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Smooth refunds: what’s your best service experience?

We’re always quick to highlight when companies aren’t giving consumers the experience they deserve, and rightly so. But sometimes things do go well – what’s been your best customer service experience?

When you work at Which? you’re always on the lookout for areas where companies can improve – after a few years it just gets hard-wired into you, and that’s especially true for Which? Conversation.

But sometimes companies do get things right, and a good customer service experience is just as worth highlighting as a bad one, and I was pleasantly surprised to experience one just a couple of weeks ago.

Graphics power

I own a pretty powerful laptop that’s usually more than capable of holding its own when it comes to modern PC games, but it’s not a gaming laptop by nature.

Like with most products these days, the game I was buying from the Steam Store was a digital download – you don’t get anything physical for your money. 

I didn’t realise at the time that this game’s recommended graphics card was a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD RX 480, while even the minimum is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050.

Sorry for the techno-jargon, but when you look at the numbers you’ll see where the problem was – my laptop has a GTX 960m – slightly undercooked when you look at those higher numbers above!

Inevitably I ran into graphical problems to the point where the game was pretty much unplayable. Even with the settings turned down it was struggling, so I set about applying for a refund.

Refund processed

But this was my mistake after all, and it wasn’t like I could just return it to a shop – would this be a simple process? Would I need to uninstall it and state what had gone wrong?

Fortunately the store’s policy is that if you’ve played the game (or indeed, any game) for under two hours and decided it wasn’t for you, you can apply for a refund.

I did so, selecting performance issues as the reason, and within minutes received a confirmation. The very same day the refund had been processed and the money was back in my account less than a week later – as simple as that.

No grappling, no long-winded email exchanges, just a smooth process with no issues at all. I was so pleased with the experience that it’s made me a lot more confident in my online purchases from them, and much more likely to use them again.

Over to you

Have you had an unexpectedly smooth customer service experience? Perhaps someone went above and beyond to get your problem sorted, or maybe, like me, you simply found a relatively automated process to be surprisingly hassle-free.

Either way, let’s shine a light on some of the companies getting things right.


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Steam are in the very happy position that it is a completely digital product and therefore the “cost” of dealing with a returned item is nil. Also as they have a continuing relationship with you and your computer, and they probably have a log of all the up-dates and plays you make they are in a privileged position.

And lastly I suspect that passing on money to the developer does not happen immediately so they are no worse off if you need a refund.

I have always liked Steam as a company. They do a lot for the gamimg fraternity and provide a very large shop window for developers.

With the right approach I’ve find most companies I’ve dealt with to be helpful. I bought a mobile phone leather cover from Snakehive and it wouldn’t fit. I gave them the dimensions and they immediately sent out another for the model phone. That didn’t fit either, until I discovered to my embarrassment that the hand-me-down phone had two protective covers on the back and I’d only removed one. The leather cover then fitted perfectly. I rang them to apologise; they were very nice and understanding and sent a prepaid pack to return the spare cover.

mrs r received an Orla Keily watch as a gift. The mesh metal strap fitted was not suitable so I contacted them to see if we could buy an alternative strap. They offered a selection, one was chosen and they supplied it free of charge, even though the watch had been purchased from John Lewis.

I think we see too many Convos inviting complaints. Nice to see a positive one for a change.

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I very rarely return products to shops. I would not want to buy products that have been returned. I have sometimes bought products with an essential part missing and there has been evidence of the packet having been opened. If I do make a mistake I generally keep the product or pass it on to someone who can use it, but thankfully that does not happen very often.

Recently I did decide to return a fence sprayer to B&Q, not realising that the tubs of fence treatment (same brand) sitting in my garage would probably not be compatible, certainly judging from online reviews of the sprayer. By that stage I had broken the seals and slightly torn the cardboard box, though I had not attempted to use the sprayer. B&Q were happy to offer a refund.

I can see why we need online traders to offer refunds, since the customer has had no opportunity to inspect goods and ask questions, but it’s tough on shops if they accept goods that have been opened and cannot really be sold as new.

Shops are not obliged to provide refunds for goods that are not faulty, but most do and this is now seen as the norm. It means that we are all paying more for goods. When a business (rather than an individual) buys products it is normal to pay a restocking charge if they want to return unused or unwanted goods.

I know someone who will buy three sizes of clothing in Marks & Spencer and return two. 🙁

We were delayed by 47 minutes on a train journey from Liverpool to London. Having bought our tickets, as we always do, via the Virgin website and it was a problem with the train rather than the tracks, we were amazed to receive an email as we arrived in London advising us that compensation was being made via our bankers for the delay. Amazing service thanks Virgin.

I was surprise to get an instant refund from Uber, with no quibbling, when I complained that a journey took longer than it should have done. A 2.7 mile journey took 5.2 miles, with a commensurately higher fare. The taxi driver clearly didn’t know the area (or, presumably, how to use his sat nav) and kept going the long way round even when I remonstrated. The fully-automated complaints process worked immediately, and the difference between the 2 prices was back in my account within 48 hours.

We bought some kitchen chairs on-line from Dunelm (delivered to our home) having seen them at the local store. However in situ they didn’t look right so we asked to return and refund. Dunelm accepted this for full refund without question, all I had to do was return the chairs to the local store. Well done Dunelm.
Similar to another comment, we had a train delay with Virgin Trains and they emailed us to say they had refunded a proportion of the fare, without us even having to make a claim. Good service.
People have mixed feelings about Amazon but their returns policy (including pre-paid postage for many things) is a plus point.

Daisy says:
4 August 2018

Our journey from London to Paris on Eurostar was delayed by 2 hours – a nuisance but no major problem. We immediately received an email informing us of our rights and the way to claim a refund. When I got home, I completed the form on-line and was quickly notified that the full cost of the tickets had been refunded to my credit card. Most impressive.

I had 2 bags of frozen vegetables that had been the subject of a recent recall. I disposed of the contents before returning to store to claim refund. Tesco were fine offering refund without question. Lidl refused a refund as the contents were missing even after speaking to the manager! After email to their support I received a letter from their Quality Department saying to return to store and I would be refunded. All this for 79p which I gave to charity collecting in store.

Sandy Cameron says:
4 August 2018

Several months ago I purchased a Karcher Hard Floor Cleaner from Costco in Edinburgh. A couple of weeks ago a part of the machine became detached. I remembered that my son had a good experience with Costco with a fault so I took it back to Costco Edinburgh. Despite the fact that I did not have a receipt they were able to trace it through my membership card and immediately made a refund. When I went to pick up the replacement I discovered that it was now priced higher than the one which had been refunded. At the checkout I asked about this and without hesitation the sale was put through at the original price. The service could not have been smoother. This was genuine excellence in customer service.

I took out a car insurance policy with Hasting smart miles. Unfortunately I missed an accident which although it was my fault it resulted in a no claim. On my return from holiday I found a letter stating that due to a failure to disclose and that they were cancelling my policy. The date of cancellation was two days earlier. I telephoned their office to see if the matter could be resolved. I was advised that due to a backlog, the policy had not yet been cancelled. The first thing that the operator did after a quick explanation was to cancel the policy for me. This was far cheaper than a policy cancellation on my records. The operator was extremely polite, friendly and very helpful, a total angel.

Full marks to Easyjet who refunded my flights to Kefalonia without quibble on being told my wife and I could not travel due to my wife being diagnosed with breast cancer. A simple letter confirming the diagnosis from her consultant was sufficient and the refund was made within days. At no time did they say we had to go through our travel insurers

Much as I disagree with Amazon’s tax position I’ve always found them first class with all and any refunds. Tesco has also always been good as has M&S.

I recently had a aircraft turn round due to a fault. You can understand that getting 170 passengers into hotels at 3 in the morning wasn’t easy. Even the pilot came round to the hotels to see how we were. On the replacement plane they had customer service staff on board to arrange our onward journey from the airport and to tell us how to claim compensation and expenses. They even told us how much to expect. At home the claims process was simple and the payment rapid. Well done Virgin Atlantic.

AO.com could not have been more helpful when I needed to cancel an order a few months ago – Full marks !

Ken Wallington says:
4 August 2018

We purchased a Which recommended SMEG range cooker a few years ago. It performed well and deserved the Which recommendation. We noticed, after a couple of years, what appeared to be chipped and rusting enamel on one corner of the main oven door. The cooker was well beyond its guarantee period but I contacted SMEG and supplied photographs, hoping they might provide a replacement door. The immediate response was to offer a brand new cooker that was delivered and installed, and the faulty cooker taken away. A service that can’t be beaten.

Amanda Wells says:
4 August 2018

I wanted to book a flight online with Norwegian Air for my son. It was very late at night and only two seats remained at the low fare price. I completed the transaction and had entered my credit card details but when it went onto the additional bank security check screen a window opened with an error message saying sorry – technical error try again. As no confirmation email came through, I assumed the purchase had been aborted so rebooked with a different card. The next morning I received confirmations of two tickets booked on the same flight for the same passenger. I explained the situation over the phone and the young lady was sympathetic and cancelled one seat immediately. Thank you Norwegian Air.

Upon returning my Barbour Wax Summer Jacket, my account was refunded immediately

I recently booked an Advance return on Virgin West Coast line from Preston to Birmingham. On the return we were delayed at Warrington for 1.5 hours due to an ‘incident ahead’ (someone on a bridge I believe). By the time I arrived home, without even contacting them I had an email from Virgin Trains saying that my full fare would be refunded and would be in my bank the following afternoon. It was! I can’t count how many people I’ve told about this story of REAL customer service.