Should SEO Companies Offer Refunds?

Sep 3, 2008 • 9:44 am | comments (11) by twitter | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

A High Rankings Forum member who has been working on a yearlong SEO agreement is now facing new management with his client and they're requesting a refund for services (mostly because some project deliverables weren't actually delivered). Should this SEO comply and return the money?

Well, this is a questionable issue. The particular SEO had no written policy, and that needs to be amended. In the future, a written policy (if even to say "No Refunds") is desirable and will avoid these issues. At this point, though, one forum member suggests that some money should be returned. I'm not sure I would be quick to agree that any money should be returned simply because of a management shake-up -- perhaps the money shouldn't have been paid in the first place.

Now it's your turn to answer this and let us know what your thoughts are. The poll is below.

Would you issue a refund? Do you think you would give in given the circumstances of this particular forum member?

Forum discussion continues at High Rankings Forum.

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No Name

09/03/2008 02:18 pm

Although I mostly do seo for myself and very rarely for the clients, it was never an issue. Had no requests. But if that happens, no.

Patti Fousek

09/03/2008 02:58 pm

That's a tough situation. If the relationship with the client has been good up to now, it may be in their best interest to review the contract with the new management and meet them in the middle, if need be. A review of current policies may be needed for the SEO company as well.

Matt Ridout

09/03/2008 04:37 pm

It's easy to say "put it in a document" but if a client doesn't give you 100% access to content, code and DNS details (which often clients are reluctant to do) then you should make them aware of a relistic goal. Lets not put ll the blame on the SEO's but also a clients reluctancy to believe.


09/03/2008 05:47 pm

I don't think that SEO companies should offer least not if they're reputable and know what they're doing from the outset. Most people who are looking to use the services provided by SEO companies know at least some of the fundamentals of what it's about (Internet marketing that is). If they're not informed, it is up to the SEO company to lay out the guidelines for how things work, thereby increasing that individual's understanding. With whatever contract or deal that the SEO company works up with the prospective client, the client should already know or at least be aware that there are always certain types of risks involved with search engine optimization. Nothing is ever guaranteed.

No Name

09/03/2008 06:12 pm

No, there should be no refund. You don't get to have a refund because you bought a movie and didn't like it. Best Buy won't give a refund just because of that. Any business should have policies in place for things like this anyway, so shame on that guy. But SEO is a marketing service - not a promise. If you promise to deliver and you can't, then you are writing checks your butt can't cash - and again, shame on you. I think SEOs need to work more actively with conventional marketers and use those types of agreements. You'll never ever find a media agency or a creative agency promise that the ad placements or the ads created will result in more sales. It ain't how it works. Same thing should be done for SEOs.

Wayne Golliday

09/05/2008 12:39 am

To give or not to give a refund, that is the question. I think it is in the best interest of the SEO company to offer a refund to their client. If your client pays up front for specific work to be accomlished and you fail to finsih that work then a refund is in order. I always offer a refund to my clinets who are unhappy. It is part of the cost of doing business. There is an old saying in the customer service field that holds true today and in every customer service industry," If a client loves you they will tell one ot two people, but if they hate you they will tell 9 or 10". I would much rather have them love me and tell one or two friends and still be in business 10 years from now. Just my two cents on SEO Redefined.

Ben M

09/05/2008 01:45 pm

Surely this high ranking member built in some limited liability into the agreement? In regards to deliverables, I have been known to put in free hours to improve the situation some more when a clients dissatisfied, simply to keep the client sweet really. I would really really like to know more about these deliverables...fall in visitors, conversions, ranking for certain terms...? And, whether he has has a negative impact on the business or whether he has simply not had a positive impact and they're unsure of where the money is going? How competitive is the industry? Too many big questions to give a full answer... @Wayne, great points, though is it not more 'disaster management' at this stage rather than love/hate? I mean, they're obviously not impressed by whatever he's done, but does it make him worthy of a recommendation by giving a refund. A refund would mean reduced negative remarks, but 12 months work is a lot to the cost of the 9/10 negative comments worth 12 months work? Probably not - in which case it becomes a moral question, and only he can answer that.


09/05/2008 06:51 pm

The poll is not asking the right question. If someone has agreed to a deliverable and failed to produce it (after given the opportunity to do so), they have failed and actually taken advantage of the client, so the client has every right to have their money returned so they can go pay someone for the deliverable. The poll asks if I offer refunds and that answer is no. It's the same as giving a guarantee which I don't believe in. That said, if I promise a deliverable and fail to produce it and fail to try and remedy it, I would have to ask myself what my intentions were.

Scott McAndrew

09/07/2008 02:49 am

Regardless of what the company promised the client, if they didn't deliver on specific, tangible things then yes, I would say they should get a refund, but it all comes down to contracts and how the relationship got underway. As long as the company/SEO made it clear that they could, and were going to deliver those things, the client has every right to expect it. It's an easy situation to avoid: Don't promise deliverables you can't provide.

Gert Mellak

09/08/2008 06:33 am

I usually don't give refunds for the simple reason that I cannot promise anything but my best efforts for my clients' web project. Once you promise to achieve certain goals (for whatever reason), however, I agree with Anthony, your client should get a refund in case you fail to achieve them.


09/09/2008 10:47 am

This depends on the scope of work as discussed prior to starting the campaign. No one can guarantee results. We can do work as per the scope pre-defined and that marks the end of our job. However, there are many competent SEOs in the industry that follow the most updated and powerful best practices that somehow generates satisfactory results - but again these SEOs are hard to find and costs a fortune.

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