When Your Customer Commits Fraud

Ordering something with no intention of paying for it is fraud, plain and simple. Unfortunately, there is a growing problem with this online that I want to make you aware of. The typical scenario is the customer orders a book, claims it’s lousy, demands a refund, and threatens to report the author to the authorities if they don’t comply. I recently received a letter from an ebook author who was the victim of one of these jerks. This week, I’m sharing her letter here along with my experience dealing with these types of criminals.

Dear Angela,

I received a message earlier tonight from a customer, complaining about an ebook he ordered. While I disagreed with his complaints, I immediately refunded his money–full amount. Then, at 1 a.m. I received another email from him, which was also carbon copied to a fraud reporting agency.

When you read his email, you will see that it sounds as though he orders ebooks alot and then asks for his money back.

I would love to know a tactful way of handling people like this?

Ebook Author

While we’re not publishing your name here at your request, I want to tell our readers that I know you and your book and I know it’s a high quality publication. In fact, we sell it on Booklocker.com.

The guy you encountered is a (bleep) and you weren’t under any obligation to refund his money. As long as the description of your book is accurate, he knew what he was buying. The FCC if far too busy investigating serious consumer complaints. I seriously doubt he copied any agency on anything he sent to you. He was just trying to scare you into giving him a refund.

We’ve encountered a few of these jerks over the years. It’s always funny how they ask for a refund only a few minutes after they buy the book, or they can’t tell you anything specific about the book when asked (because they ask for a refund before they have time to read the book). These jerks obviously never had any intention of paying for the product and think they can bully people into giving them merchandise for free (refund money for an ebook which obviously can’t be returned).

The primary way to protect yourself from this type of fraud is to post a firm “no refunds” policy for all ebook buyers. Publish it in a large font on your website during the ordering process so they can’t say they never saw it.

One way to know if the customer is one of those who buys something and then demands a refund is to figure out if he’s had time to read the book since his purchase. Also, you can inquire exactly what, in the book’s content, did not meet their expectations. Often, this will require more effort then they’re willing to expend and they disappear. There is a growing problem of mean buyers online who come in, buy a book, then demand a refund and use the threat of contacting the authorities if you don’t comply. They’re bullies. Implement a no refunds policy and, when they do try to rip you off like this, remind them of your policy and tell them to get lost.