If you’re a coach, you probably got into this whole online business thing to help people — not to stress about payment disputes.
And let’s be real: your services are mega-impactful. You’re in the business of changing lives, sis!
But the truth is, no matter how talented of a coach you are, there will always be certain clients who don’t see eye-to-eye.
It’s not the sexy part of running a business, and it sure isn’t glamorous, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed.
We’re talking about what we like to call the dark side of online business – handling refunds and chargebacks.
If you’ve never experienced refunds, payment disputes, or chargeback issues, well, lucky you, but trust us…you will at some point. As your business grows and scales, it’s simply inevitable that at some point, someone will be dissatisfied with your services/products.
Payment Disputes Are Not About You
The biggest mistake so many online coaches and service providers make is this:
They feel so uncomfortable and straight up *freakout out* by the idea of a client asking for a refund, they simply choose not to address it.
You’ve got to remember: part of a business owner is getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. CEOs take responsibility for *every* part of their businesses, not just the fun parts!
Rather than spinning in fear, dreading that first refund request, try to think of it this way: refund requests are simply a part of doing business. They are inevitable once you reach a certain level in your biz, and there’s no need to take them personally.
When you’re able to remove the emotion out of refund requests, and instead focus on being prepared, you’ll be calm, cool and collected the next time payment disputes come up. 💁🏽
Get Clear on Your Policies About Payment Disputes & Refunds
Now that you’ve decided to step up and get your legal ish together (yay, you!) it’s time to get crystal clear on your refund policy.
You’ll want to ask yourself:
- Do I want to offer refunds at all?
- If I do, will they be offered upon a certain set of conditions?
- Will there be a time limit in which I client can request a refund?
- If I do grant a refund, will it be a full or partial refund?
For example, you could choose not to offer refunds, however in the event a student purchases your course and within 24 hours realizes it’s not what they thought it would be, you’ll grant them one.
OR, if you have a no-refunds policy for your group coaching program, you could make exceptions for students that did ALL the work (and can prove they did so) and still didn’t get results.
If you’re a business coach, you could say “If you complete x, y and z and you show that you did the work but still didn’t sign X number of clients within this window of time after the program, I will give a refund.”
At the end of the day, your refund policy is totally up to you. The important thing is that you get uber-clear on what that policy is, and then stick to it.
Get It In Writing, Always
Now that you’ve decided exactly how you’ll handle those oh-so-fun refund requests, it’s time to draft up your policy – and put it in writing. If you’re selling services, make sure you’ve got a rock-solid contract, and if digital products are more your thing, setting up your terms of purchase should be a *top* priority.
A clearly communicated refund policy is incredibly important for two major reasons:
- You want your clients to be aware of, and understand your refund policy before purchasing your products and services.
- You need to have written proof your policy was clearly communicated in the event a client files a chargeback.
Here’s what that could look like 👇🏽
Let’s say you’ve decided not to offer refunds for your coaching program unless someone meets a certain set of criteria, such as they’ve gone through all of the program modules and have made an effort to get support in your private Facebook community.
In the event a client asks for a refund, you might communicate this to them, and let them know you need to see evidence of the above criteria before you consider offering any type of compensation.
One of two things could happen next. The client could accept your policy, and either provide you with evidence or continue with your program. Alternatively, the client could disregard your policy and decide to go straight to their bank to file a chargeback.
At this point, their bank will start investigating.
They’ll come to you and try to get information, such as:
- What service was purchased?
- What agreement was signed?
- What exactly took place?
It’ll then be up to you to present them with a contract, and show them “Okay – this is the contract that the client agreed to. Here’s evidence of the service being provided. And here’s what took place.” Give them the full picture of what went down.
It’s now up to the bank to evaluate the information and come to a decision on the refund request.
If you’ve taken the time to get your legal ducks in a row and communicate your policy, then good news, girlfriend 🎉 there’s a great chance that you’ll be in the clear.
On the other hand, if you don’t have clear language about refunds or dissatisfaction with your service, on how to handle chargebacks and payment disputes, or a clause that states the client agrees not to file a chargeback or dispute, well…there’s a good chance the bank will side with the client.
You’ll lose the dispute, you’re out the cash, and the client gets to walk off into the sunset with their refund.
That’s so not the ending we want for you, friend!
In the case of chargebacks and payment disputes, preparation is your best friend 👯♀️
We want to make sure we include language that addresses the possibility of chargebacks, that states the client agrees not to file chargebacks or payment disputes with their financial institution, and that clearly outlines your refund policy and what course of action is available to your clients and customers in the event they’re not satisfied with your product or service.
Communicate Your Policies Clearly
The other big mistake I see online coaches and service providers making is they tend to hide their refund policy in the fine print.
We want to ensure that everyone is crystal clear on the terms before entering into a working relationship – let’s not hide this information from your clients!
Don’t bury your refund and chargeback policy in complicated legal-ese. Spell it out, loud and clear, so that your potential clients and customers know *exactly* what they’re getting into.
At Coaches & Company, we believe the perfect partnership starts out with openness, honesty, and transparency. That’s why all of our contracts are free of confusing legal-ese and jargon. When agreements are easy for both parties to understand, they pave the way for a smooth working relationship, free of misunderstandings and complications.
Start off on the right foot with your clients while protecting the brand you’ve worked *so* hard to create with our customizable, plug-and-play templates! Whether you’re looking for a coaching agreement for your clients, or a terms of purchase template for your latest mini-course, we’ve got everything you need to scale your business with confidence and peace of mind.
Ready to handle client payments and refunds like a boss? Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal templates, so you can upgrade your contracts and policies while staying Protected & Profitable™✨
*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.