In the Trenches: Our Money Back Guarantee
When I first decided to use the prepaid model for Cranky Concierge, I knew a money back guarantee would be needed to instill confidence in clients. A recent client interaction, however, has made me think hard about it.
We recently had one client who decided to use our guarantee to get extra help with his trip-planning without paying. He had us start working on a trip to redeem award miles. We worked for quite some time to find what ultimately ended up being a very good itinerary for him. The only response we received at first was that the itinerary was "clumsy" despite it actually being quite good. He asked that we keep looking for something better. Our requests for further clarification on what he wanted were ignored. Eventually he told us that he had worked with someone else to get something better. He wanted his money back.
We have a money back guarantee, so of course we refunded the money without question. But I was still pretty angry about it. After all, we had worked hard to find him an itinerary that most people would have been very happy to take. He used us. But I was also angry at myself. Could we have made our money back guarantee clearer to avoid this? Could we have structured it differently?
When people ask about the money back guarantee, we explain to them that they should be going into this assuming that they're paying for our expertise and for us to do the hard legwork for them when it comes to planning their trip. The idea here is to avoid people asking for their money back just because they don't like the fare that's available or because the flight they want doesn't exist. (If they find a cheaper fare on their own, that's a different story.)
But not everyone asks about the guarantee, and we don't really go into detail about it unless they do. That makes me wonder if we should be more explicit about things. It's not an issue of changing the rules, because we'll still refund money without any questions asked either way, but it's an issue of trying to set expectations in advance.
On the other hand, it seems somewhat unprofessional to me if we really try to push this piece of our business. For most people, it's really not an issue, so maybe our pushing on it just helps put doubt into their minds about our service.
In the end, I decided to put this into perspective. I can count the number of people who have invoked the money back guarantee on one hand since we started more than two years ago. That tells me that we are setting expectations appropriately but it doesn't mean some won't take advantage. I suppose that's just the cost of doing business.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.