December 17th, 2010


What would you do/Advice

Not a beware, just looking for a quick bit of situational advice.

You've got a commissioner who puts down their nonrefundable deposit. Materials are ordered and work begins. A few months later, they tell you they have lost their internet connection and can no longer communicate with you--they tell you this via their handheld device, which apparently does not accept any incoming emails. No communication from you can be received. After the loss of internet, they disappear for 9+ months.

With no way to contact them, you treat the commission as abandoned--not really any other option, since there's no way to contact them to have them approve the work or get the remainder of the payment.

After that 9+ months, a friend contacts you on their behalf and offers to be the go-between for communication.

This is where I'm not certain what to do. Our prices have gone up quite a bit since their initial commission. If we were to do the commission now, they would basically get a 3/4 partial for about the price of a head at our current prices. So if I cancel the commission, should I refund them their entire deposit, considering materials were bought and work was begun before they disappeared? Or should they get the entire deposit since technically I'm the one cancelling? Do I have any right to tell them they need to get a new quote if they want to continue the commission?

ETA: I think at this point I've decided to offer either a partial refund (probably half), or the option to continue the commission at a later time and our current prices, with the deposit treated as paid. I don't feel comfortable working through a middle man. I also don't think I would feel comfortable giving him a full refund (since he disappeared long enough that we were unable to continue the commission) or no refund (since technically we are the ones canceling, even if we're canceling due to the situation that he's put us in). Any further advice or opinions on the situation are certainly appreciated though, as well as any suggestions about how to edit our current TOS to avoid situations such as this in the future. Thanks everyone!