Client paid deposit for website design and now wants a refund. What should I do?

by 44 comments
Hi everyone! The title says it all. I have a client that has paid me a 150 deposit for a website design at a total price at 350.

Now after I have designed the site for him and have also customized it to his needs, he says that he wants to withdraw and is asking me for a refund. What do I do?

I was thinking that may be i can offer him another service instead for his 150, but not a refund. Please let me know your opinions and past experience.

Thank you,
Ron
#offline marketing #client #deposit #design #paid #refund #website
  • Profile picture of the author reboot38
    Do you have a signed contract with terms regarding refunds?

    Personally I would give him the $150 back and wish him well. Better that than having a pissed of client bashing you on the web.

    On the other hand - you could argue that the work requested was complete and instead of offering him a refund, request the $200 balance be paid too

    Always have them sign on the line that is dotted.
  • Profile picture of the author eperkins153
    Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

    Hi everyone! The title says it all. I have a client that has paid me a 150 deposit for a website design at a total price at 350.

    Now after I have designed the site for him and have also customized it to his needs, he says that he wants to withdraw and is asking me for a refund. What do I do?

    I was thinking that may be i can offer him another service instead for his 150, but not a refund. Please let me know your opinions and past experience.

    Thank you,
    Ron
    HAVE CONTRACTS FROM NOW ON .... SELLING THINGS 101

    Adobe echosign works great for me
  • Profile picture of the author tonyscott
    Depends on the quality of what you produced for him?

    If it's good:

    Refund him & Offer the site to his competitors

    If it's not so good - do better work

    I'm not a lawyer, blah blah, blah ...

    But at that pricing level, I don't see the value in having a contract, other than a handshake. It would cost more to enforce the contract than the contract value - in time, if not money.

    tony
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    What's the reason for the refund request?

    Did you have an agreement in place between the two of you for what would happen in a situation like this?

    The fact that you have already done the work is a real concern for me. I want to know WHY they want a refund, before taking any other steps.
    • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
      Originally Posted by eperkins153 View Post

      HAVE CONTRACTS FROM NOW ON .... SELLING THINGS 101

      Adobe echosign works great for me
      Pointless. For such low priced sales a contract is meaningless. Over a $150 deposit? The OP can sue for $200.. or the client can sue for $150. The reality is, in most cities in the US, the cost of filing would be more than the amount owed. Judgement in your favor? Cool... good luck collecting it.

      The way I would play this out, is demand the remaining $200 payment. This at the very least puts you in a position to have him accept a non refundable $150 deposit and you both wipe your hands clean.

      I most definitely would not give a refund in this case. If he is unhappy with the work you did, then offer to fix it, but make sure you get your remaining payment as soon as its fixed.
  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Others have already said some of what I am thinking.

    1. Find out why he wants a refund.
    2. The dollar amount is low so depending on the situation it may be in your best interest to refund to not have a pissed off client.
    3. If they paid via a credit card they might still be able to chargeback so they can force the refund..
  • Profile picture of the author Ron20
    Hey guys! Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think I am going to demand the remaining 200 as nameless has suggested.
    • Profile picture of the author isosales
      Hey cool, have fun with that! When you are done demanding the money back be sure to post a wanted ad for rep management/recovery.

      Pick your battles wisely. A google search of your business from potential customers with bad reviews can cost you a fortune.

      Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

      Hey guys! Thanks everyone for your feedback. I think I am going to demand the remaining 200 as nameless has suggested.
  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Is he unhappy with your work? That is the key question. If he is, I'd refund him. When I freelanced graphic design, my deposit was 50% of the project and was non-refundable. Never had anyone quit a project after making the deposit.
  • Profile picture of the author Matt Lee
    Think about this long term. Is $150 worth a pissed off customer, who can literally ruin your reputation in 5 minutes, that took you years to build up.

    Take the loss, issue the refund. Move on to bigger & better projects knowing that this is behind you and won't be looming over your head.
  • Profile picture of the author Andrew H
    Yeah I am with iAmNameLess on this one, assuming your work isn't complete garbage, demand the remainder of the payment. At the very least this will put you in the power position, with him defending why he shouldn't pay you the rest. The deposit will be forgotten about...
    • Profile picture of the author eperkins153
      Originally Posted by Andrew H View Post

      Yeah I am with iAmNameLess on this one, assuming your work isn't complete garbage, demand the remainder of the payment. At the very least this will put you in the power position, with him defending why he shouldn't pay you the rest. The deposit will be forgotten about...
      I can't believe people are giving such bad advice, especially sense its such a pathetically low amount. Just give him a refund don't build a business off of providing bad quality service and not offering a refund. Almost any business you go into today has a refund policy for people that are not satisfied with what they received. All your going to do is make them more angry and tarnish your reputation and positively receive negative online reviews.

      This would be a different discussion if it was more then 150 but I mean really....

      1. You didn't truly know what he wanted obviously because he's not satisfied.
      2. You either didn't have a written agreement or didn't review it with him.
      3. You should want to be reputable business not something people start to think of as a scam or rip off

      Just give the guy his money back. Focus on making your business model prevent these types of things in the future. Take your licks and move on
  • Profile picture of the author Eddie Spangler
    I totally get the guys who say demand the money, professionals dont work for free.

    You however are NOT a professional yet else you would not be in this position.

    I say just chalk it up as a learning experience and go from there.BUT.....
    It would not be a bad idea to explain to guy that you did the work and he changed his mind out of no where. Perhaps he can be reasoned or you can appeal to his sense of fair play and keep the deposit but if he is adamant and you sense that he's a trouble maker type then just give money back and move on.
  • Profile picture of the author Samuel Adams
    A verbal or written agreement (such as email communications) most likely existed. And, so long as you delivered what you said you would, then he has no reason for a refund. You could offer to tweak the site for a few days. Still, you've probably spent a week or more on this project, so spending any more time on it would be a waste of your time.
  • Profile picture of the author bizgrower
    Find out why he wants a refund.
    Work to remedy the situation.
    Or, if he still insists on the refund, just give it to him and move on.

    Make sure you get more deals in your pipeline so you don't be a jerk over what may be a large amount personally, but a small amount for the website business.

    Learn from this in terms of what and how you delivered.

    IF you do good work, charge more. How long did it take you to find the client, get the
    deal, agree on deliverables, create and deliver the work...?

    Under a $1000, get full payment up front. Over a $1000 get half up front - non-refundable - and then the rest in chunks upon completion of each agreed upon milestone.

    Don't become desperate for money and try to do business.

    Dan
    • Profile picture of the author qu4rk
      OP, do yourself a favor & listen to the people saying to issue him a refund.

      I do reputation management for clients. You don't want a pissed customer over $150. As a matter of fact, depending on what actions he takes, it could cost you 10x or 100x the cost of the dispute.

      Imagine if he sprays his bad experience over the internet & then as you look for new customers, they like everything & then look you up & find his bad experience posted all over the internet.

      It costs companys big bucks in lost sales.
  • Profile picture of the author Brenda Trott
    I'm glad you decided to take Nameless's advice. I don't use contracts and I don't take deposits. I set a rate for set ups like websites and landing pages and then waive those fees when we have a 6 month agreement. I list that agreement on my paypal button and I generate a cancellation button at the same time I generate a monthly recurring fee button. If someone needs to stop making payments, we can part as friends..and no one owes me money because I've been paid in advance. Contracts may have their place, but in my market I've found it generates fear and are highly unnecessary.
  • Profile picture of the author Ron20
    Hey guys! Thanks for all your advice! Nameless I am with you on this. I know that you are a man that does this stuff in the real world. In fact your post "welcome to reality" and many others actually encouraged me to pick up the phone and start calling and now I am finally making some sales.

    So yea I am not going to refund anything. And from now on I'll make sure that i have a contract. Its been over a year that I started doing this full time. Its only in the past 3-4 months that i started cold calling and am beginning to make sales now. No I am not a Millionaire, I am 21 years old and trying to make something out of myself.

    Nameless if you can maybe train me on selling etc, ill be really grateful. I know its a big thing to ask, but would you help your junior starting out? If you cant that is okay.. But as the saying goes "ASK & YOU SHALL RECEIVE". I have asked

    Thanks to all again! Jason too who has helped me alot
  • Profile picture of the author emory27
    If you don't have a contract written up or any iron clad policies written on your website then just refund them and move on. A bad review can be fairly damaging. I have refunded people that end up coming back or referring business to me because I was so nice about the refund.
  • Profile picture of the author ATAC
    If you do not have a contract you should refund him but if you spent the money on costs for what you build then tell him that and tell him that was the reason for the deposit was so you could purchase what you needed to get started.

    I can not tell you how many times this happens with web design that is why I do not offer it anymore. Usually in the middle of doing a site for a customer they see something or the wife steps in and or a friend recommends someone and they have a change of heart.

    Do what you think is right ...
    If you had expenses then take them out of the deposit and refund the rest...

    You need to find out exactly why they are asking this. They most likely think that your offering a low quality product because of the very low price you charged them.

    I myself would refund them if that was the agreement but usually I tell them that once I am started that this is none refundable but I will not stop until they are happy with the finished product.
  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    I have to wonder how much of a site a small business owner can expect for a measly $350 bucks. You can barely get me to do a WP install for that.
    • Profile picture of the author TheCG
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      I have to wonder how much of a site a small business owner can expect for a measly $350 bucks. You can barely get me to do a WP install for that.
      Yeah, but not everyone is a God like you, Russ.
  • Profile picture of the author jbthemummy
    Charge more. Don't devalue yourself by doing stuff for a few hundred bucks. IM skills are worth millions. I'm really glad that Google is coming out with all these updates. This separates the 'idiots' who think just getting any links pointing to their sites will get them on top from the real pros. Charge more. Your stuff is worth more. If he wants a refund, change his site back to normal and tell him to go screw off. I do agree with the contract stuff though. All the best.
  • Profile picture of the author rbehar
    Yes definitely need more info on why a refund is being requested otherwise we are just going off of the assumption that you kept to your end of the deal which may not be the case in the eyes of your customer
  • Profile picture of the author Ron20
    Okay okay! I have'nt been ignoring the question... i Havenet noticed it to be honest, this weekend I am busy trying to set up and try a new marketing method using voivemail

    Here is the reason why the guy wants a refund: It has been a week since I closed the deal. And he does not want to give me any content for his pages etc.. (TEXT). He says to me "Oh you are a the pro, you should be able to sort this out for me... How can I write anything about his company when I don know nothin? I said to him, that for me to put some content together, I will need to ask him a few questions about his business etc which he does not have time for.

    Next he was unhappy with the design and asked me to change a few things about which I did. He then sent me some sample sites that he likes and asked me to copy some text from ther, which i did.

    The couple a days later he calls me up n says that he's not happy and he wants to withdraw. So i say " Why dont i redesign your site and make it like one of the samples that you sent me?" he says no, i want to cancel.

    Thats what happend, i also told him that I am ready to work with him until he is pleased with the site, but he says no.???????

    Guys thanks alot... The warrior forum is the place that i always come to, to seek advice and make decisions
    • Profile picture of the author eperkins153
      Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

      Here is the reason why the guy wants a refund: It has been a week since I closed the deal. And he does not want to give me any content for his pages etc.. (TEXT). He says to me "Oh you are a the pro, you should be able to sort this out for me... How can I write anything about his company when I don know nothin? I said to him, that for me to put some content together, I will need to ask him a few questions about his business etc which he does not have time for.
      Like I said, that should have been done before the money was exchanged. content is a fundamental part of the discussion of purchasing a site. Does he expect you to create it? which he obviously did because that question was never brought up, and that's your responsibility to do not his. Why would he know to bring that up? he would naturally assume that part is included If he's new to the process. Unless you tell him then he won't know.

      Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

      Next he was unhappy with the design and asked me to change a few things about which I did. He then sent me some sample sites that he likes and asked me to copy some text from ther, which i did.
      That again, should have happened before money was exchanged. You both obviously had two different pictures of what he wanted in the end. If you would have asked for the samples first, and asked better questions of his expectations of the design, then more then likely he wouldn't have backed out.

      Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

      The couple a days later he calls me up n says that he's not happy and he wants to withdraw. So i say " Why dont i redesign your site and make it like one of the samples that you sent me?" he says no, i want to cancel.

      Thats what happend, i also told him that I am ready to work with him until he is pleased with the site, but he says no.???????
      Because at this point he doubts you can correct the problem, in his mind the end result is going to be disappointment AND less money in his pocket. So your offer to fix it will probably not go anywhere. In this case I would have hosted the new design on my own server and then just removed it and reverted him back to his original site and offered a refund. It doesn't sound like all that much work was done anyway, if you didn't even get to content creation stage, and again for 150 I don't think it's worth having a negative reputation.

      1. Ask better questions before money is exchanged next time and truly find out what they want so they don't get worried and try and back out.

      2. Host the new design on your own server not his

      3. Keep a backup of the old design

      4. Have a written agreement that outlines refunds and if you do OR don't offer them and review it with them BEFORE they purchase.

      5. If you do offer refunds and again your design is not to their liking just revert it back to their old design and decide if you want to refund the money, which personally I would do just because I focus on building a good reputation in my city and I won't ever risk getting it damaged by an unhappy client ESPECIALLY for that little amount.
    • Profile picture of the author kpmedia
      Originally Posted by eperkins153 View Post

      I focus on building a good reputation in my city and I won't ever risk getting it damaged
      So you don't mind being known as a sucker? Because that's what the guy is doing. The business owner is a loser. I've dealt with people like that before.

      Originally Posted by Ron20 View Post

      he likes and asked me to copy some text from ther, which i did.
      So i say " Why dont i redesign your site and make it like one of the samples that you sent me?"
      This is so unprofessional.

      Never plagiarize anything. He should never ask, and you should never offer. Neither should ever agree to this.

      This is VERY amateur.

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