Advice on whether I should offer refunds for digital products that are made available immediately .

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by newbie899, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Hello and good morning everyone.

    I am just making the final touches on my new business where I offer online courses and wanted to ask for some feedback on whether it would be wise for me to offer refunds considering the below:

    My online courses will be digital products, which means that as soon as the customer purchases the course they will be sent an automatic link containing details to the password of a password protected page (link to the page provided) which will give the access to the online course videos and additional materials. Some of the online courses include a course workbook that ranges to around 30-50 pages of worksheet exercises. I still need to do a bit more research but for now (feel free to correct me if I am wrong here as its early stage research) I have read that it is legally permissible to express in clear writing that no refunds are available as my courses are digital products. I've did everything I can to ensure the everything is in place to meet customers needs, for example I have made a clear outline of the courses to be read prior to purchase, I have a free video to showcase the general presentation style and audio that customers can expect for all the courses and I have placed a subtitles option in all the courses to ensure the courses are accessible to a range of audiences and that they all understand and follow the courses without any issue.

    The only issue I have is that it goes against the type of person I am to not offer refunds. I am afraid someone may just not like the course and be silently angry at not being able to ask for a refund and this makes me feel uneasy personally and also it may damage my reputation. On the flip side, if I offer refunds I can potentially open myself up for an array of problems like people purchasing the course and the workbooks I've worked so hard to produce for the sole purpose of accessing them and asking for a refund later. It will be difficult to monitor who is asking for a refund for genuine reasons and who isn't.

    So just thought I'd ask if not offering refunds is the best way to go in my situation?
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #1
  2. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    15,593 1,718
    If not legally obliged to offer refunds then no need to offer refunds.
    Make it clear in terms and conditions.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #2
  3. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 0

    Thanks Mr D for your reply. Do you think it would be worth me checking to see if I am able to view if someone has accessed the courses once they have purchased it (they clicked on the password protect page and put in the password) and if they haven't done so providing full refund only in those circumstances? I am not even sure if I can do that but thought I may try to give it a go. I may be over analyzing this but I thought what if someone accidentally purchases the courses and uses that as a excuse as to why they want a refund and thought about what I would do in that scenario other than make it clear that in the terms and conditions they accepted it is written clearly that nor refunds are available. I'll see if I can view whether the website I use logs things like activity on the password protected pages that is home to the online courses but if it doesn't I'll go with a no refunds available option and just move forward.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #3
  4. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    30,590 8,983
    What's to stop me giving my password to someone else?

    Or downloading the content and giving it to someone else?
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #4
  5. Maxwell83

    Maxwell83 UKBF Regular Free Member

    569 133
    I provide a digital service via an online ordering system, and had to make the same decision as you when I launched the website.

    I adopt the 'harshest' legally permissible position in my T&C's, however if I receive a complaint then at my discretion I can still choose to give a refund as a good will gesture. Or I can re-state the policy and offer no refund. Obviously if I what I have provided is not as described, I will not argue - they will get a refund.

    Honestly, it is not a problem that crops up often - I rarely get asked for a refund. On the occasions when I do get asked, I judge each case on its merits. Sometimes, I only have to point out a very clear statement on the order page which specifically states XYZ, (which they clearly didn't bother to read). Most people accept that they did not read it and realise it was their mistake and not me 'ripping them off'. Often I will direct them to what they should have ordered (with an offer of a small discount) and turn an unsatisfied customer into an upsell and we all walk away happy.

    On £1.5m of turnover and 52,000 customers, I have had 41 disputed charges - a loss to the business of about £1400 inc. dispute fees or 0.08% of turnover and even less in terms of my actual costs. Simply not enough to worry about.

    IMO, you prevent refunds not by denying them after the purchase, but based on how clear and honest your information is about the product/service so you prevent people ordering and being disappointed with the result - You will never satisfy 100% of the customers, but you can increase your percentage with a good website. It sounds like you are planning to do this anyway.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: Maxwell83 Member since: Aug 4, 2012
    #5
  6. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    12,298 3,187
    Can you offer a course preview/taster before your customer confirms their purchase, so they can't claim they didn't know what they are getting?
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #6
  7. mattk

    mattk UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,735 711
    Why not offer a 24-hour money back guarantee? That way someone can try the course to make sure it is right for them, but unlikely going to have got far though the content to feel as if you've been taken for a ride?
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: mattk Member since: Dec 5, 2005
    #7
  8. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    12,298 3,187
    But they can have access to the entire course in that time.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #8
  9. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    15,593 1,718
    Rather than a free course for everyone, perhaps a free sample - for instance rather than an hour video a 3 minute clip. Better than give all the goodies away and destroy the business.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #9
  10. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 0
    Thank you! Your insight really helped.


     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #10
  11. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Thank you! Very valid suggestion. Do you think i should do these previews for all the courses? At the moment i have a free video, that covers a course unit for one of the courses, as a general guide to potential customers as to the general audio quality and presentation that is consistent in all the courses (font, layout etc). I have a outline for all the courses that i stick in the courses to so it would be difficult to see how a customer could say that i veered away from the course outline.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #11
  12. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 0
    Very valid point. Unfortunately the platform i am using offers no way round this issue and it seems quite a few other online course instructors who are using the same platform have discussed this as one of the issues. I decided to take this route as opposed to using platforms like udemy for a lot of reasons and i am trying to look into a plug in that i can purchase that is compatible with my website to help me build a proper secure online course platform. Wordpress has a plug in but unfortunately i am not with them and have spent quite a bit of money on the website platform i am on so will need to figure out if i should switch platforms and look at other options out there. Ive decided that i should in the interim just get the courses out as i am passed my own deadline for getting them out. My only choice is to then change the passwords around. I am not sure if i can as i havent tried but will try to make the videos and workbooks non- downloadable as customers will be recieving a downloadable card that will provide them details of how to access the course as opposed to a downloadable video and workbook. Off course the can still share the passwords around. Not ideal but i feel like as these are my first batch of courses i should just get them out whilst tightening up security rather than delaying it.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #12
  13. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

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    Decided it is best to make a preview for all the courses. Thank you all again in providing feedback and insight into how I can navigate this. I feel more confident in what to do going forward now. Best wishes.
     
    Posted: Jul 27, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #13
  14. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    30,590 8,983
    I suspect within a few weeks of your course going online there will be free version available on Google docs and other file sharing platforms.

    There are plenty of ways to secure access to online training documents - but it seems your chosen platform doesn't do this. It really easy to do this with Wordpress are almost zero cost. If you can set the site up yourself the total cost will be hosting and maybe one or two premium plugins.
     
    Posted: Jul 28, 2019 By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #14
  15. newbie899

    newbie899 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 0

    Thank you for your reply. I am super new to setting up an online business so learning as I go along and so appreciate the feedback . I understand but having just looked up learndash, one of WP plugins used for creating online courses, there is an article on their site that discusses security around sharing login details and whilst they have certain procedures to try to curb this, they too state that there really is no sure proof way to stop people from sharing login details. The best they offer (because their other options seem to put the learner through various hoops just to get access, hoops that don't guarantee they can't still share content around) is to track that only one person can login to view the course they enrolled for at a time. So person A can be logged in but they can't get their friend-person B- to use the same login details at the same time. That sounds decent but it doesn't really provide a big difference in terms of security. Feel free to correct me here though as this has been my findings on my initial research into one of the WP plugin. I do agree that WP is a much appropriate platform than squarespace (SSP) (the one I am on and one that I chose before having the online business idea). When I do move , I will need to transfer everything over from SSP to WP and reorganize the online course platform, which is fine but I have committed to more work hours next week and next month so I would definitely be delayed in rolling the courses out and not sure considering my initial findings about learn dash if its worth the delay to be honest.
     
    Posted: Jul 28, 2019 By: newbie899 Member since: Jan 31, 2019
    #15
  16. paulears

    paulears UKBF Big Shot Full Member

    3,908 971
    For my specialist audio products, the biggest problem is non-technical people, who download their files, following the secure email they get sent - to the wrong device. I have a 24 hour time out on the email link, which prevents casual sharing of the link with friends, but it also prevents the real purchasers trying for a couple of days to get something on their phone onto their computer! I probably have two or three a week where I end up sending them the complete thing, unzipped, that they can keep and use straight away. I've discovered a few people who have bought a package and shared it on a facebook group (that I'm a member of!), but they're not criminal, just dance teachers, and not normal. Obviously not training, but we have short samples of everything for people to listen to, and that's pretty important. The server stats show about 10% convert to a purchase, but only about 2 or 3% is done spur of the moment. most actually seem next day purchases. We'll see a spike on an unusual product, then suddenly sell half a dozen or so. We assume that the sample gets shared with friends on line, then they all agree to buy the same thing.

    With training, I'd certainly need to see a few examples from different sections. I'd have trouble estimating one subject's worth from a clip of something else - I'd just need a bit of support on level. My wife is computer phobic, so I do all her on-line exams with her, and am amazed how dreadful some of the things she does are. Her employers pay for the training but seem unaware how low level it is. if I was paying myself, I'd need to see samples before I buy. I don't mind the cost, if the content matches my needs. A few samples from different areas would keep me happy. oddly, I don't think I would need a complete section - just bits and pieces.
     
    Posted: Jul 28, 2019 By: paulears Member since: Jan 7, 2015
    #16
  17. Elle Rish

    Elle Rish UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    12 1
    With all these assumptions, I suggest that you shouldn't offer any refunds at all. Since it is unlike a license key that can easily be deactivated. Yours, after a customer gets access to the file, have all the controls on whether to download and share with others.

    Just state it clearly in the terms and conditions that you do not offer such as this would cause these assumptions, and also you can add a note directly on your checkout page, so people won't use an excuse that it is accidentally purchased or what. You have all the right not to offer a refund because of your product nature.

    A sample or preview of your products is already a good step to make than to offer a refund.
     
    Posted: Aug 7, 2019 By: Elle Rish Member since: Aug 2, 2019
    #17