Just wanted to note something, apparently we have some keyboard lawyers here who are fond of making up laws re contracts etc. It's been stated repeatedly that if a product arrives defective, the company is bound by some law to do x or y, x or y being invisible to me in any other non cottage industry online dealings I've ever had, but apparently clear to those posters who talk about contracts and law and so on.
Here's how it works outside this thread in my experience, which is sadly fairly extensive because one of the hats I've worn for years is computer repair/system administration, which always involves ordering parts online, which in turn always involves RMAs, since parts always fail at a certain percentage (ie, order 10 hard drives, and one, if you are lucky, will be rma'ed immediately), ie, returns of failed or defective merchandise. I have never seen any company I've dealt with offer to pay my shipping for a defective item, although they generally always pay their resending of course, so whoever keeps repeating that needs to get a reality check. If the company explicitly says they will, great, but I've never seen that myself in over 10 years of online ordering. So give it a rest, it's fine to make up stuff so you can sound like you have some idea of whatever, but try to be aware that is all that is going on.
I don't have any hat in this game at all, and I really like cottage industry, at least I like cottage industry that makes their stuff locally with people directly under their control. Companies that chose to outsource their production, or parts of it, to cut costs and boost profits, not so much, I can't tell any difference between them and any other company that outsources production, like eureka, rei, northface, or whatever. Hats off again to those who don't, tarptent, for the time being, western mountaineering, enlightenment, zpacks, mld I assume.
If you don't believe me re reality, check out the largest retailers online, newegg.com for example. Try ordering from amazon and then see about getting free shipping for returns. Some places do it, but most do not. I ordered some shoes from a newbalance place, they did not fit, I returned them, shipping cost me almost as much as the shoes had. I didn't whine or complain because I understand how this business works more or less.
Stepping back from such pretend contracts and keyboard lawyers, I would note that Ron totally and utterly blew it in any business sense, advertising isn't cheap and goodwill is very hard to develop in these communities, and there is absolutely no way his method should serve as anything other than a clear case of how not to handle customer disputes for any other cottage industry people out there, I'd read this thread very carefully as a classic example of just how quickly good will can turn to poisoned will in an online virtual community, any one, I've seen that happen more times in more contexts than I can remember over the years, and once you lose that good will, you really never get it back. So on a business level, trying to demonstrate being 'right' was a totally idiotic strategy for ron to take, just absolutely stupid, one of the stupidest things I've seen any cottage industry guy do. All he had to do was swallow hard, immediately apologize, you can lie in an email, you don't have to be honest, just say, wow, I am so very sorry for this error/ mixup, let me instantly refund that shipping cost to you, and maybe send a small stuff sack or something. For those 30 dollars, this thread would never have happened, no good will would have been lost, and nothing would have happened to smd beyond losing 20 bucks.
This is particularly important because the customer posted pictures of the shoddy stitching, bunched up seam, and defective screen, which is really a very very bad thing to have people see, it's absolutely certain that ron has lost a lot of business and money from this very bad handling of the situation. I can understand getting annoyed at customers who appear to be trying to sort of play it both ways, but if you were wrong to start with, ie, delivered defective merchandise, then you should just eat it no matter how annoying it is. It would be different if the OP had only tried to return the stuff because he changed his mind, but that's not the case, there were defects.
Treat this, all current and future cottage people, as a great example of how not to run your business if you want to achieve long term success.