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I’m working with an event organizer where they collect payments in advance for the event. The policies for the event host state that “any refunds due to attendees must be issued within 30 days”.

There’s some “lively discussion” around whether putting money back into a third-party attendee’s accounts will satisfy the requirement to “issue a refund”. Perhaps importantly: the attendee accounts are non-withdrawable, so the attendees can’t access that money, it would just get applied to future purchases.

In my view as a somewhat neutral third party here, putting money back into an account that someone CANNOT withdraw from is not really a “refund” but more a “credit”. I haven’t been able to find this formally written down anywhere, so I figured I’d ask here and see if anyone had a reference one way or the other…

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    This seems more a question of business finance and not personal finance. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 15:09
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    In my experience the distinction is usually that a credit is usable only through that one business (or that one credit card, depending on how the credit is processed), whereas a refund can be taken in cash. But it sounds like you need business law advice, which is out of scope here.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 15:32
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    Your last paragraph is correct. It’s why there’s a distinction between “refund” and “store credit”.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 16:03
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    Your conclusion is correct. A refund is when you actually give the money back to the customer, whether in cash, by a credit on their payment card, by bank transfer, by check… If they just say “there’s some money here you can only spend with us”, it’s a credit, not a refund. While in some cases it’s up to the merchant which one they issue, they cannot say “refund” when it’s actually a credit, and in some cases a refund is mandatory.
    – jcaron
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 20:00
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    "There’s some “lively discussion” around whether putting money back into a third-party attendee’s accounts" What "accounts" are these? By "account", do they just mean "Entry in database recording the an amount of money they have a claim to"? If so, that sure doesn't sound like a "refund" to me. Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 21:48

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