Changing my refund policy

When I launched Learn JavaScript in July 2018, I used a refund policy that says:

“I’m happy to refund your money if you don’t manage to learn JavaScript through this course. Send me an email within 60 days, show me you did your homework and I’ll send your money back.”

I want to let you know that I’m changing to a new refund policy. I want to tell you about the new policy, and why I’m changing it.

The new refund policy

Here’s what the new refund policy is going to be:

I confidently back all my courses with a 30-day money back guarantee. I want you to dive in deep and experience the course without inhibition. If you’re not satisfied with the course for any reason, let me know within 30 days and I’ll refund every cent of your investment

For students who have bought Learn JavaScript in July, I’m extending the trial period to 30th September, 2018. If you don’t like the course for any reason, just let me know and I’ll send your money back.

Why I’m changing refund policies

Juicy story time!

When I launched Learn JavaScript in January 2018, I used a refund policy that says:

If you don’t like the course for any reason, just let me know within 60 days and I’ll refund every cent of your investment.

I changed it to the one you saw above in July 2018 because I received refund requests that I felt were unfair to me.

By unfair, the reason for a refund had nothing to do with the course itself. I felt angry whenever I receive a refund of this sort. I felt that I shouldn’t be held responsible for their decisions.

In my mind, I believe that we should consider their purchase decisions seriously. We need to make conscious decisions if we want to get better in life. Buying a course (or not) is one of such decisions. i

I hated this feeling, so I changed my refund policy to:

“I’m happy to refund your money if you don’t manage to learn JavaScript through this course. Send me an email within 60 days, show me you did your homework and I’ll send your money back.”

And I hoped (and prayed) that nobody will ask for a refund with the same reason again.

But another person did.

(And here’s where the juicy story comes in).

Handling the refund request

The person, let’s call him O, decided to enroll in a boot camp after enrolling in Learn JavaScript. He said he didn’t have time to go through Learn JavaScript, so he wanted a refund.

He didn’t produce any homework, so I rejected his refund. I had the rights to do so since my refund policy said so.

What happened next showed me a dark side of human nature. I saw a person lie to get a refund.

O reported my course to PayPal after I rejected his refund request.

He said two things (I summarized it here):

  1. The website for the course implied a well-designed digital product, but the course was delivered via text. The course he bought was different from what was described.
  2. $500 is a lot of money to pay for unfinished work. It was not shared on the Learn JavaScript page that the course is not 100% ready.

Both accusations are false.

For point 1, I mentioned (twice!) that the course is a text-based course.

For point 2, I mentioned (four times!) that the course is not complete. Anyone who’s buying the course will be buying a preorder of the course. They’ll receive the completed lessons immediately, and they’ll have to wait for me to create the rest of the lessons.

So, O probably didn’t read clearly, or he was lying about the situation to get a refund. (I would love to show you screenshots of what he wrote, but I can’t. The case was resolved and I don’t have access to his messages anymore).

I flew into a rage.

Integrity (and thus, honesty) is my #1 value. I hate dishonest people, and I hate being labelled as a dishonest person, so I battled it out with O in PayPal. I provided screenshots against his claims and left PayPal to be the judge.

PayPal eventually awarded the case in my favor.

Evidence that PayPal awarded the case in my favor

“Yay, serves O right!”, I thought. Good job, Zell. Right?

Nope. I felt like shit.

I thought about this incident and decided to return O his money after a few weeks. I’m gonna share my reason below.

Lessons I learned from the refund drama

I learned two lessons:

  1. I got too attached to the results
  2. I wasn’t focusing on the right things

I got too attached to the results

I put a lot of work into writing (and selling) Learn JavaScript. I made the course (and the sales pitch) as best as I can.

When a student enrolls in the course, I see it as a victory on two fronts:

  1. Yes! My marketing worked! I’ve got results!
  2. Yes! I get a chance to help one more person learn JavaScript!

I put so much work into Learn JavaScript, I refused to believe that people will ask for refunds. I reached out to everyone to make sure they’re progressing. I even answered all the questions the students asked in the community!

I get upset when a student asks for a refund. I wondered if I’m doing something wrong. I also felt I lost the chance to help someone.

(I’m talking about refunds I felt unfair about here. For people who felt the course wasn’t up to their expectations, I refunded them immediately without questions).

What I realized was refunds will always occur in every launch. It might not be my fault when a student asks for a refund. They may have difficult reasons on their side.

That’s one reason why I decided to give O a refund, even though the refund drama left a bad taste in my mouth.

I wasn’t focusing on the right things

When it comes to focus, I learned that I wasn’t focusing on two things that mattered:

  1. My students’ growth
  2. The right people

I was focused on my own success. When I focused on my own success, I am not focusing on my students’ growth.

I can only focus on one thing. I need to choose one, and I choose to focus on my students’ growth.

My success doesn’t matter as much to me. What’s important is my students learn, and they get better at whatever they’re trying to learn (JavaScript in this case). If they become successful, I believe I’ll become successful as well.

I wasn’t focusing on the right people.

I wasted a lot of energy and time trying to make sure I win the PayPal dispute. I spent 1 hour on the reply to PayPal, and I spent days agonizing over this drama. And I felt terrible.

It’s not worth it.

If I have time to spare, I’d rather give it to people who are actively learning from me. I’d rather spend time in the community to answer questions and make sure my students learn.

Wrapping up

There you have it. That’s the reason why I changed my refund policies. I want to focus on the right people and on the right things.

Thanks for reading. Did this article help you out? If it did, I hope you consider sharing it. You might help someone else out. Thanks so much!

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