I recently had to process a refund through my PayPal account (first time ever!). The account I was refunding from had only that one transaction in it, so according to PayPal’s rules, I would not be charged the usual fee and thus I could refund the full amount, which is what I did.

Today I received an email from PayPal that read:

Recently, your PayPal account dipped to a negative balance of $0.30 USD. This can happen sometimes if you’ve issued a refund, for example. Not to worry. We’re covering the $0.30 USD to bring your balance back up to zero. That way, your account remains in good standing. It’s our way of saying, “Thanks for using PayPal.”

My assumption is that their system automatically charged me their flat 30 cent fee for the refund transaction itself, which is why I was 30 cents in the red. But PayPal did two very smart things:

  1. Rather than come after me for 30 cents, they simply credited my account and zeroed my balance. Trying to collect the 30 cents probably would have cost them at tens of dollars, if not more. So why bother?
  2. More importantly, they TOLD ME what they’ve done and explained that it’s their way of saying thanks. Far too often, organizations (maybe yours) will do things for their customers without telling them that they’ve done it. PayPal was smart enough to tell me, rather than having me stumble across it (or not).

So look at your processes and ask yourself “Are there things we’re doing for our members and customers that we’re NOT telling them about?” And “Do we have processes in place that cost more money than they make (e.g, spending $50 to chase after a $10 underpayment)?”