Exceeding Customer Expectations One $3.00 Refund at a Time

Exceeding Customer Expectations One $3.00 Refund at a Time

I ordered a few 3D Doodle Pads a couple weeks ago. It's a cool drawing notepad that makes whatever you doodle jump out at you while wearing those red and blue 3D glasses. The product was created by famous Dreamworks Animation artist Donnachada Daly. He's worked on Shrek, Madagascar, Antz, Bee Movie, and more. Donnachada is competing in our Build-A-Business contest, and hoping to win the $100,000 grand prize. 

Exceeding Customer Expectations One $3.00 Refund at a Time

I ordered a few of Donnachada's 3D Doodle Pads to see what they're all about. I paid via PayPal and the order went through as expected. Then, a couple of days later I received an email from PayPal saying "Donnachada Daly just sent you a partial refund of $3.00US for your purchase." What the heck? 

Upon further inspection, I found a note saying "Hello Mark, I'm issuing you a refund of $3.00 because the shipping cost for The 3D Doodle Pads was less than originally quoted. Yay!" Wow, talk about exceeding expectations. 

First of all, I should note that Donnachada didn't know that I work at Shopify. Secondly, the original shipping charge wasn't out of the ordinary, in fact it was quite reasonable. Third, there's no way I would ever know it actually cost a little less to ship. It's normal for online merchants to charge a "shipping and handling" fee that also takes into account other costs associated with shipping, like labour and paying for packaging materials. Finally, the refund was for $3.00US. Sending a refund for three bucks is pretty extraordinary... it's clearly not the amount that matters, it's the gesture. I was so impressed that I sent Donnachada an email to say thanks and to ask what inspired him to send me a $3.00 refund. 

Why did you refund part of my shipping cost?

Initially, the package was quoted at a certain price range for a certain sized box. I felt like it was way to much. Instead of just sending the package off, I quickly ordered boxes for the specific size and amount of my product. It took an extra day, but it was still within my time allowed to get a package out. This time, the package cost less to send and I wanted to be sure that saving got passed on to the customer.

Was sending a partial refund using PayPal easy?

Actually, it was really easy. I just had to find out if PayPal did partial refunds first. They did, and a few clicks later, a partial refund was issued.

What's your customer service strategy?

As a small business, each package that goes out is personal to us. Someone spent their hard earned cash on our product. We want to give the customer the best service and attention, so the smaller things and the details for the order is what will make a lasting impression. If the customers are happy, then there is a better chance they will re-order and also tell their friends about it. As we grow, we want to continue that quality.


  • D
    September 27 2011, 09:04AM

    I wonder if its actually 3D?

    But its true that the little details are important when it comes to customer service. We have done something similar and our customers are always impressed.

    Wonderful post Shopify.

  • Caroline Schnapp
    Caroline Schnapp
    September 27 2011, 07:49PM

    Awesome post, Mark!

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    September 27 2011, 09:16PM

    @D: I haven’t tried it out yet, but I’m pretty sure it works!

    @Caroline: Thanks! :-)

  • Shopaholla
    September 27 2011, 11:00PM

    surprise and delight. great method!

  • Mihaly Toth
    Mihaly Toth
    September 28 2011, 10:48AM

    Unexpected extra… that is all and the customer start to loves the shop :-)

  • Luisa
    September 28 2011, 10:59AM

    Right its definitely not about the size of the gesture… its the thought that counts.

  • Ryan
    September 29 2011, 11:29AM

    It amazes me the dividends that a tiny gesture can pay. I was flooded with orders after a customer posted his experience with me to reddit.


  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    September 29 2011, 08:55PM

    @Ryan: Cool story, thanks for sharing.

    Most importantly…. AWESOME wizard!

  • Shawn Graham
    Shawn Graham
    October 03 2011, 07:58PM

    The example is really interesting on two fronts 1) from the perspective of the level of customer service we’ve often come to expect (and not in a good way) and 2) from the perspective of the consumer when a company really gets it right (even if it’s only $3.00).

    For this to happen, someone had to notice that there was a difference in shipping vs. the initial charge and then care enough about that difference to actually do something about it.

    That $3.00 was a wise investment. They now have a super happy customer and that super happy customer is spreading the word to other potential customers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

  • Craig Rippon
    Craig Rippon
    November 09 2011, 05:06AM

    I posted your post at this page – I do hope that’s OK – cheers – Craig R

  • Matt Brown
    Matt Brown
    November 29 2011, 10:43AM

    Fantastic! I suspect that $3.00 Refund (and more importantly the philosophy behind it) will yield a significan ROI.

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  • Andy
    January 17 2013, 05:53AM

    Just looking at this as a similar thing has come up for us. However, when issuing the partial refund via PayPal, what about the fact this is not reflected in the Shopify system?

    I did notice a REFUND UP TO, button in Shopify, but when I click this it only seems to allow a FULL refund not a partial.


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