Have Skype created a Catch 22 for refunds?

Have Skype rediscovered the Catch 22 for business users?

Is it really possible Skype officially uses a Catch 22 to make their refund policy worthless for business control panel users?

Seems like it is.

Recently I ordered a subscription for one of our team, using my Skype business account. With a business account, you purchase credit, then use your business control panel to allocate it to individual accounts. It is a good system for business.

There was a problem with the subscription – I got charged not only for the monthly subscription fee (expected), but was then charged again for the 3 ‘included’ numbers. As the additional charge was 3x the original subscription, I wasn’t too keen on paying it.

After some glacial responses from Skype support, I requested a refund of the amounts over charged. That is when things went decidedly weird. This is a summary of how Skype has explained it to me:

  • to request a refund from Skype, I have to provide an Order Number
  • the amount I was overcharged for the online numbers was an ‘allocation’ (meaning Skype allocated the amount from my business account to pay for the online numbers)
  • allocations do not have Order numbers
  • no Order number, no refund.

Say what?

Skype’s how-do-I-request-a-refund FAQ states:

Now you can try all Skype products at no risk and with no commitment. So, if you’re not happy with your online number (SkypeIn) experience, you can ask us for a refund of your latest subscription purchase. If you ask for a refund within 30 days of your payment, we will refund you the entire amount of your online number purchase. … You can request a refund by submitting a ticket to Customer Support. The refund will be credited to the purchaser’s credit card, so you must be able to provide proof of your initial purchase.

Simple enough – but it should say it doesn’t apply if you buy as business (with an allocation).

In case you think I am imagining this and there is no way a company would create a modern day Catch 22 that had the effect of avoiding refunds, here is the answer to my ‘do you mean you have a Catch 22 in place?’ question:

About the Catch 22 you are referring to. Unfortunately we can not refund Business Control Panel credit allocations. Please read our Terms of Service which say that credit allocated to a user cannot be refunded. We apologize for the confusion and thank you for understanding. Please do not hesitate to email me back, if you have any further questions regarding Skype.

[name removed] – Skype Support
Office of the President

Saying “we can not refund” isn’t true, of course, “we will not refund” would be more accurate. Their allocation process, their refund policy, their choice.

“Thank you for understanding” – I understand, but don’t agree.

Turns out the whole issue started due to a bug Skype have in their billing. Skype have told me that the amount that is shown as having been allocated out of my account has not been allocated:

Due to a bug in our system, there is a false allocation shown on the BCP. This bug is connected to an allocation of Skype subscription from the administrator to a user and the user has activated her/his online numbers. As soon as the user activates the online numbers, which are including in the subscription, there will be a false allocation shown in the BCP. We are very sorry that this false allocation has appeared in your Business Control Panel and we are working very hard to fix this bug.

The subscription I originally purchased is working, with 3 online numbers allocated. So from that perspective at least, everything is working. And a Skype Subscription is very useful, no doubt about that.

But offering a money back guarantee with a hidden Catch 22 – that is unusual, to say the least.

The way Skype have responded to me means that the way their website represents their refund approach is not accurate. If you use a business control panel to purchase online numbers for members of your team to use, there is no refund available. 

Now Skype could easily choose to treat a business control panel allocation as a purchase. So is this all a crazy mistake on Skype’s part? Would they really have designed orders and allocations and specifically decided to exclude allocations from being refundable? Maybe Skype Support and the ‘Office of the President’ have been confused by the complexity of their own billing system. 

Not that I need a refund now, but I would hope Skype do an internal review on this and get rid of this crazy Catch 22 for business refunds.