The Difficulty With Getting A Refund

Dr Stuart Woolley
4 min readMar 17

Why do companies make this so difficult, and how it can be fixed.

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels

It’s nothing new, most especially in modern times, to imagine that companies really do hate their customers — even though it’s those very customers that they squarely depend on to stay in business.

That companies should behave in such a retrograde way with respect to what, effectively, keeps them in business is yet another example of the cognitive dissonance that is starting to overtake the entire world.

A good example would be if you’re a subscriber to a satellite TV provider that doesn’t have a great internet presence and relies on call centres to provider customer service.

You call their number and get to choose at level one of the multi-level standardly infuriating maze of options:
“Press 1 to Subscribe, Press 2 to Unsubscribe”
Naturally with option 1 you’re put straight through to a customer service agent, but with option 2 you’re put in a queue.

One could imagine, if one were of a cynic mind, that they’d be more interested in people signing up than wanting to leave — fair enough — but to discriminate against them when they’re also currently paying customers and, some may imagine, perhaps trying to get them to give up and try again later when this may be less busy is a questionable practice at best.

The same would also be true of many businesses that use web site based portals for managing customer interactions whether they’re deliberately making it difficult to contact actual people through making telephone numbers hard to find (or non-existent), making unsubscribe or close account settings hard to find, or just making the cancel button tiny and the “keep on subscribing” button absolutely huge.

You know how it goes, we’ve all been there.

The worse thing, however, is when you’ve paid for a service — and the airline industry is a pretty good example of this one — and the service never happened so you’re entitled to a refund of some sort.

It may take an absurdly long time to extract money owed to you by a business, money that you might desperately need (airline tickets, for example, can be very costly), or might at the very least have been…

Dr Stuart Woolley

Worries about the future. Way too involved with software. Likes coffee, maths, and . Would prefer to be in academia. SpaceX, Twitter, and Overwatch fan.