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In this blog article we are going to look at what causes balloons to pop, (and which reasons are likely to be the customers fault or not). How you can reduce the incidence of this in your business. The possible scenarios for dealing with customers who are unhappy their balloon has burst and a link to a handy video by the team at Balloon Market for transferring helium from a burst balloon (so saving you money in your business!)


Most of us know the feeling of seeing the message in your inbox or taking the call from a customer to say their balloon has popped.  Whilst we all know that balloons are fragile and do deflate for various reasons, It’s the call or message most business owners dread.  A popped balloon spells, not only disappointment for the customer, but additional stress for balloon business owners everywhere.  There is no doubt it leaves a bad taste for all involved! So what is the best way to deal with customers, after all the odd balloon popping is going to happen fairly regularly so you need to be clear and ready to deal with it when it does!

First off let’s consider Why Balloons Pop!

By their very nature balloons are fairly fragile and there are a whole host of reasons why they might fail to live up to the expectations of the product.  So let’s consider here what can cause them to deflate!

Reasons that are NOT the customers fault

Faulty product – Without a doubt there is a certain percentage of balloons which we can expect to fail.  Qualatex quote a failure rate of 10% as normal for their products’ and I am guessing this will be similar or higher for the products of lower quality.  Faulty balloons can pop up to 48 hours after inflation for no apparent reason other than a fault on their part so just because you inflated it earlier that day or the previous day doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a fault.  Of course sometimes moving and transporting balloons can be what causes the fault to “give”. This doesn’t mean the fault is actually any less to blame its simply that the weakness caused by the fault in the balloon failed when it was moved or transported.  I myself have witnessed balloons for no real reason just spontaneously burst so its fair to say that it would be wrong to automatically assume that customers are to blame in every situation where balloons deflate.
Customers’ expectations regarding float time are misinformed – Customers have no idea about balloons and how long they float for.  They may have had air filled or premium products from you previously. These of course will have lasted several weeks and so customers assume that all balloons from you last a similar amount of time.  Now consider the latex double bubble with a relatively short float time. It is extremely difficult to hi-float with any success. If they were to order this a couple of days before because they were unable to collect on the day they may think it would be okay for their event a few days later. The reality is that 16″ latex double bubbles are best collected on the day in order to stay fresh and float throughout the day and into the evening celebrations. It is your responsibility to ensure customers are aware of the float times for different balloons.
Poor technique – Sometimes we just don’t get a good seal, whether its tying off bubbles, or heat sealing micro-foils it doesn’t always go as perfectly as it should. Likewise over inflating can make balloons more likely to pop! Using too much hi float or not enough helium can cause hi floated latex to tilt to one side or not float at all!
Mixing gases when doing smaller balloons within larger balloons – Okay this is a contentious one often up for discussion in the balloon forums! Helium is a smaller molecule than air so crosses the latex membrane much easier. If you inflate smaller balloons with air inside a helium balloon the helium will cross the latex barrier into the smaller balloon. The result is the smaller balloon will expand with the extra gas until eventually they start to pop. Often this can take hours to occur so you get a phone call from the customer to say they started popping hours later. Manufacturers generally recommend using the same gas in smaller balloons as the in the larger outside balloon.

Note: There are balloon artists who regularly do smaller balloons with air inside helium balloons without problems. They generally inflate the balloons very small (3 pumps or less) so this leaves room for the balloon to expand. Be aware though that air is also heavier than helium so it will still affect float time and you cannot be sure there wont be problems with balloons popping.
Change in temperature – If you are inflating the balloons at an ambient temperature and then they go out into a hotter or colder temperature this will affect the size of gas molecules and the volume of gas. I find this most problematic in winter when its very cold. You inflate indoors and then as soon as that balloon gets out the front door its soft and flat looking. Most times when it gets back to room temperature it will poof back up but if there is a long time before the balloon is back to normal room temperature then the balloon struggles to get its life back – foils filled with helium are the most affected by this. Hot weather can be equally problematic as the gas molecules expand in the heat until the balloon can no longer cope and bursts.
Static Electricity and Sound vibration – Not only do balloons help create static electricity but static is also attracted to them and this often causes them to pop. Static can be increased by being placed near electrical equipment that produce it such as big TV Screens. Likewise sound vibration can cause the gas molecules to become over active, producing high energy and causing the balloon to burst. Care should be taken placing them directly in front of big speakers as this can also cause balloons to pop.
Hi float not allowed to dry properly – If you bag hi-floated balloons prematurely before they have had chance to dry completely there is a risk they will pop when let out of the bag later.

Reasons that ARE the customers fault

The balloon has been punctured. – Lets face it customers are not as aware of their surroundings when moving balloons as we are and sometimes they catch on sharp or rough surfaces especially when trying to get too many through a doorway in one go!
Transporting in inappropriate vehicles – We have all seen it!… people turning up for a big order with a car full of people and children’s car seats in the back. Squeezing way too many balloons into a small space or sending hubby with his van which is full of sharp pointy tools!! If customers choose to collect then transportation is down to them but it helps to educate them in regard to preparing properly for collection.
Leaving the balloons in the car until later – Customers don’t think about the fact that cars can get very warm or very cold. They may be trying to do all their party tasks in one trip by picking up the cake, last minute shopping and the balloons. They may also want to wait until little Johnny has gone to bed. Whatever the reason it’s not uncommon for customers to think it’s okay to leave balloons in the car for extended periods only to be disappointed when they go to bring them indoors.
Heat Sources – Placing balloons need heat sources (hot and cold will have an adverse affect on balloons. Customers love to hide the balloons out of sight from little ones often until they have gone to bed. Rooms that get really hot or cold like conservatories, sheds and even lofts (yes this has happened) are not great for storing balloons. Radiators, windows with sunlight streaming through, air conditioning and fans can also damage balloons. All of these alter the temperature of the gas within a balloon so changing the molecular size and volume of the gas resulting in popped or deflated balloons.
Manhandling of balloons – Children love balloons! They love to hit them, kick them, and generally wrestle them and manhandle them! It’s not uncommon for a burst balloon to result in tears and tantrums and a very unhappy parent but balloons should be sold as decorative ornaments not toys.

As a side note in the UK all balloons sold need to be CE Marked and customers need to be warned never to leave small children unattended with balloons due to the risk of chocking on pieces of balloon should it pop.
Scam refunds – Unfortunately in today’s world there are customers who will try anything to get their balloons for free. Judging by the Facebook groups customers reporting issues after the party and wanting a full refund seems to have grown in number over the last couple of years.
Reduce the number of popped balloons in your business.  Starting a balloon business. Balloon Biz Academy.
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Reducing the likelihood of popped balloons in your business

So having identified the reasons why balloons can pop what can be done to reduce the likelihood of balloons popping and the number of complaints in your business?

How to deal with the customer when they have a popped balloon.

There are two schools of thought about how best to manage  customers who come back with popped balloons. Each has valid arguments so you need to weigh up the options and choose whichever one best suits your business and the way you want to do business.

Option One – No Refunds or Replacements

The first school of thought is It’s not my problem – once they have left my premises  any popped balloons will not be replaced or refunded. 

After all balloons are fragile and customers can be clumsy. You have no idea how the balloons have been stored or handled so therefore you cannot be responsible for anything that happens there after. Such businesses need to be very responsible using good quality products and inflating them well in advance to rule out faulty balloons as much as possible and providing excellent advice, really educating their customers as to how they should be transported and looked after to get the best from them.

PROS

  • As long as this policy is explained clearly at the beginning customers should understand that their balloon will not be replaced or refunded.
  • Hopefully the education you provide in terms of transportation and storage will enable customers to limit the risks of a balloon being popped.
  • The financial and practical impact to the business in terms of your time etc is reduced and there is less stress on you and the business.

CONS

  • The biggest downside to this is losing future custom. Dissatisfied customers are unlikely to return again in the future and its much easier to gain income from existing clients compared to marketing for new. It’s like having a hole in your bucket and no matter how you fill it the water (customers) keep dropping out the bottom.
  • In a world of social media a dissatisfied customer can very quickly turn into a keyboard warrior spreading their dissatisfaction across numerous Facebook groups as well as friends and family.


You need to weigh up the risk of future lost business and possible bad reviews of social media, compared to the cost and inconvenience of replacing popped balloons.


Option 2 – Establish fault for the popped balloon and replace/refund if reasonable.

The second common way of dealing with popped balloons is to try and establish where the fault lies.

Is it the responsibility of the customer, because they haven’t transported or handled it correctly, or whether it is indeed down to a faulty balloon or something you have done which hasn’t resulted in as good a product as you would’ve liked.  As with the first scenario it is important to use good quality products and to inflate the balloons well in advance of collection or delivery to ensure that faulty balloons can be ruled out ahead of the customer receiving them. In this scenario it is essential to get the customer to send you a photo initially, but also ask them to return the balloon to you so you can inspect it properly. You can explain to them that you will replace if you believe the balloon is faulty but if there are obvious puncture marks or it has deflated due to manhandling etc then you will not be able to replace it. In my business I tell them that I will attempt to re-inflate the balloon as this easily shows exactly what the problem is and if its been burst due to a puncture, manhandling etc it will not re-inflate. At this point customers often become honest if they know they have caused the problem.

PROS

  • Dealing with popped balloons in this manner results in increased customer satisfaction. Customers who receive good customer service are more likely to recommend you and to return time and time again.
  • This is about protecting the future income of each existing customer. Existing customers are far more valuable to your business than finding new customers.

CONS

  • It takes to resolve the issue with the customer and replacing the product. When you have a busy weekend with a diary full of orders it can be stressful to have to stop your preparation in order to deal with a customer needing to return and replace a popped Balloon.
  • There is also the financial implication of having to replace all elements of the design especially helium which is very expensive and ultimately reduces the profit within the business.


If you decide to manage customers returning with popped balloons in this way it is essential that you reduce the likelihood of this happening to reduce the financial impact on your business.


Here is a handy video from the wonderful team at Balloon Market showing how to recycle the helium from popped balloons. This is a great way to reduce the financial impact on your business. You can find more of their fantastic videos at https://www.youtube.com/c/BalloonMarket
they do a weekly broadcast which is definitely worth watching so be sure to subscribe!

Create a Returns and Refunds Policy for popped balloons.

Ultimately how you choose to deal with the issue of dissatisfied customers with popped balloons in your business has to be your own decision. Way up the pros and cons above and decide what works best for you and  your business. Without a doubt though, if you can reduce the incidence of popped balloons, you will not only have happy customers, but it reduces the stress and workload place upon you at short notice when things go wrong.

However, you decide to move forward with this it is important that you make a decision as to how you will deal with EVERY customer. Write a returns and refunds policy and make sure that you apply this to every situation that occurs in the business. If you employ staff make sure they are familiar with the policy and make sure that customers are aware of the policy when they make their booking.

I would love to know what you decide to do in your business or maybe you already have a procedure in place which is working well comment below! I would love to know ! 

🎈Until next time… Stay amazing 🎈

Sonia x

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