How to Write a No Refund Policy for Your Business [SAMPLES & TEMPLATES]
Consumers return approximately $351 billion worth of merchandise. That’s a lot of returns—and missed revenue.
Refunds cost small businesses time and money, which begs us to ask the question: Is a no refund policy the way to go? All sales final, no returns, no exchanges.
Below, we’ll go over the pros and cons of a no refund policy, when it makes sense to implement, and how to create yours.
Pros and Cons of a No Refund Policy
From a business perspective, there are both advantages and disadvantages to a no refund policy. And it makes more sense in certain contexts than in others (as long as it’s legal).
Pro: Keep your money
Perhaps the most obvious win for merchants here is the fact that you don’t have to give money back to customers by having to issue refunds. This improves your bottom line.
In some cases, payment processing providers don’t refund the credit card processing fees associated with the refunded purchase. PayPal, for example, forces merchants to eat processing costs for all refunds. And if you don’t charge a restocking fee at the time of return, you’ll be paying a non-zero amount to an employee to restock the item in a warehouse or on shelves. All of that means refund requests usually end up costing you money rather than landing you back at net zero.
Con: Fewer sales
Though you get to keep your profit, a no refund policy may actually cut into it by reducing your conversion rate. Fewer purchases mean less revenue for you. For example, I love REI’s generous return policy—full refund up to a year after purchase, no questions asked. I never hesitate to buy something from them.
The Washington Post reports: “Overall, a lenient return policy did indeed correlate with more returns. But, crucially, it was even more strongly correlated with an increase in purchases. In other words, retailers are generally getting a clear sales benefit from giving customers the assurance of a return.”
Pro: Reduce fraud
Lenient refund policies open merchants up to the possibility of falling victim to fraud. When you have a strict all sales final policy, there’s less confusion about refunds—and merchants have a better leg to stand on in the case of chargebacks. Chargebacks cost merchants $2.40 for each instance, not to mention the time spent dealing with the administrative duties to manage chargebacks.
Con: Harms the customer experience
A no refund policy is in the business’s favor, but you risk adverse effects on the customer experience. 95% of consumers believe that a smooth purchase process positively influences whether they’ll return for future purchases. A no refund policy puts this experience at risk.
Pro: Works for specific offerings
You don’t have to use a no refund policy for all purchases. In fact, you can limit it to certain products, purchase amounts, or even promotions. Services and subscription-based models are ideal for no refund policies—the customer has already consumed the offering, so merchants would be hard-pressed to provide the deliverable and a refund on top of it.
This gets murkier when we’re talking about physical products, though. In these cases, you might only apply the no refund policy to items purchased on clearance, while other products are returnable.
Con: Could be illegal
Is having a no refund policy legal? Depending on your local jurisdiction, a no refund policy could actually be against state laws and consumer protection laws. California explicitly requires businesses to clearly display no refund policies upfront so all customers are aware. In Florida, businesses must offer a refund up to 7 days post-purchase, while Illinois sets the threshold at 3 days of purchase. (Currently, there are no federal laws dealing with refund and return policies.)
It gets especially tricky when dealing with international customers. Some countries have prohibited no refund policies altogether. Apple learned this the hard way back in 2014 when they had to revise their refund policies to be compliant in Europe.
How to Create Your Own No Refund Policy
Okay, so you’ve decided a no refund policy makes sense for your business. The first step is determining when and where this policy is in effect. Is it for all purchases or all products? Or are you limiting it to qualifying purchases only? Perishable products, for example, are prime for an all sales final policy. What about store credit? Can that be an option instead of cash refunds?
Refer back to our REI example. The outdoor retailer has one of the most generous return policies out there, but they also have a strict all sales final policy on their regularly occurring Garage Sales. At these events, returned merchandise is steeply discounted and available exclusively to members. There’s just one catch: all sales are final. You could utilize this partial policy as a business practice for types of products where fraud is easy (like digital products) or items that deal with hygiene.
When putting the actual wording of your policy together, remember to use positive language and reinforce the benefits. Look how Torrid puts it—they talk about how their no refund policy is to ensure proper hygiene and cleanliness for their products. This puts a customer-first spin on an otherwise business-first policy.
Here are some refund policy generators and templates you can use as a starting point:
- Shopify refund policy generator
- Termly refund and return policy generator
- TermsFeed return & refund policy generator
- Volusion return policy generator
Enforcing Your No Refund Policy
Once you have the policy written, it’s time to think about the effect it will have on your customers and your business. Consider options like free trials or samples for non-refundable items so customers can still try your offerings risk-free.
It’s important that you make sure shoppers are aware of your no returns policy. If they don’t know about it, make a purchase, and come back to return their item only to find out it’s against the policy, this can cause problems in your business.
There are a few key places to post your no refund policy:
- Ecommerce website
- FAQ section on your website
- Terms and conditions
- Post-purchase emails
- Point-of-sale (POS)
- In-store signage
- Signs by the cash register or checkout counter
Additionally, you should remind customers at the point of sale before they pay for the merchandise. Whoever is administering the transaction can let the customer know verbally.
You might also have the rare occasion where a customer pushes back or complains about your no refund policy. It’s a good idea to have a boilerplate, templatized response that associates can use in person.
Reiterate the benefits for them, the customer, and why the no refund policy has been instituted. For example, they wouldn’t want to pay full price for an item that someone else had worn with the tags on and later returned.
If the no return policy is new for your business, let your existing customer base know with a quick email blast and add a banner to your website to call it out. You don’t want any unpleasantly surprised customers.
Finally, if you’re taking away returns, you may look into adding something that allows customers to try out products before committing. For instance, many subscription services, like Netflix, offer free trial periods that enable customers to decide if they want to spend their money on the service. You could also implement a warranty policy instead that tells customers while you won’t be generally offering refunds, you stand by your products for a certain period of time and will replace them if something goes wrong during that time frame. A warranty policy can be particularly useful for online stores wishing to avoid refunds.
No Refund Policy Samples
Need inspiration for your own no refund policy wording? Here are some real-life examples from other businesses. These are great to start with, but remember that each business is unique, so don’t copy anything straight away.
Storewide no refund policy sample
San Diego-based Yuvika Jewelry has a storewide no refund policy.
Here’s what we like about it:
- They thoroughly explain the why behind their policy—similar to Torrid, they don’t want to sell items that don’t meet their standards for quality because they’ve been used or worn already. They could go more into detail about this though, especially considering they describe their profit margins and potential losses in the next section, a POV that isn’t necessarily customer-first.
- Yuvika offers tips for shoppers so they don’t run into a situation where they might want to return the product. Inspect product details, check sizing, and look for any damages. They also set expectations for the color, citing that washing may affect the color and that customers should follow the care instructions for each garment.
No refund policy wording for “final sale” items
HCG ART sells pop culture art pieces to customers, and every sale is final.
Here’s what we like about it:
- The “all sales final” isn’t so final. HCG ART recognizes that its products can easily become damaged in transit—and that is no fault of the customer. The company assumes the risk in these scenarios. If a product is damaged before it arrives at the customer’s destination, the customer is still entitled to a refund.
- HCG ART clearly outlines how to go about requesting a refund. There’s more involved than a typical return—the customer has to first alert the company within 7 days, then ship the item back, and then await HCG ART’s inspection and approval for the refund. Expectation setting is always a good idea and allows customers to rest assured knowing what’s to come next.
Another “final sale” no refund policy sample
Papichulo Style is a brand of hair care products that are distributed and sold to retail stores across the U.S.—and they also have their own no refund policy.
Here’s what we like about it:
- This return policy gets right to the point. Rather than adding unnecessary filler copy, Papichulo Style limits its return policy to just three short paragraphs. One key tip though: Always, always have someone review the words before you put them online. A small typo in the last sentence completely changes the meaning—Papichulo means to say that customer satisfaction is their priority, but they actually wrote that their own satisfaction is No. 1. If you can swing it, hire a professional copy editor to do it for you.
- Like HCG ART, Papichulo assumes some of the risk. If a product is damaged or the order incorrect, they’ll refund or replace and make it right. This is the kind of reassurance customers need when there’s an all sales final policy in place.
Moving Forward With Your No Refund Policy
At the end of the day, your refund policy needs to make sense for your business and your customers. Remember to balance your bottom line with the needs of the customer. While it may be tempting for business owners to cut corners to keep a profit, doing so at the expense of the customer experience will hurt you in the long run.
A successful no refund policy keeps the customer in mind, is well thought out, and is properly communicated to employees and shoppers alike. And while a no refund policy can help you save time and money, so can partnering with the right payment service provider. Payment Depot helps businesses like yours save hundreds of dollars on credit card processing costs every month. Contact us today to learn more.