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Question For You All

So this might not be worthy of the community, but I was discussing this matter with first my fiance and then a friend of mine, and the friend suggested I post it here...

Around Christmas/beginning of December, my fiance decided to commission a fairly talented and well-known artist we both love. The issue isn't really with her, so I won't post her name for now - I'd rather not associate her with the 'Beware-List.'

So my fiance commissions her for an ACEO of our characters, at a price of approximately $60 including insured shipping since the artist is overseas. Looking over the notes, my fiance contacted the artist in late November, received a sketch to be approved in early December, and received a Photobucket link to the final product the very next day. Frankly impressive due to the artist involved, in my opinion.

It was send out in the mail December 6th, and was supposed to arrive around the time I was visiting my fiance, the 3rd week in December - a little before Christmas, basically.

Well, something went wrong and we still haven't received it. This is a first for the artist - having a piece lost in the mail, I mean - and she's got a very established record of haiing her commissioners receive their art. In fact, every other person she sent art out to that batch got theirs safe and sound. Hell, we saw the finished piece, so we know it's done.

Here's where the dilemma comes in... My fiance has contacted her a few times about finding it, and this was the last note she got, on February 1st:

As you requested, I sent away the ACEO commission with insurance or how we call it recorded delivery. And as always I have asked when the picture will arrive because it was supposed to be a Christmas present.

They said it will take about a week, so I signed and let them post it.
Everything the post does and what happens to the commissions does not lie within my responsibility. This is now the very first time that an original got lost or never arrived at a customer's house. I will go to the post office soon and ask for the letter or I can even look it up online. Maybe you can even ask your local sorting office if there is something for you.

That once happened to me when my mother sent me a packet from Germany to England and it got lost.

After two months, it went back to my mother. -____-

I will keep you informed and give you the details of sending. If there is nothing I can do since it has been a quite long time now, I still have the original 300 dpi scan for you to print out if it is well and truly lost."

Now my fiance has gotten fairly frustrated, which is understandable given that it was her $60 being spent. However, I think my fiance is being a little childish in how she's reacting. She thinks it would be ok to ask this artist to re-do the piece from scratch and send it out again for free. As an artist, I'm frankly horrified by this concept, and would be more than a little pissed if someone asked me to do that without at least a fee, as it would essentially be getting two commissions for the price of one. She didn't think it was overreacting or asking too much in the slightest. I managed to convince her not to make this request, but I'd really like your opinions on this since it's been niggling at me for quite some time.

Also, what to do about the art itself? I'm staying out of it personally, since I didn't commission this artist, nor did I pay the money. But I do feel like it's a shame to call it a loss. My fiance hasn't gotten any more notes from the artist - she'd have told me - but how do we go about resolving this? I love this artist's work, but I'm still not sure what to do...

Also it's saying I'm not allowed to tag entries, so I apologize for that.
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.


( 78 comments — Leave a comment )
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Apr. 8th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
No need to apologize about being unable to edit tags. We have it set so that only moderators can make and edit tags.
Apr. 8th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
I'm curious about this myself. As an artist, if something gets lost in the mail, either you make a new one and lose. Or refuse to and the customer loses. Is there a middle ground to make everyone happy or is it best to just suck it up and offer to redo it for the PR.
Apr. 8th, 2009 08:08 am (UTC)
Thats what postal insurance is for. Parcel tracking + Postal insurance should always be included in your prices, so a full refund is available for the customer if it DOES get lost in the mail.
(no subject) - beetlecat - Apr. 8th, 2009 08:23 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stormslegacy - Apr. 8th, 2009 02:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vulgaris - Apr. 8th, 2009 05:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lastres0rt - Apr. 9th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - beetlecat - Apr. 9th, 2009 12:57 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
She thinks it would be ok to ask this artist to re-do the piece from scratch and send it out again for free.

This is like not only forcing the artist to take responsibility for the postal service screwing up (which is wrong) but then forcing a monetary 'punishment' on the artist.

Sometimes the postal services screw up. Sometimes they do it even when you register, or insure a piece. And it's not pleasant for the artist anymore than it is for the client. It happens, and it sucks. But it's not the artist's fault, and sometimes the client just has to cut their losses and be realistic about postal services in general.

If you paid for insured postage, you or the artist should be able to claim that insurance. BUT, you're usually not reimbursed for the full amount of the piece. If you didn't ask for insurance in the postage, then you can't really get your money back from the artist if the art was lost in transit.

Also; you say that everything else the artist has sent out has pretty much arrived at its destination. You've SEEN the final. It's pretty clear that the artist isn't a) trying to welsh out on you, b) isn't trying to cheat you, c) isn't used to these problems as well.

If the postal service screwed me (the artist) around by not delivering a piece to a client, I'd claim insurance on it (which is a lengthy, horrible process) and I'd absolutely NOT redo a commission 'for free.' That's my hard work, and being asked to do something for free is just being screwed around once more, for something the post office has already screwed me around for.

I'm not saying the situation is fair - but you have to realise it's not enjoyable or fair on the artist either.
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
I completely agree with this, honestly. It's more convincing my fiancee, though I'm slowly bringing her around.

I think it was my pausing when she said that - we were on the phone - and my telling her how if I was the artist and she did that to me I'd be extremely offended.

She did offer to send us the 300 dpi version and I've got a good printer. I'd much rather just print it on my nice cardstock for her, like I do with everything else I commission.
(no subject) - moonvoice - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:22 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kayla_la - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:56 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:00 am (UTC)
Honestly, just get the 300dpi and print it out yourself. That way, you have the ACEO, and if the original DOES come, then its no big loss.
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:08 am (UTC)
Yeah, that's what I'm trying to tell her to do. :3 See my above reply.
(no subject) - katze_neko_mew - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:01 am (UTC)
Well I'm a little confused - did the artist put insurance on the art? If it's really lost, then doesn't the artist get the value of the piece ($60) back? If not, why wasn't the art insured so that they would?

If the piece is lost and the artist gets $60, then hell yes they should redo the piece. It isn't a second commission for free - the post office is paying for the second commission because it was lost. That or the artist should refund SOME (not all) of the money and send the print if they cannot or will not redo the commission for some reason.

If there wasn't insurance on the art, whose decision was that, the artist or the commissioner?

In addition to some art, I sometimes sell reptiles online and have to mail them out. Shipping is very important and EVEN THOUGH NO COMPANY WILL INSURE LIVE ANIMALS (meaning there is squat that can be done about being compensated if the animals are injured even if it's entirely the shipping company's fault) most sellers give a "live arrival guarantee". This means that if the animals are hurt/killed in shipping, the seller will REFUND OR REPLACE the animals, and possibly the cost of shipping (note, shipping must be done overnight and is usually around $50, so no small change).
So, yes, I do think the art is the artist's responsibility until it's in the buyer's hands. I suppose if she says otherwise in her TOS she'd have a leg to stand on, but IMHO "not my problem" is pretty weak.
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:07 am (UTC)
If it's really lost, then doesn't the artist get the value of the piece ($60) back?

Not sure about the USA, but in Australia if you insure the piece (which costs a crapload), you still rarely get the full-amount back; and it's a lengthy, ongoing process where the Postal Services often try to contest your claim as much as possible.

Not that that stops me from insuring everything I send out.

Also, registering post is different to insurance. I.e. sending something out as trackable, is not the same as insured. If she sent it out as a trackable item, it still may not be insured.

This means that if the animals are hurt/killed in shipping, the seller will REFUND OR REPLACE the animals

You'd be very hard-pressed to find a professional artist who will offer anything similar to this when it comes to postal services + art. I don't really think the two are comparable.
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pointytilly - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonvoice - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonvoice - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:00 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonvoice - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - teahound - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - stormslegacy - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - houndofloki - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - teahound - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pkbitchgirl - Apr. 14th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 14th, 2009 03:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pkbitchgirl - Apr. 14th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bladespark - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - moonvoice - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - teahound - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - teahound - Apr. 8th, 2009 04:52 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
If she got tracking then you should be able to look up via the post office website where in transit the package is.
Apr. 8th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
I've no idea if she can track it; since the artist is in Germany and I don't know how it works there. ^^; I'd assume it's like here but... *shrug*
(no subject) - mazz - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaily - Apr. 8th, 2009 07:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Apr. 9th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - louveg - Apr. 12th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - onesteptwo - Apr. 12th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 04:12 am (UTC)
I wouldn't hold the artist responsible. I'd ask maybe about "splitting the damage" as owning the original has some worth, but at the same time it would be very out of line to demand a refund or a full redo.

In most cases the receiver is the one that can make insurance claims, so ask about getting the tracking info, etc.

The fact that you have a high-res copy is worth most of the money. If, for some reason you can't make the insurance claim, then I would ask for a small partial refund of 10 dollars or so, understanding that it's her call as to honoring it. If she doesn't that by no means makes her a bad artist at all!

Christmas I had a lot of problems with the PO this year regarding international shipments. I have in my store policies on Etsy that I am not responsible but at the same time will often ship some sort of replacement as compensation. In the My Little Pony community, the general rule of thumb used to be if a pony got lost during a sale or trade, then the one that got their end would "split the difference" by either refunding half value or sending something of half value, which is a system that worked very well.

I have, however, encountered a few people who's true-blue belief is that as a business one should always take the loss, even if it puts you under. I disagree, only because people taking commissions are not the equivalent of walmart who have plenty of overhead to back that return up. I make pennies from my Etsy shop when all is considered and even a small loss is a huge hit that I simply can't afford right now. Insurance is the responsibility of the buyer to ask for and has been even in professional venues for many years.

A lot of people use Paypal's terms as a justification for why the seller is responsible, but one must remember that it is owned by Ebay who has it in their financial interest to make sure that buyers are not scared of using it and buying on Ebay. By providing as many protections to buyers as possible (usually at the expense of sellers) it was an inevitable addition to the system rather than a moral necessity.

International packages can be tricksy beasts. I don't know if you're in the US but if you are check out the last part of this page and call their international claims # once the person gets back to you with info:
Apr. 8th, 2009 04:36 am (UTC)
Maybe your fiance could request a print to be sent? Or get a print made?

I personally would've just called it a shame and accepted the scan. *shrug* But I think asking for a print would be fair.

I will say though, I absolutely would not feel it was right or fair to ask for an entirely new/redone piece. But that's just me, take that for what it's worth.

Edited at 2009-04-08 04:37 am (UTC)
Apr. 8th, 2009 04:56 am (UTC)
This is completely my opinion too. xD

Honestly, I'd rather just talk my fiance into letting me make a nice print out of it on some heavy cardstock I have, and maybe get it framed for her... And hey, if it turns up, it turns up, ne? xD Frankly as an artist I'd be offended if someone tried to make me do a whole new piece, and told my fiance so.
(no subject) - semisonicstar - Apr. 8th, 2009 05:51 am (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 07:31 am (UTC)
This reminds me of a married couple who tried to sue a photographer because he lost their wedding photos. He lost their wedding photos because he was mugged and lost tens of thousands of dollars worth of professional camera equipment, the couple was suing them for a million bucks o_<

Sometimes shitty things happen that are out of everyone's hands, it's not really fair to keep anyone responsible if they're not the ones who actually lost the item. I'd feel pretty shitty if I thought my art was stolen by some thieving American mailman, or simply lost and thrown out somewhere. And while I'd feel terrible for the customer and offer them a print, I wouldn't re-do the whole image for them or offer a refund, the work they paid for has already been done in full.

It's very unfortunate that we're all dependent on overworked, underpaid mail carriers :/

Good reason for all artists to get hi-rez scans of all their finished work before they send it out. And maybe add a "Don't blame me when the mail fucks up." disclaimer in their TOS.
Apr. 8th, 2009 10:20 am (UTC)

Personally if I was the artist? I'd probably redo it if it didn't show up (I tend to keep extra copies of original sketches so it would be fairly easy to redo a lost piece so long as the person didn't mind waiting); but that would be my own choice.

Certainly there is no obligation on the artist to redo the piece if it's been lost in transit unless they have offered. If it's insured and registered? Though the artist can either claim on the insurance or get it tracked down, so they should be at least looking at doing either if it's still missing months on.

So yeah, the artist should probably at least try to chase it up with the post office if it was insured/registered.
Apr. 8th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
When you buy anything off ebay for example, if something goes missing or gets damaged in the post most sellers say they're not responsible and this is accepted. Why should this be any different? You should be taking up the issue with the PO who's service has failed you rather than insisting an honest artist work many hard hours for free because someone else has fecked up. Chances are the artist is going to be pissed and doing a piece of art the second time never turns out as good.

Personally as an artist I'd refuse nor refund as I don't want to be penalized for doing nothing wrong and that lost/ damaged in the post is an society accepted risk. It the art really didn't show up after a time period I would consider doing a gift sketch as a peacekeeping measure if the commissioner has been reasonable about it but not if they've been screaming for free art at me. Sadly there is always the possibility that someone has received their art and pretending it hasn't arrived to get another piece for free, personally I'd rather trust the commissioner as honest but still you have to know there are people out there who would try it on.

I had something nicked in the post worth £10 and I was only able to get a £3.50 refund so there's no guarantee that the artist can get the money back. Yes, the artist needs to chase up the PO about it. Also, have you checked the Postal address is correct. I had a piece of art not turn up because the artist got my address wrong. It eventually turned up back at hers after about 2 months where she was able to resend it and I received it the second time. So there may be hope!
Apr. 8th, 2009 01:14 pm (UTC)
I haven't read all of the comments, so maybe someone else has suggested this, but...

Ask the artist if she has a high quality scan of the piece? That way you could print it out yourself at and least have a copy of it til you're happy/and/or at ease.
Apr. 8th, 2009 01:25 pm (UTC)
You had said above that you included money for insured shipping. Y'all should cash in on that, and then ask if she can do another piece for you.
Apr. 8th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I sent a sculpture to someone years ago as a commission. Spent HOURS on it, busted my butt trying to make it look amazing, packed it up, insured it for the full amount the commissioner paid, and "OOPS" (UPS) played 'kick the can' with the fecking box. I got an email from the person with the title of "Broken Angel", with pictures, and felt sick. I offered to either try to repair it (unlikely, it was a mess) or redo it. He chose a redo, which is did, packaged up like Fort Knox, wrote FRAGILE all over, insured (again), and sent it. It arrived, and I spent the next 3 months fighting OOPS to get the money back. The eventually did, although their rep had to come To My Home, and appraise the damage. I got a "Well, can't you just glue it?" O.O Needless to say, I was bloody pissed and had a few choice words for said rep.

In the end, once an artist send out the piece, we have NO control over if the mail service or shipping company person is having a bad day/is pissed off/is clumsy/has an accident while handling the package. Hence, I now tell people they pay for insurance or I'm not responsible for what happens when it leaves my hands. Though I don't know how insurance works outside the US.
(no subject) - fenris_lorsrai - Apr. 8th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spiffystuff - Apr. 8th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underthebed - Apr. 9th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 8th, 2009 04:19 pm (UTC)
Just re-reading it, I'm a little confused as to what postage was put on it. I'm guessing this artist was in the UK?
In the UK, recored delivery isn't the same as insured. You have to buy insurance separately on top of the signed charge. I'm guessing that they used this service-
As you can see you need separate insurance, otherwise they will only compensate up to £36 (if at all). And they can't track once it's out of the UK.

Given that the last communication was 1st Feb, the artist needs to let you know what's going on with them chasing it up like they said they would in the last message. They've had plenty of time to get down the PO and even if they didn't have any luck they need to keep you informed.
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