When we launch a new product, we all hope it's going to be a runaway bestseller. More than that, most of us aim to produce a product so remarkable that it generates rave reviews and achieves cult popularity. You may very well achieve all of these objectives with your product launches.
But, beware of a characteristic of the ClickBank system that may throw these aspirations into jeopardy - the 90-day refund rule.
Most merchants agree that ClickBank's rock-solid refund policy adds a great deal of credibility to their sales pitches, enabling them to make sales to even the most wary of online shoppers. The hassle-free refund procedure is also the key factor behind ClickBank's exceptionally low chargeback rate. ClickBank customers have no need to ask their banks for chargebacks, so ClickBank keeps its merchant account in good standing and we merchants all save money on chargeback penalties.
But, despite its attractions, the ClickBank refund rule is also a source of blatant abuse by a minority of dishonest buyers.
However good a product may be; however much your genuine buyers love it, there will always be a small percentage who ask for refunds. Don't be disheartened. In most cases, this is not a reflection on your product or your competence as a merchant. It is simply an exploitation of the ClickBank refund system to get something for nothing.
Around 5% of my ClickBank sales result in refunds and, judging by my discussions with other merchants, this figure appears to be about average. I have numerous glowing testimonials from satisfied customers, but there is still the occasional buyer who is, seemingly, impossible to please. Ironically, I have never yet issued a refund to a buyer who has offered a reason for being dissatisfied. Is this normal? It suggests to me that the problem lies not with the product, but with the morals of the buyer.
With the purchase of a digital product you can, if you choose, keep the product and get your money back. Online theft just doesn't get any easier than this.
ClickBank's merchant community has suggested various ways to tackle this problem. The most popular idea seems to be that ClickBank should introduce a rogue customer list, identifying serial refunders by their prior purchasing activity. Of course, the list would be confidential - merchants would simply need the option to specify whether they accept purchases by buyers in this category. This solution is not without its own problems, especially the challenge of accurately identifying buyers from one purchase to the next. With multiple credit cards and multiple email addresses, it is relatively easy to bypass the banned list, simply by creating a new online persona. But, at least this initiative offers hope of a solution to the problem.
So far, ClickBank has not announced on any plans to update its refund policy or introduce controls to protect its merchants from this type of fraud. Until something changes, merchants need to adopt a pragmatic attitude to the dilemma of sham refunds. As frustrating as it may be to see our profits willingly handed over to fraudsters, we should remember that the reassurance offered by the refund system probably pays us dividends many times greater, in the form of increased sales.
Copyright © Tim Coulter. All rights reserved.
Tim Coulter is a consultant and software developer who helps netpreneurs to harness marketing technologies.
He is also the author of "ClickBank - The Definitive Guide" The Ultimate ClickBank Tutorial & Reference Manual.