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Advice on fursuit scenario?

EDIT: Think I'll just finish it, ask for a final, definite design along with exact measurements (maybe ask if they can get someone to help them for clarification?). I'd rather have them receive the fursuit and be happy, even if it means pulling teeth to get there.

I'll try to keep this as short as possible because it's SO MUCH.

I opened for fursuit commissions back in mid February. Client submits in my form, agrees to my TOS and pays in full a few days later. I order the supplies needed (resin bits, silicone, fur, foam, etc.).
Fast forward to March when they're now one of the top three on my list to get started. I let them know and they inform me that they have a new reference sheet since the design changed. Design changes are against my TOS. I save the new file, transfer their information onto it and order some more fabric.

There's been a total of three design changes since then, without a change in reference. As I'm working on this and showing WIP photos I'm being told about things looking "off" from the reference without having them pointed out to me so I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong since there's nothing for me to look at. Looking at their art and commissions (which they appear happy with) there's some variations in the design with each piece.

I'm more than halfway done at this point and they'd like it done in time for Anthrocon but this is really stressing me out between ordering more supplies, them constantly apologizing for the changes (that I'm not aware of) and the fear of finishing it and not having it fit them because they've also changed their measurements a few times. For example, I tell clients to measure their forehead circumference around their glasses if they wear them and that measurement has changed many times between 21" and 24". That's a huge difference! They also tend to type in abbreviations or mix up words/spell words wrong to the point where I'm not sure what they're talking about and that's tripping me up too. I ask for clarification and they get frustrated with me.

At this point should I just refund them and take my loss or finish it since I'm so close and keep biting the bullet while working with them? I'm being as patient as possible and they're incredibly patient too, as well as understanding. I'd feel horrible with going with the latter this late into the process but I've never dealt with a client like this before.

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Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
laughsatthunder
May. 15th, 2016 05:51 pm (UTC)
Should clarify (oops): The first design change was just one minor color change-over (pink to purple), which to me was no big deal but should have been the first red flag. After that it was changes in design involving shapes and such, where the amount of color on the character varied and things got switched. Species and gender never changed though.
ime2667
May. 15th, 2016 05:56 pm (UTC)
This isn't going to help you now, but you really need to stick to you TOS. Like you said in the beginning, right off the bat you knew what they were asking was against your TOS, but you saved the new file anyway. I think it will save you a lot of headaches in the future to strictly stick to it.

I personally have this problem too, letting people get away with things against my TOS. I do it because when I'm really in need of money, I don't want to scare them away by saying something they want is against the rules. Not sure if it's the same for you, but probably why it sticks out to me most in your post.

In any case, hindsight isn't really going to help you with this. While I'd take my advice with a grain of salt since I'm not too versed in this stuff, I think it depends how close you are to finishing. If you're super close to being done, a refund could be a bigger pain than it's worth.
laughsatthunder
May. 15th, 2016 06:05 pm (UTC)
I know, I should have. When I opened I denied people who sent me multiple varying references and things that violated my TOS (such as not wanting to pay import fees; unrelated) so I should have known better than to keep going.

Seeing that fursuit construction is my job I guess it has to do with money? I just wanted to make another partial and this was going to be OP's first... before they bought another because the excitement was apparently too much for them and they needed it for FWA.

If it was a generic species I'd refund them right away but it's such a diverse hybrid with a very complex design that it makes things more difficult. I already made patterns for it but haven't cut out any fur yet since today is pattern day. Maybe I could offer them the fur, base, etc. and a refund? I'm not sure how to go about doing that though because I have in my TOS that refunds don't include the 30% downpayment and I'd be giving them the supplies since I have no use for them.
Plus I'd be breaking their heart and that's too big of a guilt trip...
spartanwerewolf
May. 15th, 2016 06:01 pm (UTC)
If design changes are against your TOS, then stick to that. There's no point in having a TOS if you throw it out the window. No more changes.

Don't start work without firm measurements. You should not be half done and still ordering supplies and trying to chase down head measurements. If they cannot follow instructions, you can't be held responsible for their suit not fitting.

Limit your WIP shots. You don't need to send them a photo whenever you change something. You're supposed to be the expert here.
laughsatthunder
May. 15th, 2016 06:08 pm (UTC)
I let them know that a week or two ago when I made my final firm supplies purchase regarding the character because one or two should be enough, not seven.

I'm not sure what you mean by that final part. They're commissioning me to make their character and unfortunately it's far from a basic species (a mash of several, it appears) with a complex design.
(Deleted comment)
laughsatthunder
May. 17th, 2016 12:25 am (UTC)
That's happened three times so far. I like that you aren't given a sense of direction when asked, "What looks off, where should I move it?" Favorite part is, "Oh, it looked good in the first picture."
celestinaketzia
May. 17th, 2016 01:21 am (UTC)
Oh goodness, I know that feeling. What's best to do (especially if you're working with a newbie to suits) is to give them a run down of what to expect with the transaction.

"When requesting changes on WIP photos please be concise. Avoid generic statements."

"The references you supply me at the beginning of the transaction will be the only ones permitted. No changes to your character will be allowed after this point!"
laughsatthunder
May. 17th, 2016 01:25 am (UTC)
I move it per the customer's request if they're very defiant about it, as this client was. Sometimes they mention it and go, "Oh but it's your style/you know what you're doing!" or in cases like this, "It looks off, check it."

... I should totally do that with this client. The changes to the character went in full circle back towards the original design.
celestinaketzia
May. 17th, 2016 02:03 am (UTC)
Don't let them get away with that though. If you're going in blind changing things willy nilly on vague requests, then you're just wasting your own time. You need to absolutely put your foot down and say that any requests for changes must be specific. Vague requests will not be honored.
yarbro
May. 18th, 2016 03:17 pm (UTC)
Small, tiny changes are alright (for example, the client asking if the white tips for the ears can be extended longer). But completely redesign the character is a huge red flag. I suggest refund your client and walk out.
galagya
May. 22nd, 2016 01:30 pm (UTC)
I think since you're going above & beyond, plus outside of your TOS, you should probably put your foot down asap. Just my opinion, of course!

Some ideas:
1) tell them that's it, you have done more than enough changes, especially considering you don't normally allow them at all. I'd say tell them that, if they want anything else changed before AC, they need to let you know - once. that's it. last chance for extra changes, which yet again is more than they should have had in the first place.
2) again, slam that foot down. but allow for more changes - if they pay for them. come up with a set, solid price. this is something I've seen many people do, & it makes sense(setting amounts of changes they'll make, then prices for additional changes(example: "you can make up to 2 changes. all consequent changes will cost $10 for something small, or $30 for something big"... stuff like that))... particularly when they get to the point you're at. they add more work when they request changes(yet again, especially true since it's outside of your TOS(TOS that you made, if you remember, for a /reason/! don't doubt yourself! hm, I seem particularly fond of parentheses in this reply; my bad lmao))... work that is not included in what they originally paid. just saying, this may also work. & it'd certainly discourage their constant "updates".
3) enforce a combination of 1 & 2. give them one last free change, then any after that, charge for.
4) stop immediately & give a partial refund - excluding what work you've done already, of course - & don't look back.
5) if you must keep going like this, ask for an extended deadline. actually, throw that "ask" out the window. TELL them that it won't/*can't* be done by AC. the deadline made sense in the beginning, I'm sure. but at this point? it'd be the logical result of all the changes they have put to you. there are consequences for these things.


If they complain about any of this, I'd promptly point them to the TOS.

Basically, it seems you're a very nice, patient person. But, being someone who has dug themselves into a hole time & time again, I can say with certainty that you shouldn't be pushed this far. But you're letting that happen, you see. Clearly you can't go on like this & expect to feel at all okay. That's just not healthy. You sound stressed to the max, & commissions should /not/ come with this much anxiety. Some? Sure. Not like this, though. & it's completely understandable why you feel this way. Hell, I got a bit stressed just reading this & imagining myself in your position, haha! So yeah, something should definitely be done in any case. I hope you'll change something up, for your own sake. Think about it, at least.

Good luck regardless, & have a good one.
laughsatthunder
May. 22nd, 2016 01:41 pm (UTC)
I actually ended up refunding them, sending them the supplies and cutting ties yesterday. I gave them several warnings and they pushed me to my limit. Boyfriend got involved (he was not part of the transaction at any point), I was blamed for their depression and so forth; I just put my foot down and told them I didn't want to work on a product I know they wouldn't be satisfied with, especially with all the changes. VERY happy I cut ties, I'll be 100% reinforcing this in the future. Lesson learned.
yarbro
May. 30th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
They blaimed you for their depression? Holy cow, that is not a customer I refuse to deal with. I am happy you got it fix.
laughsatthunder
May. 30th, 2016 01:38 am (UTC)
Yeeeah. I submitted an A_B on them and I'm waiting for it to go through, things went downhill fast. D: But I definitely know what to look out for in the future now.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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