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Advise needed - Impatient Customer

Hello!
This is not really a beware, but I do take commissions over FA for many years.
And a few times I have encountered rude or impatient customers like any other artist.

However, a returning customer lately has been very unpleasant to work with.
Note that it's a Concept Art means...a Reference Sheet, which a quiet large commission and it has been less than a month since he paid for it. But he persistently asks for updates and uses "how are you?" or "how do you feel?" as a scapegoat to ask for updates every, single, day. I had urged him to stop asking not once but twice. I want to let you know as well, that I am very open to answer anything to my customers and will do ANYTHING to assure their satisfaction. But now I get guilt tripped that he has depression and wants to see the commission done today every time he asks for it, or makes analogies that he is my friend to receive a pat in the head to forget what he is doing.


I honestly do not know what is the best approach for this.
Few friends mention the Silent Treatment or tell to stop asking much rougher.


I am feeling a little sad myself now, that this person fell on my commission list and have to deal with it. And since I am very passionate on my drawings to make them look spectacular to make my customers happy...it left me with tied hands.


Any help regarding this circumstance, would be deeply appreciated.

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Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
bornesb
Jun. 27th, 2017 04:50 pm (UTC)
If you do not want to deal with them, cancel the commission and be done with it. It is really this simple.

It is likely this repeat commissioner thinks you have a friendly relationship instead of a strictly professional one. You should remind them that the relationship they have you is business only- and that if they continue to ask for updates daily, you will cancel their commission (and give them a full refund, of course).

If you still want to give them a chance, you might want to say you will give them updates once a week, at your discretion, and if this is not satisfactory for the customer, they should seek another artist-- give them their refund and cancel the commission if they don't like your stance on this.

I am coming at this from the commissioner point of view. There is nothing I hate more than being pulled along because of something I did (even unknowingly) that makes the artist not want to do my commission. Then, instead of the artist cancelling the commission, they string me along and never complete it because they have no drive.

The last line in your post seems to suggest this is already happening-- you don't like the customer, so you're procrastinating on the commission. Please, do everyone in this situation a solid, and cancel the commission.
naaura
Jun. 27th, 2017 04:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the reply Bornesb.

The current commission stance is that it is almost finished, so about up to 70% done.

If it persists, then I will indeed resolve in giving a refund for the remaining work and the file of the progress.

You do bring valid points when comes for best suited type of communication. And since I am quiet inexperienced to conflict, I usually panic and then give in to the demands, ending up with quiet a lot of burnout and stress. So I appreciate the suggestions given. I will consider once the matter requires to take action.
bornesb
Jun. 27th, 2017 05:11 pm (UTC)
In that case, depending on what the art looks like right now, I would finish it up to something acceptable-- like if they had wanted fully shaded but you're almost done with flats, finish up the flats, give the customer the file and a partial refund for the "downgrade" in commission type.

Interestingly, I've been in this situation before, where my commission was almost done but cancelled. It was a comic, and had about 2 panels missing. I got a partial refund but trying to work around the 2 blank panels was sort of difficult.

If your commission has a good "stopping point," whether that be by adding a couple things, or taking away some stuff (for example, everything's inked but you had only just started colors. Take away the colors, customer receives linework only now), then do that.

If you're in some weird middle area that can't be cleaned up well, it is your choice where you want to go-- don't give them anything and take the loss with 100% refund just so you don't have to deal with them. Or give them what you have with a partial refund (which might leave the customer kind of boned since finding people to finish other's work is really hard).

You could also, if you can find the motivation, quietly deal with this customer, finish the work, and simply refuse to take any future commissions from them to avoid another situation like this.

Best of luck to you; I hope it works out.
mortymaxwell
Jun. 27th, 2017 06:15 pm (UTC)
I assume you did nothing wrong and the artist just cancelled on you and went, "I don't feel like doing this anymore, here's your partial refund?" I avoid artists who are known to do that. >
bornesb
Jun. 27th, 2017 06:28 pm (UTC)
They went silent on communication mid-commission and I initiated a paypal claim before the window closed to force them to start talking. I was told they took on a commission too large for the time they had to dedicate to it.

But, even if the artist just didn't feel like doing it anymore (which has *also* happened to me before), I would not hold it against that artist anyway. I would MUCH RATHER have an artist who is responsible enough to realize they cannot finish the commission (no matter the reason) and thus cancel it with refund, rather than the alternative (artist does nothing and runs off with your money essentially), which unfortunately seems more common.

There are artists who have canceled my commissions that I would still recommend to people. Crap happens. That's business. How the business owner deals with it (and in this case the business owner is the artist), will tell you how reliable and responsible that business is.

You should not begrudge a business for realizing it made a mistake and rectifying it.

Edited at 2017-06-27 06:33 pm (UTC)
mortymaxwell
Jun. 28th, 2017 09:31 am (UTC)
I agree with the first part of what you said and disagree with the second part. I feel it is good when an artist recognizes that they cannot finish the commission.

I do not agree that only issuing a partial refund when the artist is the one who cancels is the best way of rectifying the mistake. I would begrudge an artist if I commissioned Christmas cards and an artist decided to cancel for personal reasons and not issue a full refund. I would consider that questionable. If, on the other hand, they gave me a choice of partial refund/partial art or full refund/no art, I would be okay with that, and feel good about trying to commission them again, at a later date.

Edited at 2017-06-28 09:38 am (UTC)
teekchan
Jun. 28th, 2017 04:16 am (UTC)
If you cancel you owe the commissioner a full refund, even though you've done work. They arent breaking your TOS (unless you have 'dont talk to me' in it).

Commissione cancels - partial.
Commissioner breaks TOS or is actually doing something WRONG not just annoying - Partial refund.
You cancel because you want to/cant do it/commissioner is merely annoying - full refund. (granted they cant use the art, and you can repurpose it, or offer them the art and a partial IF they want it)
mortymaxwell
Jun. 28th, 2017 09:16 am (UTC)
I think in order to give you advice, I would need to have more information. It would be helpful if you could link me your terms of service so I can see what your policies are for cancellations and refunds. I'm wondering if your TOS covers how frequently a customer can ask for updates and what you consider harassment. I would like to know if your customer saw your TOS and if your TOS is missing this information, I would advise adding it to prevent future incidents like this from occurring.

Second, I feel like canceling and giving him a partial refund because you find his personality annoying is iffy. Especially if your TOS is incomplete and he didn't know beforehand, you don't like customers acting this way. I feel you should tell him his behavior bothers you and then give him the choice of a full refund/no art or a partial refund/partially completed art.

Edited at 2017-06-28 09:34 am (UTC)
mortymaxwell
Jun. 28th, 2017 05:55 pm (UTC)
I did look you up. I found your current terms of service. http://naaura.deviantart.com/journal/Commission-Prices-and-ToS-632342383 Nowhere does it say anything about harassment or asking for updates and you don't have a lot of info on refunds except for, a customer can get a refund if you don't complete a simple commission in six months or a complicated commission in a year. I definitely would suggest adding the missing information in. Your customer probably has no idea you find his behavior unacceptable because it's not in your TOS.

P.S. Also, on a side note, six months to a year to complete a commission before you'll issue refunds, exceeds the Paypal protection time and would make me really reluctant to commission an artist with such rules....
sbneko
Jun. 28th, 2017 06:27 pm (UTC)
Why would the client not know it's not acceptable when the OP states they've told them twice to stop?
mortymaxwell
Jun. 28th, 2017 06:43 pm (UTC)
I look at it this way. The OP's TOS doesn't explicitly state what is unacceptable and there are different ways of telling people to stop. "Hey, could you please check back with me in twos days, I'll have more info for you then xpp" comes across much differently than, "Please be patient and wait a week before contacting me." I've had people not immediately realize that I am trying to get work done and keep talking to me, because of how I initially phrased my requests. I am not good with confrontation and sometimes people don't get it, because I try to talk really gently.
sbneko
Jun. 28th, 2017 06:46 pm (UTC)
We don't know how OP told them though, so the client could be more then aware of it, but doesn't care, which happens a lot. That's also assuming the client would even bother to read the TOS.

I completely agree that it should be added, you want things on your side. But I don't agree that the client isn't aware of what they're doing, especially since the client is guilt tripping the artist.
celestinaketzia
Jun. 28th, 2017 06:58 pm (UTC)
It may be best to simply put in a "Artist reserves the right to cease the commission and issue a refund at their discretion."

What people constitute as harassment can vary. Setting too many scenarios in a ToS can be very off-putting, and make the artist come off as defensive.

With that said, some of this comes down to common sense. It shouldn't have to be in someone's ToS that a client shouldn't pester them day in and day out. Part of this job is customer service, and knowing how to deal with difficult customers.
magedragonfire
Jun. 27th, 2017 05:10 pm (UTC)
"If you still want to give them a chance, you might want to say you will give them updates once a week, at your discretion, and if this is not satisfactory for the customer, they should seek another artist-- give them their refund and cancel the commission if they don't like your stance on this."

Yeah, I agree with this. It sounds like you have to firmly establish a line with this customer, and then stick to it. He sounds like he's either very impatient, or have gotten the idea that your relationship is more as friends than as a professional one.

You may want to remind him that answering repeated questions about when the work is going to be done takes time out of your day from actually working on commissions, and it's not helping him get his art any faster. Perhaps you could tell him that you'll only provide progress updates on a weekly (or even two-weekly) basis to cut him off from contacting you about the status, as well? This doesn't necessarily have to involve sending proofs or in-progress shots of what you've been working on for him, but it could if you do that kind of thing anyway.
kayla_la
Jun. 27th, 2017 05:10 pm (UTC)
"Hi! I'm doing great! I need to inform you however that this will be my last response to this kind of contact until your commission is finished, which should be (insert vague timeline, IE two weeks, a month, etc). Any continued attempts to ask for updates or force a rushed completion sooner than agreed upon will result in a full refund* and the art will be re-purposed. Thank you!"

Then, it is up to -you- to follow through. If they've harassed you before and you've just let them, that teaches them there's no consequences.

Alternatively, you could ask if they would like to pay a 'rush fee' to have the commission completed within a day or two.

*I suggest a full refund over a partial for your own sake. Chargebacks are a very real threat in such situations. A full refund would wash your hands of them completely and allow you to block and blacklist them without worry of a chargeback + them telling people you stole their money.
bornesb
Jun. 27th, 2017 05:16 pm (UTC)
Didn't even think about the chargeback threat. Wow. I would hope a repeat customer, no matter how upset, would not do that. =[
kayla_la
Jun. 27th, 2017 05:23 pm (UTC)
Someone who is already treating the artist poorly is definitely someone I'd be wary of how they'd react. Knowing that a chargeback would not only take the money but charge me a fee for the pleasure, I just personally wouldn't want to risk it. Paypal rarely sides with the artist (not never, but rarely).

I've always held a general view of whoever is doing the canceling is the one who eats the loss. Canceling because of poor behaviour is a grey area, but the -right- to give a partial refund, to me, isn't as practical as giving them their money and knowing I'm in the clear to never deal with them again. When things are already that bad, it seems like a small price to pay for a clean cut, you know? Fortunately, most art can be re purposed with a little tweaking.
mortymaxwell
Jun. 27th, 2017 06:11 pm (UTC)
There was a prior AB where a customer was acting overly familiar. http://artists-beware.livejournal.com/tag/comm-wyraachur%2Fwerechu The artist became upset and cancelled. They issued a partial refund. The client was very upset they only received a partial refund and the artist and client had some uncomfortable exchanges about why she had to cancel. Some people advised the artist that if they had issued a full refund, it would have left no room for dispute. You could also cancel, issue a full refund, and give the customer the option of buying the art, at whatever state it is in.
kalika_tybera
Jun. 27th, 2017 07:14 pm (UTC)
Personally, if you're 70% done I think you should probably try to plow through and wash your hands of it once done, strongly consider not taking work from this person again.

I'd send them a message along these lines:

"Hi, I'm currently working on your piece and want to make sure I do my best and that it's not rushed. From here on I will send you a weekly update on the status every (day of week of your choice) and project a finish date of (week/month/whatever is comfortable and gives you some wiggle room). Thank you for your understanding and patience."

Keep it simple and concise. Okay admittedly he's not being 'patient', but it never hurts to butter up the client a bit to help avoid unwanted conflicts.
Hunty Belmnt
Jun. 27th, 2017 11:28 pm (UTC)
Cancel the commmission, refund the customer and block them. My mother once told me, "A watched pot doesn't boil the water."
uaz_469
Jun. 28th, 2017 10:03 am (UTC)
As a commissioner, I prefer if the artist is (brutally) honest with me, as I am honest with him/her. Just tell me that I get on your nerves and I will apologize and be quiet.

Now that doesn't mean that you should tell him right in the face that he annoys you and you don't want to work on his commission anymore (I would have no problem with it, but in this customer's case, such a PN would likely backfire and tarnish your reputation if he decides to tell others), but I think that a PN which politely explains that his behaviour is stressing you out, causing the commission to decrease in quality and thus making him unhappy, should calm the situation.

The others have provided good examples to such messages, so I won't give you another one, especially as I'm more the "direct approach"-type, which some people may consider rude.

Edited at 2017-06-28 10:07 am (UTC)
mortymaxwell
Jun. 28th, 2017 10:37 am (UTC)
"Hi! Your reference sheet is very detailed and requires a lot of concentration. While I appreciate your enthusiasm for this commission, talking about it every day affects my working process. I want to focus on your commission and do a good job on it. From now on, I will send you updates [insert time/date here]. I'll aim to have your commission done by [time/date]. If this does not work for you, I can give you the choice of: 1) a full refund and repurpose the artwork. Or 2) a partial refund and a cleaned up version of the art, as-is."
naaura
Jun. 28th, 2017 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and suggestion.
I have taken multiple advises in to account and I will review and improve my TOS without looking too off putting.

The commission is going well and I am feeling less stressed out.
So far the situation is better, I have contacted the customer and now so far we discuss what's beneficial on both ends with happy results. I blame on my poor skills on wording things out correctly (English not my native language but I am learning!), your suggestions with quoted messages will be great help for me for my future work and cases.

Cheers to all :)
spartanwerewolf
Jun. 29th, 2017 06:21 am (UTC)
Do you use Trello?

I set up every commissioner with their own Trello card and link it to them when I invoice, along with a note saying something like,"Please check regularly for updates on your commission". Might be something to think about in future.

For this specific dude, tell him flat out, you will update him once a week (or whatever timeframe works for you) and that continued daily pleas for updates constitute harassment, and will result in his commission being cancelled. In which case you'd issue a full refund and repurpose the art.

Or, y'know, since it's nearly done, power through in the next 2-3 days while ignoring him pestering you. Not that I think ignoring a client is a great idea but there are limits and 2 or 3 days won't kill anyone :|
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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