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Artist Beware - Worms & Bones

WHO: Worms & Bones

WHERE: Homepage: http://www.wormsandbones.com/
Deviantart: http://wormsandbones.deviantart.com/

WHAT: $600 CAD for a one-of-a-kind art doll based on a werewolf character of mine.

WHEN: So arrangements for this commission first started back around late September, 2014, but confirmation happened in November 2015. Details were exchanged from February-March 2015. I paid in two installments. The first installment was March 10, 2015. References were provided on March 21. The second installment was paid on April 8, 2015. Provided below are screen shots of all the email exchanges we've had. What's important to note here is that I've had to email them sometimes two or three times in order to get a response, though to their credit they did always eventually respond. I sent the emails a week, sometimes two weeks, apart (in between months of waiting) as I was trying not to be worrisome. But conversely, I was becoming worried about the lack of communication. The first email I sent asking for an update was on June 3, 2015 with a followup on the 10th. I sent another inquiry on August 15, followed by another follow up on the 29th. I received a reply the following day. This pattern continues for some time, with me checking in every two to three or four months. I was unclear as to how long a commission was actually going to take as no where in their TOS does it state that they can take a year or longer to complete and at no point in the email exchange did they offer an ETA. I eventually became too anxious at their lack of communication and finally sent an email stating as such on December 7th basically expressing this anxiety and the concern over how long it was taking as I had received my previous customs from them in 2-5 months. I assumed that a commission to take maybe 8-9 in between customs and whatever else, especially since Worms & Bones have previously provided great customer care and a superior product. As requested, they did provide me with a rundown on events that was happening/had happened over the past few months to explain why it was taking so long. Up to this point I had only received one WIP (on Sept 1). I received a second Dec. 7, which was included in the response email I got after my inquiry about the length of time it was taking.

Needless to say, communication hasn't really improved. It's still taking a week or more for them to respond to my emails. I've received only 3 WIPs emails. I last requested on update on Sept. 13 as well as a possible ETA. Their response was pretty much the same as their last update - still waiting on their caster and were going fur shopping since they didn't have the right kind. It is now Oct. 11 and I haven't heard anything else.

Although I just recently noticed they have put up a warning in the Contact section of their website that they maybe slow to respond. So at least they tell you that now.

PROOF:

November 30-December 1, 2014 - First discussion of taking on the commission.

Feb. 27, 2015 - Worms & Bones confirms that they can take on the commission.
March 21 - More Details Exchanged. This screenshot also shows me confirming that I paid the invoice.
March 10 - First installment paid.
March 21 - Details Finalized.
April 8 - They sent me the 2nd Invoice.
April 8 - Final installment paid.
June 3 and June 12- First inquiry emails sent. This screenshot shows their response on the 12.
Aug 15, 29, 30 - Second inquiry email sent. This screenshot shows the exchange for that month.
Sept. 1 - First WIP. They emailed ME this time. I was sure things were going to be moving forward finally but two months later...
November 23 - 3rd Inquiry.
Dec. 7th - 3rd Inquiry follow up. This shows the exchange between the two of us during that time. I should point out that their responses are professional and friendly, and they do acknowledge that their commissions take a long time to complete (like, over-a-year-long, I suppose) - information I really wish I had known beforehand. They also provided a 2nd WIP.
Dec. 7th - My response to that last email (Couldn't fit all of it on the same screenshot.)

Feb 10, 17 2016 - 4th inquiry sent about a detail on the WIPs.
So far, so good with their response here. I was pleased that they just responded even if they didn't have a WIP to show me.
April 23rd, May 5 - 5th inquiry. This screenshot shows the exchange from that time period. Also 3rd and last visual WIP.
July 17, 20 - 6th inquiry and their response.
Sept. 13, 19 2016 - Asked for another update and a possible ETA, but no mention of it in their response. I have yet to hear anything about more about the furs and today is Oct. 11.


EXPLAIN: I really hesitated to post this beware because Worms & Bones have never been rude to me and do eventually reply to my emails, but their basic customer service could use some improvement. This Beware is mostly in regards to that.

So, perhaps it was the fact that I received their customs pretty quickly, and that the previous transactions had been pretty straight forward and the exchange pretty quick. And perhaps that I had mentioned in at least two earlier emails that I would "wait forever" (though I seriously didn't think I'd be waiting for over a year for it). And maybe it feels like I've been waiting longer than I have because details were first set in 2014. I tend to wait a week or more before sending followup emails because I'm aware that people have lives and they apparently make customs for a living. Which brings me to the other part of my complaint; in between all these emails, with very little WIPs to show on my $600 commission, they've produced many more customs for other customers as well as literal armfuls of customs for sale at conventions and at least three personal projects. All of which you can see on their tumblr. Let me just say here that I am NOT upset that they've got personal projects but it's just that on top of all the other work they've done for other customers - even potential customers that haven't even paid them money yet - and I haven't even seen what my werewolf's feet look like with the dew claws attached and it's been over a year. I also don't think I should feel awful every time I send off an email asking them for an update. I feel like I'm harassing them every time I do.

Furthermore, there is no mention on their website at how long commissions can take. The only thing it is mentioned is that they seldom accept commissions but no reason as to why. Which I guess isn't important, usually, but if it's a super long wait time, then I think it should be mentioned. So whether or not I receive my doll any time soon, I still think people should be aware of how long it will take to receive their product. At least they do now have a notice in their Contact Me section of their website stating that they are slow to respond to emails. They did not have this notice when I first commissioned them and I'm not sure when it appeared.

I also want to point out that, and I'm sure it's easy to see in the screen shots, that they have been nothing but polite when we have communicated and I genuinely believe that they aren't doing this on purpose. I suppose this Beware is more a warning about the lack of information these artists provide regarding the process of their services, at least in regards to commissions. So if you get a custom from them, you probably don't have to worry about this happening to you, but beware if you ever manage to score a commission. Considering it's been almost a month since they went fur shopping, I'm really starting to doubt I'm going to get what I paid for.

UPDATE: Worms and Bones has finished the commission, and although I have not received it physically yet, given their previous track record of successfully shipping out items, I have no doubts I will get it eventually. I deem this resolved!

UPDATE: I have Autumn firmly in hand. As usual the quality is wonderful and it's very satisfying to finally have it here. As mentioned above, Worms & Bones are overall pretty good to work with. It's mostly just their communication skills that could use some improvement. And be prepared for a long wait - especially if you're commissioning them!
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Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
keekswaffle
Oct. 12th, 2016 04:08 pm (UTC)
Was this before the implementation of their Wait List? They now have people put down some money to be put on a waiting list and when they have time, they contact members of the list and work on their commissions however this is only for existing sculpts.

I'm not sure about your werewolf, but I do remember them stating that they would be retiring the previous snarlier werewolf cast and your's is clearly an all new sculpt which requires a new mold (test casts, refined molds) and it can be a process especially if they are not doing it in house (which they do not seem to be).

I still agree that the contact could be better, maybe they need to both set aside time to answer emails each day? As far as I know only one handles the social media/contact? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
tiny_pawz
Oct. 12th, 2016 06:05 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure this was before the waiting list. Or at least one that you had pay to be on or that they mentioned to the public. I say this because according to the emails exchanged, I was put on a sort of "unofficial" waiting list in which they would contact me when they were open. They gave me a rough time period. The time period passed, so I contacted them to see what was what. This last part is included in the screenshots above.

And yes I do believe Bones is the one who handles most of the emails. I don't recall reading when they were retiring the werewolf sculpt. According to an earlier email and the amount I paid, I should be getting a unique sculpt that I presume will not be used elsewhere. If so then, according to an earlier email, I'm supposed to get some money back.

I'm aware that making these dolls takes time especially if they are to be done well, the same could be said of any piece of art, and if they aren't doing the entire process in house (which I was completely unaware of any of this when I first commissioned them. I remember reading something on their tumblr a while back that made it seem like they did everything in their own studio) then I think I should have been informed that this entire process would take nearly two years or more to complete. If I had known this ahead of time, I wouldn't be posting this beware. And considering the amount I paid - which $600 is definitely not a small number, at least to me - the lack of communication is a huge issue for me. I can understand not answering emails right away, especially if there is one person doing it and they seem to be as busy as they are making and selling customs, but the months of radio silence is a bit worrisome especially when it's stretched out over years and in between they're making dolls for themselves and hundreds of customs? I'm sorry if I sound incredulous but, coupled with the lack of communication, this still doesn't seem fair as a customer.
mortymaxwell
Oct. 12th, 2016 08:24 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about your experience. Hope you can get it resolved. Their art is nice, but communication could be better and I don't think I'd choose to do business with them after reading their terms of service on their website.

http://www.wormsandbones.com/faq--tos.html#faq

Refunds and Exchanges
We do not offer refunds or exchanges

We reserve the right to cancel any order at any time due to abusive, aggressive behavior or harassment.



Canceling a commission is fine. But cancelling+no refunds ever is scary. If they decide they no longer want to do a commission, a refund should be offered.

tiny_pawz
Oct. 12th, 2016 09:18 pm (UTC)
Yikes! It's been a while since I read their TOS, to be honest. I read it a while back when I got my first two customs from them and I don't recall this clause. I'm not sure if it was because it wasn't there or perhaps I just disregarded it considering they've had a good reputation.

Assuming I ever get my doll, I most likely will not be buying anything from them again. I certainly agree with your statement on refunds and I generally avoid doing business with any artist that has that in their TOS. This was an oversight on my part though. I'm going to be more careful in the future for sure.
sableantelope
Oct. 13th, 2016 06:46 pm (UTC)
I just want to make sure everyone is aware that they cannot enforce cancelling a deal and not refunding.

If they want to break a contract (especially for bullshit reasons) they need to make the customer whole.

tiny_pawz
Oct. 14th, 2016 03:02 am (UTC)
True, but it's still a Red Flag indicating that it may be a troublesome process.
sapphistscot
Oct. 15th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is a HUGE red flag to me, because it reads as "if you keep asking about your commission you are harassing us and we'll cancel your order and keep your money because our TOS says so".
arinaca
Oct. 13th, 2016 09:59 pm (UTC)
I got a custom from them I -think- in that same time slot as you! I haven't checked the emails, but I'm almost positive it was around 2014, intended to be my birthday present that year, but I didn't get it until a year later and some hassling.

They took a bit to get started on it, but when they did I got a few WIPS pretty close together and they fixed the sculpts pretty fast too. The doll was completed and they said they were just waiting on the varnish to stop being tacky because of humidity. A month or so passed with no communication so poking them they then said they were waiting to get photos. Another month later (after emailing again) they were waiting on a professional photographer because mine was all black and too hard to get pics of. It took another month or two and me hassling them for it to actually get posted out :/ I did at least get it eventually, but it was almost a year to the day before I received it when it'd been done almost 4-5 months prior (pretty sure that's all accurate dating, once again, I haven't gone digging for emails to double check dates, but I can if you'd like!)
tiny_pawz
Oct. 14th, 2016 03:05 am (UTC)
I guess it really depends on how motivated they are? I ordered two customs from them previously. One I got within two months and another I got within four/five.

I knew a commission would take longer because they have to basically build the doll from the ground up and Autumn is a significantly smaller werewolf than their current werewolf custom. I just didn't expect it to take quite THIS long. And I actually think I would be okay with waiting if they had been more communicative from the start.

Either way I'm sorry you had to go through that, too. :(
symstenops
Oct. 14th, 2016 03:44 am (UTC)
Its a bummer to hear but thank you for the heads up on this!

Yes they are quite polite, and I have never had any trouble but then again I did only buy the premades.

I am curious is the autumn werewolf they just posted on their tumblr yours?
tiny_pawz
Oct. 14th, 2016 05:55 am (UTC)
No, though I do adore that one.

Autumn is my character's name. c:
symstenops
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:29 pm (UTC)
I really hope you get her soon! Best wishes!
tiny_pawz
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Me too.
arinaca
Oct. 14th, 2016 08:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, like I know mine they finished probably 6 months in? Maybe a month or two longer? Then they spent forever actually getting him to me.
Maybe see if you can find some public area to post? Like a twitter account you can publicly ask what's going on etc. Though at this point you might have to look at PayPal chargebacks if they're really not going to cooperate :C This really sucks though because they're work is really nice and I want to get more things from them but not if they're going to be doing this.
tiny_pawz
Oct. 15th, 2016 12:18 am (UTC)
I don't feel like I've quite reached the point yet where I should broadcast my concern on their channels, so to speak. Though at this rate, I'm sure I'll get there soon. It took a lot of coaxing for me to even post this beware as I was worried it would look unprofessional. I'm an artist myself and I don't feel good putting up a beware about another artist but I felt people should know that communication and delay (mostly communication) is a very big issue with them. And now I can see I'm not the only one who has had this problem. I have not told them I've even posted this as I'm not sure how to present it to them without it looking hostile even though they know my feelings already.

I currently still would like my doll if they're willing to make her for me. If not then filing a chargeback/dispute will be an absolute last resort after all other avenues have been exhausted. I actually really doubt it will come to that...At least I really hope it won't.

And yeah it really sucks that their customer service isn't better as they do make beautiful work. I feel the same way as you.
mortymaxwell
Oct. 15th, 2016 10:26 am (UTC)
It seems many people are having communication issues with them. =/ They made a new post on FB, saying they are opening for new orders. This is under the entry where they posted the latest werewolf. Someone left a shout asking:

"Hey, I'm wondering... does 'box up this last batch' mean... you're done with the last set of customs? Because I reserved a slot in the last batch of customs but I never got an email saying my number/slot was up, nor given the op to finish off the payment. I do still want my custom!"
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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