Once I had reluctantly found the money to give to him, I decided it was time to make my policy on returns more defined and more noticeable. I had to think about this and decide what was fair to both the customer and to me, the struggling owner of the gallery.
Soon after I posted my return policy right by the cash register and repeated the policy in my quarterly newsletter. It turned out that you had to return the merchandise, assuming it was in good condition, within ten days or else there was no refund. The refund would be reissued in the form that it was originally paid for.
Each time that a customer made a purchase I reminded them of the policy.
For the most part that took care of the problem, but there were still exceptions. One time, someone custom ordered a headboard and then complained that he didn't like the item when it was delivered. Another time a customer complained that the lamps he custom ordered were uneven and he couldn't live with that. In each case I had to explain that art was never perfect. I settled differently in each case. I can't remember exactly how, but I think I gave them each credit and just took back the items and then eventually resold them.
Since my college days, I have always been interested in policy. I think it's always a matter of establishing guidelines that work and then making sure everyone understands the rules. What I didn't understand until I was a store owner is that regardless of the rules, some people will always try to get around them. Then it's up to the person in charge to figure out what to do. Litigating is time consuming and expensive. Going to the press is another alternative. Learning from your mistakes was what I settled on.