16 Words That’ll Help You Defeat Refund Bullies Over the Phone 💪 📞

I hate phone calls.

In fact, there are fewer things I hate than when my phone rings. The first thought: WHO DARES…HAVE THE NERVE…TO CALL…UNINVITED?!? It's basically the modern equivalent of dropping in on someone unannounced—especially if it's a video call.

Quick, hide the mannequin!
Hide the hamburgers!
Hide MY ENTIRE FACE!

(Oh, you don't have mannequins and hamburgers lying around? I'M SORRY.)

I know I'm not alone—at least with the phone call bit. 😉 This is hilariously one of the hallmark characteristics of “old millennials” like myself, and now Gen Z, (sorry telemarketers!), but I do have to admit that when it comes to business?

Millennials and Gen Z have a clear advantage over their phone-loving counterparts, and it's called:

A record.

That's right.

We have records of our conversations: which can come in super duper handy when it comes to our work. Because, you know, sometimes, clients will forget that they didn't ask you to do that thing (and you'll have to refer back). Or sometimes you'll need to look back to a past conversation for your own reference sanity. Or sometimes a dispute will arise and you'll be so, so glad you had it in writing.

This is why I want you to make like a millennial as often as you can…especially when a client is asking for a refund on work performed.

Flashback to earlier this week!

Remember the story of the wedding planner and the client who cancelled her wedding—and then insisted on a full refund on her deposit after the wedding planner had already performed a substantial portion of work?

And remember when I wrote you an email script that you could use in that kind of situation? (Definitely bookmark.)

Well, the wedding planner sent that email, and then the client then did a classic “refund bully” move…

…and started calling. 🤣

Haha, the horror!

And this is where you may find yourself in a pizza-pocket-sized conundrum: you'll want to do the courteous and professional thing and answer the phone. (Okay, you might not *want* to answer the phone but you probably will at least consider it.) But then you won't have a written record of the conversation—and hence, the problem. You need a written record of ANY conversation where the terms of money being exchanged or refunded is the topic. Bar none. This is the rule. This is non-negotiable.

So my advice to you in this particular situation is this:

  • IF YOU ANSWER THE PHONE…always, always, always follow up afterward to document the conversation in writing. You should always send a follow-up email right afterward outlining the contents and the outcome of the call in writing, and it should say something to the effect of: “Following up to confirm the details of our conversation dated X during which we agreed on the following: X, Y, Z. Kindly respond to confirm that this also reflects your understanding.” That way, you'll have a record of a conversation that's pretty important if, say, the client is unreasonably unsatisfied and decides to escalate the situation and issue a chargeback on a credit card. Eeeekkk.
  • IF YOU DO NOT ANSWER THE PHONE…say, if you're busy in the moment, or the client's a bit of a bully and you're feeling intimidated, or your boundaries are being violated, or you're worried you'll cave under pressure—then don't answer the phone but DO respond right away via email and say the following: “I know you tried giving me a call to discuss, but I'd prefer to communicate in writing so we both have a clear record of the conversation.” Then proceed.

That last bit is the 16 words you should memorize: “I'd prefer to communicate in writing so we both have a clear record of the conversation.”

This way, you have a true and accurate record of your conversation—and you'll still end up looking like a total pro who knows it's a good idea to always have anything related to money in writing, so help you gin and rubber duckies. Or maybe rubber duckies filled with gin. Has anybody done that business yet?

(I mean, use non-alcoholic Seedlips if you want to, but maybe we can talk them into a new name for their brand. I always think of Donkey Lips from Salute Your Shorts, and I'm not so sure I want to put him in my mouth???)
^^^This paragraph sponsored by 90's TV shows that only millennials would remember, because that seems fitting, does it not?!

In addition to all of this goodness, by doing this you also get the benefit of not having to hide any hamburgers, mannequins, stray photos of Richard Simmons, or the fact that you only look semi-presentable on the 3rd Tuesday of every other month, after the clock strikes twelve and the sun is at its highest peak in the sky, and you've actually washed your body—even around the ankles—and you happen to be getting on a Zoom call during which you will use that voice that you only reserve for when you're trying to make someone on the other side of the screen actually think you're a sweeter person than you are. Which, by the way, is absolutely the case on every Zoom call I've ever been on. Do you know how hard it is to overcome the reputation of a girl who wrote a book called THE MIDDLE FINGER PROJECT?!

I rest my case.

And also my phone. In its cradle. From 1998. Which was basically the last time anyone dared call another person's house, anyway.

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Quit your job. Work remotely. Travel the world. Find your f*cking self.

Every weekday morning at 8am Eastern you’ll get 3 ideas to help you make big moves and big money. Written by Penguin Random House author, entrepreneur & digital nomad, Ash Ambirge, who likes to believe she still has standards.

The Middle Finger Project has helped over 500,000+ unconventional subscribers ditch the crock pot & go on an adventure. Established 2009 from Santiago, Chile.