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Guidelines – Refund and Return Policy Page

This page provides helpful guidelines for creating an effective Refund and Return Policy for your WooCommerce store. It covers essential topics such as the importance of having a clear policy, noting items that can or cannot be refunded, deciding who pays return shipping charges, and setting customer expectations for refund timelines.

Additionally, it mentions legal considerations and the benefits of a well-defined return policy for increasing customer confidence and avoiding disputes. Here we also include tips for drafting your policy, considering financial impacts, and ensuring your policy strikes a balance between a great customer experience and the financial health of your business.

What is a Refund and Return policy?

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A refund and return policy serves as a comprehensive document outlining the process of returning and refunding purchased goods and/or services. This policy typically includes the following aspects:

  • Return Conditions and Requirements
  • Refund eligibility of specific products or categories of products
  • Which party will pay any return shipping costs
  • What form any refund will take (e.g. returned to payment card, store credit)
  • Timeframe within which refunds will be processed
  • Instructions for initiating the return/refund procedure

Although no U.S. federal law requires merchants to set up a return policy for their online shops, it’s worth noting that some states have taken the initiative to introduce their own rules on Return and Refund Policies. These state-specific laws cover a range of details, including the cancellation of transactions, especially for services like hotel bookings and digital goods. Moreover, there’s often an emphasis on making sure these policies are easy for customers to find, whether they’re shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store. You’ll want to be sure that any refund policy you put in place complies with the laws that govern your store where you’re doing business

Note: If you’re unsure about what to include in your website’s policies, we recommend seeking guidance from a qualified local lawyer who can help with your specific situation. We at WooCommerce aren’t legal experts, and don’t offer legal advice for decisions pertaining to your store’s policies.

It’s up to you to know and follow the laws where your store is located, and the additional considerations of selling into other jurisdictions.

Why is it beneficial to include a return policy if it’s not required by the law?

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A well-structured return policy helps build customer confidence. Given the nature of selling online, where customers cannot physically assess or try them on beforehand, return policies play a vital role in establishing clear expectations with your shoppers. Beyond that, it helps set post-purchase customer service expectations. Having a comprehensive and user-friendly return policy helps build trust with your customers and is a key part of a healthy business relationship.

Avoiding disputes and chargebacks

Clear rules on refunds let your customers know exactly what to expect, which can boost your business’s reputation. Setting clear and realistic expectations for your customers can also help reduce chargebacks and disputes.

Refund and Returns policy page in WooCommerce

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On installation, WooCommerce adds a draft “Refund and Returns Policy” page, to help merchants quickly get started with creating a refund policy for their store. The draft return policy is not intended to be a standard but rather a sample you can edit to meet what’s applicable to your store.

To edit the draft return policy,

  1. Go to Pages > All Pages
  2. Locate/Search for “Refund and Returns Policy”
  3. Click Edit to open, and Publish it after modifying it to meet your store’s refund policy.

Once you have the policy written as you need, you can add the page to a navigation menu on your site. We recommend linking to your refund policy page on your site menu/footer widget.

Draft refund policy page.

The points below offer some valuable considerations for customizing your site’s refund and returns policy.

Downloadable templates for refund policy

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It’s a great idea to review the policies of other businesses to help inform your own, here are some sample templates that can help you with formatting and content. You can also review the refund policy for sales on WooCommerce.com for inspiration. (Note that it’s always accessible as a resource in the footer menu)

How to create a refund policy

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The post Merchandise Returns: How to turn a pain into gain has some very useful basic guidelines on how to create a successful return policy.

In the following sections, we’ll break down some specifics.

Return/Exchange/Refund Timeline

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Establishing a transparent timeline for returns and refunds promotes customer confidence and satisfaction. When you specify a clear timeframe, (e.g.: Returns can be initiated within 14 days after delivery) customers can then operate accordingly.

When considering your acceptable timeline, it may be worth knowing that a University of Texas study found more lenient return policies led to increased purchases. The researchers also found a positive effect — smaller, but still significant — of policy leniency on the number of returns. So having a more lenient policy may lead to more returns, but that could be outweighed by increased sales overall.

While establishing a firm stance on a refund timelines is crucial, it’s important to balance it with customer understanding. Being excessively rigid may alienate some customers, so try to strike a balance that makes sense for your products and customers. Offering reasonable exceptions on a case by case basis can be a great way to build customer loyalty.

Acceptable Item Conditions

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Take the time to define what acceptable conditions are for returned products. This will likely be tailored to the specific products you offer. For instance, specifying that tags should be present and the product should be returned in its original packaging or in a certain condition, if applicable.

This clarity ensures consistency in handling returns and helps prevent ambiguity that could lead to disputes.

Restocking fees and Return Shipping Charges

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You’ll also want to consider any fees for returns and the cost of return shipping. How might that impact your business’s financial well-being? Allowing customers to return items for free can seem appealing and will likely increase sales, but it’s important to figure out if your business can handle this. If not, you might need to include these extra costs in your product prices.

Before deciding to charge a restocking fee or not, evaluate the financial and logistical aspects. You can compare to what similar businesses in your industry do to make sure any extra fees you add don’t make your store less competitive.

Reason for refunds/returns

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There are several reasons for initiating a return or refund:

  • Damaged or Faulty Items: It is essential to clearly outline what constitutes a damaged or faulty item within the context of your products. This provides customers with a clear understanding of when they can seek a refund or return due to product defects.
  • Wrong Items: Define the criteria for identifying a wrong item, ensuring customers know when they are eligible to request a refund or return because they received the wrong product.
  • Customer Satisfaction: Establish the standards that indicate when a customer’s dissatisfaction qualifies them for a refund or return. This not only sets expectations but also emphasizes your commitment to providing quality products that meet or exceed customer expectations.

Refund Options

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You’ll want to define the options available to your customers when they make a return. Offering store credit can be a good way to help prevent a return from becoming a lost sale.

  • Replacement/Exchange – Replace the item with another one of equal quality, different size, or color.
  • Money back to original payment method
  • Store credit (You can use the Smart Coupons or Store Credit for WooCommerce extensions to achieve this)

Items eligible for exchange

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Not all items on your website may be eligible for exchange. It’s essential to clearly define the criteria for eligible products to avoid misunderstandings. Here are some examples of products that may not be eligible for exchange:

  • Products with Expiration Dates: Items with a limited shelf life or an expiration date may not be eligible for exchange due to their perishable nature.
  • Hygiene-Sensitive Products: Certain products that are intimate or come into direct contact with the body, such as underwear, earrings, or makeup, may not be eligible for exchange due to hygiene concerns.
  • Custom/Personalized Products: Items that have been specifically customized or personalized for the customer, such as those with engravings or made-to-order designs, may not be eligible for exchange.
  • Products Sold as Part of Sets/Bundles: If a product is sold as part of a set or bundle, it’s important to clarify whether the entire set must be returned for an exchange or if individual items within the set are eligible for exchange.

Refundable items list

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You may consider creating a comprehensive list of products that qualify for refunds. Particularly for stores with a limited number of products, maintaining this list can simplify operations. However, for those with an extensive inventory, it might be easier to outline these details by category. Consider categorizing products in your return policy to help customers understand the applicable return and refund guidelines for their specific purchase.

To outline this information to shoppers, many stores opt to create custom product tabs on their product pages dedicated to this information. You can use extensions such as Custom Product Tabs Manager and Product Disclaimer For WooCommerce to implement this.

Non-refundable Items list

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Keeping a clear list of non-refundable items helps make your refund policy transparent and straightforward. This list should be easy for both customers and your team to find. Clearly stating which items cannot be returned reduces the chances of confusion, disputes, and unhappy customers. This shows you’re dedicated to a fair and reliable shopping experience.

Questions and Support

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Do you still have questions and need assistance? 

This documentation is about the free, core WooCommerce plugin for which support is provided in our community forums on WordPress.org. Searching there you’ll often find that your question has been asked and answered before.

If you haven’t created a WordPress.org account to use the forums, here’s how.

  • If you’re looking to extend the core functionality shown here, we recommend reviewing available extensions in the Woo Marketplace.
  • Need ongoing advanced support, or a customization built for WooCommerce? Hire a WooExpert agency.
  • Are you a developer building your own WooCommerce integration or extension? Check our Developer Resources.

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