Business Owner Denies Refund to Deceased Client’s Estate

Deposits are a part of normal business practices and is really insurance for the Business Owner. Running a small business takes a lot of time and when people do not value your time you tend to lose money. Many business owners will say this is a reasonable practice, but is there ever a time when the non-refundable deposit can become, well, refundable?


Ariyan Johnson, her daughter Arielle, and her fiancé Quasean Trotter were murdered in their home in Florida late 2017. A week prior, Ariyan had made a $350 deposit with event planner, Raisheikia McCloud to celebrate their daughter’s 1st birthday party.  When Ariryan’s mother reached out to ask for a refund, McCloud advised her that previously her daughter was aware of the deposit being nonrefundable.  McCloud advised that she could exchange the services for another product, but would not provide $350 worth of products to the deceased family member.


McCloud later took to Facebook to support her decision in not refunding the $350 due to Ariyan’s  signed contract at the time the deposit was paid.  Unfortunately, many people on social media strongly disagreed with McCloud’s decision.  The post she made was shared over 14,000 times and was littered with responses in support of Ariyan’s mom.  McCloud received so much backlash over her response that she ultimately had to shut down her original Facebook business page, Executively Made.  McCloud also stated she has received multiple Facebook messages from people she didn’t know threatening to kill her if she didn’t refund the deposit.

In the end, McCloud refunded the money back to Ariyan’s mother and stated “I understand the mother is grieving and that the family is grieving, but please have courtesy for business owners and people like me. We still have to continue on in this life to do what we need to do to provide for our family.”


Since then McCloud has thrown several events since this snafu, but her reputation has been damaged.


In being a business owner, I understand that we tend to have limited funds based on the size of our business, but that’s when our money management skills should come into play.  We should always have a slight cushion in the event we need to pay extra money for services unaccounted for.  Sometimes we have to provide refunds as not everyone will be happy with your services or there may be times when you will face extenuating circumstances (such as this one), where you will have to make concessions and refund the deposit.


I do not agree with death threats or social media bullying because everyone does have the right to run their business in the ways that they see fit, barring no discrimination or hate. However, seeing as though this was in the media, instead of holding on to the money, McCloud should have played it differently. Refund the woman’s money and offer to bake treats for the deceased’s repass. This would have brought her business out in the open and exposed her to more people, bringing more clients. Not to mention the family would have been gracious to receive that money (which was needed for funeral expenses) and in the future used her services again or recommend others to her business.


What do you think? Was McCloud in the right to deny the refund based on her small business operational costs and needs? After all, even in death life must go on. Or Was McCloud wrong for putting a grieving mother through hoops to obtain her refund when the customer had died?


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