Partial Refunds

We ran a promotion recently which unlocked rewards for Patrons above $X for the month of January. When the promotion ended many of our 3000+ Patrons forgot to reset to their usual pledge level. They then wrote to us asking for an adjustment and partial refund.

The problem is that there’s no ‘partial refund’ option - it’s all or nothing. And a full refund destroys their account settings for the month - access to Discord for instance.

We cannot enable Charge on Pledge to solve this as it would create disarray with our tracking of Rewards.

Please implement a partial refund feature. Thank you!

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I definitely agree. There are SO many reasons why a partial refund might be needed on patreon. I would love to see something like how Etsy handles their refunds implemented.

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thanks for the feature request, @american.mcgee - can I ask was the promotion a Special Offer or something else? I’d love to learn more about a promotion that would encourage patrons to go up to a tier for month, and then back down, as normally creators want patrons to stay at that higher tier.

My experience: Not all promotions are for permanent tiers. While yes, lots of people have tiers that already exist that might get a bonus during that special offer but sometimes it might run a bit differently. For example, on one of my previous promos, i wanted an item to go on $20+ tiers. However i didn’t actually have a $20 tier so there was a big gap between my lower tiers and the higher ones and i know some folks might -just- want that bonus item. They might not stay after or they might bump down to another tier after the offer (and that tier) are gone. So i made a $20 tier just for that item/promo. Sure, it got previous tier stuff as well but i wasn’t planning on keeping it around after the special offer because it wasn’t a permanent bonus. So after the offer was over, i unpublished that tier. I think i had 1 person on that tier, others went for higher ones but it’s not easy to get people to change a tier at all period. Lots of folks don’t read their patreon messages and they never seem to get emails. So while i didn’t have an issue with my specific offer, i’ve had the issue when i’ve changed my tiers in the past so if i had a large number of patrons, i’d likely be dealing with the same issue. (In general, some people have a tier only available for a short amount of time as is because whatever they are offering is only a short term thing or they have a limited amount so that tier goes away once it’s gone.)

I’m not sure if this goes along with @american.mcgee 's issues but this is where my agreement to the initial post comes from.

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Mindy, I wasn’t aware of the Special Offer feature and I do not see any button or prompt for this on my page. Perhaps I am not in the beta group. In any case, no, this was not a Special Offer.

Yes, we would love for our Patrons to stay at a higher pledge amount after these promotions. Many of them just aren’t in a position to pledge $45 a month each and every month.

We set up our latest promotion as a combination of a Goal (number of Patrons reaches 3222) and with a minimum Pledge amount of $45. Everyone at $45 (or higher) for the month after we hit 3222 Patrons got the physical reward. You can see full details HERE. We also put in place an “Unlock The Reward” pledge tier of $1 so people can help us hit that Goal quickly and for the least amount of money.

To be honest, this is all a bit of a communication, organization, and fulfillment nightmare… but we’ve done this sort of promotion setup a few times and manage to muddle through.

So… when the promotion ends and our Patrons are charged $45 for the qualifiying month, many of them drop back down to a lower Pledge and/or Tier. And this is where we run into the issue of partial refunds for those who forgot to make that adjustment and end up charged $45 for a 2nd month they hadn’t planned on.

Appreciate any thoughts or ideas you might share!

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Termin, right! It’s not ideal to link a Goal/Reward (one time event) to a Tier (seemingly permanent addition). We tried that in the past and ended up with several Ghost Tiers and Patrons still attached to them despite messaging and emails. It’s true that many Patrons simply don’t read emails, instructions, comments, etc.

For this most recent promotion we skipped adding a Tier and then had to guide everyone through the concept of setting a Pledge Amount separate from their Tier. This was “fun” in all the ways you might imagine! But at the end of it all we didn’t clutter up the Tiers or end up needing to delete a Tier which was only valid for that single month.

All this might be made a lot easier if Patreon had a Reward Shop which opened upon hitting a certain Goal and then closed after a preset period of time. A sort of Group Buy hybrid model?

All very interesting challenges to solve. Lots of potential here.

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Hi @american.mcgee! I just wanted to hop in here quickly - I think it’s awesome that you’ve figured out how to run promotions with your patrons, and also sorry to hear that the logistics can turn into a headache. We do have a new feature that has been added to the product that can help you set up and track these in the future, Special Offers.

Here’s how to find it: Head to “Edit my page” then you’ll see the top bar with “About” “tiers,” etc. The news “Offers” Tab will show up there for you and there are a few intro videos, and a bunch of information to walk you through adding a Special Offer to a tier.

Here’s a blog article written about the feature as well: https://blog.patreon.com/introducing-special-offers-beta-feature

Hope that’s helpful!

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(Maybe it’s just me or i’m misunderstanding something but i find the current iteration of special offers is just as much of a headache as doing it manually with one exception, that it can log who gets it which is great if you are doing -everyone- but it lacks “new patrons only” or other needs that many of us have. It also doesn’t actually solve the problem initially posted about here in terms of getting people to move tiers after a temporary offer and partial refunds. Is there something that’s been added to it that can help with that?)

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Laurab, I appreciate the advice regarding Special Offers and I’ve had a look at the related materials. Based on our experience running offer campaigns with physical items shipped to Patrons, I feel the new Offers feature doesn’t really address the pain points we’ve had to deal with. And it actually creates a significant problem that we’d like to avoid.

A lot of time in the Offers overview is spent on promotion and marketing - which makes sense as these are things in our control which are critical to the success of any campaign. I think we’ve got this stuff covered and our most recent success seems to validate that belief.

Beyond that, I fear that the time limited nature of Offers would create unnecessary risk of failure. “Time limits create a sense of urgency…” This is true more for us as creators than for our Patrons. If I wanted time limits in crowd funding then I’d head over to Kickstarter (where we’ve run a number of highly successful campaigns). That’s a nerve wracking place to raise funds and I can only endure one of those campaigns every year or two.

The nice thing about Patreon is that we can slow down the entire process of product development, marketing, acquiring “commitments” from our “buyers,” and pushing towards our goal. For instance, during our last goal setup on Patreon I was actually able to shift focus from promotion and marketing, travel a bit, then come back and resume where we’d left off. Wonderful!

Another point… For the sake of covering our marketing, manufacturing, and shipping costs we have to build projection sheets which assume a certain number of ‘sales’ in order to justify the overall model. So we start with an expectation of “if this is going to work we need 2000x Patrons to pledge $45 for this one month” and then work backwards from that.

The way we’ve done our previous campaigns allowed us to involve the audience with this modeling (though they weren’t really aware of how their reactions and feedback impacted our spreadsheets behind the scenes). We adjusted the physical reward(s), prices, and messaging in real-time and used the concept of Crowd Design to create a sense of involvement on the part of our Patrons (which also doubles as marketing).

Back to the original topic… we’re making this work in a positive and effective way. But there are a couple of points of serious friction. Refunds is one. Tier/Pledge setup for people who want to jump-in-jump-out around a particular promotion (we created the $1 “Help Unlock The Reward” Tier for this but I imagine there’s a cleaner/clearer way to automate a “reserved space” on a particular Reward Campaign), information sorting (address, phone number stuff - which we’re now using BackerKit to make easier), etc.

We’re already starting work on our next big promotion and expect that we’ll be involving our audience in that and working towards defining then unlocking that goal over the next 4~6 months. These campaigns are a big part of our process and community.

Would be great if we could get some systems in place to support this sort of process.

Look forward to further thoughts :slight_smile: