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#action #customer #legal #thoughts #threatening
  • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Kelsall
    A couple things...

    1. He probably isn't going to do "anything' for $500, but if it were me and he was going to do something, I'd let him go through all the trouble of filing the paperwork and all the other jazz, and then just slap him the face with the money the day of the court date. Because of the amount, depending on what state you are in, it's probably a "small claims" thing with no attorneys involved.

    2. make sure that you remind him that HE STILL OWES YOU $500 more dollars per your agreement.

    3. Don't take legal advice from a marketing forum
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    • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
      Originally Posted by Jeremy Kelsall View Post

      A couple things...

      1. He probably isn't going to do "anything' for $500, but if it were me and he was going to do something, I'd let him go through all the trouble of filing the paperwork and all the other jazz, and then just slap him the face with the money the day of the court date. Because of the amount, depending on what state you are in, it's probably a "small claims" thing with no attorneys involved.

      2. make sure that you remind him that HE STILL OWES YOU $500 more dollars per your agreement.

      3. Don't take legal advice from a marketing forum
      I'd do just that. Go after him hot and heavy for the $500 he still owes you.
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  • Profile picture of the author HassanAjmal
    It might not be worth the hassle. You're going to go through too much frustration for 500 bucks. let it go and get that loser out of your life.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr Payne
    It's unfortunate that the agreement was made over the phone as (in this situation) having some paperwork would certainly help your case. However, it might also work against him. Courts don't usually take to kindly to people that openly disclose their credit card information over the phone and then decide later that they don't feel they've gotten their money's worth. In my honest opinion, don't refund the customer their money just yet.

    In the end, both of you would just end up losing money as court fees, as we all know, aren't cheap.
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  • Profile picture of the author punam12
    I think he has no written proof of that 500 and he participated in the seminar right? Then I don't see any point refunding the money to him.
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    • Profile picture of the author DazedandConfused
      Originally Posted by punam12 View Post

      I think he has no written proof of that 500 and he participated in the seminar right? Then I don't see any point refunding the money to him.
      punam12 has a point -
      but on the flip side in never hurts to get rules,regs, and disclaimers on paper and signed - if it was over 30 days a lemon law probably won't cover him - was your seminar clearly defined?

      any non-refund disclosures would be helpful. Was there a sign-in sheet with his signature?
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    • Profile picture of the author TracyNeedham
      Originally Posted by punam12 View Post

      I think he has no written proof of that 500 and he participated in the seminar right? Then I don't see any point refunding the money to him.
      His credit card statement would probably be proof enough that he paid it. But I agree, unless there was a stated refund policy, he shouldn't get his money back.

      You know, if someone has a reasonable refund request (even if you haven't stated a policy), I'm usually for giving their money back. Because IMO, the goodwill you engender by doing so is worth much more than a bit of money from a pissed off customer--especially in a case like this, where you were doing the work anyway and weren't doing anything specifically for him.

      But I have a zero tolerance policy for weasels. I've dealt with them before and it's one of the few times my redhead temper actually kicks in--and that's not a nice site to see. LOL
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  • Profile picture of the author TracyNeedham
    I'm not a lawyer, I don't play one on TV and Jeremy's right about not taking legal advice from a marketing forum. But I'll share my thoughts based on my experience with deadbeat clients in the past.

    If it were me, I would write him a letter and send it registered mail & requiring a signature -- that will cost you a buck or two but it's very important because it shows you're serious + you want proof he received it -- detailing what your agreement was and that according to that agreement he still owes you $500.

    If he admitted in one of the emails that he only came to half the seminar then I would definitely mention that, something like, "As you said in your email on x date, you only came to half of the seminar (be more specific about dates and times, if you can, of both the entire seminar and what he attended)." As a result, he can't hold you accountable for getting less than satisfying results.

    I'd say too that it was a no refunds course, your obligation was to provide the seminar and his was to attend. You're sorry he chose not to do that, but he still needs to pay for the full seminar as agreed. In fact, he was supposed to pay the remained by x date and it's now been x days past that.

    So, you're going to give him x days to pay up before you file a claim in YOUR county's small claims court.

    (That last part won't be a big deal if he's local, but if he's not, he's not going to want to travel.)

    You might even say that your email communications show he was aware of this obligation and that he's choosing not to fulfill it. (If they do.)

    If you have a lawyer, cc them. But if not, don't fake that.

    He'll either...

    a) pay up
    b) make a counter proposal
    c) say fine, sue me (doubtful though because you've shown that you've been documenting things even if the original agreement was by phone)
    d) file a chargeback

    If he chooses C or D, you can decide whether you want to keep messing with it or not. At least for D, you can send the cc company your letter and documentation and you may win because you have it. (Unless it's AMEX, LOL)

    But in my experience, they'll usually reply with A or B and you get something out of them + you feel better about not getting weaseled. And who knows, maybe he'll think twice before doing it again.

    Of course, you should think about sending a recap" email next time you sign someone up by phone even if it's just to restate what they're agreeing to. They'll usually find it helpful and you'll have something in hand in case this happens again.

    Just my 2 1/2 cents. Good luck!
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    • Profile picture of the author Oggyoi
      OP
      I'm not sure how credit cards work out there, but here in the Uk they can do a chargeback, as the buyers are covered for all purchases over £100.

      If you can get some free legal advice, I'd do so mate and good luck.
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  • Refund him. Count it as a lesson learned. Let the rule of karma come into play.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mac the Knife
    I agree with everything Jeremy said...

    In my experience, the world moves a lot smoother if you just...give back the money. Tell him thanks, sorry you couldn't work together, and leave it at that. Negative feelings by clients build and can do MUCH more damage than your handing back some money. If you had delivered tangible products, that is one thing, but intangibles are so hard to force in these cases. Yes, this person is a waste of time and energy, and probably will NEVER be successful, but in the offline world, you are bound to trip on situations like this every once in a while. Smile, hand over the money, and keep on trucking...living well is the best revenge...

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    • Profile picture of the author midasman09
      Banned
      Note: The following is only My Opinion! I am NOT a Lawyer, nor do I play one on tv. Take the following "advice" as just an "Opinion"!

      The MAIN Problemo with accepting "Credit Cards" is....the CC Co USUALLY "takes the word of THEIR customer"!

      So...whether you like it or not or whether you respond or not....you WILL probably get "dinged" by the CC Co! All it takes is a complaint from THEIR CC Holder customer!

      That's why "many" people provide their CC #'s....nowadays! The "RULE" is; the CC Holder WINS!

      So....with further promotions....GET THE CC Holders to "SIGN" an "Acceptance Agreement" that they are VERY SATISFIED with their purchase! (However...this won't stop ALL the "refunders" from requesting a Refund! Read on further where....I FOUND A WAY TO....STOP REFUNDS, COLD!)

      I advised a few of my Seminar Promoter buddies to accept a CC as a deposit and... at the end of the 1st day of the 3 day seminar....to collect the Balance with a SIGNED "Satisfaction Agreement!"

      So....from my 1st experience with having a CC holder ....REQUEST A REFUND....and my realizing that...all the CC Holder has to do to get a Refund is ...."REQUEST IT!".....I discovered a way to....

      ....STOP REFUNDS, COLD!

      And....for the last 10 years....my "Refund Requests" (for ALL the Reports and Seminar Seats and stuff I've sold....remotely (meaning NOT ...In-Person) have been nearly ZERO!)

      All it takes is a "Little EXTRA Thinking"!

      That is why....MY "Requests For Refund are LESS THAN 1/2 OF 1%"

      Don Alm.....who found THE ANSWER to "Stop Refunds, Cold!"
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Dude you are....



        FLAMBOYANT WITH YOUR POSTING STYLE!

        You are right though, thinking ahead and setting up systems
        to mitigate risk is what its all about!



        Originally Posted by midasman09 View Post

        Note: The following is only My Opinion! I am NOT a Lawyer, nor do I play one on tv. Take the following "advice" as just an "Opinion"!

        The MAIN Problemo with accepting "Credit Cards" is....the CC Co USUALLY "takes the word of THEIR customer"!

        So...whether you like it or not or whether you respond or not....you WILL probably get "dinged" by the CC Co! All it takes is a complaint from THEIR CC Holder customer!

        That's why "many" people provide their CC #'s....nowadays! The "RULE" is; the CC Holder WINS!

        So....with further promotions....GET THE CC Holders to "SIGN" an "Acceptance Agreement" that they are VERY SATISFIED with their purchase! (However...this won't stop ALL the "refunders" from requesting a Refund! Read on further where....I FOUND A WAY TO....STOP REFUNDS, COLD!)

        I advised a few of my Seminar Promoter buddies to accept a CC as a deposit and... at the end of the 1st day of the 3 day seminar....to collect the Balance with a SIGNED "Satisfaction Agreement!"

        So....from my 1st experience with having a CC holder ....REQUEST A REFUND....and my realizing that...all the CC Holder has to do to get a Refund is ...."REQUEST IT!".....I discovered a way to....

        ....STOP REFUNDS, COLD!

        And....for the last 10 years....my "Refund Requests" (for ALL the Reports and Seminar Seats and stuff I've sold....remotely (meaning NOT ...In-Person) have been nearly ZERO!)

        All it takes is a "Little EXTRA Thinking"!

        That is why....MY "Requests For Refund are LESS THAN 1/2 OF 1%"

        Don Alm.....who found THE ANSWER to "Stop Refunds, Cold!"
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  • Profile picture of the author the_icon
    My 2 cents would be dont refund him and let him do what he wants.

    At the end of the day can you return a book after you have read it? No

    You go to a concert. Even if you dont have a good time, can you get your money back? Legally, no.

    Can you return a purchase, in the eyes of the law, if you no longer want it? No, though businesses avoid the bad press by allowing it but legally they dont have to.

    You "sold" a seat at the seminar. There was no actual contract of sale. Just him phoning up, saying I wanna come and then giving you his card details.

    One alarm bell that would have been ringing straight away would be the fact he only wanted/could pay $500 as opposed to the full $1000. I am assuming you werent running some kind of offer and that the $1000 was the full admission price that probably everyone else paid?

    What has probably happened is this guy hasnt been able to implement any of the methods he seen and subsequently lost money.

    Re the courts I dont think he will go through them because of the fees involved. He will probably keep on at yourself hoping you will cave in or he will go down the chargeback route, if he knows about it, which, judging by how long this has been going on for, he doesnt.

    If he did go down the chargeback route then the issuing company would have to investigate, even though his actions appear on the face of it to be without merit, in order to "protect" their customer.

    In this instance they would initiate correspondence with yourself to determine what he paid for exactly. So you would have to be clear in what you were selling and how you were selling it. For example, on WSO's there are always claims to make thousands upon thousands of dollar implementing methods for peanuts. Almost all of them dont work but they put, normally in the 1st page, a disclaimer about potential earnings.

    Did you have a similar disclaimer?

    You have to be clear in what you actually sold him if he does go down a chargeback route but sounds to me he is just at the intimidating stage and doesnt have the foresight to go down proper channels.
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  • Profile picture of the author ShaLiam
    Become a better business person. Don't make deals that are not in writing.
    Do you have a refund policy posted somewhere, satsifaction guarentee? I do not think the courts will be your concern, send him a bill for the $500 balance registered, not certified and if he continues to complain and you go to court he risks having to shell out another $500 in your counter-complaint. The only concern should be his complaint to your credit card pos system. Worry if you have other complaints, if he is the only one, then no worries.
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  • Profile picture of the author RickDuris
    Originally Posted by LifestyleTrans View Post

    I'm in a bit of a situation with a customer.

    He signed up for one of my seminars and ended up giving a deposit of $500, and then said he would pay the remaining $500 2 weeks after the event. He didn't sign any paperwork or anything, since he signed up over the phone and gave his credit card information to process.

    Well, after coming out to the event, now 1 month later he is asking for his $500 back. The problem is, that he is claiming that the seminar didn't work for him... BUT he only showed up for half of it. Well, who's fault is that? His for not showing up! I've explained to him that he needs to be there for the full event to get the full benefit of it.

    Anyway, he is threatening to take legal action unless he gets his money back.

    Is there anything that I can do? Am I forced to refund this man his money?

    He is clearly scamming me from the e-mails that we've been going back and fourth and I'm disappointed by this man's lack of integrity and backing out of the agreement we made over the phone.
    I am probably not going to be very popular for this opinion, but trust me, follow my advice and you'll sleep better at night.

    1. Do not argue based upon principles or morals or ethics about what is right and wrong.

    2. Do not argue about what is legal or what is illegal or what your rights are. None of it matters.

    3. IMPORTANT: Just REFUND HIM in full and make sure you have the documentation that shows without question you refunded him in full.

    Now, the question you may have at this point is "Why should I refund him?" Here's why:

    1. You may win in court but given this man's scruples, if you do go to court I would expect him to disparage you without proof online while he remains anonymous. In this business, all it takes is one person to cause dramatic harm to your business.

    It's bad enough there are REAL scammers out there. But to be lumped in with them, is a heartbreak to an entrepreneur.

    2. Refunding $500 is cheap money to make it all go away quickly and nicely. If you proceed by letting him take control of the situation, even if he's in the wrong, it could haunt forever. And you'll definitely be in for some sleepless nights.

    The complaints industry is criminal and ruthless. Extortion is abound. The best way to avoid is just to steer clear of people like this, and the minute they come into your life, refund them regardless of who's right or wrong.

    It's far easier and cheaper long and short term, to just refund him.

    - Rick Duris

    PS: Those who want to know more about this topic, there is a book I highly recommend. It's called: Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet

    Amazon.com: Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the...Amazon.com: Google Bomb: The Untold Story of the...
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  • Profile picture of the author superrooster
    You should just refund him the $500 and be on your way. Unless you have a written agreement you will never get the additional $500 you were promised anyways.

    Give him the $500, happily, and take it as a lesson learned in how you manage your business. It is, however, unfortunate that a spoken agreement is worth next to nothing now days.

    Just consider what your time is actually worth and how much time it will take you to go through all the legal hassle and stress if this guy is actually relentless in his pursuit of a refund. $500 is nice, its not loose change by any means, but this dude could cause you more hassle than its worth.
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  • Profile picture of the author thehypnoguy
    I'll gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today. The first mistake was willingly letting anyone split the payments on a live event. Since you did, you can likely kiss the remaining balance goodbye. Generally in the live event industry it is common to refund if you don't like what you get, however, that wasn't part of your agreement so it is highly unlikely he would win his case in court. However, is it worth the hit on your businesses reputation to let this be publicly drug through the court system

    Martin
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  • Profile picture of the author Stefan Pylarinos
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    • Profile picture of the author Ru1N
      A spoken agreement is just as binding as a paper agreement.

      If i were to buy a concert ticket, go to half the concert, it does not mean I get my money back.

      If I were you I would sue him for the 500 in small claims court before he files his paperwork. You will win. The guy is just full of hot air.
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    • Profile picture of the author sylviad
      Here's my feedback based on what others said already:

      1. Credit Card companies can refund his money despite your objections.
      2. The legal system costs money. I don't remember what it is here in Canada to go through small claims (claims under $1000 I believe it is) - Last time I looked, I think the fee was around $150.
      3. It's doubtful that if he doesn't want or can't pay you the $500, he won't be interested in adding to his losses by going the legal route - paying small claims or lawyers.

      With that in mind, I would suggest:

      Send him a real letter stating the date, location and amount of the seminar, what he paid and the balance owing (even better, put it in a proper invoice format with a cover letter). Do not comment on his threats. Be sure to include a payment due date! ie: 30 days.

      Do not make your own threats (or you can if you want, ie: "if this is not paid by this date, you will take legal action.")

      Send it and then, wait to see what he does. This shows that you have responded.

      Most likely he'll try a charge back, in which case, you'll be able to explain your position to the CC company. If the company decides to pay up regardless, let it go. It's not worth worrying about.

      When it's all over, if you like, you can send him another letter to the effect that, "due to your downgraded credit status with this company, you have been blacklisted from purchasing any other products or services from us."

      And blacklist him.

      Sylvia
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    • Profile picture of the author sandalwood
      Originally Posted by LifestyleTrans View Post

      This is all FANTASTIC advice. Thank you guys.

      First, I don't care as much for the remaining $500. I know I will most likely never see it. But I still do not want to refund this guy the $500, as it's a loss for our company and also mainly because my ego doesn't want to see this guy get away with it.

      While he is threatening legal pursuit, I also agree it's doubtful that he will go that route. If he does, as a last resort I would possibly be willing to refund him as it wouldn't be worth my hassle. But again, it is doubtful he will because of the hassle that HE will have to go through.

      I think he might be discouraged to take the legal route if I mention to him that:

      1) I have witnesses at the event that saw him participate there

      2) He NEVER even complained or said he wasn't getting full value at the event. He only mentioned it when I went to him to collect the remaining balance several weeks later.

      3) I have witnesses at the event that prove he wasn't there for the full entirety

      4) I have e-mail proof of him admitting that he was AT the event and skipped half of it

      Yes - he could go the chargeback route I suppose and I could fight it, but hopefully he doesn't know about this in the first place and I could potentially win this battle.

      As someone else said, if he isn't in fact bluffing and takes me to court, I could always refund him at the last minute. Either way, I am not going to make it easy for him to get away with it.
      I obviously quoted your entire post. However here is what stands out:

      "...my ego doesn't want to see this guy get away with it..."

      That my friend is the only reason you are in a lather over the 500 bux. Having about 100 seminars under my belt let me say you will sleep a lot better, your ego will heal and your mind will be at rest if you drop the whole thing right now. If he sues, send him a check and it is over. If he doesn't sue but makes some nasty accusations use your witnesses and call him to task.

      One more mention from your post:

      "...as it's a loss for our company..."

      Really, is the 500 that BIGGGG a loss? Probably not given your first quoted statement.

      BTW, this is just my opinion and what I would do. You may disagree totally and continue to let yourself be mired in the situation. Best of luck to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mixengineer
    Refund him. Or it will look bad infront of the whole court room. The credit card holder always wins. If he didnt pay the other $500 and he wants the first $500 back, whats the issue? Just give him his money back.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lori Kelly
    I agree with Sylviad. The guy could dispute the charge with his credit card company and the credit card company could very well refund his money. You could win the dispute, but the credit card companies are more apt to be loyal to their customers.

    Why not negotiate a compromise, offer to refund half the money and be done with it?
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    • Profile picture of the author retirewithsandie
      I can't speak for all credit card companies, only the one that I recently worked for.

      Disputing the charge with the CC doesn't guarantee it'll be found in the customers' favor. We had long time loyal (meaning 30-40+ years & were considered high users of the card) cardmembers who would dispute charges that were NOT found in their favor. This particular company had a lot of policies that did NOT favor the cardmember so they were not afraid to lose cardmembers over a dispute not found in their favor, a fee not being waived or an interest rate not being reduced. They have plenty of cardmembers who do not have choices due to their credit and others who do. And those with choices they're willing to lose.

      The way our disputes worked, was that the disputes department would contact the merchant to say this cardmember is disputing the charge and why. When the merchant account is set up, they determine their turn around time to respond to our inquiry, so that can average from 2 weeks to a month.

      Once the documentation was received, our disputes department would review the information and depending on the review, might go to the cardmember for more information or back to the merchant. Sometimes it would be able to be resolved with the initial information.

      There are a lot of factors involved, but generally unless the cardmember could prove they did not receive the service/product/that they contacted the merchant for cancellation/etc. and the merchant indicated they had no proof of cancellation or that the did send the product out or provided the service, it was usually NOT found in the cardmembers favor unless the merchant agreed to provide a full or partial credit.

      The cardmember can redispute the case, however, they have to be able to provide proof in order to have it found in their favor.

      The threshold for us to just credit depended on the amount and why the case was opened. For example, if it was an overcharge (i.e. a tip was added in twice) it might come back that we would credit them. Other times, if when the merchant set up their account, they said if a cardmember disputes a charge and it's under a certain dollar amount, don't bother us for a dispute. Go ahead and do a chargeback and pull the funds out of our merchant account.

      Again other credit card companies have different policies, but that's how it was for us. And we did have a number of upset cardmembers.
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  • Profile picture of the author thehypnoguy
    If you are going to do $1000 seminars then make it a $1000 seminar. For that kind of price they should at least walk away with a big fat notebook with pages of the presentation with fill in the blanks that they fill in as you cover the material. Any other collateral that you can create that adds value. I would even consider at the very least making audio tapings of the event that you can pass out at the end of the second day so they can relive their experience over and over. At $1000 the should have something very tangible that they got in exchange for their money. It should be more than just sitting for 2 days listening to you talk and flip through a powerpoint presentation.

    When my wife and I took Robert Allen's Real Estate Investment course, we walked away with 2 bags of books and cd's and dvd's. If you dump real books and collateral in their hands it will go alot better for you with the courts and credit card companies.

    Martin Blakley
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  • Profile picture of the author ShaLiam
    More fortunes have been lost due to fighting over "princible", the courts are full of people who won court cases that went bankrupt soon there after. If you make decisions based on your ego I guarentee you will end up broke! Send him a registered esstoppel letter for the $500 balance due and move on. You made a poor decision letting him make payments, don't make another guided by your ego.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sue Bruce
    Did you find out why he didn't finish the seminar? Are you incorporated?

    I ran a seminar business and found the most important part of PR for me was customer satisfaction. Not only from the seminar evaluation from they completed at the end of the seminar but by calling them to find out if you can help the implement anything they learned in the seminar. Then let them know of any upcoming seminars or a great course you have now on your website.

    If you refund him the money, it may be the best $500 you invested in your business.
    Find out why he didn't finish, what you could have done differently to keep him from leaving, and ask him to be specific. The public expects a lot for $1000. We have to keep giving them more than they expected.

    Have you checked him out on Facebook? Right now hopefully it's only an email war and the last thing a local seminar business needs is an unhappy customer social networking.

    Also, incorporation is important. People are less likely to ask for a seminar refund from
    "National Seminars Inc." than from "Local Seminars"
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    • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
      he can charge back upto a YEAR, and get his money back.

      nothing you can do about it cept fight it. which you may or may not win.

      the questions is this. is your merchant acc in good standing? are you close to a 2% charge back scenario? if you are. refund him before you get a charge back. if your not. and you feel like fighting it. fight it, it sounds as if your in the right.

      also another thing to keep an eye on. is not small claims court
      but the attorney general. u did a sale on the phone with no contract
      at the exact line that a LOT of states start looking real hard at.
      i don't care how you word it, or how you sold it. the AG considers any sale over 499, on the phone with a CC purchase a high pressured sales call.

      that maybe be a problem if you have other complaints, or even if you dont have compliants, but you have a pretty large volume of sales.

      the AG is no joke. trust me, been there done that ( a few times )
      they treat you like if your making money. you must be doing some thing illegal.

      giving this guy 500. to avoid that maybe be worth it,

      if he even hints at contacting AG. give him a refund, if he continues to
      only mention court ... you had some great advice above on how to handle that.

      just my 2 cents

      Rick
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      Selling Ain't for Sissies!
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      • Profile picture of the author RRG
        Forget about the remaining $500.

        I agree giving the original $500 back may be the easiest way out.

        But the guy agrees to go to a live seminar, shows up but leaves early, and wants what he's already paid you to be refunded? Maybe let him do what he's going to do. If he tries to dispute it through his CC company, there will be an investigation and you might prevail.
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        • It doesnt sound like he got the value you promised him for his 1k.

          If he attended one seminar he should have gotten minimum 500.00 for his money.

          I think this is a good opportunity to figure out how you can give more value upfront. And to really beef up your processes. That being said people refund, tell im you're sorry he didn't get a chance to attend the entire seminar, so you'll give him the recordings and 30 days of mentorship... help him make double his investment back.

          Turn the negative into a positive, then ask him for referrals.

          Chris
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