Customer not collected their paid items - refund?

25
Found 10th Feb 2015
Hi all.

Just a quick q.

My company sells school uniform to schools and the parents directly. We have an online system where the parents can buy from and also Click & Collect.

The issue we have, is that people have bought and paid for their items, and after months of trying to contact them, they still haven't picked up their products.

Is there a set time where we can pop the stock back on the shelves and sell them to different customers? We need to have the customers information before we can complete a refund, so that is a no-go.

If the uniforms are changed, and the customers come in a year later to ask for a refund, we cannot sell the items. So do we refund anyway and take a big loss?

I have tried to research this matter, however, there are not many bespoke companies in the same position as us.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks,

Luke
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I'm not sure how it works online but I placed a click n collect order with Mothercare before Christmas. In their terms it states that the store will make every effort to contact the customer (they did) and after so long will place the items back on the shelf for sale. Refunds are not automatic though, you have to go into the store to do this. I guess it's fair as it makes it more inconvenient for people who simply place orders then change their mind and just not collect as a bit of a habit!
You can only ever sell something once - unless it is returned, a refund given and then you can sell again. The key point is the profit you expect to make can only be made once.
So if you sell something and receive money for it but for one reason or another the buyer does not take ownership then you could take a risk and sell it again BUT if the original buyer turns up expecting their item and you cannot give it then you would simply refund them.
I hope I have understood your problem correctly and if the above does not help, I apologise - just let me know a little more.
Edited by: "tardytortoise" 10th Feb 2015
I think you should factor it into your terms and condiions of sale and stipulate a length. Mothercare say 7 days but they contacted me after 2 mo ths. I had simply forgotten that I ordered it!
give them 14 days then cancel their order and charge them if they do not reply to your requests
Trumpet777

I'm not sure how it works online but I placed a click n collect order … I'm not sure how it works online but I placed a click n collect order with Mothercare before Christmas. In their terms it states that the store will make every effort to contact the customer (they did) and after so long will place the items back on the shelf for sale. Refunds are not automatic though, you have to go into the store to do this. I guess it's fair as it makes it more inconvenient for people who simply place orders then change their mind and just not collect as a bit of a habit!



This idea sounds ideal.

tardytortoise

You can only ever sell something once - unless it is returned, a refund … You can only ever sell something once - unless it is returned, a refund given and then you can sell again. The key point is the profit you expect to make can only be made once.So if you sell something and receive money for it but for one reason or another the seller does not take ownership then you could take a risk and sell it again BUT if the original buyer turns up expecting their item and you cannot give it then you would simply refund them. I hope I have understood your problem correctly and if the above does not help, I apologise - just let me know a little more.



Yes, I understand that. But, what happens if they haven't collected within a year (which has happened), we have turned customers away due to no stock, and the uniform has changed? We cannot automatically refund the customer and need to contact them for their details. It's a pain of a system, but the only one we have. How about a holding fee? This would entice customers to collect within a reasonable like, would it not?
You need to set your own terms & conditions
Trumpet777

I think you should factor it into your terms and condiions of sale and … I think you should factor it into your terms and condiions of sale and stipulate a length. Mothercare say 7 days but they contacted me after 2 mo ths. I had simply forgotten that I ordered it!



Yes, something to consider. We respect that parents work full-time and during opening hours so we would give them a full 30 days.

Since we don't have the services to refund without their details (using SAGEPAY), this does seem like the only option at the moment.
Why not sell the stock that hasnt been collected within a reasonable time (as agreed by you). If the customer then comes to collect it you can tell them due to them not collecting it in reasonable time you have resold it but will issue them a refund. That way you are not losing out on anything and are not holding stock.

I dont see why you are asking about a holding fee - its a click and collect service you are offering. It seems that you want to make this money twice by reselling an item that has already been sold but not collected. Chances are if they havent collected it within a year they wont come to collect it and therefore wont ask for the refund but I would suggest if they do, you should refund them as you are not at a loss?
MR1123

You need to set your own terms & conditions



We have T&C, but writing them, we didn't expect people not to collect what they have paid for. We have to abide by Trading Standards more than anything, but don't have the space for all this left over, so charging a holding fee would be good, up until we run out of space. Decisions, decisions.
Muzz

Why not sell the stock that hasnt been collected within a reasonable time … Why not sell the stock that hasnt been collected within a reasonable time (as agreed by you). If the customer then comes to collect it you can tell them due to them not collecting it in reasonable time you have resold it but will issue them a refund. That way you are not losing out on anything and are not holding stock.I dont see why you are asking about a holding fee - its a click and collect service you are offering. It seems that you want to make this money twice by reselling an item that has already been sold but not collected. Chances are if they havent collected it within a year they wont come to collect it and therefore wont ask for the refund but I would suggest if they do, you should refund them as you are not at a loss?



A couple of issues with this.

Charging a holding fee would be to entice them to collect. If somebody comes in for a sweater that was sold the previous day online, we would turn the customer away if it was out of stock (as the online order had taken that stock). If the other customer who bought it via the Click & Collect service did not pick up the items, the initial shop sale has been lost and we would possibly have to refund them meaning 2 sales down the pan.

Another point, we need the customers details for a refund (we have not been able to reach them at the information displayed on the online ordering system). And as before, school's have changed their uniforms a fair few times in the last 2 years alone. The stock that has been held for the C&C can now not be resold to other customers, we are at a loss potentially.

Thanks
for a seller of bespoke items didn't u realize that u should have a returns policy which should have addressed this. e.g. should have summit state all orders must be collected within so many days or restocking charge will be taken off and proof will be needed to refund the amount when requested and if like no one request a refund u take off the money for restocking sell the item if u can and put all non collected money in a separate refunds account I think it's pretty dopey if u haven't got any refund policy in place obviously u need to check the legal side but u should have thought. of this before we'll better do.it know than never
Trumpet777

I'm not sure how it works online but I placed a click n collect order … I'm not sure how it works online but I placed a click n collect order with Mothercare before Christmas. In their terms it states that the store will make every effort to contact the customer (they did) and after so long will place the items back on the shelf for sale. Refunds are not automatic though, you have to go into the store to do this. I guess it's fair as it makes it more inconvenient for people who simply place orders then change their mind and just not collect as a bit of a habit!

tardytortoise

You can only ever sell something once - unless it is returned, a refund … You can only ever sell something once - unless it is returned, a refund given and then you can sell again. The key point is the profit you expect to make can only be made once.So if you sell something and receive money for it but for one reason or another the seller does not take ownership then you could take a risk and sell it again BUT if the original buyer turns up expecting their item and you cannot give it then you would simply refund them. I hope I have understood your problem correctly and if the above does not help, I apologise - just let me know a little more.



Forgive me, but my brain is a bit slow today!
You have sold something; you have the money; customer A does not collect; another customer B wants exactly the same item but the only one you have is the one you are holding for customer A.
If you sell it (again) to customer B - you risk upsetting customer A who has paid and reserved one - but if they have not collected in a "reasonable" time then they are partly responsible so if you have sold it to customer B in the meantime you simply apologise and refund. If you do not sell (again) to customer B and if customer A does turn up then all is well - and if the customer does not turn up to collect then you still have their money and a storage problem.
Now the other issue as I understand it is the uniform changing over time. So customer A buys a uniform and before the customer collects it the uniform changes its design. Are you saying the customer is expecting the very latest design when they collect and not the design they ordered and paid for? If so, I can understand your problem especially if you could have sold the "older" one before to customer B.
Thinking out loud, I guess in legal terms it would need to be determined exactly what contract is being formed in this transaction and when such transaction and contract would be deemed to have concluded. Regardless of the answers to that question the next question would be what the customer could do if the contract was not kept and how much the buyer was partly responsible in ensuring the contract was fulfilled. I guess if it was fully stated in the T&Cs of time limits to collect and references to design changes, then this could help.
As I type, I am aware of the Consumer Contract Regulations so a quick look at these might help.
Edited by: "tardytortoise" 10th Feb 2015
No you arent Luke you are trying to make more money its obvious - unless you are not understanding me.

Customer A - buys and pays for item online but fails to collect it

Customer B - comes into shop next day to buy an item that Customer A has bought previous day meaning no stock (seems like high demand - may want to look at your own stock control)

Customer A - fails to collect item within your reasonable timelines despite the fact you have contacted them and tried to get them to come and collect.

Customer C - Due to the high demand will come in and want that item and you sell it to them. You now have been paid twice for the same item.

Customer A - Calls into shop to collect item and are informed that due to timelines the item was resold and you will offer them a refund. OR - Fails to call into shop and you therefore cannot issue them a refund and you now have twice as much money (this is win win for you)
muddassarsardar

for a seller of bespoke items didn't u realize that u should have a … for a seller of bespoke items didn't u realize that u should have a returns policy which should have addressed this. e.g. should have summit state all orders must be collected within so many days or restocking charge will be taken off and proof will be needed to refund the amount when requested and if like no one request a refund u take off the money for restocking sell the item if u can and put all non collected money in a separate refunds account I think it's pretty dopey if u haven't got any refund policy in place obviously u need to check the legal side but u should have thought. of this before we'll better do.it know than never



I have joined this family run company in the last 4 months, so the T&C's don't lie with me personally. I'm just trying to smooth out the cracks at the moment.

From the bespoke side of things we take a deposit, so that's fine. When it comes to the school uniforms, they are not all made order, but sometimes only stock what has been sold. I understand where you're coming from.
tardytortoise

Forgive me, but my brain is a bit slow today! You have sold something; … Forgive me, but my brain is a bit slow today! You have sold something; you have the money; customer A does not collect; another customer B wants exactly the same item but the only one you have is the one you are holding for customer A.If you sell it (again) to customer B - you risk upsetting customer A who has paid and reserved one - but if they have not collected in a "reasonable" time then they are partly responsible so if you have sold it to customer B in the meantime you simply apologise and refund. If you do not sell (again) to customer B and if customer A does turn up then all is well - and if the customer does not turn up to collect then you still have their money and a storage problem.Now the other issue as I understand it is the uniform changing over time. So customer A buys a uniform and before the customer collects it the uniform changes its design. Are you saying the customer is expecting the very latest design when they collect and not the design they ordered and paid for? If so, I can understand your problem especially if you could have sold the "older" one before to customer B.Thinking out loud, I guess in legal terms it would need to be determined exactly what contract is being formed in this transaction and when such transaction and contract would be deemed to have concluded. Regardless of the answers to that question the next question would be what the customer could do if the contract was not kept and how much the buyer was partly responsible in ensuring the contract was fulfilled. I guess if it was fully stated in the T&Cs of time limits to collect and references to design changes, then this could help.As I type, I am aware of the Consumer Contract Regulations so a quick look at these might help.



Looks like this could help also. --> businesscompanion.info/
sell them and ................................
lukiezgo

We have T&C, but writing them, we didn't expect people not to collect … We have T&C, but writing them, we didn't expect people not to collect what they have paid for. We have to abide by Trading Standards more than anything, but don't have the space for all this left over, so charging a holding fee would be good, up until we run out of space. Decisions, decisions.



You should not charge a holding fee as once they come to collect and you tell them the holding fee is x amount, the will just ask for a full refund. Keep it plain and simple. Where I work they only hold items for 7 days unless customers calls to extend it. The customer gets reminder to pick up their goods before a certain date via email and text and if they don't pick up then it gets put back. But customer doesn't get charged until they sign for their parcel. We have customer name and order number and date on each parcel so helps us to cancel order. HTH
tardytortoise

Forgive me, but my brain is a bit slow today! You have sold something; … Forgive me, but my brain is a bit slow today! You have sold something; you have the money; customer A does not collect; another customer B wants exactly the same item but the only one you have is the one you are holding for customer A.If you sell it (again) to customer B - you risk upsetting customer A who has paid and reserved one - but if they have not collected in a "reasonable" time then they are partly responsible so if you have sold it to customer B in the meantime you simply apologise and refund. If you do not sell (again) to customer B and if customer A does turn up then all is well - and if the customer does not turn up to collect then you still have their money and a storage problem.Now the other issue as I understand it is the uniform changing over time. So customer A buys a uniform and before the customer collects it the uniform changes its design. Are you saying the customer is expecting the very latest design when they collect and not the design they ordered and paid for? If so, I can understand your problem especially if you could have sold the "older" one before to customer B.Thinking out loud, I guess in legal terms it would need to be determined exactly what contract is being formed in this transaction and when such transaction and contract would be deemed to have concluded. Regardless of the answers to that question the next question would be what the customer could do if the contract was not kept and how much the buyer was partly responsible in ensuring the contract was fulfilled. I guess if it was fully stated in the T&Cs of time limits to collect and references to design changes, then this could help.As I type, I am aware of the Consumer Contract Regulations so a quick look at these might help.



No, I understand this. The only issue is we cannot refund the customer without contacting them and receiving their details. We have made numerous efforts, but none to avail. More to the point, the customers don't know/keep up to date. We have honestly have customers not knowing what colour the uniforms are.
Muzz

No you arent Luke you are trying to make more money its obvious - unless … No you arent Luke you are trying to make more money its obvious - unless you are not understanding me.Customer A - buys and pays for item online but fails to collect itCustomer B - comes into shop next day to buy an item that Customer A has bought previous day meaning no stock (seems like high demand - may want to look at your own stock control)Customer A - fails to collect item within your reasonable timelines despite the fact you have contacted them and tried to get them to come and collect.Customer C - Due to the high demand will come in and want that item and you sell it to them. You now have been paid twice for the same item.Customer A - Calls into shop to collect item and are informed that due to timelines the item was resold and you will offer them a refund. OR - Fails to call into shop and you therefore cannot issue them a refund and you now have twice as much money (this is win win for you)



I think I am understanding you right. And I'm not "obviously" trying to make more money, I, as an employee wouldn't profit from that. I am trying to have a condition in place and trying to make sure things run smoothly. You're examples are pretty much how we are doing it. But, space is pretty tight. We need an enticement, not another way to make money.
MR1123

You should not charge a holding fee as once they come to collect and you … You should not charge a holding fee as once they come to collect and you tell them the holding fee is x amount, the will just ask for a full refund. Keep it plain and simple. Where I work they only hold items for 7 days unless customers calls to extend it. The customer gets reminder to pick up their goods before a certain date via email and text and if they don't pick up then it gets put back. But customer doesn't get charged until they sign for their parcel. We have customer name and order number and date on each parcel so helps us to cancel order. HTH



I thought about this. I might make it so, the customer reserves the item for a week and has to pay for it in store, like you would with Argos. Just because of us not having the capabilities of making an automatic refund. I think that's helped me make that decision, thanks.
lukiezgo

No, I understand this. The only issue is we cannot refund the customer … No, I understand this. The only issue is we cannot refund the customer without contacting them and receiving their details. We have made numerous efforts, but none to avail. More to the point, the customers don't know/keep up to date. We have honestly have customers not knowing what colour the uniforms are.


If you read some of the links I provided you will see the law says you must supply in writing certain things once a customer carries out a transaction. It would seem that you MUST change your business processes to collect customer contact information in order for you to demonstrate that you have fully tried to contact the customer. You may also need to provide a facility for customers to update these details. I also guess that the business processes and e-commerce tools you are using are outdated and not the best to ensure compliance with the law and best practice. BTW do you still have the St Trinians uniform I ordered 3 years ago?
tardytortoise

If you read some of the links I provided you will see the law says you … If you read some of the links I provided you will see the law says you must supply in writing certain things once a customer carries out a transaction. It would seem that you MUST change your business processes to collect customer contact information in order for you to demonstrate that you have fully tried to contact the customer. You may also need to provide a facility for customers to update these details. I also guess that the business processes and e-commerce tools you are using are outdated and not the best to ensure compliance with the law and best practice. BTW do you still have the St Trinians uniform I ordered 3 years ago?



I may be missing something here, it's been a long day. We have a system for customers to update their contact information. It's the payment details is what we lack. Hence, we cannot automatically refund.

Hmm, a middle-aged man asking for a girls high school uniform for himself...haha
This problem is rapidly changing. It would seem the issue now is about refunding Customer A - nothing to do with Customer B, nothing to do with stock and nothing to do with change of design. And because you have not been explicit it would seem that you do not have an address where you can write to the customer. I must be missing something else - because I do not understand why you cannot simply send them a crossed cheque as a refund. I repeat - it is the business processes that need to be changed.
Sounds like it would be best for the customer to 'reserve' the item for a certain number of days and then pay when they pick it up. Would save all the hassle of having to do any kind of refund if they don't turn up and if after that set period they are a no-show then you simply return the item to stock.

:-)
bobdylan

Sounds like it would be best for the customer to 'reserve' the item for a … Sounds like it would be best for the customer to 'reserve' the item for a certain number of days and then pay when they pick it up. Would save all the hassle of having to do any kind of refund if they don't turn up and if after that set period they are a no-show then you simply return the item to stock.:-)



Yeah, I decided a few mins ago to aim for this. Cheers guys.
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