Working Around CiviCRM's Cancellation Limitation

Imagine this scenario: you’ve set up a registration form that allows users to register multiple participants. Foghorn Leghorn registers himself and Fluffy Leghorn for an event; however, a week later he finds out that Fluffy was already planning to attend the Regional Hen Fest with her brood from the hood and can’t go with him, so he contacts you to ask to cancel Fluffy’s registration and refund the fee for her portion of the fee. You cancel Fluffy’s registration in CiviCRM but then discover (or are reminded) that Civi doesn’t refund cancellations. What to do?

When a client brought me this scenario, I tested a few different ways of handling it that wouldn’t involve deleting the registration (since their form collects a lot of data and, even more importantly, back-end registration doesn’t allow additional participants). I finally settled on a workaround using CiviDiscount that resulted in the data looking as I would expect. (Don’t have CiviDiscount? If you offer online event registration, you probably should - the ability to offer discount codes is mighty useful in a host of different situations. Ask us about it!)

I created a simple discount code, FAUXCANCEL, that discounts 100% of the fee, and applied it to an event.

I then went to Fluffy’s registration record to edit it. Here are the steps I took:

  1. Clicked the link to “Change Selections.”
  2. Entered FAUXCANCEL in the discount code box and hit “Apply.”
  3. Noted that the price for Fluffy’s fee option correctly changed to zero. Important: leave the participant status as it was - we’ll update it in the next step. Hit “Save.”
  4. Saved that change, then edited the registration again, changing the participant status to “Cancelled,” and saved.
  5. Returned back to Foghorn’s participant record and noted that the registration now correctly records that Foghorn is owed a refund.
  6. Recorded the refund on his record. Job done - happy Foghorn, happy me.

While this does add a few steps to what seemingly should be a straightforward process, it does work around a current limitation in CiviCRM related to participants and updating their registrations successfully when they want to cancel.

Have any questions? Would you like us to walk this through on a call with you? Contact your support email and we’ll be happy to chat about it.

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