Patron leaving after 3 days with content and requests a refund!

H everyone I hope someone including Patreon can help with this.
A new patron who joined at the beginning of the month requires a refund after three days of being a patron. The problem I have is that this person has had full access to all my content which contains over 70 watercolour video lessons, reference photos, outline drawings, a full 33 page PDF watercolour tutorial for this month and numerous advice emails back and forth.
The patrons reason for leaving is that he has decided watercolour isn’t for him so decided to go with another creator who teaches in a different medium. I also know this patron has been a member of many other arty creators as well, whether he did the same thing there, I don’t know.

What do Patreon themselves do in cases like this?
Do they ask the creator about the refund request before simply refunding someone and in turn giving them everything for free? Plus how would you go about this?

Any help and advice is much appreciated, as you know being a creator involves one heck of a lot of work, much, much more than a 9-5 job. Sadly many patrons don’t realise this…

Hope you can help,
Paul

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Hi Paul,
I would instantly refund them and write a note saying:
Sad to see you go. Please Follow me on Patreon (free) in the meantime just in case you ever want to give it another shot.

This is playing for the win in a couple of ways.

  • It helps ensure that if someone asks him for a recommendation, it will be positive.

  • Leaves the door open. A lot of people go back and forth on watercolor.

It is rare (for me) that people say why they are leaving and is to this person’s credit that they did. Refusing to refund when someone quits after only 3 days is on the low end of customer service.

Richard ChauDavis

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I do not personally refund people unless there is some kind of special circumstance, like they got double charged really close together or something.

The reason I do not refund people on patreon is because most of my content is available right from the get go. They get access to all the content I’ve put hard work into for the past 6 years all available within the blog for as little as like $5 (with the exception of high res files) and there are too many people who actually purposefully sign up, pay and then demand a refund so they get content and the money. This is a well known tactic.

If they are not able to read about the product and research a little before jumping into paying for something, that shouldn’t be on your to shoulder the burden of someone potentially taking content from you in my opinion. This may sound harsh but I’ve dealt with bots skimming my content to share with folks for free and more and I’m not willing to give money back when they’ve had access to my entire archive. If someone wants to give a refund, that is entirely their prerogative. I do not unless there is an actual problem, not someone changing their mind after buying access to content they’ve likely already looked through.

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Thank you Richard & Temrin for your kind replies. Yes, it’s one of those situations where you have given a person access to everything, for me over three years of video lessons, reference photos, tips and techniques, downloadable items and so on, and then they decide it’s not for them. I do agree with Temrin, surely a patron will look before buying and decide if this is what they would like to do?
It’s not as if I have thousands of patrons so with only 255 at the moment, so a loss is certainly noticed.

Anyway, I did in the end take Richards recommendation even though I am not happy with it. This way I can put it behind me and carry on.

Thank you both for your thoughts, it was a big help,
Paul

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I personally would not refund. They’ve received the content they paid for.

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I would not refund, though I understand the logic behind doing it. Refunds are appropriate for things that can be returned, which is not the case with digital goods (unless you have some kind of licensing scheme which allows you to revoke access).

What you might consider for the future is making a very simple introductory lesson available for free, which would allow a prospective patron to decide if your work is ‘for them’ (so to speak). That would leave you in a position to politely refuse the refund as they had a true opportunity to see what they were buying.

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I agree with Michael. :slight_smile:

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Thank you very much for saying this Michael. Paul

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Refund? depends on the amount, if it’s just the 1 month amounts are usually low right? I mean that’s the point of Patreon, micro-payments from many people helping to support artists as they do art instead of work at Starbucks or whatever… the patron tries out different artists by paying a tiny amount like a buck or two. In that case I would absolutely not refund. We’re not stores, required to provide value for money. Sure we make promises to give rewards, but basically and historically the term patronage means someone with disposable income choosing to support artists they like, just for art’s sake. The reward is just a “thank you”, a bonus. That’s how I see it anyway.
Now if you fell for Patreon’s advertising to ask patrons for a full year in advance, (hint that only benefits Patreon not the customers or us) that’s too bad, and in that case yeah you have to refund.

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If I give a discount for a year up-front, that does benefit the Patron. And it does help prevent churn, which has value in and of itself. But mostly I agree with you.

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Just to chime in. I’ve not had anyone ask for a refund (although I don’t offer any kind of learning through my page, just access to all my content). I think the idea for a free taster for folks to see if they like it is a great idea. What level tier were they starting at? Did they go in at the top tier right away to get access? Surely they could have started at the lowest tier to see if they liked it (if they did indeed not think it was for them, it seems odd that they’d go for hte most expensive option).

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Hi, I do have some free content on my Patreon page for potential patrons to try before they sort of buy. I do have a lower tier level at $5 where they can access quite a lot of my video tutorials, projects photos and other items. This person followed me from my YouTube content and decided to join at the $10 tier level through their own choice.
I know it’s a tricky one, so just to make life easier on both sides of the fence I issued this person a refund. Still I don’t think it was right to refund him considering he received lots of content including downloadable items but I didn’t want to argue over this, I’m there to instruct and help, not to argue and upset people.
Thank you though, I appreciate yours and everyone points of view on this matter. Paul :slight_smile:

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Agree 100%. Keeping the money isn’t worth the bad juju / potential bad PR.

Always better to leave people loving you, and being the better person, than to leave a bad taste in their mouth.

In other business projects of mine, sometimes the refunds & “problem customers” eventually become raving brand advocates.

Refusing to refund guarantees that outcome is impossible.

If you knew this person would go write a very public review of you after this interaction, what would you want them to write and share to the world?

“DO NOT SUPPORT… refused to give refund after only 3 days. I tried a few things but it wasn’t for me.”

or something like…

“Well, watercolor isn’t for me right now so I asked for a refund after 3 days and the creator was so appreciative that I checked out his work. I couldn’t really watch all the videos, but that’s okay. If I know somebody who is into watercolor, I’ll definitely recommend this creator.”

It’s true, some people are jerks. They’ll take our stuff, ask for their money back, and keep doing that to more people.

I do like to believe that the vast majority of people are well-intentioned. That’s the place I operate from, and the place I frame all of my customer support from (even if I strongly suspect somebody is trying to rip me off).

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I get a lot of this via the site i run, it uses the API to determine if someone has pledged and unlocks features on the website however more recently people are joining, linking up the account using the website, using the restricted tools and then asking for a refund.

I put logging in place so i can get a general feel for what features are used , what i need to focus on developing and most of them that say they pledged by accident, or i needed it for X - Using this data for another purpose now I can see in around %90 of cases they have logged in and used everything they needed to use and then requested a refund. Although funnily enough a lot of them do come back to try it again.

I got to the point where it was easier and quicker to refund someone but now i am starting to put my foot down. What annoys me and its not lost revenue which might help for the next upgrades, Its the fact that it is so unfair on people that pledge and keep that pledge to support the site / me to have someone hit and run. Sure a refund might result in positive feed back and return but its hard to balance when someone has clearly stolen from you and other supporters which is the way i see it.

My site is basically a second full time job and i spend hours and hours every single day working on it - simply put without the support there would be no site, Advert revenue was not paying for increasing server costs (And all other associated costs) but patreon saved it and it has allowed me to expand but if everyone abused it i couldn’t forecast and invest earlier into better, faster, more reliable expensive hardware.

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I had a 7-day patron, who chose the annual subscription which I had only activated about 24-hours before they joined, ask for a partial refund after a week in my community. Like you @TheDevonArtist I have 3-years worth of essays and writing prompts in my community that anyone can gain access to as soon as they become a patron.

It was the first refund request I’ve ever received in the 3-years I’ve been using Patreon. I ended up giving the 7-day patron a full refund (and not a partial) because I didn’t want their money in my ecosystem (bad juju as @chriscade said - love that phrase). Having any part of that person’s energy in my financial bucket just felt icky to me.

And why? In the 7-days they were in my community on Patreon, they posted deeply problematic comments that were xenophobic in nature (my writing prompts help patrons unpack unconscious biases). Their comments and even their presence became a disruption, and before I could message them with the intention of asking them to unpatron themselves (not a word, I know, but that’s what came to mind), they sent me a message asking for the partial refund as they chose to leave the community.

The situation spooked me so much, I deactivated annual subs a week after I activated it (@Stahlberg I share your sentiment about annual subs AND one bad apple was enough for me NOT to use that feature right now). With that said, what @SteamIDsaid is so true - we, as creators, spend so much time sharing our creations, we shouldn’t have to give someone their money back just because of their changing mood (thx for that reminder @Temrin) . So, upon the advice of other creators, I’m putting a no refund disclaimer on my Patreon page whenever - and if ever - I activate the annual sub feature again.

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I’ll throw in a vote for giving the refund. As mentioned previously in the grand scheme it’s a small loss and not worth the risk of your credibility as a creator. Yes they get free access to all your content and no it’s not fair for them to expect a refund while benefiting from that access, but the experience they have with you is more important, as is your public perception. If you say no, whether or not you state your reason and whether or not the reason is valid, that person could launch a smear campaign and use your words against you. If that cost you even a single person, then it washes away the money you got to keep, but it’s more than likely to cost you more than that if it happens.
It sucks to have to treat the situation like Russian roulette with your online presence, but it’s a pretty cheap insurance policy against it as long as it’s not a regular occurence for you.

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Thank you, very true words and as mentioned above I did issue a full refund to the patron, even though inwardly I did have a little grumble about it. But you are certainly right, a bad word from one member to another can start to spider along and cause long term problems. Paul

Thank you very much indeed for your thoughts on this matter, Paul