Getting good at giving back money

Before Covid-19 (the new BC?), one of our measures of success was how good we were at taking money. Right now what matters is how well we give it back.

We built the Family Tickets website on the Shopify platform because we thought it would help us take money, by being able to use Shopify’s library of plug-ins and widgets to improve the customer experience.

When it became clear that Minor Entertainment’s tour of In the Night Garden Live was going to be postponed, Family Tickets had to work out how to look after their customers. We hoped many would take a gift card. We thought some might donate to the cast. But we knew a good number would want a refund, and that they would want it quickly (I’ll write soon on how those numbers shook out).

The plumbing behind event ticketing was designed by Heath Robinson and the actual cancellation of tickets is complicated and not entirely within our control. But we knew what our customers had ordered, and for most of them we had their money, so we set to work figuring out how to both refund and create gift cards at scale.

It turns out our decision to build on Shopify would not only help us take money, but also help us give money back. Shopify is a big old database, and you access it via a user friendly interface, where you refund an order by going in to the order and clicking a button. Imagine a user-friendly ticketing system.

Like a legacy ticketing system, if you want to process 1,000 refunds, you need to manually go into 1,000 orders and press that button.  But unlike a legacy ticketing system there’s a Shopify app store, and for $50  we installed Excelify which allowed us to process all our refunds by uploading a spreadsheet of the refunds we wanted to process.

To process the customers who wanted gift cards, we found another app,, which allowed us to automatically create gift cards tied to email addresses for varying amounts by uploading a spreadsheet.

So thanks to the Shopify platform we’re now great at giving people their money back. We also have a six figure sum of our customers’ money on gift cards – hopefully before long they’ll be ready to start spending it on shows and attractions again…

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