Five Steps for Negotiating a Speedy Partial Refund

by Joy Lanzaro


Have you ever hired a service provider to perform a repair and found that while certain elements of the performance were acceptable, other elements weren’t performed correctly? Here are some tips for speaking with the manager/owner to request a partial refund.

1. Prepare your mind
Be rational when asking for a partial refund—it shows the other party that you’re realistic and makes an implicit promise that a speedy fix is within sight. Separate what you know to be true (the service contract, industry requirements) from what you believe to be true (your subjective assessment and intuition).

2. Temper your approach
Try to gradually escalate pressure in your tone, language and body language. In order to achieve this, you have to be deliberately relaxed in the beginning. Breathe and be cordial. State what your expectations were before work began and clearly explain where they fell short.

3. Assign value in a principled manner
When choosing an opening demand, pick an entry point that has the most agreeable expectations for both parties. Frame your dialogue around which services were provided in an acceptable fashion and which were not. This may prompt the owner to ask exactly what you want. Be prepared to clearly state what (if anything) you’re willing to provide in payment for the items in dispute.

4. Be prepared to walk away
You may not arrive at a consensus right away, but use caution when referring to a “final offer.” It’s risky to use this term because you have to be prepared to pay or walk away if the other party rejects it. When using the word “final,” make sure you tell the other party what your next step will be in legally resolving the matter.

5. Save face
Avoid making a scene in public or in front of other customers. Show respect and expect to be treated in kind. Remember that many small business owners are emotionally invested in their services. Be prepared to season your feedback accordingly for the best results. For more information, see my blog entry about giving the right feedback

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