December 26, 2009

What would you do?


What would you do if someone contacted you to make them some custom jewelry or art and after following their instructions to the "T" using some fairly expensive materials, agreeing on a price, spending many hours of your time working on them and they've seen what that item will look like in a photo, you send them out $270 worth of custom items. Upon receiving them, they email you and notify you that the colors are too bright and the length is too short and would like to return them for a refund. Upon agreeing to receive the items back you refund them the amount minus the $10 shipping, $9 in paypal fees and $10 in esty fees only to get an angry response threatening to report you and you are cheating them? Dear jewelry designers and artists, what would you do?

23 comments:

Cindy Gimbrone said...

Hi Gaea,

I'd remind them that you've created a custom order which means there are certain fees which aren't refundable. I'd also write a policy regarding custom orders, half of the total money is paid up front before you start working on the order. I'd emphasize the refund policy where certain fees aren't refundable.

I had someone do this to me once and I ate the costs of the first one, wrote the policy which I give to each custom order in writing and haven't had a problem since.

Good luck!
Cindy

Chrissy said...

I am NOT an artist or designer.. and what u have stated in your post is fair... all the companies i have dealt with have the same agreement that money is refunded except for the shipping fees and even restocking fee... refund for the item is full amt... My question is, was the customer made aware that colors may be slightly different? because its not rocket science, when dealing w/handmade items things are bound to be a little off in color, size, texture...
You are in the right here....
I am speaking from a customer's view... believe me I buy a lot online and u are in line as far as I am concerned.

mairedodd said...

you know what i find so ironic? a customer wouldn't even attempt something as brash with a larger company - but with an independent designer they treat you like you can be walked all over... i think that what you did was very fair... i agree with cindy completely... and report you to who? etsy? i don't think that etsy is going to do anything... facts - you have 199 sales, 253 feedback at 100% positive... remain objective here - who looks difficult? not you... i am sorry you are going through this, it is stressful and upsetting... but this person's complaint goes against all of those others... unfortunately, you ended up with someone difficult... you put a lot of time and money into the project... perhaps you can make lemonade - submit them to a great publication! take deep breaths and follow cindy's advice about setting up custom order guidelines...

SummersStudio said...

Gaea, I also agree that Cindy has given you good advice. And as Maire, points out, look at all of your wonderful and abundant feedback. I have had one difficult transaction on Etsy but found that Etsy administration was quite easy to deal with when I explained the situation to them. You have clearly done everything you can reasonably do to resolve this. Some people are just never ever going to be satisfied no matter what you do. It will be alright even though it is stressful and upsetting right now.

Gaea said...

I would think that was fair. I often wonder for the people who create the havoc if the shoe was on the other foot, would they be as quick to be so unreasonable? I've had a pretty liberal refund/exchange policy in the past but have had to make if far more strict for those who don't see the logic. I've had very few returns or refunds and have always had very fair customers who understand that mistakes happen on both sides of the fence and are always fair. It literally takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch. Did you know that is literally true about apples? Funny! I honestly have no problem getting the work back. Some one else will want it. But it will make me think twice about how much I will let a customer design with my ideas. We had a nice chat at our last Made in Ojai store gathering, how when a customer will like your work but want's it changed, almost to the point where it isn't your style anymore. Didn't they like your work from the beginning? Are they a frustrated artist? Hmmm.... It is great to hear a customers point of view. I've done plenty of online shopping and have always respected other artists for their time and talent.

hint said...

Ouch! What a heartache, Gaea. I'd be giving myself a huge hug and appreciating the fact that this person will be seeking another person for assistance instead of me in the future.

Haven't had to write a refund policy on custom work, but it seems reasonable to me that labor should be considered non-refundable. Ultimately, I want people to love whatever they have created through my hands, so if it doesn't work out I would never want them to keep it. However, like a blind date there is some investment up front even if it doesn't work out.

Wishing you some positive vibes!!

Janet said...

They should be well satisfied they got about all of their money back. A custom piece and to then act like the world owed them a living is a bit much. Id of been embarrassed for all of the trouble Id put you too, taken my moneis and crept quietly away. If that person is anyone in jewellery well all I can say is that is how bad reputations are made! Can we see the piece you made? Would love to see it! I dont see that you did anything at all wrong!

Joan Tucker said...

Gaea, Once you step into the strange land of custom work, you need to have a non refundable deposit and supportive polices to back you up. Sorry this happened but if you ask around you will hear others have been there.

I stopped doing it altogether. You buy my designs or not at all. It does make you wonder how these folks think we make a living if
everyone did this sort of thing.

Hope you just let it go and moved on to other orders and customers.

TesoriTrovati said...

That is just RUDE!
I have taken to requesting a certain amount up front...like 1/2 or 1/3 of their budget. As long as you got the pieces back you can certainly find a venue to sell them. That person must be nuts.
Give yourself a hug my dear, take a pretty picture and send it off into the publishing world. But don't worry about that one bad apple. There are lots of good ones out there too! Enjoy the day!
Erin

sasha and max said...

Your approach was without doubt fair - this person just sounds impossibly unreasonable - unfortunate that not all people are as genuine and trusting as you are. Sounds like Joan's and Erin's suggestions are worth consideration to protect yourself. Take a few calming deep breaths and try to move on from the negative energy.

Gaea said...

Obviously I needed to have a more firm policy which is now in place. Thanks for all the constructive help and kindness. It is always nice to have the support of your community and a fresh ear to hear you.

Babs said...

You know, some people are just jerks. It's unfortunate that they don't wear signs or something so we can tell ahead of time ;-) You acted appropriately in all aspects and just take comfort in that fact and let that person feel however they want to feel. I'm sure the items you created are fabulous - since everything else you do is - so another nonjerk person will be happy to buy them. I'm sorry you had to go through this.

sandi m said...

Too bad, but some people really are jerks - especially those who don't understand our business. Ever try to explain to someone what a lampwork bead is that can substantially increase the price of a piece? Most don't get it.

Those that buy and are happy with wearing the crap (pardon me!) from the department stores won't ever get it.

Yes, you definitely need 'custom' rules in place to avoid any misintrepretaion. And, I agree with those above, show us the piece and send it off for publishing!!
That person just missed out owning a special piece of art jewelry - their loss...

Dr. Denise Tucker said...

Scream. I'd scream.

Leslie @ Bei Mondi said...

I'd tell them to get a clue. You not there to work as their slave. You already bent over backwards already for them. Ugh, people!

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

Custom work can be wonderfully rewarding if you are successful with a customer, but it can also be a kick in the behinder if things go wrong. Last year I had someone who had definite ideas about what they wanted, and I'd make up a prototype and they'd change their mind about shape, color, design - finally I made one design that seemed to fit the bill and sent photos for approval, everything seemed fine.

Then I got an email that the color was too dark and it wasn't exactly what they wanted, so they wanted a credit in the Etsy shop to get something else, while keeping the first one! Umm-humm. Nope! After that I tightened up the polices, and I've steered away from much custom work.

It's a shame really, because when you make something for someone and they really love it, it's a glorious feeling...

Hope your feelings aren't hurt and you move on, you are a wonderful creative person!

Mary Ann Carroll said...

Well....once I got over my initial obsessing over the issue, I would give the irrational customer what they want. This is why: What goes around comes around. I am a firm believer in that. I once had someone request a custom order (not as involved as yours) and she just blew me off in terms of emails, etc. She finally wrote and said, "That's not exactly what I was looking for." Ughh! I decided to change my policy in terms of custom orders and I make it very clear to people when they request specific work. That's enough for now. Your work is beautiful and it's their loss! Happy New Year :O) Mary Ann

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...

You've already received great advice from everyone else- I too have been burned in the custom jewelry arena so I choose to not do custom jewelry most of the time now.

You should be able to get a refund on the etsy and paypal fees but of course you should not have to eat the shipping cost and there should be some type of non-refundable deposit on custom work.

I'm sorry you're having this problem, it's such a headache to deal with this type of situation! Let us know how it turns out...

Spirited Earth said...

i think you put it well in one of the follow up comments..
why did that customer need to redesign your work to the point it was so different in the first place.
i do not find custom work to be cost effective.. i take a photo of what i have in stock..the customer can buy or not.

SueBeads said...

Hi Gaea - well, I just had a taste of that today. For $8 worth of sugar beads (which I sent her four and not two) AND I charged her $2 for shipping but sent it priority. Now she is accusing me of misleading her. Some people are just sick - it's hard when you do custom work to pick out the sick ones. I could tell she was a pain when she started asking me, but I accommodated her. Now I am paying for it. I think I will not do custom work anymore - it's just not worth it. But yes, having a firm policy is the way to go, I guess. But etsy still lets them give you bad feedback and won't deal with it like other sites will if it's unfair.

Vintage Blue Studio said...

This is exactly why I don't do custom work anymore. After one exceptionally poor experience I decided it isn't worth it. However, if you continue with custom work just make sure to have a solid policy in place and accept a non-refundable portion upfront. Good luck!

Round Rabbit said...

Just two words for this person: BITE ME.

(wouldn't you just love to really say that? They would deserve it.;)

Gaea said...

Thanks Nancy! I needed a good laugh!

The custom work was a Day of the Dead necklace that was made with sterling silver, per their request and more of the individually colored beads and a skull/daisy hand painted clasp set. The pendants that were custom colored were sold over the holidays and I didn't snap a photo of them. I'll post the earrings that were requested later. Unfortunately the necklace is the same design that was in Belle Armoire Jewelry, so it's already been published. It's one of my favorites and have made a few this year so hopefully I'll not be "stuck" with it. Ugh Sue! It doesn't make any sense does it?! Is it a power thing? I guess it takes all kinds! I had a woman order one $4 bead and a catalog (of course it was a particular color and had to be made) I told her the firing time, mailed it out, mistakenly with out a tracking number. She didn't like it so I told her to send it back. She demanded a refund with out sending it back or she'd report me to PayPal for fraud! Yikes! Happy New Year!