The Real World of Digital Refunds

Imagine you bought a new suit.  You take it home, open it up and it's not at all what you thought it was and it doesn't fit.  You enter the five stages of buyers remorse: confusion, frustration, anger, disappointment...panic.  You turn around and head back to the store to return the suit counting on the refund policy to work for you.

Here's the rub with digital products.  You can't take them back to the store.  As much as you promise to remove those files from your computer and never use them again, there is no real option for a return and this can be challenging and scary.

Now imagine you are the creator of that digital product.  You have worked long hours, likely on top of your normal day job to solve a problem or offer assets to make someone's Blender life a little better and easier and you get a refund request on a sale of that product.  Interestingly, you travel the same road: confusion, frustration, anger, disappointment...panic.

Don't panic.  Refunds will always be a part of life when it comes to buying and selling. Let's walk through the real world of digital refunds together.

Refund Policy

The Blender Market Refund Policy exists to protect both the customer and the creator and to allow the marketplace to function with confidence on both sides.

DO: Make refunds easy!

Many refund requests are no-brainers.  These can and should be refunded immediately:

  • Duplicate purchase.  A customer purchased the product, then realized that they already had it in their orders from a previous purchase.  Oops!  We can confirm multiple purchases (with no refunds) on the site and refund the most recent duplicate purchase.  No problem.
  • Accidental purchase.  Maybe a customer was deciding between a couple products and stuck the wrong one in the cart or had a product in their cart along with a bunch of others and forgot to remove it before purchasing.  Blender Market records downloads on the purchase.  As long as those files have not been downloaded this is a simple refund.  The customer doesn't actually have the product yet since they don't have the files.  In essence, this one was returned.  Easy peasy. 
  • Bought the lite version and wanted PRO.  This is a great request and an automatic upsell.  Yay you!  If you have variants on your product, we recommend setting up automatic upgrades which will allow your customer to purchase the upgraded product at the difference in price.  Otherwise, you can ask that the customer purchase the upgraded version, then you can refund the first purchase as a duplicate.  Huzzah!

Since we're talking real life of refunds, we acknowledge that many refund requests aren't that simple.  Some examples you may get are:

  • This is not what I expected. 
  • This is too heavy for my machine.
  • I can't get it to work.
  • This doesn't function in my workflow.
  • It doesn't do what I needed it to do.

DON'T: Make it personal

It is very unlikely that a creator was trying to pull one over on you or the customer is trying to get something for free. 

Sometimes when we hear these complaints about something we've worked very hard on, it can be gut wrenching.  Keep in mind that the real issue is not that the product is bad, but that it just wasn't a good fit.  

With that in mind:

  • Treat each other respectfully
  • Keep it professional
  • Keep it on the Blender Market site
  • Default to the refund without a lot of back and forth

Most of the time, once a refund is requested, issuing the refund is the best choice. 

If there is a simple solution (help with installation, point out a function that they missed, etc.) that you can offer, give it a shot.  Ideally that could get the product working for the reason they purchased it and everyone is happy.  Cue chirping birds and swelling symphony 🎶

Often once the refund is requested there is nothing that will satisfy the customer other than the refund.  Ain't nobody got time for all the back and forth, not the customer or the creator.  Consider the cost of your time and weigh it against the refund and that may help lessen the blow of lost earnings.

A customer or a creator can escalate a conversation to an Admin (aka us) at any time.  We are here to help.  This is done through the Blender Market inbox.  While you may offer product support via Discord or your personal site, it is important to keep refund conversations on Blender Market in case you need us. We can only help with the conversations that we can see, should a dispute arise on a different platform there's nothing we can do to help because it's a case of he said she said 🤷🤷‍♀️

In addition, escalating the conversation to arguments, name-calling and accusations can result in a damaged reputation, poor reviews, online smearing and chargebacks (the customer avoiding further conversation by filing the refund request with their card issuer or PayPal directly).  This is another example of why refusing a refund can be more costly than issuing one.

What happens when a product is refunded?

While a customer can't return a digital download, some of the most valuable aspects of the purchase will be revoked.

  • Refunded products will not receive updates
  • Customers who have been refunded will not receive product support
  • Purchased products that've been refunded may no longer be downloaded by the customer

Offering a product on Blender Market is more than just a listing.  The real value is in the support that creators give to that product and their customers.  It is an ongoing commitment to maintain and develop the product.  The less time spent on trying to "save a sale" from a refund, the more time the creator has to work on updates, improvements and support for their happy customers.

Look at refunds as an opportunity

Refunds aren't entirely a bad thing, because we learn from them.

  • What are customers looking for?
  • What improvements can we make?
  • What can we add?

Feel free to ask for feedback from the customer to learn more about the customer experience with your product.  It is best to first offer the refund so the customer doesn't feel defensive or afraid that this is a tactic to avoid the refund.  Then ask for more information on the issues they ran into.  Many will be grateful for your interest and can offer some real insight to help you grow your business.

Reduce future refund requests

As a creator, you can use what you learn from these refund requests to reduce the number of requests you get in the future.  No, they will never go away entirely, but there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the amount of refunds requests knocking on your door.

If you are a creator:

  • Be honest in your product description
  • Point out limitations on the product page
  • Beef up your documentation
  • Use the questions you receive in support and refunds to populate the FAQ page
  • Offer demo videos 
  • Create a free "test" version of your product 
  • Answer pre-sale questions thoroughly. 

And if you are customer:

  • Do your research
  • Read the product page thoroughly
  • Ask questions before you buy to see if this is the right product for your purposes.

So, there you have it.  Refunds will always be a part of life, but don't panic and most of all, keep going.  Your work is greatly appreciated by many, us at Blender Market included.