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Would You Have Given This Client a Partial Refund?

She returned an item she bought as part of a gift-with-purchase promotion, only to find that she would not receive a refund for the “free” gift.




EXCITED TO INDULGE in some Mother’s Day shopping, Kimberly Johnson waved goodbye to her husband and children, grateful for the chance to browse freely and enjoy a beautiful day. As she strolled along the bustling sidewalk, a promotional sign outside Luxe Diamonds caught her attention. They had just launched a special promotion: Spend $499 on any qualifying diamond jewelry and receive a dozen roses free, a gesture to help customers celebrate their mothers with a little something extra.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual jewelry businesses and people.


Megan Crabtree is the founder and CEO of Crabtree Consulting. Before founding Crabtree Consulting, Megan had a successful professional career in the jewelry industry, which culminated with high-level positions at several of the top firms in the retail and manufacturing sectors. Reach her at or visit us at where you can set up a live chat or a 30-minute free consultation.


Kimberly stepped into Luxe Diamonds eager to learn more about the offer details. She was hoping to purchase a diamond pendant for her mother, but she was on a tight budget. The potential of receiving a free bouquet of roses was attractive because it would give her something extra to gift her sister while staying within her budget.

As she admired the array of diamonds, Kimberly was greeted by Thomas, a knowledgeable salesperson at Luxe Diamonds. He shared the details of the Mother’s Day promotion and guided Kimberly to the jewelry display showcasing qualifying pieces.

Kimberly noticed a 0.25 TCW halo pendant with a unique vintage look and immediately knew it was the perfect gift for her mother. With a smile, she completed her purchase, meeting the $499 threshold, and happily accepted the complimentary dozen roses, a vibrant yellow bouquet destined to brighten her sister’s day.

Mother’s Day arrived, and Kimberly’s thoughtful gifts brought joy to her family. Her mother was delighted by the diamond pendant, while her sister was pleasantly surprised by the roses. Kimberly was grateful for the chance to express her love and appreciation.


However, a few days later, Kimberly returned to Luxe Diamonds with a heavy heart. She explained to Thomas that her mother had unexpectedly received a similar pendant as a gift from her brother, a heartfelt gesture from overseas where he was serving in the military. She did not want to diminish her brother’s efforts, so she reluctantly requested to return the diamond pendant she had purchased.

Thomas, understanding Kimberly’s predicament, offered to process the return but explained that the value on the roses was $30, and when you return an item, you have to pay the value of the gift you received with the purchase.

Kimberly’s heart sank as she realized the implications of the store’s policy. She had already gifted the roses to her sister so could no longer return them. Thomas, empathetic yet bound by the rules, could only offer a partial refund minus the cost of the roses, leaving Kimberly with a sense of disappointment.

Turning to the Mother’s Day promotion coupon in her hand, Kimberly scrutinized the fine print, searching for clarity on the value of the roses. However, the coupon offered no specific details regarding the worth of the complimentary item, leaving Kimberly feeling as though the partial refund was unfair and misleading. What had started as a gesture of love and celebration had now left her grappling with frustration.

The Big Questions

  • How should Luxe Diamonds have communicated the value of the complimentary roses to avoid confusion and disappointment?
  • Do you believe the policy regarding the return of complimentary items is fair to the customer?
  • What steps can retailers take to ensure that all terms and conditions associated with promotions are communicated to customers?


Garry D.
Palm Beach, FL

I guess the store must consider every possible response from a sale like this. I certainly do not feel it is unrealistic for the store to charge her $30 for the roses that went along with the deal. Perhaps a $30 charge for returning this package would be more appropriate, as not to come off too tacky about the roses specifically. Maybe throw in a couple chocolates as well to sweeten the deal. If I were the customer, I’d be embarrassed to return the low-cost diamonds and would find another person to gift them to, if not myself. The customer’s disappointment is a consequence of her expectations.

Laurie E.
Morehead City, NC

“Spend $499 on any qualifying diamond jewelry and receive a dozen roses free.” A full refund is in order here. Period.

Marcus M.
Midland, TX

The Amercian consumer today has unrealistic expectations from retailers, and I find it absurd. Luxe Diamonds ran a nice Mother’s Day special and I’m sure they weren’t expecting many if any returns. I don’t blame them for asking for $30 for the roses when an item from the promotion is returned. In what world can you even find a dozen roses for $30 anyway? And Kimberly was going to try to return those too if she hadn’t already given them to her sister? What a cheapo depo! I guess Luxe Diamonds could have clarified the return details on the sales receipt, but I find it ridiculous that Kimberly is upset over them asking for $30 for the roses when she returned the gift. Luxe Diamonds is out money at this point for trying to provide a nice gesture. I think everyone needs to work retail at some point so they can see how it feels when demanding customers act unreasonable.

Bruce A.
Sherwood Park, AB

This was a delightful opportunity for Luxe Diamonds to share in their customer’s story. The choice of her beautiful halo pendant was bested by her brother’s gift from overseas where he was serving. Really! This retailer was given the occasion to showcase why they are leaders in their community, but instead they chose to stick by rules that are inconsequential to the clients and the ones they are going to lose by word of mouth. They should have processed the exchange, but in my book, I would have offered Kimberly her own dozen roses. For $60 Luxe couldn’t buy a better community story. Truly a wasted opportunity.

Peter T.
Show Low, AZ

The problem with this type of scenario is that some customers suck. If this customer was a decent person, they would realize that they will get a full refund when they provide a full return. From an owner’s point of view, the $30 is a reasonable fee for not returning the roses. But in the real world, it would be better to pretend the roses were not part of the transaction and give a full refund (assuming that is the store’s policy). I wouldn’t make any changes to my sales or return policy. Buying jewelry should be a positive experience. Finalizing a sale by delving into our return policies is a mood-killer. It’s for that reason I won’t discuss returns unless the customer asks for the information.

Heather B.
Lexington, KY

If a policy is not spelled out, does it exist? While I understand the predicament of the store, charging the client for the roses due to the return may make her choose to shop elsewhere in the future. Luxe should ensure that going forward, the return policy is not only printed on receipts/promotional materials, but also verbally explained during the sales process. In this particular case, I would have spoken to a manager/owner to break the policy since it was not conveyed to the client. Losing a client over a $30 bouquet just doesn’t make sense to me.

Mary T.
Leavenworth, WA

Please. Free gift with purchase. So what the promo should have said (evidently) is “the jewelry isn’t worth $499, it’s worth $469 and we’re pretending to throw in the roses.” She’ll never darken their door again, and neither will anyone else within the sound of her voice!!

Drue S.
Jewelers, Albany, NY

My belief is that a promotion is just that, something that the customer receives at no additional cost. Unless the receipt stated final sale, the piece should have been returned graciously with no cost to the customer. The flowers were going to die in a short time and the jewelry store is not in business to sell flowers. All that will result from such a strict policy is negative feelings and possible feedback, and the loss of a customer. How much money is needed to spend to get new clients in the door? Much more than $30! I would have returned the full price with a smile, knowing she would return again to my store.

LeeAnn F.
Tyler, TX

Be generous, and it will be the return you get.

Sandi B.
Ocala, FL

I would think, first, to offer an exchange. Even exchange. That way, she still can present a gift for her mom. Something that will complement what her brother gave her and just as meaningful. No one ever wants to do a return. However, being expert at turning it around is what we do as salespeople and trying to make the customer a happy repeat customer. I think that the flower thing is petty to take it off of the price of the return. Really?!

William S.
Franklin, VA

What? Did she think the roses were free?? No — any reasonable person should know they cost something!! The only other thing they could have done is to make that statement on the fine print, that anything returned would be refunded or exchanged less the $30 flower cost.

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