Anyone else finding refund requests for desktop apps on the rise?

5 years ago, refund requests were extremely rare, but over the past couple of years, the number has been rising significantly. This is across a number of different applications, some old and some new.

The reason is usually the same - the user never bothered downloading and running the trial. They make a purchase, and then find that they don’t want the app, or that something isn’t there that they need, or that there’s some other problem.

The common denominator is always that they buy first, and then they try out the software. If they’d bothered downloading the trial, they would have discovered the issue and not bought.

We’ve made a number of site changes to try and combat this - big messages right next to the buy buttons telling people to download the trial first, but it makes no difference.

We’re not selling impulse buy priced software either. It’s all $40-$80 consumer apps. My feeling is it may be experiences based on small priced phone app purchases, where users get used to buying on impulse rather than trying things out, are making them treat desktop apps the same.

Is anyone else finding this?

Yes, compared to 5 years ago my refund rate has increased to about 1-2%. Overall the reason is increased expectations.

Consumers now expect lower prices, since the release of the App Stores and the race to the bottom (for prices) that only benefits the hardware vendors.

Additionally consumers now expect to buy one license and install it on all their computers thanks to Microsoft (remember OneCare?) and Apple which allows one user to install the purchased apps to all devices where it will login with its credentials (not only its devices).

Thanks to Apple also, consumers now expect free updates to third party software. Free updates courtesy of Apple!

I wander what new “innovations” the big boys will came out with… All software for free? Wait Apple already does that with its software!

Why not force everyone to get the trial first?

I’ve tried a few tools where you have to download the trial version, try it free for X days, and if you like it, buy it.

Wouldn’t it be more complicated/take more work than just do a refund?

One the other hand… what it takes I believe is to place the purchase form inside of the application itself. Shouldn’t be a rocket science, eh?

Refunds are easy enough to do. The problem is, the more refunds that are issued, the more likely that we’ll start running into problems with our payment collector.

We’ve got a new desktop product coming out in a couple of months, and we’re considering forcing the buyer to check a box saying they’ve downloaded the trial before we send them on to pay. Make it very explicit that they need to try the software first.

Not sure if this is overkill.

I recently bought

Look at their website-their path is very clear. Everyone starts by downloading a trial and creating an account. After 7 days, you have the option to move into a paid scheme.

Keep in mind that they sell a recurring solution, so it might not apply directly to you. Also, the 7 day trial is I believe too damn short. It’s like they are saying We know you have nothing better to do, so spend all your time trying out our product.

It will be useful to give a link to your product in question. Maybe your website copy creates big expectations?

I don’t have this problem often (customers buying without trying) and I don’t force the users to try it out first. I just emphasize the Try it Free button everywhere.

After eight years of selling a desktop product, our rate of customers requesting a refund is at an all-time low.

It was never particularly high, and I always suspected a significant portion of our refund requests were people taking advantage of our 30-day no-questions-asked refund policy to try to get our product for free.

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I don’t have any refunds. It is a desktop software, but B2B, not B2C software, it has higher price also

My refunds for PerfectTablePlan have been consistently around 0.5% over the last 11 years. There was a spike to 1.13% last year, but it is back to around 0.5% again this year.

I reckon about 25% of my customers buy before they try. I believe often when they have been recommended by someone else.

It is annoying when people ask for a refund when they didn’t even do the free trial. But I’m not sure forcing them to do a trial is the way to go. If they really want to buy now, I don’t want to stop them!

@Darren it seems the others are not having this problem. You might want to find out what’s different about your customers. Do you want to share a link to your site?

This is a solved problem: free trial.

@Cheez - Clearly you didn’t read the thread.

He’s saying some people are buying without using his free trial - other posters concur.

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My bad. FWIW, I don’t see it in my B2B software.

I’m not seeing huge rates of refunds, but there’s perhaps been an increase in a 5 year time frame. Nothing significant enough to make me worry though: and I always prefer a refund to a chargeback. I’d rather people buy the product & ask for a refund, than to be scared off trying it at all. It can be a good way to get product feedback too - these are people who really wanted to be customers but couldn’t for some reason!

I think it’s a bad idea to require people to download the trial. I think my percentage is around 50% of customers buying without trying the demo, and in most cases that isn’t a problem. As I’ve gotten older I’ve noticed I do that myself as well, I have less time to try alternatives & I assume your product works as described.

Definitely don’t make people certify that they’ve tried the demo - if it were me, I’d just tick the box with “yeah yeah just let me buy the product”… much like ticking the box that claims I’ve read your EULA!


Maybe you should try a different strategy? Tell them you have a fully functional trial and no refund will be given after a purchase. That’s what the trial is there for!

And, of course, if they ask for a refund after this warning, give it to them.

Yeah, basically that’s it. I wish I had 25-50% buying before trialing. That is a problem I envy :slight_smile:
I’m not sure payment processors worry about refunds unless the rate hints at some foul play. Sure as hell 2% won’t get you in trouble.

I’m not seeing any particular increases. I would’ve thought that to most businesses on this forum we are less influenced by macro trends and more by our own specific products or markets.

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Perhaps you’ve seen a long-term decline in the quality of traffic to your site?

Otherwise, you might some landing pages on your site that ranks for a term, generates signups/purchases but isn’t a good source of qualified buyers.

For example, at Planio we have a page about Cornerstone SVN, which is a partner of ours. We offer a 10% discount to Planio users.

Currently, the page ranks #2 on Google for “cornerstone SVN”.

I’ve noticed that sometimes people who sign up to Planio via this page reply to our email asking why they signed up with the line ‘I thought I was downloading Cornerstone SVN’.

That’s not a big problem, because there isn’t much cost associated with a trial signup, and we can send them the link to the correct location to get the product they are looking for.

Obviously, in your case you have credit card processing fees and admin associated with refunds, so you might want to make adjustments to any landing pages or even remove payment before trial if it’s a serious issue.