Refund Arguments
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Information Guests & Watching Rudeness No Children Change Partners Crowds/Receipts
Business Policies Questions Dance Widow Same Sex Volunteers Refund Overview
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Refund Wedding Lessons Group Discount Exceptions Exception Overview Tuition Switch
Refund Struggle Refund Defeat Refund Arguments Double Charges Switching Classes New to SSQQ

REFUND ARGUMENTS

Written by Rick Archer
January 2006

The purpose of this article is to answer the following question:
What is the point of arguing??


The SSQQ Refund Policy:
"No Refund after the First Hour of the First Night of Class."
All Sales are Final. We will reschedule your class if you wish, but you will not get your money back. 

2005 may have been China's Year of the Rooster, but here at SSQQ it was our "Year of the Refund Arguments".

People think we never give Refunds. That isn't true. We grant a dozen refunds each month without any kind of argument whatsoever.  But we also draw a line in the sand - you have ONE HOUR to make up your mind.

The One Hour Grace Period is our line in the sand.  Once that hour is up, we won't give out Refunds. You can argue all you want and it won't do you a bit of good.  We will give you credit, but we won't give you a Refund.  That's our rule and we intend to stick to it.

This article is dedicated to my discovery that it is hopeless to argue about Refunds. 

Based on a review of several incidents in 2005, we have concluded it is utter futility to expect any common ground to be ever be reached on this issue.  We will give Credit and if that is not acceptable, we will issue you a Gift Certificate as well.  We simply won't give you any money back. Nor will we argue about it.

This article lists the events that led to the decision never to argue again.   


FORWARD -  The Origins of this Article

JANUARY 2005 - I LOSE MY REGISTRAR

2005 was the toughest year of my adult life.  Things started off bad right from the get-go when my talented Registrar Susan S suddenly quit on January 4 without any warning.

I was stunned.    We had not had a fight.  We had not had any "words". There had been no complaints from her to me. In fact, I thought she was doing a great job (and told her so). 

There was one cause and effect clue - on January 4, I did send her an email telling her that we had to watch our spending because the studio had lost money in 2004.  The next thing I knew she quit.

Convinced the whole thing had to be some sort of misunderstanding, for the next two weeks I did everything in my power to discover what the problem was.  She refused to speak with me: she would not respond to my emails, she would not answer the phone, nor would she come to the door when I drove to her house on 4 different occasions. She refused to allow her husband to intercede on my behalf. Her mind was made up.

Finally I accepted the obvious - she wasn't coming back. 

But someone has to run the show.

Now what do I do?  Faced with the sudden loss, the most obvious person to step in on a moment's notice was me.

Marla, my wife, volunteered to pick up some of Susan's duties if I would handle the others.  In time Marla could take over all of it, but at the moment she had a full-time job and couldn't do everything.   So we decided to split the duties between us.

That is how in January 2005 I assumed the role of handling the day-to-day running of the studio myself.

This was actually something of a new role for me.  Dating back to the late 1980s, SSQQ Registration and Administration (responding to emails, Refunds, answering requests, switching classes, etc) had been a Staff Position handled by someone other than me.  In this time, 4 different women had been paid to take care of these duties.

Now it was my job.  And that's how 2005, the hardest year of my adult life, began.  In my new role, I would learn many lessons over the next year.

Refunds

One of the first headaches I had to face was REFUNDS.

Refunds are not very common at SSQQ.  Our best estimate of the percentage of people who get Refunds is around 1%.  In other words, of the 1,200 or so people who register per month, 12 show up at the Registrar's Desk on the First Night of class asking for their money back.

How many people ask for Refunds after the First Night Deadline?  For January 2006, we received 2 email requests. Both people were told the usual: Ask on the First Night or forever hold your peace.

  • In other words, in January 2006 we gave 12 Refunds on the first night of class without any anger, rancor, or arguing. 
  • Then we had two more Refund requests after the deadline.  These are the sort of events that are dealt with in this article - the ones who don't like the rules and want to argue about them.

So the first point is: Most people like our place and have no problem with the Refund Policy.

There are occasionally students who don't like the class they signed up for.  These people simply ask for their money back that same night, we give it to them and we all stay friends. They consider an hour to be sufficient time to decide whether they want to keep the class or drop it.

The second point is: When an argument does arise, there has yet to be a situation where any happy resolution has been found.


In 2005, it always boiled down to a Showdown. The customer broke the Refund Rule and did not want to accept credit. Instead they wanted me to give in and send them their money back.  I did not want to give in.

The argument that followed was usually so stressful that my solution was to sort out the problem by writing about it.

Now you know why we have 12 Articles about Refunds. 

Question: What do the following 12 articles have in common?

1 House Rules  2 General Information  3 Refund  Exceptions   4 No Switch Tuition from Group to Private
 5 Refund Whining   6 Exception Overview  7 Refund Struggle  8 A Deal is a Deal   9 Refund Overview
10  Refund Defeat   11 Electronic Transactions  12 Missing and Switching Classes


Answer:
They are Articles written or updated by Rick Archer in 2005 that deal with the SSQQ Refund Policy
 

WHAT I LEARNED DURING THE 2005 YEAR OF THE REFUND

The Single Most Important lesson I learned while dealing with over a dozen Refund complaints last year was this:

It doesn't do any good to argue. So why bother?

Over the course of 2005 I debated point after point by email with dissatisfied customers in at least a dozen different Refund Arguments. 

Then in January 2006, after all the smoke had cleared, I went back and reviewed the year.  As I studied one event after another, it became immediately obvious that not one person involved in the disputes had changed their mind and magically agreed our Refund Policy was fair.


In other words, despite that fact that I spent countless hours on hundreds of email exchanges and wrote A DOZEN ssqq articles to explain the reasons behind the SSQQ Refund Policy...

Every
customer still wanted their Refund.

And since I still did not think they deserved one, we had Impasse/ Deadlock/ Stalemate.

Or looking at it another way, Nobody won, Everybody lost.  They lost money, I lost good will and customers. 

I suppose because we got to keep some money, SSQQ was a partial winner, but I guarantee I would have far rather found a common ground. 

However after a year of looking for common ground, I am sorry to report there was not one compromise in the bunch. Just good old-fashioned hurt feelings for everyone involved.

DID IT DO ANY GOOD TO WRITE A DOZEN REFUND ARTICLES IN 2005? 

Sometimes I ask myself, "Was the effort I put into writing 12 Refund articles a big waste of time?  Did it do one bit of good to post the reasons and the situations behind the formation of each policy? "

Why did we argue so hard?  It wasn't just me; don't forget the other side was arguing too. We were not debating huge sums, but neither side wanted to give in.  It wasn't about the money.

What we were really debating was the idea of what was "Fair". 

Did the customer have the right to decide they could get their money back at any time they wished and for whatever reason?  

Or did the businessman have the right to specify a point at which Refund Requests would no longer be granted?

We already know what the customer thought was fair. They wanted their money back the moment they decided they didn't want our service any more.  And if they weren't going to come back to class, they didn't want SSQQ to have their money.

As for me, I decided what was fair to my business was to give them one hour to decide whether the group class was right for them or not.  All they had to do was put down a deposit ahead of time.

If you stop and think about it, this is very similar to how the Cruise Industry works.  They ask for a deposit then give you a certain amount of time before you have to make a final decision.  After that cut-off point you pay a stiff penalty if you want your money back. 

Since we are not talking about the same kind of money as the Cruise Industry here at SSQQ, to save time we get class tuition up front and return it with no questions asked that same night during the One Hour Grace Period.

But let me be honest with you - Once the Grace Period is over,  I don't want to spend the entire month fooling with money issues.  Once Registration Week is behind us, it is time to spend the rest of the month teaching dance lessons.   A deal is a deal and all sales are final.

The Rules were posted and they had an hour to decide.  After that I expect each person to honor their side of the agreement.   If something comes up, then that's life - we will give you credit and let you finish your class when your problem is solved.  But I don't want to invest one more second worrying about it. I feel taken advantage of when people come to me a day later, a week later, a month later and expect me to make their problem my problem.

People say this attitude is rigid and that I don't cater to my customers.  That's nonsense.  Twelve to thirteen hundred people  sign up each month to remind us our "Service" is just fine.  But in 2005, I had to find out the hard way that the sheer volume of our business opens me up to the danger of being overwhelmed with demands.  There are many of you and few of me. 

The 2005 Year of the Refund taught me that if I did not establish realistic limits on the crushing email-related demands for my time, I would burn out just my previous Registrar did.  The whole point of the Refund policy was to help reduce the number of times people change their minds.  This was the fairest way I could find to balance the legitimate needs of my students while protecting my time and my sanity.

And it worked.

Ever since I made our position clear by writing the "Dozen Refund Articles", the vast majority of our students have shown respect for our policy. 

I am pleased to say the requests for Late Refunds has dwindled to a mere trickle.  In January 2006, we received two "Late" Refund requests.  We received one in February, one in March and one in April.  As of April 2006, we had had only five Late Refund requests out of 5,000 Registrations.  

By comparison we had 22 in the same four month period in 2005. 

So the answer to my question is Yes. It is now obvious that writing the "Dozen Refund Articles" helped cut down on the Late Refund requests.
 

why not just give the people their money back? 

Occasionally people say, "Hey, Rick, just give them their money back. Life is too short to waste time arguing."

Don't think this thought hasn't crossed my mind.  I asked myself this same question throughout 2005's "Year of the Refund".

Yes, it would have been far easier to simply hand back the money to the people who argued.  But I won't do it for three reasons.

The first reason is it would open me up AGAIN to the same constant headaches I experienced during the 2005 Year of the Refund.  Not only have the numbers dropped dramatically, since I published the stories, another positive development is that the vehemence and rancor of the 2005 arguments has disappeared completely.

For example, this March Refund request is about par for the course in 2006:

 -----Original Message-----
From: TC
Sent: Tuesday, March 07, 2006 3:31 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Refund

Okay...I've read your refund polices (and the various hilarious stories that go along with it), so am just confirming that no amount of sweet-talking is going to get me a refund on my class without showing up tonight for the 1st night of classes?

Best regards, TMC 

The second reason lies in the fact that there may have been two dozen other people in the same January-April 2006 time span who also wanted a Refund, but chose to accept "Credit" instead because they respected our Rules. 

I stick to the SSQQ Refund Policy because to give in would disrespect our customers. It would be punish the people who followed the rules by rewarding the ones who broke the Rules.

The third and final reason I don't give in is because I would lose respect for myself.  What is the point of telling the world what I stand for if I don't back up my words with action?
 

IS THE SSQQ REFUND POLICY FAIR?

Oddly enough, the profession most noted for arguing and getting their way - Lawyers - continued to be deeply under-represented in our Refund requests.  Not one lawyer to my knowledge has ever argued with me about my policies. In fact, in 30 years, no one, lawyers or any other profession, has ever threatened to sue me over my Refund Policy.  Nor do they threaten to turn me in to the Better Business Bureau.

You don't suppose they realize the law would be on my side, do you?

By chance, I received outside confirmation that the SSQQ Policy is FAIR from two different sources:

1. In July 2005 2005, a Credit Card "Retrieval and Chargeback Dept" reviewed the facts in my dispute with Ms. CV in the infamous MBA REFUND STRUGGLE. The SSQQ Refund Policy was judged the winner. 

2. In January 2006, unbeknownst to me, the SSQQ Refund Policy was reviewed by a lawyer who was also a student here.

Here is his unsolicited opinion:

-----Original Message-----
From: GG
Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2006 12:59 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Regarding SSQQ Policies

(3) Refunds. I read your articles and comments about refunds (and requests for credit toward private lessons) with interest.

I think your rules are quite fair, and I have never had any trouble understanding that you need a known amount of financial commitment and certainty to a class after that first hour to make sure the staff and SSQQ can project and sustain its qualify of service.

If people could just get a refund at any time, I don't know how SSQQ could maintain its staff when the cash flow would be subject to reduction for arbitrary cancellations. The commitment of money for four group classes is quite fair, especially when you offer credits to other group classes and also offer a generous repeat price.

My conclusion is that in court of public opinion and by law, the SSQQ Refund Policy stands on solid ground.


SO WHAT?  Some people want a Refund anyway. 

Occasionally there are people who could care less about our Rules.  They want us to do things Their Way. 

I can write as many Refund Articles as I wish.  I can cite one example after another.  I can quote lawyers and businessman who support our position.  None of this matters.

Despite outside validation of our policies above and despite all attempts to "reason" or debate the issues, my January 2006 review of each 2005 Refund Argument confirmed the obvious:

All the emails, all the words, all the soul-searching, and all the whining accomplished nothing. Absolutely no common ground was ever reached.  The customers went away angry and I went away frustrated.  It was all a big waste of time.

So I reached this conclusion: If no one is going to change their mind, what is the point of arguing??
 

Part II:  Six SSQQ Case Studies on the "Utter Futility of Arguing With Customers About Refunds".

  1. The MBA Refund Struggle
  2. The Rice University Lady who decided it didn't hurt to ask!
  3. The Woman Who Broke Every Rule in the House, then demanded a Refund!!
  4. The Polite Refund Argument
  5. People Getting Married Should be Required to Wear a Sign!
  6. The Woman Who Whined so Hard I actually gave her a Refund!!

These Case Studies drawn from 2005 (and one from January 2006) are offered to explain why I have decided it does absolutely no good to argue about Refunds.


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study One - The MBA Refund Struggle

Clearly the most difficult 2005 Refund argument of all involved the couple who were Graduate School Business Students.  For some reason, I assumed these two highly educated people would understand the problems faced by small businesses such as mine.

I figured if anyone could be persuaded to change their opinion based on "Business Thinking", it would be them.  I carefully explained my reasons behind each position only to be disappointed they never once saw things from my point of view.

During my steady stream of 2005 Refund Struggles, I constantly wondered if there were ways to create compromises.  I hated all the arguing and hurt feelings!  When I realized this couple was trained in Business Ethics and Strategies, I thought perhaps they could see a side to this No-Win situation that I had completely missed. 

So in this case, I took the unusual step to ask my adversary (a Business Major) to help me by explaining the errors in my thinking. 

Sad to say, the complainant, Ms. CV from the MBA Refund Struggle article, did not bother to respond at all.   

Instead she tried to get her refund through the back door.  This is such an interesting story, I gave it a separate page.  Please read the MBA REFUND STRUGGLE

 


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study Two - The Rice University Lady who decided it didn't hurt to ask!

-----Original Message-----
From: SS
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 11:03 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Refund Question

Dear Mr. Archer:
I have read your refund policies on-line but am unsure about what the options are regarding my situation.

My husband and I signed up for a Swing class in February. We attended the first class. That week was the week that the flu and flu-like illnesses hit Houston. My family fell victim and we were unable to attend any of the other classes. I called SSQQ and was informed that we would be able to retake the class at a later date for a $5/person fee.

Since then, my husband's back has gone out. He suffers from chronic back problems and pain that when they flare up cause him to have to be very careful with all physical activity from sitting to lifting. Sometimes it takes a while for him to be able to function normally again. In this case, he has not recovered as quickly as he has in the past and dancing is definitely out.

I talked to a very nice woman this morning who said that we have the ability to retake the class until the end of the year, but honestly, I don't know how long recovery from this latest episode will take and I'm concerned that dancing could trigger a relapse. She suggested that I email you.

Is it possible in this situation to get a refund minus the cost of the first class?  We paid at the studio using a credit card.

Thank you, in advance, for considering this unfortunate situation.
Regards, SS

I knew the moment I saw this letter I wasn't going to enjoy this encounter. When people appeal to my higher nature, I know I am in trouble. The Boy Scout in me wanted to be kind, but the businessman in me said, "They can take the class at a later date." 

Then my Cynical Inner Voice kicked in to suggest that there was a more likely explanation here. The Cynical Inner Voice told me that her husband had put his foot down after the first lesson. He said he didn't have fun, it was boring, he wasn't interested in continuing to take dance classes and most of all he wouldn't go back.

That's when the woman decided to see if she could salvage $63.

Is that the truth or something I just made up?  Of course I just made it up, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if I am right. Maybe illness was a problem here.  It doesn't matter. There is only one thing I am sure of - things come up, people change their minds and then they hope I won't mind if they ask for their money back.

MY REPLY
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, May 09, 2005 3:12 PM
To: SS
Subject: RE: Refund Question


I am sympathetic to your situation, but our position is that a refund is not in order.

When you are ready, you may retake the class at no charge. Bring this email with you as indication I have waived any charges.

Rick Archer

I was very disappointed in this person. The couple took a dance class in February. They asked for a Refund in May.  That is about three months too late according to our policy. Why did she even bother to ask?

Here is the way I see it:  Ms. SS, the lady who wrote the email, is likely to be a very educated woman.  Not only did she express herself very well, her "rice.edu" email address hinted at a University background. My guess is her husband is a professor or an administrator at Rice.  Or maybe she is a professor herself.  The point is that you don't do anything at Rice without brains.

The key to this case study is that she said she has READ OUR REFUND POLICIES ONLINE. In other words, someone with BRAINS used the Internet to study our refund policy in advance. 

At the time of her email, there were three articles written about Refunds. I am quite sure she clearly understood everything I said in my three articles and the Logical Conclusion should have been: "It's three too late to ask for a Refund according to this policy."

But she still asked for a Refund anyway.

So, here is my first reaction:

No matter how many places I stick our Rules and no matter how much I write, some people will disregard whatever I say and ask for Refunds. After all, there is no negative consequence to asking.

"It never hurts to ask."

Wrong.  It does hurt to ask.

It hurts me. It insults me. I'm the one who has to go through this same process over and over again.  Many of you, few of me.

People change their mind and now I am expected to feel sorry for them. As you can tell, I simply get grouchier, less sympathetic, and shorter in responses with each one. I can feel myself getting less sympathetic and more closed-minded by the day!  I hate getting so hard, but when the porcupine keeps poking you with its needles daily, you have to make a choice - either bleed to death or develop a thick skin.


Ms. SS also had the nerve to play stupid:

...but I am unsure about what the options are regarding my situation.

This line was BS-Speak.  I would expect BETTER from a Rice lady with a BRAIN.  If she read our articles like she said she did, they stated clear as day what her options are.

I think she asked anyway because "It never hurts to ask".  She simply threw herself on the mercy of the court and hoped to catch me in a good mood.

Unfortunately it gets old.  And that's why I turn cynical.  How do you treat each situation as "special" when you get the same stuff over and over again?

Why do people believe the changes in their lives give them the right to expect their money back?

Did you know that currently we are experiencing a world-wide epidemic of the cursed Mind-Changing Virus?  And that unfortunately many people at my dance studio catch the Virus and suddenly change their mind?

For example, here at the studio people
change their minds about classes all the time!  That is a fact.  The laws of probability are not in my favor.  Let's say just one person in 20 changes their mind or has something up.

When a few people change their mind and ask for a Refund or Credit further down the road, this is not a problem. But then you have remember the Axiom: Many of You, Few of Me.

Do the math:
When you have 1,200 customers a month and the laws of probability hint that at least 5% of our students are going to have things come up or have a change of mind that will render the dance lessons unimportant, that averages out to 60 problems a month which averages out to two unhappy customer emails a day.

And you know what?  That's about right. Actually it is closer to three problems a day.

So they email SSQQ because they want something for their money. The vast majority ask for Credit to take their class further down the road, but a few say, "Aw, what the heck, I just want my money back".

Happens all the time.  Take a look:

-----Original Message-----
From: SM
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 11:58 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Refund question

Hello, My fiancée and I signed up for dance lessons back in January, but once we got to the first class we realized that we didn't sign up for exactly what we expected and that the lessons might be a little to early before our wedding reception to do us much good. We talked with the woman at the front desk before class began and she said that we could schedule another class instead, using the credit that we had from the class that we decided not to take.

Our wedding is now in two weeks, and with all of the things we've had to take care of we've been unable to take a class. Can we receive a refund for the amount of the class?

Thank you, SM


MY REPLY:
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 5:21 PM
To: S M
Subject: RE: Refund question

There is a "Slow Dance and Romance" class that begins Monday, March 28.

It is EXACTLY the class you need. You will get two lessons in before your wedding, which should be sufficient, especially if you stay after class and practice.

You are welcome to take this class at no charge if you print this out and bring it with you on the first night.


-----Original Message-----
From: SM
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 5:24 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Refund question

Unfortunately the wedding is April 2nd. Just let me know if the refund is not an option.

Thanks


MY *REPLY:
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 18, 2005 7:46 PM
To: SM
Subject: Refund question

The refund is not an option. Sorry.

However I will be happy to meet with you this Monday at 6 pm to train you for your wedding dance. There would be no charge. Just bring your song.

I showed up early for the lesson, but they never appeared. They changed their mind and just wanted their money back. Tough. Use it or Lose it.

The conclusion is: Go ahead and change your mind. Just don't expect SSQQ to give you your money back. Even better, don't aggravate us by asking for it either.  

Ms. SS is one of the major reasons I believe the following statement is correct:

No matter how much I write about Refunds (12 articles so far), no matter well I say it, and no matter how many examples I offer, people are still going to ask for the Refund anyway.

Ms. SS made it obvious I could write a Refund Policy longer than "Gone With the Wind" and it wouldn't make any difference. She would have disregarded all of it and said, "Can I have a Refund?"
 


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study Three - The Woman Who Broke Practically Every Rule in the House, then demanded a Refund!! 

Please meet Nehal P.  As you will see, she has one complaint about our policies after another. 

On her first day at the studio, she broke practically every House Rule we have, then chewed us out for having the nerve to stand up to her.

EMAIL ONE
-----Original Message-----
From: Nehal P
Sent: Tuesday, May 10, 2005 5:06 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Regarding Salsa Lessons! Pls read!!

Dear Mr. Archer,

My name is Nehal P. My fiancé SA and I signed up for the beginner's Salsa lessons scheduled every Saturday 4:30- 6:30 pm class starting from April 30th - May 21st. Unfortunately, we were not able to continue after the first class and I would like to explain the reason.

We went for our first class on April 30th. We signed up at the reception desk for what we thought were 'couple' salsa lessons and not group salsa lessons.

Our impression about the structure of the class was that everyone would get to learn and practice the dance steps as a couple with their respective partners and not have to rotate from person to person. Learning something completely new is difficult in the first place and having to adjust to the style of dancing of the other people in the class while rotating made it even more challenging. It was very uncomfortable for the both of us. So towards the end of our first class, me and my fiancé started dancing with each other instead of rotating to familiarize ourselves and help each other learn the steps. We also told the instructor that we chose to dance with each other and he agreed to it. And that is the reason why we did not ask for a refund immediately after our first class.

Our second class was on May 7th and again we started dancing with each other, but this time the instructor came to us and practically forced us to rotate. We told him that we did not want to and he informed us that if we did not rotate then we had to leave the class and ask for a refund. Which we did and were told to write to you and explain the situation and to obtain a personal e-mail from you oking the refund.

I am writing to request a refund of $63.50 for the three classes that we will not attend. The credit can be applied back to my credit card. Instead, we are interested in taking private Salsa lessons at SSQQ with a private instructor. Could you please suggest one so that we can sign up?

Please contact me either via e-mail or via phone as soon as possible. I would really appreciate your attention in this matter.

Thank you for your time.

Regards, Nehal P
 

Whoa!  Now this lady can write an email that grabs your attention, Yes?  It took me an hour of just staring at all the things she said to even begin to get a grip on all her complaints. I actually found myself at a loss for words. I didn't even know where to begin responding to her. 

Just so you know, Ms. P's email uses a theme common to many Refund emails. She quotes the words of the ANONYMOUS SSQQ STAFF PERSON who amazingly tells her EXACTLY what she wants to hear even though it directly contradicts all written policy.

"We also told the instructor that we chose to dance with each other and he agreed to it. And that is the reason why we did not ask for a refund immediately after our first class."

EMAIL TWO
MY REPLY:

We have very specific rules regarding Refunds.

I am having a hard time understanding what makes you think you are entitled to one.

We gave you an entire hour the first night of class to make up your mind. Why was that time not sufficient?
 
 

EMAIL THREE
-----Original Message-----
From: Nehal P
Sent: Tuesday, May 17, 2005 2:32 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Regarding Salsa Lessons! Pls read!!
Mr. Archer,

I understand that you have specific rules regarding refunds. But rules can be bended depending on circumstances.

I think that we are definitely entitled to a refund. As you can see in the e-mail, we are only asking for $63.50 which is the amt for 3 classes for 2 people. We are willing to pay the amt for the class that we actually attended. Also, we are entitled (to a refund) because we did not sign up for group salsa lessons. If your studio caters to its customers which it should the explanation in my e-mail would make complete sense.

Also, I mentioned in my e-mail that after the 1st class we thought that the instructor understood our request to not be forced to rotate. And so the need to ask for a refund at that point which was the end of the 1st class did not arise. We were made to make up our minds during the 2nd class when the instructor again insisted that we rotate. That's when the instructor asked us to leave class and ask for a refund. So the hour that you are talking about does not apply here.

Please respond.

-Nehal
 

Looking back at EMAIL THREE, my eyes were drawn to several statements that I instantly disagreed with.  This email contained a difference of opinion so vast that I considered it practically hopeless to even bother to respond.  We were literally a CHASM apart in our point of views here. 

"rules can be bended", "we signed up for couples class, not group class", "won't rotate partners", "the hour you are talking about doesn't apply here", "if your studio caters to customers"... 

I was impressed by the cleverness of her writing.  That said, I also knew no matter how hard I tried to explain our position, she was going to disagree. 

So what was the point of trying?

Nevertheless, even though I sensed the utter hopelessness of any true debate, I decided it was my duty to make a half-hearted stab at some of her most outlandish statements.

EMAIL FOUR
MY REPLY:

You wrote:
"Also, we are entitled because we did not sign up for group salsa lessons."

If you didn't sign up for group lessons, what did you sign up for? We only have two kinds of lessons.

You have the right to be dissatisfied with your class, but a rule is a rule - in a Group Class, everyone switches partners.

We had a woman sitting at the desk for an entire hour the first night ready to offer refunds to anyone who asked. We rotated partners in that first hour. After that, you put on your seat belt and enjoy the ride. If you want to get off, that's your choice, but a deal is a deal.

By the way, we cater to our customers by showing up on time every night to provide the service we are paid to do.

I regret your experience was unfortunate. If you would like to try the class again at a later date, let me know when and I will email you permission to take it for free.

Rick Archer

 

EMAIL FIVE
-----Original Message-----
From: Nehal P
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2005 2:30 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Regarding Salsa Lessons! Pls read!!

Mr. Archer,

Since we had such an bad reaction to the class the 1st time, I don't think we would sign up for the group salsa lessons again . But if you would extend us the same courtesy for private salsa lessons, I would gladly take you up on your offer.

- Nehal


EMAIL SIX
MY REPLY:

I am sorry, but our rules prohibit switching Group Lesson tuition to Private Lessons.  TUITION SWITCH


I am sorry we are having so much trouble getting you to accept our policies.  Ms. P, if I may be so bold, I doubt that we are going to find any common ground here.  You want things your way, but in Group Classes we don't have the flexibility to accommodate you.  I am sorry your experience here was so negative.

Rick Archer

This story was the event that made me decide once and for all it isn't worth the effort to debate. 

If people disagree this strongly with our position, what is the point of arguing?

Interestingly, one year after I wrote the article, this case study about Ms. Nehal P provided yet another learning experience.  I found out in a highly unpleasant way why you should never use someone's full name on the Internet.  Read for yourself.

April 2006
NEHAL P UPDATE

-----Original Message-----
From: Raina Porecha
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 3:39 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Wow, bas taste in making an example of my cousin

You can fully reprint this word-for-word on your pathetic site. I was searching on Google for my cousin's new email address to write to her about her wedding. One of the first search terms to come up was her list of emails on your site. First, you should know that legal action can be taken against you for putting those emails on your site without her permission. What was a private matter between you and her was distastefully (your lack of taste) put onto your self-righteous site.

You seem like an inflexible man and kind of one bent on making an "example" out of others on your website, or should I say bully pulpit?

Your dance studio sounds like it is providing the bare minimum of customer service by showing up and providing dance lessons Frankly, anyone who claims that providing a service that you said you would provide as a matter of course in the business that you run is an idiot (yes, you are an idiot). Look up customer service on the internet and you will find that it typically means catering to the customer.

My cousin actually offered you a pretty good compromise, but you seem like a stubborn, unhappy, unyielding man who hides behind your "rules" to manage your fear of actually having to work with others in a way that makes both parties happy.

If I were you, I would take down that exchange. It only makes you look petty and stupid.

Regards,
Raina Porecha
Cousin of Nehal Porecha


Ms. Raina Porecha sent a second email about seven minutes after the first. She had just finished reading my article about the MBA Refund Struggle. Ms. Porecha started her second email with a quote from that story.
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Raina Porecha
Sent: Monday, April 17, 2006 3:44 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Could you really be serious?

"I looked for compromises. In one case, I even took the unusual step to ask one adversary (a Business Major) to help me by explaining the errors in my thinking. Sad to say, Ms. CV from the amazing MBA REFUND STRUGGLE, did not bother to respond at all."

I'm sorry, I just read your statement and laughed and laughed. There is clearly no effort on your part to compromise, as evidenced by your exchange with this person. How could you blatantly lie?  It is also obvious you are intimidated by people with educations and like to put them down because it warms your little heart. If you don't want to court anger, then I suggest you take down your ridiculous site. You aren't making any friends by pointlessly explaining your idiotic policies.

You reap what you sow my friend, and you are sowing discontent.

Raina Porecha

Had I known the kind of wrath that would rain down on me for printing Ms. Nehal P's full name when I first wrote this article, believe me, I would have switched to using initials on my web site much sooner. I am grateful to her cousin for teaching me this lesson.  Sad to say, now that the web site is bookmarked, I have no doubt other familial blessings are sure to follow.

So why didn't I simply give Ms. Nehal P her money back?  As Ms. Raina P suggested, "Look up customer service on the internet and you will find that it typically means catering to the customer."

Unfortunately, I think Ms. Raina P meant "crater", not "cater".  What the Cousins ask for is not "service" but rather "servility" and "appeasement".   Based on our rules, Ms. Nehal P was not entitled to a Refund. Her response was obvious - our Rules have no meaning to her.  Since she is special, she is entitled to a Refund. She expected the rules to bend to her bidding.

Their message is clear: "Give in to our demands and we will go away and leave you alone.  Otherwise we will badger you and insult you."  

 


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study Four - The Polite Refund Argument

Another indication that writing the Articles about my 2005 Year of the Refund helped was that the rancor of that year has so far completely disappeared in 2006.  (knock on wood)  The following argument was not bitter, but it was very puzzling.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob K
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2006 1:26 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Cc: KH
Subject: tuition refund

Hello Rick,

Hope all is well. I'm writing regarding the Intermediate West Coast Swing/Whip class that I and my girlfriend Kim H are currently enrolled in. After many months of trying to coordinate on our end, Kim and I signed up for the beginners class last month with Dakota and Susan. Because we thoroughly enjoyed the class we wanted to continue, however because of our hectic schedules and a major family emergency we've been unable to attend the last two classes so I'm asking for a refund for the both of us.

I hope given the loyalty to your studio and for the many referrals I've sent your way over the years you will grant this refund. If you would like to discuss or have questions please feel free to call me at xxxxxx.

Thank You,
Rob K


----- Original Message -----
From: Marla Archer
To: RK
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 12:55 PM
Subject: tuition refund


Sorry but the first two weeks of this class have passed. Refund is not an option. Please read the following article on refund policy. http://ssqq.com/information/refund.htm

I will allow your "once a year" exceptions and place a $46 and $38 credits in your student records for you to use whenever you are ready. You will need to use walk-in registration to use the credits.


----- Original Message -----
From: Rob K
To: Marla Archer
Cc: Kim H
Sent: Saturday, February 18, 2006 1:59 PM
Subject: tuition refund

Marla,  Thanks, but I would appreciate more consideration in regards to our circumstances. My dad had a stroke the same day we were coming to class among other things. I have referred many people to SSQQ without asking for anything in return. I will give you or Rick a call next week. Rob K

(Rick's Note: At this point, Mr. K took the unusual step of calling my wife Marla on her home phone that same Tuesday afternoon as the email above.  The conversation was polite, but it was also stressful.  Mr. K repeated the same arguments he made in his emails - his loyalty to the studio should be rewarded with a refund, his father's stroke entitled him to a refund. 

After Marla said no, he emailed me again immediately after the phone conversation.)

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob K
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 3:55 PM
To: DANCE@ssqq.com
Subject: tuition refund

Rick,

Do you have time to talk?

Thanks,  Rob K

I emailed a response, but for some unknown reason the text was invisible.  Of course I had no way of knowing that my message was impossible to read.  A week later Mr. K emailed again.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rob K
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2006 4:55 PM
To: DANCE@ssqq.com
Subject: Re: Fw: tuition refund


Hi Rick,

You emailed me back but you didn't say anything. Can we talk or is the no refund final?   Thanks, Rob


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, February 28, 2006 10:04 AM
To: rob k
Subject: more on Mr K refund issue

"Hi Rick, You emailed me back but you didn't say anything. Can we talk or is the no refund final?  Thanks, Rob"

In multiple email chains, sometimes the text disappears. I don't know why this happens, but I have seen this happen before in email several times. Sorry about that.
………………..

Time Line - you called my wife on her personal phone last week.  You obviously did not accept her verbal explanation that a Refund was not called for in this situation because you sent an email shortly afterwards to me asking for yet another phone conversation.

Here is my reply from last week. Here is the missing text. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, February 22, 2006 2:01 PM
To: Rob K
Subject: tuition refund

Mr. K,

Yesterday when you called my wife on her personal phone to complain about our refund policies, your name came up loud and clear on "caller ID". Even though she knew who you were and that it was likely to be an unpleasant call, she gave you the benefit of the doubt and answered anyway.

Sure enough, you immediately launched into the same spiel that you have been listing in your emails.

We told you the policy, but you won't accept it. You obviously won't take "no" for an answer. That's your choice. I am sorry you don't like our policy, but it is written in black and white all over the studio.

I personally have written twelve articles dealing with different aspects of the concept "Refund".

And after all those articles, I have come to one conclusion that stands out above all - It does no good to argue about it.

Mr. K, why do you persist so hard on this refund issue?   You know what our policy is.

We have said no by email, we have said no by phone.  We already said you can re-take your class at another time.

You personally told my wife you didn't even bother reading any of our policies.

I have a question. Why should you get your money back??  Take your best shot at it.

Rick Archer
SSQQ Dance Studio
Houston, Texas

Interestingly enough, at this point I was prepared to give the gentleman a Refund if he sent me back an explanation that made some kind of sense.

We were not talking about large sums of money.  It amounted to $42 at this point.  I was actually curious why someone who appeared to like the studio was working so hard to get his money back.  After all, my wife Marla had explained he could take the class over again whenever his father's medical problems got under control.

I always felt like there was something to this story that was not being said.  My instincts told me something was not right.

After all, this gentleman contacted us FIVE TIMES!  Why was he trying so hard?  We had offered him Credit, but that wasn't good enough.

I decided that if Mr. K was willing to tell me what the whole story was, then I was ready to give him his 40 bucks back.  As you see above, I asked him to 'take his best shot'.

To my surprise, he did not respond.  He obviously knew my email address.  I can only assume he did not wish to give me the full explanation.

So yet again we went round and round, round and round and nothing was accomplished. 

This was time we could have been reading a book, working a crossword puzzle, or watching a movie on TV.  Instead we wasted valuable time arguing. 

What was the point?
 


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study Five - People Getting Married Should be Required to Wear a Sign!

Ms. CV in Case Study One and Ms. Nehal P in Case Study Three gave examples of how "strong-minded" people can be when they are learning to dance in preparation for a wedding.  And soon you will meet Melissa M, the Poster Girl for Unhappy Wedding Customers.
 
They have a lot on their mind and seem to think their special status entitles them to special treatment. The world is basically expected to cater to their needs and wishes.

Stereotypes are usually examples of very weak thinking. Stereotypes usually turn out to be gross generalizations that can be poked full of holes. Here are a few to warm the heart: "White Men Can't Jump", "Driving While Asian", "Blondes and Brains don't Mix" and of course some of the jokes regarding the intelligence of our friends at A&M. 

Here is a Dance Stereotype for you - "Some Wedding Couples are the Most Self-Centered People on Earth!"

In my opinion, people who are getting married should be required to wear a sign so the rest of us can get out of their way!

"Danger - Getting Married! Disagree at your own risk!"

The 2005 Year of the Refund indicated that the most likely people to ask for a Late Refund or to Switch Group Tuition to Private Lessons were people who were getting married. 

By coincidence, as I was writing this article, I received this email. Before you accidentally decide I am brilliant or the next coming of Nostradamus, don't bother. This kind of stuff goes on all the time.

-----Original Message-----
From: HH
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 1:13 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: dance lessons

I just signed my fiancé and I up for dance lessons in the western swing class. I saw on your website that you may be able to grant a special exception to your switching partners rule, if we notified you ahead of time.

We would really like to only dance together because we only have one month to dance well together before our wedding in March. I understand the wisdom of switching partners, but if you could, this once, make an exception because of our limited time schedule, I would appreciate it.

Also, since Patrick is about to be officially off the market, I don't suppose he'll be dancing with too many other girls in the future. Please let me know. I look forward to the class.

Thank you, HH


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 3:28 PM
To: HH
Subject: RE: dance lessons

Group Classes require switching partners. This is non negotiable; there is no point in arguing about it.

That said, Western Swing is a highly unromantic dance. There is no reason why the two of you need to dance exclusively with each other. You will still be together MUCH of the time.

However if this is not what you want, I recommend you cancel your class and switch to private lessons.

Rick Archer


-----Original Message-----
From: HH
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 12:31 PM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: RE: dance lessons thru leisure learning

I think we may decide to take private lessons b/c my fiance is a little uneasy about his skills and isn't comfortable with switching partners. I'm lucky he is even taking dance lessons.:)

If I bring the leisure learning form up to the studio, would you sign it so I can get a refund?
thank you,  HH


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Saturday, January 28, 2006 3:33 PM
To: HH
Subject: RE: dance lessons thru leisure learning

H, I will not sign your Leisure Learning form for the simple reason that Leisure Learning will wring my neck for losing them money and I would not blame them.

I said "cancel" your class, not "ask for a refund".

The CORRECT way to handle this is to accept credit from Leisure Learning and use it to take another type of class from them.
 

My first point is that now I am involved in a Refund Struggle over money that is not even mine.  Leisure Learning has this woman's money and I will NOT bite the hand that feeds me. I would dearly love to be a "nice guy", but there is something about money that turns all of us crazy.

My second point is that Wedding Couples don't seem to have any middle ground. They are either absolutely the most cosmic people to be around or they are the most fussy, temperamental, temporarily insane people on the Planet.  Sad to say, most of them tend towards the latter description.  They have so much to worry about, they get overwhelmed and panic over everything.  And people like me minding their own business turn into "Road Kill" as they crash into us.


"Does it do any good to argue about Refunds?"

Case Study Six - The Woman Who Whined so Hard I actually gave her a Refund!!

Our final story is about Melissa M.   Like many Late Refund requesters, she was getting married and wasn't satisfied with what we had to offer.  In fact, she didn't like our style much at all.  Ms. M&M became the SSQQ Poster Girl "Customer Getting Married Who Isn't Happy With Anything."

Ms. Melissa M was special for a number of reasons. In addition to teaching me further why it is absolutely futile to discuss Refunds with customers, Ms. M&M was the person who I most associate with the start of my hatred for email. 



Back and forth back and forth.

An email is a request for your time.  With 1,200 students a month, the potential for "Death by Email" is frightening indeed.  I answer every legitimate email I receive, but out of necessity I have to keep my answers very short. Otherwise I might actually spend all my free time answering email instead of most of it.

For starters, I believe Ms. Melissa M now holds the record for the longest SSQQ Email Chain at SEVENTEEN.


Email can feel very clumsy at times, especially with someone like Ms Double M as your counterpart.  As you will soon see, when it came to Melissa M, none of my email suggestions seemed to work very well.

When people have lots of questions, I wish they would simply call us.  The phone still works better for extended Question and Answer. But that's another story.  Here we go.

EMAIL ONE
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 11:40 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Slow dance and Romance

Slow dance and Romance - Can you tell me when this class will be offered next?

Melissa M


EMAIL TWO
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:06 PM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

It will be offered next month on Mondays. Here is the schedule:
SCHEDULE
 


EMAIL THREE
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:41 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

I see it on the calendar, but I thought that it was more than one class and I only see one class on the calendar. Did I miss something?

Melissa M


EMAIL FOUR
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:50 PM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

It runs for 4 Mondays

Rick Archer


EMAIL FIVE
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:54 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

4 Mondays in April? I am sorry, I guess I am not reading this calendar right.

Melissa M


EMAIL SIX
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:55 PM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

Yes, it runs for 4 Mondays in April, that is correct. Maybe it would be easier to understand if you just called us. 713 861 1906

Rick Archer


EMAIL SEVEN
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 1:57 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

I understand now, sorry I am little slow today. What do I need to do to sign up?

Melissa M


EMAIL EIGHT
Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, March 04, 2005 2:33 PM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Slow dance and Romance

SSQQ Information Page

Ordinarily I would help more, but I have to leave to pick up my daughter at school.

Rick Archer

Did you notice how short my answers were?  

I actually remember being so fed up with email in March 2005 that I was ready to explode. One day I made a conscious decision to keep all responses short and sweet.  That same day Ms. M&M came along and peppered me with four in a two-hour period.  That was certainly her right, but at the same time we clearly did not get off on the right foot.


FAST-FORWARD ONE MONTH

EMAIL NINE
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Thursday, April 14, 2005 10:51 AM
To: dance@ssqq.com
Subject: Private Lessons

I originally signed up for Slow Dance and Romance and I called the day of to cancel for a couple of reasons.

I was told that I could come by any day around 7:00 to get my refund.

Instead of getting a full refund, I was wondering if I could apply the difference for the 2 of us to take Private Lessons. I believe this would be a better fit for us. We are taking lessons to prepare for our first dance for our wedding. We would prefer to take a class on a Saturday evening, but we are not sure what the availability is like. Please let me know how this would work.

I can be reached at xxx-xxx-xxxx. Normally the best way is by email.

Melissa M
 

For the sake of the story, there's something I need to clarify. The "Slow Dance and Romance" class for which Ms. Melissa M signed up for started on Monday, March 28. Ms. Melissa M was asking for a Refund on April 14. She was THREE WEEKS too late according our rules.  But the First Night One Hour Rule did not apply to her because by coincidence Ms. Melissa M talked to the same ANONYMOUS SSQQ STAFF PERSON who also helped Ms. P earlier in our story.

Amazingly, like with Ms. P earlier, the Anonymous SSQQ Staff Person told Ms. Melissa M EXACTLY what she wanted to hear even though it directly contradicted all written policy.  

("I called the DAY OF
I was told that I could come by any day around 7:00 to get my refund").


The written rule of course says "on" or "before" the First Night of Class and the cancellation has to be done AT THE STUDIO, not over the phone and not by email.

The moment I saw her words, I realized this was another situation that had little chance of finding common ground.  Listening to her quote the "ANONYMOUS SSQQ STAFF PERSON" makes me feel like I have an enemy work for me.  Any time I tell her what the Rule says, she responds by saying, "But your own person told me differently on the phone!"

I can't confront the person because they are ANONYMOUS. Nor can I double-check what was said on the phone for accuracy. Therefore no matter what I say, she can rebut my argument with something HIERONYMUS ANONYMOUS told her which gives her a perfectly logical reason why she did not follow the rules.

If you try to argue with someone, using the ANONYMOUS EMPLOYEE is a clever technique. 

"But the Registrar said it would be okay".
"The Hall Monitor told me not to worry about it."
"Leisure Learning gave me permission."
"But the teacher said it would be okay." 
"The lady on the phone said it would be okay". 
"A homeless man I met on looking for bottles in my apartment dumpster said it would be okay."

In other words, they offer a story just plausible enough to give me pause.  Ms. M&M was good at this.  I actually wondered if she was telling the truth.  Was someone inside my organization actually sabotaging my position behind my back?

EMAIL TEN
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 6:38 PM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

Melissa, I have a hunch the two of you just want to learn how to dance at your wedding. We can help you, but first we need to handle the money issues.

We have a very strict refund policy so a Refund is out of the question.

REFUND POLICY

We also refuse to exchange group money for private money. The reasons are explained here:

WHY SWITCHING TUITION FROM GROUPS TO PRIVATES IS PROHIBITED

Your tuition is not wasted - I will be happy to let you enroll in any group class you wish when you are ready. There will be no charge to switch to the group class of your choice.

A private lesson is $50 an hour but I will waive the floor fee and reduce the cost to $40 an hour if you wish to continue.

Rick Archer
 

EMAIL ELEVEN
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 7:21 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

When I called you I was told that I could get a full refund when I was able to stop by. We do not want a group class, so that will not work. I would appreciate getting my refund and then I will pay you for the private class. Your studio is very far away from my office and apartment, which made it impossible to get there and I mentioned that to you on the phone as well.

Melissa M

I never had spoken with the lady in my life, so I was flabbergasted to discover she was claiming to have spoken to me directly.  Suddenly I had become HIERONYMUS ANONYMOUS! 

Of course, the word "you" has two meanings, singular and plural. 

EMAIL TWELVE
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 8:58 AM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

You were told correctly to come by at 7 pm and get your refund. You obviously did not do that. It says on your receipt, the web site, the front door, and at the Registration Desk that refunds are to be handled the first night of class. Plus someone even told you the information over the phone.

Rick Archer


EMAIL THIRTEEN
-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 9:04 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

I also told you that I could not make it there by 7:00 or I would have made for the class.

You are a little rigid in your policies and I will need my refund.

I am not sure why you are being so difficult when I am still trying to do business with you. I am not trying to cancel all of service with you, but I am trying to find something that meets our needs. Group classes will not, and I am sorry you gave me the wrong information, but I will need you to stand by your word.

Melissa M

Now I was getting chewed out for my rigid policies and for giving out wrong information to a person I have never spoken to in my life.

I guess she would rather talk to the ANONYMOUS SSQQ STAFF PERSON who always tells people what they want to hear.

In the meantime, I had reached the point of no return. I had grown so weary of this woman's relentless assault in my next email I took the unusual step of referring her to a dance instructor who had quit her job at SSQQ in a huff six months earlier.

I honestly did not wish to see this customer on my premises.

EMAIL FOURTEEN
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 9:31 PM
To: M, Melissa
Cc: JA
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

I deal with 1200 to 1500 people a month. I have found that by posting the rules where everyone can see them and sticking to them, the headaches diminish dramatically.

Your money is not "lost". You have a credit for a group class that you can use at any time.

I recommend you seek out our former wedding instructor J A. She is very effective at teaching "wedding lessons".

Rick Archer


EMAIL FIFTEEN

-----Original Message-----
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 7:43 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

You made a mistake by personally telling me that I could pick up the refund any night around 7:00, so now I ask that you honor that. One again, we don't want a group class we would like to take private lessons. You came highly recommended on the knot and I would like to see that recommendation ring true. You continue to tell me that my money is not lost, but since we don't want a group lesson and I made that clear on the day that I called you then I will need the private lesson. I also mentioned on the day that I called that we would have to miss the first class because of work, so how were we going to pick up the refund? This is all information that was given in our discussion and you didn't mention that I HAD to pick it up that day only. I appreciate that your rules are on the internet, but when I am told when I call that it is not a problem I would think that you were being honest. I would appreciate a full refund from the group classes and I truly hope that this can be solved amicably so that we may also do business with you and take a private lesson.

Thank you.

Melissa M

As I said previously, I had never spoken with this woman in my life. Now as I read her email which chewed me out from head to toe for all the mistakes I had made in our conversation together, I felt the heat rising.  Yes, she had gotten under my skin. 

First she claimed we told her she could come by the studio any night at 7 to get her refund. Then she said she couldn't come by and pick up her Refund because she lived too far away. Then she changed her story to say she had to work on Refund Night.  Now she wants a refund one month too late.

Now she said I PERSONALLY had made a mistake by telling her wrong information even though we had never talked.  The "you" wasn't abstract any more. Now she was putting words in my mouth.  It was becoming increasingly apparent this woman would say anything she could think of to get her money back.  She felt entitled to bend the rules anyway she wanted to. 

Her emails were the perfect example of someone who made a Deal, changed her mind, didn't want to follow the rules, and now expected us to jump through hoops to accommodate her as she wrote her various "The World Revolves Around Me" email letters.

EMAIL SIXTEEN
-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 9:09 AM
To: M, Melissa
Subject: RE: Private Lessons

Ms.
Melissa M wrote: "You made a mistake by personally telling me that I could pick up the refund any night around 7:00, so now I ask that you honor that."

First of all, Ms. M, you have trouble getting your facts straight. I have never spoken with you in my life. So don't go putting words in my mouth.

Second of all, Ms. Mw, we come highly recommended because we do a good job. However I don't want your business. You have absolutely no respect for our rules. I have already referred you elsewhere. Or didn't you read the previous email?

Email me your mailing address and the amount we owe you.

Before you get the wrong idea, I am not "honoring" anything at all. We said 7 pm the first week of class and you emailed us two weeks too late. Tough. I don't owe you anything.

But I do feel sorry for you.

It is quite obvious you need the money worse than I do so I will give it to you.

This will help you learn an important lesson in life - If you complain loud enough and hard enough, you may eventually get your way. Congratulations.

Rick Archer


EMAIL SEVENTEEN
From: M, Melissa
Sent: Tuesday, April 19, 2005 9:11 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: RE: Private Lessons


1699 R P Lane #xxx

Houston, TX 77090

$84.00
 

I mailed the refund check to Ms. M&M shortly after receiving the final email. I did not feel Ms. M&M was entitled to a Refund, but I did it for a definite reason - I was about to use her as the SSQQ Poster Child for Arguing and Whining.  

I figured since I was going to tell the world EXACTLY what I thought of M&M, then this would be her reward. 

Plus I wanted to trick her into believing that if she continued to go through life as a crybaby, she would always be able to get her way. 

THE FINAL WORD

Based on the six case studies listed in this story, I can assure one and all that arguing accomplishes nothing but raise the blood pressure. The stress I felt trying to figure out a way to hold my ground while simultaneously trying to reason with these people was agonizing.

My mistake was harboring a naive hope that by explaining the "Fairness" of our position, we could come to some sort of compromise.  But after failing repeatedly, now I know that this position is unrealistic.  Now that I see it is impossible to accomplish anything, I won't bother arguing any more.

From now on, it's "By the terms of our Refund Policy, you are not entitled to a Refund. When you are ready to reschedule your class at a later date, be sure to get in touch with me."  And then I will give them a link to the main Refund Page.

For the second email, I will give the same answer plus another link.
Next email another link... and another link... After all I have a dozen links!

No more arguing.  I have learned my lesson.

After all is said and done, a lot more is usually said than done. 

 

Letters to the Editor:

-----Original Message-----
From: April B
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2006 7:30 AM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: May 2006 SSQQ Newsletter

Rick,

I read with great interest the articles about the refunds this morning. First, I am so sad to read that Susan is no longer at SSQQ - she was such an intricate part of the business - but sadder to realize that you really have no reason to her leaving. No, I am not asking for info, just expressing my reaction. I imagine losing such a talented woman was indeed a blow.

I had to laugh when reading some of the stories - you see, I have been working at Target in management. I go through some of the very same things on a daily basis. We have a very strict return policy and people every day expect us to change it for them. On occasion, if there is something I can do to help them I will, but for the most part I can't do anything about it. I think your refund policy is very good - you have to stick to your guns on stuff like this or you won't stay in business. Good for you!

Keep up the good work. I sure do miss SSQQ!

 

RICK'S REPLY

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Monday, May 01, 2006 5:52 AM
To: AB
Subject: refund policy

Thanks for the interesting comments on the Target Refund. I had to learn the hard way that all the arguing/discussing etc in the world doesn't do a bit of good. People will never agree on this issue and there is simply no point in debating it. "Sticking to my guns" is basically the conclusion I came to. I appreciate the advice.

Susan Schroeder's departure remains a TOTAL mystery to me. She is extremely talented and added so much to this studio that has quite frankly not been replaced since her loss.

Since she refused to explain what her reasons were, I am still to this day pretty much in the dark. Her husband left as well about six months later.

Maybe I had no business becoming a therapist… I couldn't figure out either one of them.

Thanks for the letter!

 

Refund Stories

These articles deal with the ground rules, history, and philosophy of the ssqq refund and credit policy.
Deal is Deal
 
Covers the reasons behind the Refund Policy and lists situations
Explains why Group Class Tuition cannot be switched to private lessons
Electronic Transactions
 
Discusses Online Registration and the difficulty of Electronic Transactions
Explains how to handle Double Charges and has the Courtney Walsh Story
Exceptions
 
Talks about our Credit Rules
 
Exceptions Overview
 
Talks about the History of our Credit Rules
 
REFUNDS
 
Home Page for Refunds. Covers the specific Refund Policy
 
Refund Arguments
 
A serious look at 5 case studies from 2005 that explains
why we will no longer even discuss Refund issues
Refund Defeat
 
Must Read for anyone frustrated with the ssqq refund policy.  At least you
can read with satisfaction about the only couple to ever win a refund argument
Refund Overview
 
How other dance studios handle the Refund problem
plus the real-life experience during a ski vacation that shaped our policy
Refund Struggle Easily the best article of the bunch. Two MBAs squared off in a battle royal over
$46 in 2005.
SSQQ Front Page Parties/Calendar Jokes
SSQQ Information Schedule of Classes Writeups
SSQQ Archive Newsletter History of SSQQ