Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Growing Pains: Resolving payment issues for clients

Panic made my client's voice shake when he spoke into the telephone receiver. Immediately, my heart and stomach sank as I contemplated all the myriad of reasons why he and his wife-to-be must have changed their minds about letting me shoot their wedding in December.

"I tried to make a full payment for the wedding coverage using the PayPal shopping cart buttons on your website, but PayPal took it out of my checking account instead of my credit card! Can you get them to stop the payment?"

Having made that mistake before during my own purchasing process, I knew firsthand the anxiety my client was feeling. Of course you want to be able to do anything to please a client, especially ones who offer to give you a full payment, upfront, months before an event takes place this most wedding client did. Thank goodness PayPal allows its users to refund payments back to a buyer (as well as fees). My client was able to make the payment again from the correct account, and within minutes, we both received emails describing all of the transactions, including the refund and my client's final payment.

PayPal's resolution center also makes it easy to respond to buyer disputes. Here are tips to help your payment transactions go smoothly:

1. Overall precautions:

Provide clear, detailed descriptions. Buyers don't like surprises. Give a detailed description of your item and include photos. Pictures are especially important when selling in countries where buyers may not be as fluent with the language in which the seller wrote the listing. Also clearly state your return policy in a place where buyers can find it.

Respond promptly to inquiries. Show buyers that you are listening by promptly and courteously responding to all questions.

2. Before accepting payment:

Beware of unusual requests. Abnormal requests can be a sign of suspicious activity. A few examples include:
Rush shipments at any cost.
Partial payments from multiple PayPal accounts.
Payments not received in full.

Be extra cautious with high-priced items. It’s fairly common for shipping addresses to differ from billing addresses. However, be extra cautious when sending high-priced items, especially if payment is received from one country and sent to another.

Know the buyer.
Do they have a confirmed address?
For e-commerce sites with feedback systems, what is the buyer's score?
Do you have any questions? Get answers by emailing or calling the buyer.

3. Shipping tips:

Track packages. Packages should be sent with tracking numbers. Once you get a tracking number from the shipping service, promptly send it to the buyer. As an extra precaution, you should consider adding delivery confirmation. Finally, make sure to keep proof that the package was received by the buyer.

Insure packages. When sending goods, opt for postal insurance to protect yourself in the event that a shipment is lost or the buyer claims it was never delivered.

Keep buyers up-to-date about delivery. Set expectations up front. Once payment is received, give buyers an estimated delivery time. Keep in mind, it's better to overestimate delivery time than have a package show up late. If a package is not sent in time, tell your buyer about it.


Mark Hayes said...

The client is lucky they noticed it right away and where able to contact you. Would have been horrible if they had not realized their error until the NSF notices started coming from their bank.

Sheba Wheeler said...

I know. Thank goodness the process was so easy to take care of. It could have been a nightmare.

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