
becoming increasingly common and is perfectly legal. Restocking
fees, like refunds, are determined by the merchant’s policies and
must be communicated to the customer prior to purchase (can be posted
signage, wording on receipts, etc.).
In any case, if a customer keeps a piece and refuses to return it,
they’ve effectively bought it. If they then try to challenge their
payment for it, you have the right to reclaim the piece using
whatever means are appropriate up to and including a collection
agency or “repo” service. Usually, I’m told, a formal letter on
legal letterhead or on your behalf from a collection agency is enough
to get the piece returned or the challenge dropped.
Having said all that, there are a couple of important adages to
87% of dissatisfied customers will buy from you again if you
immediately work to resolve their complaint.
90% of dissatisfied customers will tell 7 - 10 people about
their complaints if you don’t resolve the issue in a proactive and
Some customers will NEVER be satisfied, no matter what you do.
But you can’t tell which ones they are unless you proactively try to
resolve the issue.
So it’s a tough call for small business like yours and mine. I rely
on person-to-person contact, referrals, and satisfied repeat
customers. I really can’t afford many disgruntled customers running
around spreading crap about me and my services, so I bend over
backward to make sure that I’ve addressed everyone’s issues as best I
can. Sometimes that means bending my own rules, but other times it
means cutting my losses and recognizing a futile fight (thankfully,
very few times!).
Hope any of this helps!
Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry