I’ve been looking into the Facebook ads payment process for a while now, and I’ve seen quite a bit of confusion over the billing schedule and the issues people encounter with charges, credits and refunds. Unfortunately, Facebook is really difficult to get a refund out of, and you have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were charged incorrectly in order for them to refund you. So let’s look at some situations, and whether or not you get a refund.
An Ad With No Impressions
I’ve seen this one come up in the forums before; someone sets an ad budget with their payment method of choice and they notice a charge on their account. They stop or cancel the ad, or maybe the ad runs and they just don’t get any impressions, due to targeting. They then ask Facebook for a refund of the money they spent.
There’s no issue here, and no refund is needed. Facebook only charges you when an event actually happens. If you run an ad for two weeks but you get zero impressions and zero clicks, it costs you $0. Facebook won’t charge you just for putting up the ad. The charge that you saw, if you saw a minor charge, is a verification charge. The same thing happens when you, for example, link a Paypal and a bank account. They make a small test charge to make sure the connection is valid between accounts, then refund the pennies immediately.
Paying With Credit
When you create a new ads account, you’re often given a minor amount of credit, usually somewhere between $20 and $50 for your ad spend. It’s a way to encourage using and exploring the ads manager. If you haven’t registered yet for ads, by the way, it’s probably a good idea to wait until Facebook sends you such an offer. It might help to begin the process, then change your mind, so Facebook sends you a message trying to get you back.
When you have ad credit on your account, even if you have another payment method open, Facebook will use that credit first. If you received a $50 credit, and you set your daily ad spend limit to $50, your ad will run for one day using the credit.
Here’s where the issue comes in; if you continue to run the ad for another day, at a $50 spend limit, Facebook will happily do so. They will also happily charge you for that $50 in usage, assuming of course that you actually used it.
At this point, you may be able to get a refund from Facebook, but I wouldn’t count on it. Being charged because you weren’t paying attention isn’t really a good excuse. It’s not a false charge; you got what you paid for. You just hadn’t initially intended to buy it. That’s not Facebook’s fault. Still, you can try to file a payments support request. You can find the form here.
Just to make sure you’re aware, here’s a little bit more information about ad credit and how it works:
- Credit is not automatically applied to every ad you make. You need to specifically add it as a payment method.
- Advertising coupons can expire. This means if you are given credit and don’t use it for too long, it can disappear. This applies even if you’ve added it as a payment method. It’s a use it or lose it situation.
- You can’t redeem partial credit, unless you set a daily budget limit. If you add $50 to your credit, but have a daily limit of $20, only $20 will be spent.
Typos in Ad Spend Limits
This is another situation. What happens when you have a credit card as your main payment method, and you intend to set a daily spend limit of $50, but you accidentally hit the 5 twice? $550 is certainly quite a bit more than $50.
Facebook will happily accept that budget, and they will equally happily spend up to that budget. There’s no “hey, this value is way higher than normal” warning. This can completely break the bank for some small businesses and non-profits, which is quite unfortunate.
This is an issue where a legitimate mistake can have long-lasting consequences. Unfortunately, Facebook isn’t in the business of charity, so they aren’t likely to grant a refund in this case. There’s a faint possibility, but I wouldn’t count on it. This is primarily because of how easy to abuse this would be. Anyone could accidentally get 10x their value by “typoing” an extra 0 on their budget, then disputing the charge.
Speaking of, if you do want to dispute the charge and hope you get a refund, you can use the Ads Billing Inquiry form.
This is perhaps the most common billing issue, and it’s a matter of billing cycles. Facebook has certain billing thresholds, and you are only charged when you reach a threshold. You don’t even necessarily have a threshold, depending on the age and standing of your account. You are also always billed at the end of the month, for any balance under a threshold.
Thresholds vary. For the United States, there are two systems. If you use direct debit, you do not have a threshold. Instead, you are billed at the end of each day for the amount you spent that day, regardless of how much or how little it is.
If you are using a credit card, debit card or Paypal account, however, you do have thresholds. These thresholds are at $25, $50, $250, $500, and $750. You are also billed at the end of the month.
So, for example, if you spend $15 per day throughout the month, you would pay nothing on the 1st because your balance is $15. On the second day, however, you will reach $30 and cross the $25 threshold. You will be billed $25 on the 2nd. This leaves a remaining balance of $5 for the 3rd, and an increased threshold up to $50. On the 3rd, your balance becomes $20 from your $15 daily spend. On the 4th it becomes $35. On the 5th it becomes $50, and because that reaches your threshold, you pay that $50 and your balance drops to 0.
After this, your $15 per day will continue to rack up, because your billing threshold has been increased to $250. You won’t cross this threshold at $15 per day until the 22nd, when your balance hits $255. You will be billed for $250 then, and your balance drops to $5. Your threshold increases to $500, and you continue to rack up $15 per day in your balance. By the 30th, you will have reached a total of $125, and will be billed for that remaining balance. The 1st of the next month you will return to a billing threshold of $25 and your balance will be back to $0.
You can change your billing threshold manually. Here, you can set it higher or lower, to avoid frequent or irregular charges. If, for example, you set the threshold to always be $50, you would be billed every time your balanced reached $50, without the threshold increasing to $250. Alternatively, you could set the threshold to $750, and only be billed once you each that threshold or the end of the month, whichever comes first.
What does this have to do with refunds? One common misunderstanding is when a user sets a daily ad spend but either has no threshold or a high threshold. They might be expecting a charge of their daily ad spend of $15, and be in for a rude surprise when Facebook only charges them when they reach a certain time limit, for a significantly higher amount.
There’s not much of a chance of a refund here either. Facebook has a ton of resources out there in order to help you understand and manage your billing. It’s not their fault if you are charged more than you expected because you didn’t understand thresholds and limits.
If you really believe that you deserve a refund or that a mistake has been made in billing, you can use the billing inquiry form mentioned above. It’s your best direct line to Facebook.