As the seller it is at your discretion how you handle complaints from your customers about your products and fulfilment service.
That said - we do ask that you aim for a high customer service standard and adhere to the Returns & Refund Policy.
To help you we have put together this guide with best practice advice on how to successfully handle the most common issues.
In over 5 years of running Yumbles and prior experience of running large customer service teams for many years for other online marketplaces I have personally seen thousands of seller-buyer customer interactions: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly! This guide distils the very best practice.
First things first
Of course prevention is always best. Customer complaints should be rare if you:
a) have very clear, complete and accurate product descriptions so that customers know what they're getting (including shelf life information)
b) fulfil orders on time in line within your advertised shipping timescales (or requested advance order dates),
c) package your products well.
d) communicate with your customer as needed (that includes keeping the order status up to date and if the parcel is tracked providing tracking information via the order),
e) use a reliable delivery method.
However if you do find yourself dealing with a customer complaint then our first advice is to:
- respond quickly
- apologise if you've made an error
- show genuine acknowledgement of and empathy for their disappointment - no matter the cause they had an expectation that wasn't met hence their complaint.
- make it clear that you are keen to get it resolved for them.
These steps alone quickly diffuse a disappointed customer.
Final general pointer - learn from every complaint. How did it happen and how could it have been prevented. Make changes where you can to avoid similar cases in future. Complaints are costly particularly for a small business in terms of time spent dealing with them, refunds and reputation risk.
Common complaints & how to solve them:
General Return Request
If the product is returnable (i.e. not perishable nor bespoke) and in a returnable state (i.e. not opened/ used) then you are legally obliged to accept a return request provided they notify you within 14 days of the item being delivered. You are entitled to ask that they cover the cost of return and we do flag that in the Returns & Refund Policy.
Notify us (firstname.lastname@example.org) when you have received the returned items so that we can issue the refund.
We strongly recommend that damaged items are replaced asap OR a partial refund if they can still make use of the item.
If the customer does not want to accept a replacement or partial refund (e.g. because it is past when the item was needed and so it is now too late for them) then we recommend you offer a full refund.
You may require photographic evidence of damage first and/ or for the items to be returned to you (this will also assist you in preventing damage again in future). The Returns & Refunds Policy does ask that customers do not throw out items before getting in touch with the seller.
Items Not as Described
If a customer has received items that do not reasonably match the photos and/ or descriptions of your listing then we strongly recommend that you offer replacement or full refund. For example if the ingredients/ dietary information in the listing was incorrect.
(Don't forget to urgently correct your listing).
If a customer hasn't received their full order then send out the missing items/ the correct order asap. If they no longer want the missing items or order then you may have to accept the cost of the error and offer a partial or full refund depending on what was missing.
Not Satisfied with Product(s)
If the customer reports any other more subjective concern about the product e.g. they don't like the taste, then it is at your discretion if you wish to offer anything as goodwill. Sending them out something else, or maybe some extra samples or a partial refund could go a long way if you want to give them something but avoid a full refund.
It falls to the seller to ensure that an order reaches the intended recipient's address (as provided on the order) even if the issue is that the delivery service you use has lost the item.
If an item has been dispatched, a reasonable time has elapsed (e.g. 4 days) and you do not have a tracked proof of delivery then we strongly recommend that you arrange for the customer to receive replacement items asap. If they do not wish to accept replacements and instead wish to cancel (e.g. if the item is no longer needed) then you may need to agree to a full refund.
If the item was attempted to be delivered by your delivery service and a missed parcel card was allegedly not left then we would also advise that you either track the parcel down at a local depot for them, or arrange for re-delivery or replacement.
It is for this reason that we strongly recommend that all orders over a certain value are sent with tracked delivery so that you have proof of delivery and piece of mind.
A note on perishable items - we would always recommend that you a) never dispatch them on a Friday and b) use a fast delivery service ideally with tracking to avoid issues with perishable items being left uncollected in depots and then spoiling before the customer gets to them.
When customers order they do so knowing the estimated or guaranteed delivery dates calculated from your shipping settings. That forms part of the service expectations.
Therefore if the item has been successfully delivered but it arrived many days after the estimated delivery date OR a day or more later than the guaranteed delivery date AND you had not advised the customer ahead of time about a delay then we strongly recommend that you offer some suitable form of goodwill. That may be sending some complimentary items or a partial refund (or at least a refund of the delivery charge, particularly if they paid for a guaranteed delivery).
If the item has been successfully delivered but it was just a day or two later than the estimated delivery date then we recommend that you advise the customer that the delivery date was provided as an estimate. You may or may not want to offer any goodwill.
If you have dispatched an order to an address that was not the ship to address supplied on the order then you would be expected to make it good by sending out a replacement order to the correct address.
If you have dispatched an order to the shipping address as provided on the order, but the customer reports that it was not the intended shipping address then you may want to suggest that the customer tries to retrieve the item (if the address is known to them) or they re-order to the correct address. The shipping address is something customers are asked to double check at checkout and is then also provided to them after they place their order via the email confirmation so the onus is on them to make sure that the address supplied with their order is correct.
We ask that all sellers do their best efforts to resolve issues with their customers directly, which should be possible if you follow the advice in this guide.
In the event that you and your customer really cannot agree on a resolution, either party can request that we Yumbles step in and provide dispute resolution.
When we are asked to provide dispute resolution we will do our best efforts to quickly find a solution that both parties are happy with. We will follow the advice as outlined in this guide.