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Is the buyer always right? How to avoid conflict with the customer when returning the goods
10.04.2018 11774

Is the buyer always right? How to avoid conflict with the customer when returning the goods

The client returns shoes that do not fit, receives money or takes a new pair, and you disperse, satisfied with each other. An ideal conflict situation that has been decided by the world. It is about such an idyll that both the seller and the buyer dream. But in life this is not always the case, on the contrary, very often disputes arise between the parties. Shoe stores have to deal with the return of goods quite often. How to act in such situations to the seller and manager, is it possible to prove to the buyer that he is not always right? Anya SR, the head of Beitraining’s Russian branch, Anya Pabst, answers these and other questions.

Anya Pabst Anya Pabst - Head of the Russian branch of BEITRAINING. Master of Sociology and Slavic Studies. Education "HR Manager", is a specialist in the field of crisis communication. He has experience working with people in study groups of various profiles both in Germany and abroad. Over the years, Anya Pabst has trained over 150 trainers. For more than 7 years her professional activity has been associated with work in the CIS countries - Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. BEITRAINING is an international franchise company and a certified strategic partner of the German and Austrian Franchising Union on the topic of “Professional Development”. He specializes in training and professional development in the field of management, trade, customer service and personal growth.

Letter of the law
The return of a purchased item is a common thing, and the desire of a consumer who has discovered flaws in a purchased item to return it to a store is quite understandable. The rights of the buyer when returning are regulated in sufficient detail by Russian law, which, however, does not guarantee the absence of conflict situations. The seller is not obliged to accept the goods back if the return period specified by law or in the sales contract has already expired; if the product does not have significant defects, but has been used, as well as when experts check the quality of the returned product, third-party interference is detected.

Returns of goods in retail are regulated depending on the grounds of the articles of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation and the Federal Law of the Russian Federation “On Protection of Consumer Rights” of 1992, the current version was adopted in May 2014. 25 article states that during 14 days a quality product that does not fit the consumer in shape, dimensions, style, color, size and other criteria can be exchanged for a similar one. But provided that the specified product was not in use, its presentation, consumer properties, seals, factory labels are preserved, and there is also a commodity or cash receipt or another document confirming payment.

Experts recommend that their managers post a similar list at the box office on the trading floor, and attach it to the purchase if desired (for example, sellers of expensive fur coats and coats made of natural fur wish it). Of course, some entrepreneurs will decide that this is a negative sign that hints at an unsuccessful purchase in advance. But practice shows that customers are grateful for this information and are more loyal to such a store. Such a practice will help you to be different from your competitors - to be the first and win the air of word of mouth.


Online retailers should be safe
Incomplete or inaccurate information about the product is a very far-fetched reason for returning, since it is very difficult to document the statement that the seller has deceived the buyer in something, did not explain to him safety precautions and basic operating rules during the sale, or did not show how to use the product ... The only case in which the lack of information about a product can really play a role in its return is a remote purchase (through an online store). In this case, at the time of delivery, the buyer must be provided in writing with information about the main consumer properties of the goods, the seller's address, place of manufacture, the full company name of the seller and manufacturer, the price and conditions for purchasing the goods, delivery, service life, shelf life and warranty period, procedure payment for the goods, as well as the period when the proposal to conclude a contract is valid. 

Even if all this information is set forth in detail on the website, the courier who delivered the goods must be sure to receive the client’s signature that he has read this information in writing. Otherwise, the period during which the goods can be returned is extended from 7 days to three months.


Calm, only calm!
When returning, different situations arise. The best weapon against an angry buyer, especially behaving incorrectly, is politeness and a smile. Friendliness, unlike rudeness and discontent, will not be able to harm the seller if it comes to the managing manager or even to the court. In addition, peace of mind is the best way to protect yourself from psychological trauma, not to let the “working” negative into personal space. The ability to separate the personal from the professional, even if you really want to sacrifice principles and answer “in tone”, is a necessary skill of a professional seller.

One of the most common causes of a conflict is an attempt by the buyer to prove that defects occurred before the purchase of the goods. According to the law, a technical examination can resolve the dispute, but rarely comes to this. It is even more difficult to convince the buyer that the money can be returned if the seller does not have a suitable product for exchange, and the returned purchase should not have signs of use and retain its presentation in accordance with the requirements of the law.

When returning, we are faced with two main cases - the customer is right and makes well-grounded claims, and the customer is wrong, while consciously or unconsciously distorting product information. In the first case, it is enough to carefully listen to the customer’s claims and satisfy his request - this usually ends with the whole negative, even if the customer was initially annoyed. If you were not able to smooth out the unpleasant residue that a client had, and he leaves in a bad mood, leaving in the end that he will never go to your store again, this unpleasant situation will be exhausted.

The second, more serious, case is fraught with the fact that it can spoil not only the mood for the whole day, but also relations with the management if the client writes a complaint or requires the intervention of a manager. Therefore, to begin with, try to determine what you are faced with: what is it - simple discontent and aggression? Or maybe you have a well-thought-out manipulation or a psychological attack, an attempt to conduct tough negotiations with a snap? Or were you just unlucky and caught a client with a disgusting character?

If the client specifically causes aggression in you, it is important not to succumb to his provocation. You have to go along the thin line between constant politeness and the ability not to allow yourself to be offended. The one who is insulted takes the position of the weakest in negotiations, especially if he allows the aggressor to dictate the rules of the game. If the buyer expects that you will meekly “stand under fire”, you need to break the stereotype.

You can say in a calm, but by no means instructive tone: “I will listen to you carefully, but you have no right to raise your voice at me. We will solve the problem on the condition of calm communication. ” Most adults who adequately perceive reality will lower their tone, and no one can blame you for being rude.

In addition to the actual dialogue strategy with dissatisfied customers, you can ease your task by taking preliminary measures. For example, it is known how much music influences a person. Therefore, the situation in the trading floor, where the correctly chosen pleasant melody plays, will be much more comfortable than silence or torn, aggressive rhythms. Even a person who has tuned in to a conflict in advance will find it harder to maintain morale.

In a conversation with a client, you need to tell him what you are specifically going to do, and even better, to work out a solution together. For example, the alternative may not be a refund, but a free repair before the expiration of the warranty period with the consent of the client. It is important that the repair deadline is respected, you can also notify the client about the possibility of picking up shoes using SMS messages. It is necessary to inform the client about the progress of the complaint and be sure to thank him for the appeal, which increases the efficiency of the company. Such gratitude is often unexpected, which also positively affects the image of the enterprise.


How to act with a professional “returnee”
The most unpleasant news for the seller when returning is the buyer's statement that the purchased item does not suit him for any subjective reasons. Of course, the buyer can really make a mistake with the size, color or style. But often the reason for the return is "spontaneous purchases" - unplanned spending, when a shopper who is keen on shopping wants to own a thing, despite common sense, which connects later when the deal is done. And why not return such a product purchased spontaneously? The actual problem of recent years is customers who not only return goods that they do not like, but customers who knowingly purchase goods with the intention of returning them to the store. Why buy luxury pumps when you can return them after a party? In the USA, up to 30% of purchased goods are returned to the seller, and forums are full of advice on how to return a used item, spoil it yourself, and get money back. Some clients even manage to deduct the purchased and then returned goods from their taxes - consumer protection has achieved such success that some people turn into professional “returnees”.

If a person purchased expensive crocodile leather shoes, went to the reception and returned the next day with the phrase “rubbed” or “squeeze in a lift”, this can be experienced once. But if after two weeks he did exactly the same with suede low shoes from the new collection, and after another week with expensive winter boots, he becomes your constant problem and headache.

There is practically no legal way to deal with such crooks, because an experienced “returnee” acts within the framework of the law! Perhaps it will be affected by psychological measures. For example, your store will suddenly run out of shoes of the right size or color. Or to deal with the next complaint will be not only a harmless and always polite seller, but also “heavy artillery” - a manager wise for years of work in the trade who can convince anyone and anything.

The main thing is not to lose ground. If the “returnee” feels that you are already afraid of him, that you have given slack, he will continue the party and get his way. How to protect the seller? For example, according to the law, the return of goods is possible only if there is no similar product on sale on the day of the buyer's request, that is, if there is a similar product, the purchase is not returned, but replaced. In the event of a return of the goods, the money may not be returned to the buyer immediately, but within three days. An exchange agreement is also allowed with the buyer upon receipt of a similar product for sale, unless, of course, the latter is still interested in the purchase. The main strategy in this case is professional calm and the letter of the law.


This article was published in the 133 issue of the print version of the magazine.

The client returns the shoes that did not fit, receives money or takes a new pair, and you disperse, satisfied friend ...
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