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Handling refused shipments

foodietwoshoesfoodietwoshoes subscriber Posts: 3
Being a brand new company, this is something we haven`t had to deal with yet, but I know it is coming, and would love to hear how the more experienced ones handle this.
How do you prevent customers from refusing packages if they want to cancel the order after it has been shipped? Fedex tells me that if that happens, we will be charged the return freight. So a $12 shipping fee charged to the customer becomes a $24 roundtrip charge to us if they do a charge back.
We are online retail food sales - We initially were going to ship same day, but have decided to wait to ship all orders until the following day, just to help prevent this. We want to offer as fast as possible shipping, but we don`t want to shoot ourselves in the foot, either.
Our general policy is that food cannot be returned, but will be refunded if damaged in some way. Since that is the refund policy, we foresee people just refusing the shipment if they decide it was an impulse buy, or some other last minute reason.
I would love any feedback or suggestions!
Edited to say that customer service is not an issue with my scenario. I will quickly take care of any mistake that I make. I`m referring to impulse buys. We cannot accept mail order food back in to our warehouse to ship out to another person. I am curious if other people have issues with customers refusing shipment, in order to aide the customer in getting a chargeback from the credit card company. Thanks. foodietwoshoes7/16/2008 11:13 PM


  • foodietwoshoesfoodietwoshoes subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi Janie,
    Yes, the food could be damaged. Some of it is very unlikely, that is in a softer package, but we are mostly shipping glass or plastic containers. We`re selling specialty `fancy` food, gourmet food, etc.  It`s easy to ring up a good sized ticket of imported vinegar, honey, chocolate sauce, pasta, spices, etc and then decide that really overdid it $$ wise, but meanwhile the package has been shipped. I`m sure they do want it if they buy it, but the potential for large ticket impulse buys is there.
    I don`t think this will be a common thing, but I am curious how other people handle it.
  • foodietwoshoesfoodietwoshoes subscriber Posts: 3
    Ok, well I`m feeling better now since it appears refused shipments don`t happen to often at least with the two of you. We do have a clear refund policy. No returns on food items (unless damaged). Too much potential for abuse, particularly when the customer doesn`t have to face the person that they`re trying to get a refund from. We weren`t sure about that policy, and after a lot of research, we have found that our toughest competitors don`t really offer satisfaction guarantees either. One of them does have a "100% satisfaction guarantee" but when you read it, it is really only for food that may have spoiled in transit.
    Non food items can come back on their quarter and we will replace if broken, or refund.
    Craig, so far we have Zero requests for satisfaction refunds and no refused shipments, but we`re new!  I`m really hoping to keep that as close to zero as possible! We`ve worked for months on photos, descriptions, competitive pricing, etc.
    Janie, reading your last paragraph - I might have worded my message wrong. Prevention is what I`m looking for, to make sure this does not happen in the first place, or at least as little as possible.  I was hoping to find out what others to do keep this from happening, but it looks like it isn`t a problem. Whew. Yes, we are open now. But we`ve still got that new car smell. We`ve still got the paper liners in the floorboard!
  • kathleenfasanellakathleenfasanella subscriber Posts: 0
    I don`t know about the food industry but in apparel, we`ve eliminated most bounced boxes by collecting at the time of shipment. We also share info on our forum about buyers who tend to do such slimey things.
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    Do you collect at the time of shipment via charge cards?  What about charge backs if you do?  Also, couldn`t sharing buyer actions at a forum put you in a bad legal position?
    These are the things that came to mind as I read your post...
  • kathleenfasanellakathleenfasanella subscriber Posts: 0
    Hi Bert
    I`ve never had a charge back, not to say it couldn`t happen of course. Among relationships with smaller suppliers and buyers, chargebacks aren`t the issue they are with larger concerns. Not in apparel, I don`t know about other businesses. It`s like anything tho, if you mess up the customer`s order, you make good on it. You depend on the repeat customer who carries your line every season, not a one shot deal. Usually if there`s a problem either way, it`s at the inception of the relationship which is why buyers will typically only buy really small orders at the outset. That way their exposure is limited if the vendor were to go belly up or be a total jerk about it.
    Our forum is private, not open to the public. Legally, private speech is protected in the same way a convo with your spouse or family is. That`s why people join private membership groups . That has a long history in the apparel industry. Retailers and sales reps have their own trade organizations to share the dirt on vendors. There`s actually sites on the web where things are posted anonymously. That makes me uncomfortable, being anonymous without repercussion, anyone can say anything with no penalty. We don`t have that problem; there`s no hearsay because while our forum is private, it is not anonymous internally. People have a tendency to be more responsible than you`d think if their name is attached to it.
    Edited to add: In the beginning, when I insisted on having people`s names and contact info as well as insisting their username be their real name (or variation of it), I got a LOT of grief. Over three years tho, members appreciate it. Some legacy members have faked up usernames, they don`t have credibility with other members to the extent that many of them have changed their names because people won`t respond to questions from them anymore. kathleenfasanella7/15/2008 6:00 PM
  • kathleenfasanellakathleenfasanella subscriber Posts: 0
    Of course this is problem in any industry. Generally, standard practices mandate vendor compliance. I`ve got many articles on that on my website relating to apparel. If you`re selling to big box stores, some are known to have multi-hundred page manuals governing everything related to the product, its labeling, the container it comes in, the labeling of the box, pallet, as well as which carriers you can use, what times of day they can deliver and to which numbered dock. Not something I want to get into, that`s for sure.
  • foodietwoshoesfoodietwoshoes subscriber Posts: 3
    Hi Kathleen and Bert, thanks for responding.
    Kathleen, I do collect $$ prior to shipment. The payment is made by credit card before we ship.
    You may have misunderstood my scenario. My question was pertaining to items that are not defective, wrong, or any problem of my company. I can quickly take care of problems like broken jars, mispicks, etc,  If I do something wrong, I`ll send out new product immediately. What I am concerned about are impulse buys. The shopper that buys a lot of items, and then decides "Oh no, what was I thinking buying a hundred dollars worth of pasta sauce?". This is why we changed our policy from same day shipping to next day shipping, so we could reduce that risk if the customer changes their mind. But I hate to do it that way - I`d love to get it out to them asap. The nature of my business is leaning towards the luxury side, and in todays economy what we want and what we need are reviewed much more carefully. Our first sale was over $150 worth of sauce. I`m sure she wanted it when she bought it, but what if she (or her husband) decides differently when it arrives a few days later?  (I`m just referring to consumers, not vendors.)
    We can`t/shouldn`t take food back from somebody`s home and resell it to somebody else, so I was concerned that the charge back request from the credit card company and refusal of shipment could seemingly be somebody`s only hope in getting their money back, since they would not technically be receiving the shipment. If they want to return a non food item, that will be no problem for me. Hopefully this will never  happen because we have a clearly outlined return policy that was reviewed by our credit card merchant prior to opening.  I didn`t know if this was a common occurrence since I am new to retail food sales.
  • kathleenfasanellakathleenfasanella subscriber Posts: 0
    If I implied you were shipping defective goods, meritous of being returned, that wasn`t my intention. I was responding in that case, to Bert. Also, I was referring specifically to wholesale sales.
    Regarding retail, you`re under no obligation to accept (unjustified) returns from consumers who make impulse buys. How you handle it is another story considering the sense of entitlement that seems to be pervasive these days. Some people charge a restocking fee, some don`t. In the case of perishables (*all* product inventory ages), I understand what you`re saying but in the larger sense, this is an inherent risk of handling these kinds of products and margins need to be built into your retail model. As I qualified before, I don`t work in food manufacturing and retail. I know just enough about it to know it`s not a risk I`m willing to assume.
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