Recently, my wife celebrated one year of being in business with her Etsy design shop. Her success has been nothing short of amazing. When she first started talking about the idea, she waited because she wasn't sure she had the time, could come up with anything that people would want to buy, and just didn't know enough to get it going.
She finally took the plunge and the orders started coming in pretty quick. Since then, she's really picked up and she is now kicking my butt in terms of side income. Her money right now is largely going toward saving for a Disney trip next fall, and based on projections, we'll be saved up a year in advance of the trip. How awesome is that!
It's Never All Roses And Sunshine
My wife had a few hiccups along the way, but honestly, the business, her satisfaction rates and referral rates were great. She completed hundreds of orders in her first year, got over 50 reviews, all positive, and for the most part, always came out feeling pretty good every time an order was complete.
That changed, ironically, during the week of her one year birthday.
With her shop, there's always some customers that don't get back with her in a timely fashion. The way the ordering process works is that a customer picks what they want, pays for it, and that process opens the order within Etsy. It's at that point that the customer can send any photos that need to be included, send over details that go into their design, and the process truly starts. My wife will work on it, send over a proof, make any changes that are needed, and when it's all done, send over the final graphics file which is set for printing.
Most of the time (95-98% of the time), this process completes within a couple of days. However, sometimes a customer will not respond. Most of the time, they don't approve the proof or request any changes. In situations like this, my wife will usually send a few follow up e-mails, and if they don't respond, she'll just assume no further changes are needed and will send over the final copy. This is usually fine.
However, a situation came up where, after placing the order, the customer sent over pictures to be included in a thank-you card, but indicated that she wanted to send over replacement pictures a few days later.
A few days passed and my wife never heard back. She followed up, and still never heard back. Several weeks passed, and my wife followed up once again, and sent out the final copy with the original pictures.
After this, the customer finally responded. She claimed that:
- she'd never received the proof (which was true, because my wife never sent it based on the explicit information that new pictures would be sent)
- she'd not had time to get the other pictures taken
- she was due a refund.
She claimed that my wife had never worked on the order since she never received anything.
This all took place over a few days and each time, it was upsetting to my wife, and it angered her. My wife had worked on the order. She did create the proof, but had not sent it, since the woman had made it perfectly clear that she would be sending over different pictures. She didn't follow through on that, and my wife never heard back after asking for new pictures (or to use the old ones), but there was no truth in her saying that my wife hadn't done any work. My wife had offered her partial credit on a future order, but the customer didn't want that and said that it wasn't fair that my wife got to keep the money since she hadn't done the work.
My wife was getting more and more upset by this, and she was finally ready to give her a partial refund. She asked what I thought. I knew I would initially upset her when I told her that I thought she should just go ahead and give the customer a full refund.
I was right. She was pretty upset.
I explained to her that I knew she had handled the situation 100% in the correct manner, and that a refund would not be an acknowledgement of her having mishandled or missed anything. Instead, it was simply so she could move on.
I pointed out how upset she had been over the past few days every time this conversation took place. For the sake of a few dollars, she could offer the refund and then move on. I had a feeling that a partial refund would just continue the conversation, and continue her getting upset.
I don't like my wife being upset, especially when I see how hard she works and what a great job she does for every customer she gets, so it wasn't worth her keeping a few dollars.
I told her that she didn't need the money to know that she did the work, and explained once more that she could give her the money, then move on, never having to think about the woman again.
She finally saw my point and agreed to a refund. She did write back saying that she was giving her the refund, but she clearly stated that she had done the work, that the delay came from not having received the picture, and that she was giving the refund so that she could move on. It was terse but completely reasonable and in line. She asked for an e-mail to process the refund through PayPal, and guess what the response was?
Once again, the customer didn't respond.
I can only chuckle at that.
The Cost Of Your Peace Of Mind
The whole situation serves as a reminder that your peace of mind has value, and giving up peace of mind comes at a cost. I stepped in and urged my wife to take the peace of mind, even if it meant the cost of potentially giving money back, which even though she had fairly earned the money, was just not worth it any longer