Dealing with Delays and Returns

You can't always ship an order the same day. The accounts system might be down, or you might need to wait for the customer's check to clear or a newer version to be released. Whatever the reason, e-mail the customer to let them know and specify when they will receive it. If you don't know, tell them so. If you can, tell them why, and tell them that you will contact them the moment you have more information.

Outstanding orders should be monitored particularly carefully; otherwise, they can be forgotten. Remember only to deduct the cost from the customers' credit card on the day of dispatch.

The returns policy that will win you the most respect is to have what appears to be a "no questions asked" policy. To the customer, you come across as a more than reasonable (and confident) firm. In practice, you scrutinize every return transaction.

If the customer pays by credit card, they are legally allowed to return the goods within 30 days. Unlike with physical goods, what is to stop the customer from opening the software pack, installing the goods, copying them, and then returning them so they end up getting the product for free? As a result, software is rarely sanctioned for return if the package has been opened. Wherever possible, embed records that log the date and time whenever a copy is made.

A reasonable return policy might be as follows:

♦ Goods may be returned on a bona fide basis within 30 days.

♦ The packaging, literature, and so on must be in good condition.

♦ The purchaser must be able to prove that the goods have not been opened or installed.

♦ If incorrect goods have inadvertently been sent, your firm will refund the return postage.

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