a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: About Refunding Entry Fees

Monday, September 13, 2010

About Refunding Entry Fees

SUMMARY: Some clubs do sometimes, some clubs don't.
It's important that clubs have a stated policy about entry refunds after the closing date (usually 2-3 weeks before the trial). It's important that the policy be reasonable. It's important that the policy be consistent.

Some thoughts along those lines:

  • You don't want clubs necessarily playing favorites--refunds to some people after the closing but not to others. However--you can see that it might be reasonable to deny a refund to someone who wants to scratch after the closing date, time after time after time (it happens!), but to allow a refund to someone who always attends the trials and works their buns off but on one weekend has genuinely extenuating circumstances. But the lines aren't always so clear cut.
  • Some clubs refund if a bitch goes into heat after the closing date. I've heard breeders say, "yeah, but they should've known that Fuzzy was due to go into heat."  I don't know about that stuff. It's just what I've heard.
  • There was quite a  brouhaha earlier this year--on facebook or blogs or perhaps all--about a large (AKC?) trial that got rained out (?) and refused to refund any fees, even though that was their stated policy.  
  • There are usually expenses that the club has to pay whether or not the trial goes on. They might have paid a nonrefundable deposit or fee for the site. They might have rented equipment. They might have to pay for the judge's nonrefundable transportation costs.  If the judges actually made it into town, they might have to pay for the judge's lodging. If there were out-of-pocket expenses for the trial--ribbons, food, and so on--then those are also nonrefundable. That said--there is almost always money that goes back to the club (and in AKC with their hugely inflated entry fees, that's particularly true); in that situation, I'd think that the trial would have given an accounting of their own nonrefundable expenses and then at least refunded the remainder. I think that's more or less what eventually happened.
  • The club I attended this weekend who didn't refund my partial fees for scratching Tika 2 days before the trial (almost 2 full weeks after closing, and a few days after "secondary closing" intended only for move-ups earned the immediately preceding weekend) does have a clearly stated policy: no refunds for any reason after the closing date.
  • When I asked for refunds for a third of Tika's runs was reminded gently of the policy, I said OK.  (I might have been less sanguine if, say, I had broken my ankle and couldn't run either dog and couldn't get a refund, but that wasn't the situation.) When I got there and scratched Tika from a couple of runs, they gave me a certificate for roughly equivalent free entries for a future trial. That's above and beyond what they've committed to do, and I'm grateful.
  • At least one other person was refused a refund and was quite upset (and did not show up--I didn't hear the reason, but I know that the previous weekend the dog had finished the title they were working for).  Here's what the club had to say about that: They used to give refunds after the closing date for various excuses, including "dog in heat". Then they discovered that, on multiple occasions, people were entering *other trials* on that same weekend instead. So they instituted a no-refund policy.  I don't blame 'em.
  • In short: Easy to have a stated policy, but not so easy to decide what's reasonable in all situations.


    1. Mitigating your circumstances was the point that you were also there to *work* the event.

    2. I can't imagine clubs not giving refunds for a dog when a vet's certificate is provided prior to the start of the trial. I think all the trials I've been to, full refunds are provided (in some cases less a modest admin fee) for dogs in heat or injured with a vet's note. Has come in handy a few times for my guys.