Company Response on 08/24/2009:
We charge up to a 25% restocking fee. Usually however it is 20%. This helps to cover the initial credit card fees to process the original transaction, refund it, deal with issuing an RMA number, deal with processing the return and placing back into inventory. 20-25% seems to be normal with most internet/e-commerce stores. It is not excessive and others would agree. We have seen plenty of other internet retailers with much higher restocking fees or worse, no returns accepted and all sales final policies.
Our Returns Policy which displays the restocking fee is displayed at our web site for all customers to see BEFORE they make a purchase. It is also displayed on all the pages during the check-out process at our web site. We then ask all customers to enter their initials during checkout to confirm that they have read, understood and accepted our Returns Policy. We then send an email confirmation of the order where Returns Policy details are mentioned again. Finally, every customer is sent a hard copy of their invoice which has a footnote containing Returns Policy information.
After all of this, Solar Illuminations feels it makes a VERY exhaustive effort to make sure a customer is fully aware, in writing, both BEFORE placing an order, DURING placing an order and AFTER placing an order.
We would certainly not want any situation where a customer claims 'they were not advised' of anything. There are plenty of web sites out there that may operate that way but we are not one of them. We like all the terms, conditions & policies to be clear and upfront. Our customer’s appreciate that.
95% of products sold by Solar Illuminations are our own brand. In this particular case this customer purchased product that was not our own brand. The fixtures were made by Malibu. Malibu products are generally of good quality and that brand does not have a reputation for 'poor quality materials' or 'poor workmanship'. The product was advertised correctly at our web site and Solar Illuminations feels that this customer did not understand the product and/or its specifications, and therefore had far higher expectations than what this Malibu product could possibly provide. That was discovered upon delivery but does not deem the product as being 'poor'. Malibu solar light are also sold in the many of the billion dollar ‘big box’ hardware, home and home improvement stores so if they were ‘poor’ those stores would not offer them.
Solar Illuminations has a returns rate of less than 1%. Unfortunately, we put this complaint down to the customer misunderstanding the product’s limitations and additionally several times failing to observe our written Returns Policy.