All Posts by Amber Jalink

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I've been working online full time for 20 years... yep, I know a little about doing business on internet ;)

Mar 14

Did you know this about refunds and refund requests?

By Amber Jalink | Online Business

If you have bought a product or service online, you are usually aware of the refund policies.

At times, there are 30 and sometimes 60 day refund guarantees, and other times, there are none.

Even when there is a refund guarantee, there are a few things you need to be aware of which too many people either ignore – or honestly have no clue.

First, at all times, be aware of the terms of the guarantee. In some cases, they are NOT an automatic “you ask you get it” policy. Many times they are qualified refunds. That means, you must meet the requirements to request one. This could be answering some questions, or proving that you have actually tried the method your system you are trying to refund.

The reason for this is simple: you can’t refund software or even a DVD at a store unless it’s damaged or unopened, and typically they’ll only exchange it.

When you have access to a course or product, you have direct access to it. The product owner has no way of knowing just how much you’ve tried to implement. For all they know, you could be simply trying to download it all and upload it to blackhat sites. (Yes, this happens).

Just like you can’t take a half a bottle of liquor back to the store and say, “I decided I just don’t want this one anymore, I want my money back so I can buy a different bottle of liquor that is shiny and looks awesome”, you can’t (usually) do the same thing with an online product or service. The fact that it’s digital is irrelevant.

So pay close attention to the terms of WHAT the refund guarantee says.

Second, if the refund policy is 10 days or 30 days, it is there because you are required to stick with it – that is your time frame for being allowed to refund something. If you try to come back 3, 4, even 6 months later (I’ve had someone try 2 yrs later because they forgot they bought it) – seriously – that’s just unacceptable.

It doesn’t matter WHAT your reasoning is. If you are outside of the refund time frame, you have no right asking for a refund, especially when the product or service HAS supported you, answered your questions or posts, added new features or enhancements or reports into the system/course you bought – you have zero right to request it after that time.

You can’t take a physical product (like a mop or piece of furniture) back to a local hardware store 4-6 months after you bought the product when it has a 30 day money back guarantee. The store just will not take it. “IF” it’s a warranty issue, they’ll advise you on how to get it fixed, but they won’t give you your money back.

And if it has NO refund policy, then that’s it. That’s when you need to decide at the point of purchase if you want that product or not, because you are as the buyer, obligated to abide by that rule unless of course you were never given access to the product in the first place by no fault of your own, then you could be entitled. Just because you “never got around to logging in” doesn’t mean you are entitled. NOT getting your access info AND not getting a support response after a few business days – THAT justifies a refund.

Third, “IF” You are going to request a refund, (at any time), go through proper channels. That means, contacting the site’s helpdesk, or support email address. At worst if you get no response, go to their facebook group or page, and request it there (politely), and clarify that you aren’t getting a response.

On that note – ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS allow a bare minimum of up to 2 business days for ANY business to respond to you. With the connectivity of the world, you have to remember that in some cases people have very different time zones. While it might be Monday to you, it could still be Sunday night for the product creator.

Add to that every country has different holidays affecting their online hours, and people have the right to a vacation. Usually they have support staff, but on occasion it has happened where the person is out of town, or even facing an issue like a power outage is is absolutely unable to get back to you faster than that. (Or, sometimes illness in the family occurs).

So rather than attacking or immediately filing a dispute for someone not responding, consider these things first, and allow legitimate time for a response.  Things happen, we’d prefer to be fairly treated, so it’s only right to treat the seller with fairness as well.

Lastly – If you are within the time frame of the refund policy, NEVER EVER click “request refund” in Paypal! Did you know that immediately files a dispute/complaint with Paypal against the seller?

And did you realize, that it often flags *YOU* as fraud, especially if you do this on a regular basis?

People who wonder why their Paypal accounts get frozen or limited, these are big reasons why.

You need to PROPERLY go through the refund request channels from the seller’s website (or instructions) to request that qualifying refund. If you do not qualify for it, just don’t do it.

As business owners, we know that we can fight it with Paypal, and in most cases, Paypal WILL side with us when we provide the legitimate proof (of access, refund policies etc).

Even if you are within the time to request a refund – never do it through Paypal.

Because I can almost guarantee it will put you on an immediate blacklist with the seller… meaning you won’t be able to buy from them ever again, (even if it’s something you legitimately want), AND many will put it on a ‘global’ blacklist. Meaning, you won’t be able to buy from others either due to the fact that you requested it through improper channels.

I’ve heard of Paypal (from one of their staff members), that every “refund request” and dispute filed through their system, puts a flag on the account from the buyer. They monitor. And THEY can blacklist you, even if you think you’re just refunding a product because you “can”.

When a product is absolute junk (and within the refund time frame), I agree that it deserves a refund.

But in all of my years of business online – and I know this to be the case of most other successful marketers as well (discussions we’ve had) – even if the product IS junk, we almost never request a refund, no matter how entitled we are.

Why?

Because (1) we want to protect our accounts, and (2) because we chalk it up to lessons learned, and we never buy from that seller again, we simply remove ourselves from their lists. It still goes on the expense part of the tax receipts so not a total loss ;).

 

Mar 14

The Product Launch Debate

By Amber Jalink | Online Business

Do you find yourself on multiple email lists, and wonder how on earth the person has time to continually launch new products?

Of course a lot of the time the emails are for other people’s products, but what if you bought a tool or course only to find that a few weeks or months later, the product creator is now releasing something else?

Are you annoyed? Often the answer is yes.

Do you feel like they shouldn’t be launching other products?

What if they launch something “complimentary” than what you already have? Shouldn’t the product creator simply enhance their first product?

And what if they’re launching things that aren’t complimentary, perhaps something different. Shouldn’t they be focusing on the product/offer YOU purchased??

These are slightly loaded questions, ones I will address here (because I get these questions at times), and I’m going to play a little “devils advocate” here, covering both sides of the issue: both from the consumer side, and the product creator side.

So let’s start off with the consumer’s view.

Let’s admit it: when a marketer sends you emails daily with a new pitch in EVERY email, it gets annoying. Even I admit I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of lists for this reason. When I give my email (which usually happens automatically when you buy something), I’m giving temporary permission to connect with me.

… so wow me! (More on that in a moment).

And of course, if every email is a pitch for yet another product from yet another person, it really seriously adds to “SOS” (Shiny Object Syndrome), and this is a problem that halts many people from focusing and achieving success. Because they’re going in too many different directions.

And yes it IS annoying to join a program or buy a product, only to be endlessly pitched particulary when the product owner DOES NOT support the product. Because then it just feels like a money grab (and often that’s what it is).

But not always.

So let’s now look at the product creator’s side for a little more insight.

When a product is not supported, then that is the direct fault of the product creator. EVERY product you put out needs to be supported. If you won’t do it or don’t have time for it, you absolutely MUST hire someone who can handle 90% of the support for you, so that you CAN move on to other things if you wish.

Bottom line: product creators: support your products.

BUT – what if the product creator *IS* supporting the product(s)… and what if that product creator is continually updating and working on it? Does that mean they should never launch anything else?

NO. That should absolutely NOT stop further launches, even if complimentary.

If the product creator launched the exact same thing under a different name, then (in my opinion), that’s unacceptable and not necessary, and only makes customers feel duped.

However, if you add a tool that is complimentary – but not the same, then it is absolutely acceptable, and sometimes more practical.

Example: We have our system that allows people to upload and sell planners and journals, essentially a print on demand (POD) for planners.

However, the system was NOT fully capable of designing an entire planner or journal from within. Yes, it has a designer, but that is better used on the covers, and never fully expected to be for the entire product. We always advised download the templates, modify, then upload the completed pdf to put live to the public.

When we created our journal creator software, a few complained, feeling that we should have added it into the print on demand system.

Yet it was a completely different software system powering it, AND it is expensive to run. Had we added it into the POD system, we would have been forced to charge a monthly fee for it, even to those who had ‘lifetime’ membership in the POD system. That alone would have created backlash for those expecting to never pay again.

But because it costs us every month to run, AND not everyone in the POD system cared about journals, it absolutely made more sense to launch it as a separate product. However, it IS complimentary – the products created within the journal creator CAN be uploaded and sold with the POD system – OR not.

You see, the POD system has the restriction that if you use our templates, you are forced to use our POD system for product delivery. (It’s only fair to us since we included a lot of templates without further cost to the members).

However, the journal creator has the rights that you can sell the products ANYWHERE – with no kickbacks to us.

So in some situations like ours, creating additional / complimentary products are very practical, and necessary, especially when different licensing issues are in place.

Additionally, sometimes the product has features and development stages that the product owner themselves cannot personally do. Example: I’m not a programmer, I can work fairly extensively with html, but not php etc. So while I might seem to be “moving on” to other products, it’s highly likely that it’s because I’ve actually got someone ELSE working on my particular product/service that I cannot personally do.

But what about perhaps non-complimentary products? I.e., some product creators seem to launch new products on a regular basis.

Does that mean they shouldn’t? Again – NO.

This is NOT to bash anyone here – but it’s a blunt point: I can almost guarantee that those who insist that a person should ONLY have one product for their business, has not been working online for any amount of time.

While a customer might have one focused mind (i.e., publishing their latest fiction novel), that’s great – but that does NOT mean that the product creator has to have the same focused mind.

In the blunt harsh reality of the internet, a business needs multiple streams of income.

That means, they are earning from more than one product or service.

Just like an “offline consultant” (a person who sells services to local businesses) has many clients – they also usually have multiple services they offer, not “just” web hosting for example.

The reason for this is simple: technology is always changing. And people’s financial situations change. And their desires and direction they want to go changes.

If you relied on ONE product only – someone else will come along and create something similar… and you lose customers. Or, technology changed so fast, your product is so out of date and redundant, that you HAVE to create something different.

Gas stations do not just sell gas, they sell “convenience” of having chocolate bars and snack foods near the cash register. (Many of them admit their income is greater for other products than just selling gas).

Again, an offline client will likely sell web hosting, but they’ll also usually offer other services such as newsletters, app building and maintenance, Facebook advertising, and more.

And realistically, ALL of these products and services cost money to the consultant in one way or another. (If they outsource, it’s staff costs. If they do the work themselves, it’s their time).

Strong companies have multiple product and/or service lines. “One hit wonders” come and go, but strong ones stick around. They evolve, expand their product offerings (complimentary or not), and they DO have the right to creating multiple products.

Solid businesses work that way. (Heck, even Apple doesn’t just sell a Mac, they added the iphone, the ipad, the ipod, and so on!)

The iPhone and iPod do almost the same thing… realistically they are – except the iphone is a phone. But it does everything the iPod does. Should they NOT release both products, just because they’re similar?  Of course not.

So the next time you look at a company/person/product creator and complain that they shouldn’t be doing anything other than what you bought, think about what is mentioned here.

If you want to focus 100% on one thing (like writing that novel, or creating that ONE piece of software) – all the power to you. But be prepared to realize that your income may be short lived, or worse – the product/service you create just might not be as marketable as you thought, and might not bring you any income at all.

Focus on one thing, get it done, then create the next, get it done, then the next and so on.

Never be afraid to launch, as long as you support your products of course ;).

And as a consumer, never ever be afraid to submit comments, (POLITE) criticism, concerns or suggestions to product owners – that’s how we make products/services better, because we can’t read your minds! However – as mentioned, ALWAYS be polite. Bashing is never acceptable.

 

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