Replacing Lost Purchases

Paulette Ensign

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How do you handle requests from clients to replace products they purchased from you — either back of the room at a speaking engagement or from your website or office — that they have now misplaced? Do you make a distinction if it’s a downloadable publication or hard copy, within a certain time frame, a discounted price, no-cost, full-cost, or something else?

— Jeanette Cates

If it’s a digital product that they’ve lost, misplaced, deleted, etc., I merely point them back to the member site for the product. Since I deliver all of my digital items inside password-protected member sites, it’s an easy solution for both of us.

If it’s a hard copy and I still offer the product, I’ll ask them to pay replacement costs plus shipping. If it’s a “repeat offender” I add a surcharge for MY trouble. I always think it’s better to have the product in the client’s hands, than sitting on my shelf.

— Nancy Lininger

All my products are electronic. 90% downloadable, but in certain circumstances sent on CD. (FYI... I am a consultant primarily, with limited speaking engagements... and even when/where I speak, back-of-the-room sales are not permitted.)

It just happened to me again this week. Someone purchased a CD in February, which is a “do-it-yourself” working template with ancillary documents. They are just now (in July) getting around to working on the project and found the electronic documents to be corrupt. (In other cases, they do not remember which directory they saved the documents to, or it accidentally got deleted, or the dog ate it.) No questions asked, I emailed all the documents.

There is a timeframe where I would draw the line. It would depend on the product involved how I handle. Some products stay the same over the course of a period, but others do get updated with law changes. So if I deem there has been enough time lapse and a material update to the product since the purchase, I would offer it in one of three ways.

  1. At the discounted “update” price (which may be 50% of the original $300 price); or
  2. Purchase my subscription newsletter ($129 per year) and I will resend the updated product; or
  3. Some other creative solution that sounds like a win-win.

— Alfred Poor

I’d start by looking at the marginal cost of the product. The less the replacement costs me, the more inclined I am to provide a free replacement. In fact, I’d look hard at any reason NOT to provide a free replacement, even if I have to pay the shipping. A quick, no-questions, free replacement will win you a lot of goodwill, which will more than offset the small direct cost you might incur. American Express and Amazon have excellent reputations with consumers simply because this is their default reaction; wouldn’t you like to have a reputation like that?

— Marcia Yudkin

I would never “replace” someone’s lost copy of a physical book. I can’t imagine why anyone would expect this, or do this.

However, people do sometimes expect us to replace lost digital products.

If I have already updated the product since the person purchased, I decline. I simply don’t have a copy of the edition they purchased, and they have no right to the latest version, which might also have cost more than what they bought.

If I haven’t updated the product, whether or not I’ll send another copy may depend on how apologetically they ask.

— Harriet Meyerson

Everything we sell is in downloadable form. E-books come with a lifetime guarantee, so if a customer’s computer crashes or they can’t find the PDF, we replace it at no charge. If someone lost a printed book, I would offer them the e-book version.

Over the years I have had very few people request copies that they have lost, but when they do, they are grateful to get the e-book version.

— Rebecca Morgan

We do this all the time at SpeakerNet News. People can’t seem to find the files they download, so we send them a new link. I’ve never felt anyone abused this, and we like happy customers so do what we can to make sure they are happy.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions