Being a conflict-avoider type person, I find it extremely vexing if/when I get negative feedback from my small business. This has only happened twice, but it is deeply unsettling to me. I even had a dream about this displeased customer. I keep imagining someone wandering around in the world who has a dislike for me (and my company) and I shudder and cringe.
I have just run into a "not-to-be-named" customer who is patently insistent that my sewing pattern was mis-reprensented in photos and demaded a refund. Apparently the garment she sewed had much narrower shoulders than my photo had shown. She then demanded recompense because SHE was forced to go purchase another pattern and sew another garment at the last minute to complete an outfit for a small child. (Is this my problem? Am I being to unsympathic? I waver back and forth for a few minutes...)
Going against my instinct to pacify and please everyone -and this is extremlely difficult for me, I am a type 9 on the Ennegram personality test "The Peacemaker", I firmly stated that there could be no refund. Inside, I was LIVID that she thought I was deliberately misleading in my photos or had ripped off a pattern or photo (of my own child?). As I had put countless hours into drafting, sewing, scanning, copying, double and triple checking the pattern fit, taking photos of my own daughters in making the garment, writing the instructions, posting the item online and emailing it to her - I KNOW without a SINGLE DOUBT, that my item is NOT misrepresented. And, to state the obvious, I was MAD.
But, is the customer always right??
In the back of my head - that age old business advice stuck out - the customer is always right. Should I have swallowed my pride to simply say - "I am sorry you're unhappy -and although my shop policies and the item descriptions states that there are no refunds - I will give you the $10.00 refund so that you'll be happy? (and leave decent feedback)?
Instinctively, I had a feeling this is the type of customer that will NEVER be happy - no matter what I did. Her accusations just made everything go from bad- to personal -and worse! Also, is it really my problem that she felt the need to purchase another pattern? Is it my problem that she felt the need to sew another garment last minute?
Even with over 3,000 sucessfully completed Etsy sales (of which this pattern is my #2 seller) and ONE negative feedback response out of those 3,000 sales- it was hard to say "NO refund." I stand by my product and my process as much as any other seller. In fact, it would have been much easier for me to click over to pay pal and pay off the unhappy customer BUT for the fact that I would have felt like I was doing a disservice to my product, my business, and my self worth. All my hard work - being given away to pacify ONE grumpy soul. I shudder even harder at that thought.
So, in the end - I stand with a very negative comment in my feedback. One that I have earned.
Today I've learned that I cannot make everyone happy. There will probably be another negative comment (in the far, far future - I hope!) that will keep me awake at night. But tonight I sleep soundly, knowing that I stood up for myself and my business. I am proud of my work and I have earned each feedback score - and I understand that my feedback is not just a reflection of me - it's a reflection of the "encounter". That "encounter" that goes both ways - and I have learned that the customer is not always right.