Although I have an established shop policy about returns & refunds, I had never had to refer to it in over 600 sales in my fiber art shop until recently. Last week a customer contacted me wanting to return a scarf for a refund. Their reason was that they "just decided on something else" for their friend's gift and no longer wanted the scarf. There was nothing wrong with the scarf. In fact, the buyer even stated that they weren't dissatisfied and that the scarf was beautiful. This obviously made me scratch my head in wonder...
BUT, in accordance with my current return/refund policy, I agreed to refund the purchase price less any shipping fees after the scarf arrived back to me in good condition. Well, it arrived yesterday in its original condition so I refunded the money via PayPal to the buyer. I received a "Thanks." and will probably never have contact with the buyer again.
All of this has me wondering though if I should alter my current return/refund policies to make them more strict. There are at least a couple of reasons to do this. First of all, I am not a chain department store. My items are handmade in small quantities. Every sale counts! Second of all, since my items are handmade and many one-of-a-kind or customized in some way, I can not always resell an item if it is returned. For instance, the scarf that was just returned will probably end up in a blog giveaway or as a gift to someone at some point, because I don't feel comfortable reselling a one-of-a-kind item that a customer has had possession of and returned. Essentially, I lost the resale value of the scarf even though it was returned. That is ultimately money out of my pocket and work time wasted!
I do not want to do away with my return/refund policy entirely though because I want to ensure my customer's satisfaction in some way. I am considering adding the clause "Returns accepted and refunds given for product defect only" or something to that effect to my current policy. It is not that I don't want to make my wonderful buyers happy. It is just that I am a very small business and every penny counts. If I can not resell a returned item, that is a cost that I have to just swallow.
That brings me to my initial reason for posting this. I would really love to know what your return/refund policy is if you are an artist or crafter who sells their items online or at shows, shops, etc. How lenient are you? Do you have any specific guidelines? Please do share! I'd appreciate your input in the form of a comment. Hopefully we can all learn from each other, and I can decide what to do about my current policy. Thanks!