INR Season: On Steroids

in Marketing

The busiest quarter a.k.a. the quarter where many retail businesses make a majority of their profits, is going out with a bang this season, but not a bang like woo hoo, bang like aaarghh. Maybe you have received a very large number of refund requests from your customers, because the item didn't arrive? You are not the only one.

It came to light last weekend that shipping services in the US and all over Europe are struggling to deliver packages in time for Christmas. Photos circulating all over social media show piles upon piles of package at sorting centers waiting for their turn to move. The packages at the bottom of the piles, of course, are the ones that arrived first, and naturally the customers are frustrated and losing patience.

Amazon sellers have also seen those customers being encouraged by Amazon to request refunds for undelivered packages, because it looks like they have been lost. So now both buyers and sellers are all frustrated. A few sellers also seem to be panicking, when really there is no need.

How to deal with a buyer refund request for late delivery?

Just because a buyer is asking you do give a refund for a package that is still in transit, doesn't mean you have to do that. By the way, no seller should be made to refund any orders without getting the items back (provided they have been delivered).

Some sellers panic because they think that if a buyer is requesting a refund and the seller does not provide one immediately the buyer will file a claim or chargeback, so they go right ahead and refund orders that will be delivered at a later date, which leaves the seller with a big fat loss, and the buyer with a nice shiny present.

Doing this is actually very bad because it implies that you accept the delivery issue is your fault, when in reality once the package is in the hands of the shipping carrier, you have no control over anything. It it also bad because it encourages people to repeat this kind of behavior in the future.

You can prevent this type of loss by simply replying to the customer, apologizing, and explaining why the package is not in their hands yet. This year in particular with the pandemic the situation is very tough, so most people will understand. Then after apologizing go ahead and offer a full refund to the buyer when they either reject delivery of the parcel or return it.

Sure some people will still file a claim, but they will likely be a very small percentage.

How to deal with INR claims when the tracking shows "Delivered"?

These are tough, and especially for newer sellers, it can be infuriating to receive an INR claim for an item marked as "Delivered". Here is what not to do:

- don't respond right away, if you are feeling angry. Respond when you are calm.

- don't assume the buyer is a thief. Just because a package is marked as delivered, it does not mean the buyer actually received it. Packages get stolen from properties all the time, sometimes they get delivered to the wrong addresses, they get put in locations worthy of hiding real treasures, sometimes packages even get marked as "Delivered" before the actual delivery happens...

- don't issue a refund right away

Instead try this:

- Ask the buyer to double check, to look around the property, to contact the local delivery guy and ask where the package is. Ask them to contact their local shipping service shop (give them the local phone number, not the toll free).

- Ask the buyer to please contact you if they are not able to find the package and you will issue a full refund.

That's it. You will be surprised how often customers end-up finding the packages. There will be some who won't and you will have to eat the cost for these.

On a side note. Where we are based, in China, item not received claims are always covered by, surprise surprise, the shipping carrier, and not just the shipping carrier, but the delivery guy himself. Both the shipping fee AND the price of the item. So if a buyer files an INR claim, the delivery guy will show-up at the door for follow-up, if the item was left outside and stolen, he will not leave any unattended packages at this address again and if the buyer says item not received, but the delivery guy remembers handing it over, you can be sure that he will take a photo of the buyer with package every next delivery.

Another interesting fact about online shopping in China is that as a buyer you can't file a claim against a seller without proof that the seller did something wrong or the item received is defective.

Each side has rights and and also responsibilities, just like all healthy relationships.

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