Monday, January 19, 2009

Double the Refund

We have an online business for selling family and Christian board games and card games. The best time of year for us is, of course, the holiday season. Where we normally have 10-20 visitors a day (usually closer to 10...), during December we were averaging 50! One buyer purchased a $12 game and paid $70 to have it shipped to Mexico. I guess he really wanted the game.

For some reason, eBay had calculated the shipping way too high. When we calculated the shipping ourselves we determined that he had overpaid by $30. Being the good and honest sellers that we are, we refunded the excess. But it wasn't as simple as that. We travel during Christmas, every year. To three different places. All those places have internet, but one of them only has dial-up.

Don't get me wrong, I have great affection for dial-up, as that is what we had while I was in high school and I got C's on my finals one semester because I was spending so much time in AOL's chat rooms. And that's the only type of connection that was available to me when I was in France for my junior year. It worked for me and I couldn't complain. Now I'm spoiled with high-speed at home, at my in-laws', and at my parents'.

But a dial-up connection is nothing but trouble when one is trying to take care of an online business (or trying to read comics). And it was while we only had access through dial-up that I had to take care of this guy's refund.

I got the shipping process started for the game to go to Mexico, and I emailed the buyer that he had overpaid for shipping and should expect a refund, then I logged into Paypal to get the refund going. By now I had been at it for a good hour (in the cold, back room all by myself while everyone else was in the warm room with the fire), and I couldn't do anything else while waiting for pages to load except play Solitaire. Over and over and over....

I think I clicked the "refund" button, but there was no indication that anything was happening. I waited a moment, still nothing. So I clicked it again.

You know exactly what happened: I had sent the refund twice. It took 15 minutes to load, but when the transaction page came up, there it was twice: $30 and then another $30. Crud.

What could I do? There's no way to cancel a Paypal refund. Once you click that button, it's done. My only choice was to send an invoice to the buyer, try to explain what happened, and hope he sent us $30 back. And if he didn't, we'd just have to eat it. Yay for us! I wasn't too grumpy about it, I mean, it was ALL MY FAULT and I couldn't blame ANYONE ELSE. So why get grumpy? It was actually kinda humorous.

I returned to the warm room with the fire and thawed my frozen fingers while I regaled anyone who would listen with my tale of woe. This sparked a "topper session" in which each person tried to top the previous person's story with a worse one of being screwed by eBay, Paypal, or both. It was good fun. (Actually I love both eBay and Paypal, you just have to be careful)

Yay, this story has a happy ending! The buyer sent us our $30 back. Either he understood our situation and is a good and honest buyer, or he doesn't speak English well and was afraid if he didn't cooperate we wouldn't send him his game. He may not have realized that the game was already on its way and we couldn't stop it if we wanted to (we don't hold the inventory ourselves). And he gave us positive feedback, which we reciprocated, of course.


Laurie said...

Oh dear, I can understand dial-up. We used to have it.

I would sometimes click to a link that I knew would take a long time to load. Then I'd walk off, clean the bathroom, or do the dishes, return, then start all over again.

It was cheaper until we found our current provider which is only a few more dollars per year. Now, that I can live with.

I'm happy for you that the customer either understood or didn't, but returned the money.

Jennifer said...

I was really surprised and happy when the email came that he had paid us back.

I feel like high speed is one of the areas where we splurge, but dial-up would actually be more expensive because we don't currently have a landline! If we add the cost of a landline PLUS the internet connection, it would be more than the high-speed cable! Then the cost of basic cable TV actually makes the internet less expensive too - if we cancelled the cable tv, the internet cost would go up more! Weird system. But it means we get to watch American Idol :)

Laurie said...

I know that the package deals are so much better than buying everything individually (TV, phone, and internet).

More and more people are doing away with landline. It's sometimes cheaper to have a cell phone. Also, it's so much more convenient. When you dial the cell phone, you may get the person on the phone even when they are not home.

ehart said...

One of my neighbors is working on a DSL option for those of us out here in the boonies of flyover country. Until then, we have two options--Dial up or satellite. My pastor lives on a hill so he managed to get internet service through his cell phone--$65 per month plus set up equipment. Where our house is, cell service is marginal.

We don't watch television at all so for us to pay the $80 a month for the satellite plus the $30 a month for the internet connection would be ludicrious! We'd never use the satellite for anything but internet.

We have two phone lines but they ran a bundle deal for us with unlimited long-distance service so when we first subscribed to the internet with the two phone lines and caller id, etc., we paid a nickel for the dial up. It's gone up to $5.05 now.

If the neighbor gets the DSL option going at the rate he thinks he'll get it, it might save us as much as $10 or $20 a month to cancel the internet and second phone line.

I'd love to have high speed internet. It would cut my internet usage in half. Then again, it would probably extend the teens and young adults two or three times.

Hmmm, maybe we're better off with dial up?

Jennifer said...

ehart - lol, trading your internet time for the kiddos', that's funny!

My grandparents (whose house is the one in the post) are in the same boat with you: dial-up or satellite. They're sticking with the dial-up for now because Grandpa doesn't need the internet for much. But when his kids (incl. my folks) inherit land (he has 100 acres, mostly vineyard) and decide to move up there (NorCal) it'll be a different story. I don't think my dad will stand "downgrading" to dial-up! I've heard the cell service works pretty well, as long as you're willing to pay the price.

The bundle deals are great, if they have a bundle that works for you. But I think they make it harder to switch configurations because it's so hard to compare the prices!