Why Are Preorders Final?

It’s quite amazing how an email from somebody can effect your day so dramatically. I had two such days today and yesterday, with very different impacts on my day.

I know it’s “only work”, but many hours of our lives are spent in these interactions, and human beings are on the receiving end of the snarky emails we are all tempted to write from time to time.

On this occasion, both communications were regarding preorders. Our terms and conditions state that preorders are final. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, we adjust our ordering based on preorders, so we could be left with excess stock and cash flow issues if we don’t get our ordering right.

We could also miss potential sales if a preorder item shows as out of stock, and then the order is cancelled. The customer could have bought from elsewhere by then.

Make no mistake, many small businesses are likely to go under in the current economic climate. We are not Amazon, we don’t have the bandwidth to absorb losses in the same way, and when people bring the habits they learn from buying in this way to the small business model, the results aren’t pretty!

So, back to our preorders.

I received an email asking to cancel a preorder. I emailed back that preorders are final as we order specifically to fulfill them. I looked at the order and realised it was an item that had become devalued in the past week (due to the appearance of a certain ring, but that’s another story).

I felt bad for this customer and spent about an hour working out how to issue a partial refund of £20. He had no idea I was doing this, and I hadn’t succeeded but determined to keep trying, this time through his payment method rather than the website.

I then received an email from this customer indicating that he was happy to game the system. Given that we accept returns he said we may as well just refund the preorder as he’d be returning it anyway. This was followed by a PayPal case for an item not received. Given the item is a preorder it would have been very strange if it had arrived.

My day was not enhanced by the presence of this person in my life, even in this vaguest of ways, however, I then received an email from a different customer asking to cancel a preorder.

I braced myself, emailed that preorders are final, and waited for the unpleasant chemicals to be released in my system as I read another stressful correspondence.

What I got back, however, was this:


I can totally understand that, especially as a small business then I can appreciate that you need the certainty.

In which case, I’ll happily receive my preorder when it arrives!
All the best”

Now I have no idea if this person knows the pleasant impact this had on my day, but it really was quite significant. A reminder that there are real, lovely people out there. A restoration of my faith in humanity, no less.

Small businesses are juggling hundreds of things at once, and the person you (or I) send that snippy email to may have their plate very full already, so let’s attempt to be kind to one another, and remember that preorders are final!


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