In late July, we announced that we’d be releasing a series of experiments and updates to our existing refund system.
Refunds are an important part of Udemy. They provide students with the ability to explore learning online, the Udemy platform, and new instructors - all risk free. Based on our user research data, Udemy’s refund policy has a noticeable impact on a student’s confidence and willingness to buy a course. This is true for students new to Udemy and existing students unsure whether a new instructor or course is the right fit for their learning goal. While our data shows that the vast majority of students on Udemy never request a refund, we know from our user research studies that the refund policy increases confidence in students’ purchases.
However, we recognize that there is a small subset of students who abuse the refund system. That is why over the last two months, we built a new refund platform that allows us to better set student expectations and identify refund abuse.
We’re excited to announce that improvements to the refund system are now live in three main areas:
Our goal with these improvements is to provide a better experience for revenue-driving students, while protecting your course content — and your revenue — from bad actors.
Learn more about the updates to the refund system below and in our detailed FAQ here.
Over the last few months, we have rebuilt the refund platform from the ground up. The new platform will allow us to track and process refunds more efficiently for students. Additionally, it gives Udemy the ability to better monitor and enforce existing refund policies, and implement new ones. We’ll now be able to better flag and catch refund abuse, while providing risk-free exploration for students.
In addition to the backend improvements, we have built new refund-abuse rules directly into the platform and will deny refund requests instantly if a student breaks our refund policy. The denials consider our existing policy and new abuse thresholds.
These thresholds are based on:
By building the policies directly into the new system, we’ll be able to better identify and deny bad actors before they request a refund. See an example of our new system in action below.
We’re excited to announce that we now have a new alternative mode of refunds for students — credits. Udemy credits are available to students that request a refund. Unlike cash refunds, credits are instantly available in student accounts, encouraging them to explore immediately and find the right course to fit their learning needs.
While these updates cover our refund system revamp, the work on refunds will not stop there. We will continue to monitor refund trends, reasons, and behavior to identify opportunities for additional improvements.
I noticed some unusual or suspicious activity by a student It seems to be a single person enrolled in all of my courses. I strongly believe they have downloaded the source code, Video and taken a refund. Could you please help? I have mailed to the Instructor Support team but haven't received any response yet.
One thing you should really add too. A student that finishes a course (100%) should be denied a refund. If you don't like something you're not going to go through it the full 100%. After reaching a certain percentage watched the students should not be able to get a refund anymore in my opinion. It's not fair to a teacher to allow students to go through the full course, or nearly full course (over 80% or so) and then deny the teacher the payment.
Hi @Art_by_Benjamin, as we mention in the announcement, part of the update to the system is a new consumption threshold. This threshold takes into consideration how much of a course a student has watched and refuses a refund if they have watched too much of the course. To reduce risk of gaming the system, we can not share the specifics of what that threshold is but we can confirm that it is well below 100% of the course.
That’s really good to hear!
Will instructors be able to see the reasons why students request refunds?
Instructors can't improve what we can't measure.
Good to head this, and I already see the impact in my course refunds.
I had reported multiple refunds from my courses in August, and I was wondering should I drop an email to support for the status on that.
I think this answers it well.
Good to know
Thank you so much! These improvements are so welcomed in the Instructors Community! Keep up the great work!
Hey @Joshua George, this isn't currently on our roadmap but it is something that has been considered. We currently don't share out the refund information we collect in this form for a few reasons. The most important of these is a legal constraint: when students use Udemy they agree that some things they enter (like their reviews or questions) will be shared out with other users, and others (like private interactions with our Support team) won't.
We're still open to any suggestions and we're sharing all your feedback with the appropriate team.
Thank you very much Udemy. You guys are doing a fantastic job
Thank you very much Udemy. This is an issue that has been bordering me for long. Some students will enroll into a course, download complete source codes and never learn or watch the video and apply for refund. Someone like me only build software to train students but I notice some students only enroll into that course and download codes. Once they are done, they apply for refund. Am so happy with this new development. This will save many instructors efforts from some students
Thank you. This should help.
An extra option for feedback from refund students would be great. I also wonder when my course is later on a pirated site...
Surely this should have been picked up and denied? 😕
Hey @Joshua George, If you see a student who seems to be abusing Udemy’s refund policy, please let us know. Send an email to email@example.com and we can take a closer look.
There is a refund case I just observed today. A student bought my course, got a refund, and then joined back again on the same day. I was not sure why one would do that.
However, on carefully looking, I saw that he got the refund so he could buy they course again for 60% of the price he paid for the first time.
I think it is a bit tricky to fix this situation. Does Udemy consider this as a violation? I can report it to the support team but I am not quite sure.
Hey @Rudranil Chakrabortty, It is considered a valid reason for students to request a refund if they have found a better price for it.
I had a student buy my course (the same course) 7 times, and refund it 6 times during November.
How is this even possible?
A simple refund abuse mechanism might just disallow students refunding the same course twice in the space of 1 month.
"We’ll now be able to better flag and catch refund abuse while providing risk-free exploration for students."
That obviously does not work well.
The refund policies are very generous. I believe that a 30 day refund policy is far too long. It does not take that long to decide if a course is for you. I would suggest 7 days or maximum 14 days. More than enough.
I am convinced the policy is abused. A few weeks ago, I had 1 person purchase 5 of my courses, and promptly obtained refunds on all 5? I believe that these courses were purchased and somehow copied and then a refund was asked for.
This month I have had an Anonymous user purchase 3 of my courses and promptly obtain refunds. There is definitely something wrong. Why are anonymous users allowed?
Now about reviews.
Most of my reviews are very good, but occasionally, someone will give a bad one. Normally without comment. I see a number of people have recommended replying which I have tried, but no one replies. When checking on course completion, usually it is very low for the bad reviewers. I feel 50% should be the minimum before a review is permitted. The current policy is of no help to the instructors. Would be interested in other instructors experience
What has helped myself and other instructors I have heard is to not sweat refunds. There will always be a small percentage of them. Making a great introduction video to get them to like us right away does help. I have noticed less refunds since getting the advice.
Hi Debra, Thank you for replying. I don't get many refunds and normally I don't let them get to me. However, it is just the suspicious activity that makes me wonder about the motive.
Also, what do you think about the refund period? I would like to see it shorter, 7 or 14 days is more than enough to find out if the course is for you. What do you think?
@Lili Theese new changes do not change anything since there is people that only see a chapter and once they know the specific part they want to learn or download the source code, they ask for a refund... And since they satisfy the minimum threshold, they get the refund. It is really frustrating for the instructors and Udemy does nothing.
@JeffSharman592 30 days is not excessive when I think from a student’s’ viewpoint. I always buy during sales and do not start them all right away.
I do agree with @JeffSharman592 and @DanieldelRío442 about this. I do also think the 30 day money back guarantee is too long. I've seen more online classes moving to a 14 day or even 7 day period. Personally I'm fine with a 7 day period. I don't get a lot of refunds, but do also noticed that some of them are really suspicious. Someone does buy multiply classes, watches all of them partly and then asks for a refund. I think Daniel has a really good point here on what might be going on.
@debra1111 I also buy at sales only, but always look at it briefly if I like it or not. I'm not sure if going back to 14 days would really impact any buying habits. 30 days is great, but seems to be abused a lot for some.
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