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Refunds, And When NOT To Do Them

We spend a lot of time focused on how to get people through your doors to see your stuff thereby furthering your mission. All that time, effort, and investment pays off when tickets are purchased, and folks are poised to soak in your cultural treasures.

But then it happens.


The real world has a way of putting a damper on carefully laid plans. Sometimes, it is weather conspiring against you and it impacts your ability to hold an event – or attendees’ ability to get there. Other times, it is an illness that prevents someone from attending a lecture or class.

Whatever the case, your visitor may request a refund for the unused ticket(s).

You may have a policy – and good reasons for having such a policy – of no refunds. If that is the case, you’re dismissed, and on your way out please check this blog for recorded and upcoming live broadcast Success Sessions featuring your favorite Arts & Cultural Customer Success Managers.

If your organization DOES allow refunds – well, that’s just good customer service. Good on ya! And the good news is that Altru has your back here.


You have a process to refund all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons – including discounted items and partial refunds.

But what is better than having tools to give a refund?

That’s right! Not giving a refund at all.

Mike, you just said offering refunds can be good customer service… what gives? It is good customer service, but so is offering your visitor something other than a refund.

That revenue is meaningful to your organization so think twice before giving it back too quickly. Give a refund only when there is no other resolution to the customer’s situation. If the point is making it right to the customer, that means offering something of equal or greater value (real or perceived) back to the customer.

That could mean offering an item in the gift shop. You know your margins and could still profit off an item that retails for the face value, or even greater, than the face value of the ticket. The customer perceives the price of the item as being equal to or greater than the money they spend, but you still come out ahead since your cost of the item was less. Your net takeaway is greater. Work with your gift shop manager to pre-select some items that would be handy go-to items in situations like this.

You may also have an opportunity to offer an exclusive experience.  You may have a compelling behind-the-scenes experience. Many zoos and aquariums use guided tours like this for members and prospective members, supporters, or even sponsors. Or, you may have high-demand seasonal exhibits or attractions you can leverage. Exclusivity is usually a tool reserved for membership, but this is one more tool in your arsenal to resist giving money back.

Offering an exclusive experience is co-beneficial. The visitor gets to feel special – like they are being invited to break the normal visitor rules. You get to share more of your mission – and the hard work that goes into making your mission a daily reality. That is a great seed to plant for when that visitor eventually receives an appeal for membership or a giving opportunity.

Then, there are times when it best to simply reschedule the ticket to another more convenient time. And Altru has you covered there, too. Use the Reschedule Tickets feature (found under the Sales tab in the blue navigation bar) to pull up the sales order and ticket(s) to be rescheduled. From there Altru will show you which program events are eligible based on the original purchase price (it does not allow tickets to be exchanged for program events of higher value). No revenue is involved at all – simply a rescheduled ticket (even into a different program, if desired). That way, your visitor is happy to have something to look forward to and you keep those precious dollars in the bank to be re-invested into your mission.


Remember, when trying to resolve customer complaints or scheduling conflicts, think in terms of value before immediately turning to a refund. In many cases a refund is the best and most amicable solution, but not always. Create alternatives that benefit both parties.
Posted by Mike Woods on Nov 2, 2018 4:10 PM America/New_York

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This is extremely helpful for our organization as we are constantly rescheduling tickets for our movie theater. Rescheduling is the route we always try to take first and Altru makes that pretty easy. Just wish you could email rescheduled tickets when they were sold in Daily/Advanced Sales.
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 10:50 AM EDT
Thank you for reviewing this option.  Our most common use of rescheduled tickets is for our summer camp program and after-hours programs for adults.  We generally use refunds for ticket seller errors such as accidentally charging for 5 people instead of 6.
  • Posted Tue 26 Mar 2019 03:08 PM EDT