I've been in the IM field since the early 00's, first using EBay for my traffic/sales, and then starting a few websites. Never got "rich" from my IM work, but it was a fun sideline to my main source of income (forex trader).
After searching through this site for a few days, I've learned that many of you are experiencing what I've found to be true these last 2-3 years: refund rates run up to 40-50% of sales on a whole lot of products.
Many of you are wondering what the solution is to reverse this painful trend, and I'm here to tell you that you need to quit wasting your time focusing on the refunders and focus more on the people who buy and keep your products.
When the net first proved itself as a viable source of commerce, most of us figured that if we kept refunds under 10%, we were doing fine.
And we were.
But back in the old days (pre-internet) getting a refund on a mail order product was usually more trouble then it was worth. You had to mail the product back to the seller, sometimes in the very box it came in. You had to keep track of the address, write a quick note asking for your money back, go to the post office, pay for the postage, and then sit and wait for weeks/months/years to get your money back.
Frankly, it was just too much trouble for any product priced below $50.
You log onto the site, pay for your purchase, download the product, log in to the payment vendor site, and click on the refund button.
How hard is that? If it takes you more than 5 minutes from start to finish you must not be familiar with using a computer.
Combine ease of refunding with a growing lack of morals amongst the populace (who don't seem troubled by the idea that in asking for immediate refunds they are in effect stealing the product from the vendor) and you get a steady refund rate that is fast approaching 1/2 of your sales.
In my niche (forex) I keep a list of everyone who ever asked for a refund on any product I sold or promoted. On the products that I manually deliver, I now refund their money before I ship with a note asking them to please not do business with me any longer. Most get pissed and flame me before they opt out of my list, but I figure if they aren't buying (and keeping) they aren't customers to begin with.
This has dropped my refund rate back down to 3-5% and provides me with a list I can mail to without worrying about seeing my income erode back to zero on any particular product.
I also noticed that Plimus (my payment vendor of choice) will flag any download purchase fom anyone with 2 or more refunds in their history, and allow me to approve or deny the transaction before product is delivered. This has helped keep my refunds at a minimum.
So if I had to boil this all down to a couple of sentences, it would be that refunders are now a way of life. Drop them from your lists whenever possible and focus on the core group of honest buyers who remain.