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Costume Commission Gone Wrong

WHO:
Aliases: SophieCabra, Waji
"Company": SurfCatCostumes

WHERE:
http://surfcatcostumes.com/

WHAT:
Costume of my character Tokkebi Kesaki done in the same style as Luskwood (with permission from Luskwood. SophieCabra used to work for Luskwood so she had confirmed she could achieve this quality. It was promised to be the same quality.)

Art: http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/1745-1/tokkebikesakicharactersheet.jpg

Product: http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7306-1/IMG_5509.jpg (in depth pictures and descriptions of everything below)

Screenshots of initial e-mails confirming these facts:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10055-1/Screenshot-AB-1.png
(Note: She mentions a non-refundable deposit of $495 but never mentions what it is for. In talking with other makers this is always accepted as a cancellation fee, I never canceled the product while it was in process. The promised product with the promised quality and features was just never delivered so I asked for a refund because it was offered to me.)
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10057-1/Screenshot-AB-2.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10059-1/Screenshot-AB-3.png
(I never received guidelines or a real contract or a ToS so all agreements were made through e-mail in this fashion.)

WHEN:
Initial Costume invoice was sent 6/18/09.
First Payment of $520 was sent out via paypal Jun. 7, 2009
Second Payment of $545 was sent out via paypal Sep 1, 2009
Final Payment of $600 was sent out via paypal Sep. 2, 2009
Product promised to be done and received by: Halloween 2009, if artist could not get it done in time then sometime in January 2010.
Total of all payments as well as price of costume: $1665
Costume received: Feb 6, 2010
Promised refund: Feb 6, 2010 (Promised refund by: August 1st, 2010)
Costume confirmed to have been received: Mar 18, 2010
Partial refund of $1,081, $1050 after fees was sent to me via paypal Apr 18, 2010
Current payment owed: $584
Asked for rest of payment initially: 4/19/10 (never got a response)
Gave artist a time line to pay me back again on: Feb 15, 2011 (end of march)
Artist failed to pay me back by: 03/31/11 (never got a response)
Demand Letter to be sent: 4/4/11
Court date if Demand Letter is not responded to: TBA

PROOF:
Here is a review of the costume I wrote which includes all proof needed of the quality of the product received including pictures, videos and e-mails sent and received throughout the process.
http://community.livejournal.com/fursuitreviews/31415.html
(I figure it's better to just post that part here as a link because it's just as good as copy-pasting and putting it behind a cut, please tell me if you'd rather have me go about this another way.)

Here are some e-mails in which the refund is mentioned:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10077-1/Screenshot-AB-refundmention-4.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10075-1/Screenshot-AB-refundmention-5.png (promising refund for suit.)

I can provide screenshots of anything asked for if needed. Here are the paypal transactions:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10061-1/Screenshot-AB-5-1stPayment.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10063-1/Screenshot-AB-5-2ndPayment.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10065-1/Screenshot-AB-5-3rdPayment.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10067-1/Screenshot-AB-5-refund.png

Note: She mentions that it's $1050 even after fees and isn't including the initial 30% even though I never canceled on her and she had promised me a full refund. However $1665 - $1050 = $615 which was not even the down payment. The down payment was $495 so even if there is some reason that I am not owed the original 30% (which I still have yet to clear up since she has never responded to me about this) she still owes me $120 by her own standards. With fee money included $1665 - $1081 = $584. Which is what I am currently asking for. However if her statement that I do not owe the 30% is true then: $584 - $495 = $89 So, she would still owe me $89.
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10055-1/Screenshot-AB-1.png

I was told to cover paypal fees (which is apparently against Paypal's TOS https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/gen/terms-outside ) so I sent her $520 with the first payment to make it even/easier to track how much I still owed.

I also paid for her to ship it to me. The receipt she scanned for me:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/10072-1/Receipt-AB-6-shipping.png
(I blurred out most of my address, the address of another person she mailed something to, and her card info.)

And I paid a lot more than that to ship it back to her with tracking and confirmation which was something she failed to do herself.


EXPLAIN:
Once again, here is a review of the costume I wrote which includes all proof needed of the quality of the product received including pictures, video and e-mails sent and received throughout the process as of March 23rd.
http://community.livejournal.com/fursuitreviews/31415.html

Also copy pasted here:
----REVIEW START----

I have given this maker an entire year to come clean and fix the problems with this transaction and they haven't, so unfortunately, this is not a positive review.

As a DISCLAIMER, this person may have changed their ways since my commission and I have never seen the produce work of this low quality before or after my commission was made.

Name of Artist:
Surf Cat Costumes/SophieCabra

Website:
http://surfcatcostumes.com/

Character/species commissioned (link to photo/concept art):
Tokkebi Kesaki, a ghost Korean Jindo dog.
Here is the concept art:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/1745-1/tokkebikesakicharactersheet.jpg

I also included some snapshots of my SL avatar of her (my by my friend, Luper):
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/6484-2/Snapshot_003.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/6472-2/Snapshot_001.png
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/6480-2/Snapshot_002.png
(I have more, but you get the idea.)

Links to picture(s) of your commissioned item:
Currently I have absolutely nothing, and I am down -$584, but this is what I got in the mail last year in February:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7306-1/IMG_5509.jpg
Because there is a lot to be said about every other picture I have of it, I'll put them in the appropriate places throughout the review after all the other information has been said.

Is the item old or new (if old, how long have you had it/when was it made?)
This was made sometime at the end of 2009 but I did not receive it until February 2010. (again this will all be explained below.)

--Grade each below aspect on a scale of 1 (worst) to 5 (best)--
Visual Aspect (does it match the concept art? Is it consistent with other items the maker has produced? Is it visually pleasing overall?): 1

Okay first, let me say, this wasn't my first fursuit commission, this was my 5th or 6th fursuit commission so I had had a lot of experience with this at this point. The product did not match the concept art to the degree I had hoped for (to me it doesn't match at all other than colors really), it's not consistent with the other items this person has made, and it came out looking pretty bad overall.

Why?

I was promised something I did not receive. This commission was originally going to be made by Luskwood and when they stopped taking commissions and I saw Sophie, who used to work for Luskwood had parted off and started her own company I approached her asking if she could do that quality of work for me. I had seen the work she did at Luskwood and it looked good and I had seen the suits she had made on her own at that point and I thought they looked pretty nice!

She promised me this quality, she promised me leg padding, eyes that light up, glowing fur, and that she would match my concept art... you know what? here is that part of the original e-mail, no better way of putting it:

First E-mail:
Ooh. Awesome character. I can totally play around with some glow in the dark effects. I could hopefully even find some transparent glow airbrush paints I could highlight the fur with. The problem would be finding one that went on completely transparent. But I would love to play around with that and experiment beforehand and to see if I could get it to work for your fur. :)

Anyhoo, before Luskwood disbanded, I worked with Arito, so I can do the same leg/foot padding system and whatnot. I think for the whole thing (supplies, labor, shipping) I'm going to say $1650."


I was excited to hear that she liked the character because usually that means the maker will make a better product when they like the character as well! I was also excited that she promised me all of these things and that she was going to do the glow in the dark stuff as well! Sounded like a dream right? The price was the highest I had ever had at the time but I was willing to pay that much for the promised quality. (All my previous commissions at this time were a lot cheaper, were much higher quality when received and were from big names like B3/Joecifur, JillCostumes, Midori, and Rose Quoll.)

Here is my initial response:
"Awe, thank you so much. :D I wouldn't really need the fur to glow, but actually it does on the SL avatar my friend made for me:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/2228-1/Snapshot_483.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/2232-1/Snapshot_480.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/2222-1/Snapshot_485.jpg

Hahaha, so that would be really freaking awesome if you could figure it out. I know that paint from that kotaku link is really good for stuff like that, but I can't remember what it's called. I know Beetlecat used it once on some claws.

I can do the 30% paypal deposit.

Man, thanks for responding so fast, I asked for quotes from a couple other people and it's been months and no one has responded! Then you finished that Roo head recently and I was like OH DUH everything you made with Arito and the stuff you've made alone seemed to be the best work that came out of Luskwood/in the style I want!

I was all emo there for a week about loosing my quote. I got a good price on it, but I don't mind paying more if I am still going to get the same quality. (It wasn't THAT far off from yours. :P)

I wouldn't "need" the suit until FC 2010 so anywhere you want to put me in is fine, I am patient. XD

Just tell me where to send the money and I'll snag my space! :D

Thank you so much!"


Well pretty much none of these promised things came out right. The bodysuit didn't fit at all (we made a duct tape dummy), most of the claws on the feet had fallen off, I couldn't see out of the head and it flopped around, it didn't look right, the "glow in the dark" fur was yellow, uneven, and atrocious. There was absolutely no body padding, the eyes didn't glow (there is more on this though, I'll explain this in the service section), there were no teeth, there was black eyebrows on it (character does not have eyebrows), the mouth and nose were uneven, the ears were uneven. There was pretty much flaws with every part of the suit.

More on this in the workmanship section with pictures.

Service Aspect (Deadlines. Communication. Little extras.):0

I have actually been afraid to post this part because it DID start off wonderful and she was a pleasure to talk to for months of this transaction! Everything seemed to be going great but then several major flaws we're made towards the end. She is also a well known person in the furry fandom and has a lot of friends so saying anything negative about her seemed "awful".. but these are facts, and this is what happened to me.

This is long, so I am going to put it under a cut. Most of this was typed last year in April as well.

Communication/Deadlines/Shipping:
The suit was originally supposed to be done for Halloween or in October. I asked to have WIP photos because I am very particular with how my characters are represented and I never got any WIP pictures, then suddenly I got finished pictures of the suit the week of Halloween but it just didn't look right in the picture and the eyes looked awful to me. It looked wall-eyed and she had worn the bodysuit. I had sent her a duct tape dummy so that the suit would fit me and I was aware Sophie is bigger than me, so it made me kind of irked to see that she had worn the suit because she said it was hard to get into and I was hoping she hadn't stretched it or something like that.

Here are those photos:
http://www.surfcatcostumes.com/v/costumes/kesaki/

I didn't really like the head shapes and some other nit picky things from the photos but the eyes were the main turn off so I asked her to change the eyes because I was thinking maybe the other stuff looked better in person. I remembered from experiences in the past that some fursuits look like shit in photos, but in person they look really nice.

I'd rather have a nice suit, than have it by Halloween!

She took 2 months to change the eyes and they still didn't look right. She sent me this picture on December 3rd:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7856-1/eyes1.jpg

I asked to see them with the lights on in them since it was the point of them and she sent me this:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7858-1/eyes2.jpg

Which looked just as wall-eyed as the last pictures. Also.. why not ever show me the whole head at once? :/

She told me she'd change them again, maybe the light effect was just not working out right and she'd replace them with glow in the dark painted blue eyes. She also promised me the suit had body padding and that the whole thing "lit up like a light bulb" before I got it.

She finally replaced the eyes again by December 31st and sent me blurry cell phone pictures of it after I requested to see photos instead of her just sending it to me.
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/6943-1/s1.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7239-1/s2.JPG

I was tired of dealing with it and I wanted the suit by FC so I asked her to send me the suit because maybe they looked better in person, who knows.

She told me she sent it and I waited.

On January 11th I realized the suit really should have been there at that point so I asked her if she had tracking info. She evaded the question and said the post office said it would be there by Wednesday.

I waited. I e-mailed her on the 14th saying it still wasn't here. She said she'd call the post office on the 15th if it still wasn't there. I told her on the 15th it still wasn't there.

She never responded so I waited some more.

On the 20th I e-mailed her asking if she had ever contacted the post office. She said:
"I called them, got the run around, was told to email them with the receipt number. There's not record of damage, insufficient postage costs, etc. They gave me some BS about being slow after the holidays and this past federal holiday weekend, blah blah blah. I'm calling them again. They filed it as missing as transit, so from what I hear that puts a fire in their asses if it's just sitting around in some office somewhere.

It really should be there today. God, I hope. If it is lost, I'd say we allow until the end of Feb to come back and after that I can either remake the costume or begin issuing you a full refund. I am terribly sorry and infuriated this is happening. Let me know if I can do anything else."


I said thanks for calling and everything she had done and continued to wait for it.. Throughout all these e-mails I had asked her multiple times if she gotten insurance and tracking info on it and she kept evading my question.

On the 25th I still did not have the suit so I sent her this:
"Yeah I think it's gone. :( I hope you got a large amount of money claimed for insurance on that. D: I'd feel bad getting a full refund now if you didn't, but I think now I need the money more than a suit. I lost my job on the 15th. X.x

GUhhhhh stupid mail!!!! I swear this character is bad luck. The badge that ****** made of her got lost too! >.<"


I censored out that artist's name just in case! Yes, a badge of this character got lost as well.

We both had been completely friendly with each other up to this point and there had been no problems with each other. I already didn't completely like the suit she had made just from the pictures in the first place so getting her to remake it again seemed pointless (I would've rather just had the money at this point and commissioned the suit from another maker at a later date, especially because I had also just lost my job, and on top of that someone had stolen my identity so I couldn't get my unemployment money either.)

She responded:
"Went to the post office today with my delivery confirmation and receipt and in person they told me that as far as their records say, it's been delivered. o.o What the post man says he believes this means is that either one of your housemates (if any) accepted the package and never told you, or got a package notice (due to you not being home or it being too big to deliver) in the mail and forgot to give it to you, or the package notice may have gotten lost. Their advice was to have you check with anyone in your house, as well as head to your local post office ASAP. If it's been been sitting in the local USPS for a while, then that's why it's just been lost in transit without response. After a few weeks they will sent it back to me, which the post man told me can take quite a while.

If you can check any roommates as well as your local post office as soon as you can, that would be the next best course of action. Please let me know!"


I sent back this:
"Hi ----,
I don't have any housemates and nothing has ever gotten lost in the mail here at all in the past. :/ I have received numerous LARGE boxes in the past, too. I just live with my boyfriend and we would've seen it if it got here.

I will check the post office tomorrow I guess... :/ We haven't gotten any notices.

You sent it to *****ADDRESSS****** Right?

I'll let you know ASAP what I hear from my post office."


I wanted to double check my address because people spell it wrong all the time.

Sophie responded:
"Yeah, I didn't know if you had any, so I was just passing along info. Anyhoo, try the post office and see. That is the address I sent it to, so hopefully the post office was just being stupid and it's sitting with them."

This is when I went to the post office on the 29th of January and e-mailed her this:
"The post office says they didn't receive anything at all for me. I had them look all over in the back. Are you sure it was confirmed received?? Was it at a different post office? If you got insurance on the package, you should have a tracking number (according to the person at my post office.)

I have a feeling it's lost or... at a different post office? My post office definitely doesn't have it. x.x I don't know why it would be confirmed received if it wasn't in ******."


I spent a lot of time down there and they had nothing... This is also where I found out that she DID NOT get insurance or tracking on the suit.

On the 30th I was upset so I sent her an e-mail explaining to her why I'd rather have the money than another suit because it seemed to me that it was definitely lost. I spilled my guts, I was stupid, I TOLD HER EVERYTHING that had happened to me up to that point because I was stressing out and so that she wouldn't think I was BSing about wanting the full refund that she had promised instead of another suit.

I also asked her if she had actually sent it because it was just too weird that the post office had absolutely no record of it and that I was upset with her for not getting insurance and tracking. I was nice about everything I said in the e-mail. I asked to see the receipt so that if there was any tracking at all I could find it from the receipt.

I got back an angry e-mail from her... in which she refused to refund me, but she scanned the receipt. She accused me of receiving the package and not telling her. We both basically got unreasonably mad at each other about the stupid USPS losing the package of the suit I was promised was of good quality. These e-mails are really long and tl;dr so I will leave them out and just put these summaries here. x.x

I told her that I would wait 2 months for it to show up, but if it didn't I would still expect a refund to be an option if I didn't want her to remake the suit.

On the 31st she e-mailed me back and said she could do the refund.. I'll just copy paste that e-mail, I can't summarize it well.
"I firstly want to apologize for accusing you of lying. I was on the defense for being accused as well of something I would never do to a customer. I believe we are both just running a bit of a temper due to a regretful situation that is out of our hands. We both don't know each other personally, so it's easy to assume. It's stressful, but I think we both got any suspicions under the bridge and we can work to fix it.

I do think you misunderstood me about the refund. Perhaps I worded it poorly, but I meant that I could not offer you a full refund right this minute. Firstly I really believe that we should wait the two months, and I am grateful you agree. But also I meant that I could not offer the full refund all at once. It would have to be paid back in installments, much like how I accept payment for costumes. As for it showing up in the hopeful case it will, I said in my previous email that I would be glad to change the design a bit so you could sell it without selling your character. I have no problem with offering you that at all. I encourage you, should it come to that, to allow me to do so, since I know my own work more than anyone else would.

If it's truly just the head that's the problem, I can remake the head if the costume resurfaces. I still believe that I followed the concept to the best of my ability. But I also understand that the way we all see and interpret art can vary. I don't know if this would be a solution for you, but one thing I've done with previous customers is to sketch their character in my own style and render it out as such. It has been a very successful exercise in the past and I think it might work for you. Basically I would email you a bunch of sketches and you can pick and choose what you'd like.

Anyways, I believe patience is our biggest ally right now and all we can do is hope it shows up. I am still going to be hawking around on the USPS phonelines until I've gotten an answer. Despite not having on-site tracking, USPS does track all packages in their own system, all I have to do is find someone on the phone that is willing to let me know what their systems are saying. I do not know why they would have told me it's delivered if it was not, but I know that I can find out somehow. It's a government agency and it is a bureaucratic mess to navigate. I will get answers, however, and I will pass them along to you as soon as I have some.

Hope you are well and at ease at least a little bit,"


I explained to her all the things I would want changed if she wanted to remake the suit head (this was before I knew of the actual quality I would receive in the mail.) I thought only the head was a problem at this point, so it all seemed reasonable.

Lots of time passed.

On February 6th the suit miraculously shows up. The suit was the most terribly crafted suit I have ever had in my own possession. NONE of those things I was promised were on it. The whole suit was crammed into a huge box with no packing material at all as well...

I told her my honest opinion on everything including pictures like I have posted here.

Her response:
"All right, send it back to me. Once I get it in hand I'll start issuing a refund in installments to be completed by Aug 1st. I will sell the costume off myself."

On top of this I was told she was writing snarky posts about me on her LJ this whole time! I did not see them myself but people told had me about them. :/ I never had any "buyer's remorse" for the suit I EXPECTED to get, the product I received was just NOT WHAT I BOUGHT AT ALL. There was no body padding, the eyes didn't glow, it didn't match my art, it was not Luskwood quality..etc.etc.etc. I'd be perfectly happy if I had gotten what I had commissioned.

Anyways, you can see why I was not pleased with the amount of money I paid. Manda did not cost anywhere near that much and is MUCH MUCH higher quality..and she fits me, I also never sent Joe a duct tape dummy either, he just did it right with nothing but measurements and she still fit me. Licorice and Cricket were even cheaper and are just as high of a quality as Manda. Pierah was cheap as hell and much better quality, my "secret" suit is obviously higher quality and extremely cheap, same goes for Sync and none of them cost anywhere near this much. I was expecting the quality I had gotten in the past from other makers but with everything promised.

I sent it back to her as soon as I could after getting back and asked her to tell me when she got it. I paid an extra $65 total to ship it and to get tracking and insurance on it (I will never get that back, but I knew that!) I just wanted to send it back to her right. It got back in a timely manor.

I expected installments of payment like I was promised because she had said she didn't have the money so I agreed to have it by August 1st.

I sent this to her on March 2nd because she hadn't told me she got it yet:
"Hi, ----!

I am just checking in, did you receive the suit yet? I sent it with insurance and tracking on the 18th, but the USPS website is giving me errors when I put the tracking number in. (Can anything with them ever work right?) Anyways, if you didn't get it yet, I am going to go down to the post office and figure out if they messed up their system or something.

Thanks!"


She never responded to it.

So I sent this on March 18th.
"Hey, just checking again since I never got a response back before. I just want to make sure everything gets there.

Thanks,"


She responded:
"Hey, I got your box. No worries."

I never got any payment installments as promised but I randomly got most of it back on April 18th.

This suit or.. lack there of.. THIS EXPERIENCE cost me: $584 + the money I spent to send it back to her.. and whatever I paid to send her a duct tape dummy which I doubt she used.

I e-mailed her about this remaining money and she never responded.

I e-mailed her again last month giving her an ultimatum, she sends the money back but the end of March or I go to court.

I am hoping I won't have to go to court, but what's done is done.

TL;DR:
She didn't meet the deadline, the eyes never looked right, she promised me she could do something she obviously couldn't (make glowing eyes like my art), it got lost in the mail, she didn't put tracking on it, I asked for a refund when I got a bad product, she refused, she finally paid me back most of it, she still owes me money a year later and has about a week to pay me back before I go to small claims court.

Workmanship Aspect (Is the sewing neat? Are things that should be sewn glued or vise versa? Does it fit? Has anything fallen off yet that shouldn’t have):1

Now to explain everything individually...

First off, not fitting. I sent her a duct tape dummy so you'd think it fit? I don't know how she made it on it but it seemed to fit her pretty well:
http://surfcatcostumes.com/v/costumes/kesaki/IMG_0915.JPG.html

Here it is on me:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7306-1/IMG_5509.jpg (ignore my hair popping out.)
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7280-1/IMG_5522.jpg (There was no leg padding.)

Here it is with a pair of pants on top to show just how baggy it was on me:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7898-2/IMG_5594.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7882-2/IMG_5592.JPG

It had some strange crotch bunching thing going on in the front:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7296-1/IMG_5514.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7290-1/IMG_5517.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7890-2/IMG_5596.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7886-2/IMG_5595.JPG

The fur was full of weird stuff that had collected in it:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7870-2/IMG_5591.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7926-2/IMG_5576.JPG (oh look foam!)

And loose threads all over on the inside, this is the hole the tail was supposed to go through:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7878-2/IMG_5588.JPG

With the belt as tight as possible, this is how the tail help up:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7288-1/IMG_5520.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7286-1/IMG_5519.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7282-1/IMG_5521.jpg

Oh yeah.. and for some reason you could see my divesuit through the fur? It must've had thin backing or something I remember it being scratchy, I don't know where it was from though.

The glow in the dark paint glowed, not blue, nor white, and it was splattered on unevenly and looked gross glowing, I have a video of this but I am unsure of where to upload it.. (I don't want it on youtube.)

Okay so second, not looking right. Why didn't I do something about this before? Well It looked "okay" in the pictures on her. I was "eh" about the eyebrows and some facial shape things but it's white and white never photographs well so I figured I wanted to see it with my own eyes before forming a solid opinion on asking for anymore changes (also, I had already had her replace the eyes 2 times when she showed me the pictures of it all together and it took her and extra 2 or 3 months to change the eyes.)

So here are those things, first off the feet:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7308-1/IMG_5510.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7304-1/IMG_5512.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7302-1/IMG_5511.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7298-1/IMG_5513.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7270-1/IMG_5531.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7958-2/IMG_5571.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7966-2/IMG_5569.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7994-2/IMG_5568.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8006-2/IMG_5554.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8014-2/IMG_5553.JPG (mysterious shoe)
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8010-2/IMG_5555.JPG (strange holes in the bottom?)
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8018-2/IMG_5551.JPG (scale, next to a DS Lite, they were huge, I couldn't barely fit through the door wearing them actually.)

A lot of the claws had fallen off in the mail, they were painted blue and left unfinished so there was fur, foam and dirt/dust stuck all over them, they were also shaped very elephant like, and not dog like at all. There claws that were left attached were loose and the ones that weren't, I found loose in the box but there was one I never found.. which means it fell off before the suit was sent? I know my concept art has chunky legs but she still has a foot in it and this is definitely not how I imagined, I was thinking more like this suit made by Luskwood (quality I was promised and paid for once again):
http://luskwood.org/costume/gallery/canines/nataliecevichelimahusky/1
http://luskwood.org/costume/gallery/canines/keovi/2
http://luskwood.org/gallery/costumes/canines/keovi/keovi3.jpg

I already mentioned the claws issues so here are some more pictures of that and the hand paws:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7950-2/IMG_5573.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7962-2/IMG_5572.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7970-2/IMG_5570.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8038-2/IMG_5556.JPG

The Nose:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7284-1/IMG_5523.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7274-1/IMG_5525.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7998-2/IMG_5565.JPG (loose hot glue on the felt)
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7978-2/IMG_5564.JPG
It was very flat and had an outline around it which is something I personally just don't really like the look of on most suits. Does not look like the art.

The Eyes:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7278-1/IMG_5526.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7990-2/IMG_5567.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8002-2/IMG_5566.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8030-2/IMG_5560.JPG
Slapped on, falling off at parts, covered in scratches and at this point I had thought they were just glow in the dark (not EL wire anymore like originally promised because the first couple attempts at this had come out looking very wrong), but they weren't even glow in the dark and I could actually look through them because of how the head fit on my head. I had to look through the mouth.

The Mouth being un-even and the lack of teeth:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7974-2/IMG_5563.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7986-2/IMG_5562.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7982-2/IMG_5561.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8026-2/IMG_5559.JPG
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7276-1/IMG_5524.jpg
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/7268-1/IMG_5527.jpg

The Tail back:
http://www.synchrastudios.com/gallery/d/8042-2/IMG_5557.JPG
This was just messy, and strange for what it was supposed to be.

I feel like I am leaving things out. I don't know, anyone who was at my house when this thing was received knows this was just NOT a top quality suit, it was somehow worse in person. (A lot of friends were over when this came in the mail, my excitement quickly died when I opened the box.)

Describe your Experience. Pros, Cons, Comments:
Well I pretty much described it all already. This was an extremely negative experience for me.

I have waited almost an entire year for this thing to be resolved and she has made no attempt to refund me the remaining money, next month it'd be a year, and I am tired of waiting in silence.

By law, because I have absolutely NO PRODUCT, and I DID NOT cancel on her while she was in process, she owes me ALL of my money. On top of this, I have not seen her resell the suit.. so I assume it's still at her house or.. possibly in the trash? I don't know.

I have put off posting anything "publicly" about this because I didn't want to start a bunch of e-drama and because I was hoping keeping it out of the light would help to keep a nice neutral relationship between me and Sophie so that we could solve things in a calm and fair fashion but now that she isn't responding to me at all, it's public.

Final Grade (out of 5): 0

EDIT: Figured out how to upload videos to youtube so that they can only be seen when linked or something! So, I hope these work. These were filmed last year in February right after getting the suit.


This is the "glow". Impossible to photograph, hard to video tape, but this is as good as it gets to convey the issues with it.


This one speaks for itself.

----REVIEW END----

An update on what has happened since then:
I have received no response whatsoever from her and am in the process of settling this legally now. She has failed to respond to me in any way through all the conventional methods I have tried. Yesterday I noticed she had been active on Furaffinity so I attempted to contact her through the website (which I had never tried before) and received the response that I had been blocked. The fact that she has blocked me on a website where I have never once been rude to her or attempted to contact her before on leads me to believe that she is refusing to cooperate with me instead of just neglecting to check her e-mail addresses.

I had a "demand letter" written up which is being sent on Monday. (I waited until Monday because April 1st is well.. April 1st and I wanted this to be taken seriously.)

I have been researching and talking to people for the last month or two about small claims suits and finding out everything I need to do.

I have asked her to explain her side of the story with no response. If there is something I missed, or am doing wrong, I want to hear it because I will admit my faults if there is some valid reason or something I missed. With nothing work off of on her end, I can only go with what I know and have on my own end. I saved every e-mail and record of transaction with her and have all the evidence I need for court however.

Once again, I was never given ToS so I cannot share that with you either, I can just go on what I know.
Artist's beware has moved!
Do NOT repost your old bewares. They are being archived.
https://artistsbeware.info/

Comments

( 93 comments — Leave a comment )
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rogue1717
Apr. 4th, 2011 08:37 pm (UTC)
per her FAQ on the website:

Do I need to put down a deposit?

Yes. A 30% non-refundable deposit is required for ALL orders. This secures you a place in line and some materials needed for your project.

Do you have a return policy?

Well, yes and no. When your costume is completed, detailed pictures will be sent your way for approval. If changes need to be made, we will do our best to make the appropriate fixes. We will handle more serious concerns on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that the initial deposit is nonrefundable in all cases.



So 30% of the total cost would not be included in a full refund. Just the rest of the cost. You would have agreed to those terms upon commission, especially if you approved the progress pictures.
fenrirs_child
Apr. 4th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
except for the fact that the maker agreed to a full refund. had she not, the tos would be the guideline. also, there weren't any progress pictures, only completed pictures, if i read right...
(no subject) - rogue1717 - Apr. 4th, 2011 08:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fatkraken - Apr. 4th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - filthy_animal - Apr. 4th, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - fenrirs_child - Apr. 4th, 2011 08:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - fenrirs_child - Apr. 4th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
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nanook123
Apr. 4th, 2011 09:24 pm (UTC)
There are other people she owes stuff to (art...money...suit stuff) and I hope they post here about it as well.

Personally, I've seen some of Spain's other stuff, and while her 'style' isn't my favorite, its higher quality than this abomination. Synchra has been treated unfairly and has been more than nice about dealing with it. Had it been me, Spain would no longer have a business.
mysterymoose
Apr. 4th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)
You know, those weird holes in the sole of the feet, makes me think a pet managed to chew the hell out of it...
snobahr
Apr. 4th, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
I thought it looked like stapling gone bad, at the retailer's end.
(no subject) - fenrirs_child - Apr. 4th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - silverfalln - Apr. 5th, 2011 02:50 am (UTC) - Expand
sunhawk
Apr. 4th, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
I think I am little confused about the refund part, but outside of that it sucks that the suit came out with all those problems, the claws breaking off alone makes me wince. I never understand how any artist can work on a project that big and expensive and not want to make sure it fits what the client had in mind (within reason obviously) before you say it's done and send it off @_@
lilenth
Apr. 4th, 2011 10:03 pm (UTC)

Even if they can't make quite what the client had in mind, you'd at least they're at least make sure it wasn't made with low quality materials, falling apart, dirty, or otherwise damaged.
(no subject) - sunhawk - Apr. 5th, 2011 03:17 am (UTC) - Expand
pretty_omi
Apr. 4th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Regardless of any ToS, why should the customer be out $500+ when they did not cancel the project midway, they were dissatisfied with the end product, and returned it.
I don't know the laws personally, but I'm pretty sure there are laws that would say since there is no product in the customer's hands, they are entitled to all their money back.
I too would love to hear Sophie's side of the story, but seeing as this has been going on for a year, she has yet to weigh in with any of her opinions on the matter, even with this story being posted in multiple places, therefor giving her plenty of chances to elaborate her side, imo.
I've had the "pleasure" of meeting her in person. Despite being in a fun and happy group of friends she was cold, and bitchy. Her attitude alone put me off from ever wanting to give her my business, and this was before she started ripping off a few of my friends.
Lets just say the personality of Waji suits her very well :\
oceandezignz
Apr. 4th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Regardless of her treatment of you and yours, next time just leave it at 'cold'. Don't add in the 'bitchy' as that is crossing the line into name-calling.
(no subject) - pretty_omi - Apr. 4th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oceandezignz - Apr. 4th, 2011 10:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
kayla_la
Apr. 4th, 2011 10:11 pm (UTC)
synchra, did you mean for this post to be friend's locked?
lilenth
Apr. 4th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)

You can report her to paypal for forcing clients to pay the paypal fees; it's a violation of their terms of service.
filthy_animal
Apr. 4th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
Ooh, nice call!
(no subject) - y0te - Apr. 5th, 2011 05:41 am (UTC) - Expand
marus_puppy
Apr. 4th, 2011 11:23 pm (UTC)
It always disappoints me to see fursuit makers show up on here. :/ I make costumes and stuff, so these posts are always more like a "guh, now I know how NOT to run my business" thing than the average art posts are. I hope you get your money back and please update us on whether she does or you have to go to court.
filthy_animal
Apr. 4th, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
I'm really proud of you for posting this, Synch. Good job.

Hopefully this will save many others from being treated this poorly by Sophie. :/

I am still baffled by the shipping situation. :c
growly
Apr. 4th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
It's so shocking this happened... good luck getting your money back. You liked her work and trusted her to do a good job and you were basically punished for it. :/

Also, this post has made me rethink my own policies as a fursuit artist. I always just did the non-refundable deposit because every other builder does it, I didn't really think about this sort of scenario when I wrote my ToS. So thanks, it was very helpful to hear about things all us suit builders can do to improve our customer service. ^_^
fatkraken
Apr. 5th, 2011 12:08 am (UTC)
non refundable would just mean not refundable within the confines of the law, ie if the customer cancels. If you took a "non refundable" deposit and then cancelled from your end, you wouldn't be allowed to keep it either, but most people don't stipulate that since it's taken as read.

you could word it as "the deposit cannot be refunded in the event of cancellation instigated by the customer"
(no subject) - growly - Apr. 5th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lilenth - Apr. 5th, 2011 12:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
zrcalo
Apr. 5th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
something wrong with page?
hey, I dont know if anyone else is having the same issue as I am, but the page wont load after where you say "she didnt have tracking or insurance on it"
also, none of the comments are showing up on this.

can only view when I press "speak"
and the same thing happens in firefox, IE, and chrome.
megamon_blue
Apr. 5th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
Re: something wrong with page?
Everything is loading fine for me. o.o
Re: something wrong with page? - zrcalo - Apr. 5th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - maui_dolphin - Apr. 5th, 2011 01:31 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - zrcalo - Apr. 6th, 2011 05:27 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - keaalu - Apr. 5th, 2011 01:22 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - sbneko - Apr. 5th, 2011 01:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - slyminera - Apr. 5th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - aerospiritual - Apr. 5th, 2011 09:28 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: something wrong with page? - mr_cullen - Apr. 6th, 2011 10:53 am (UTC) - Expand
spiffystuff
Apr. 5th, 2011 01:33 am (UTC)
paypal
Slightly off topic but, does anyone know how long refunds can be given by the seller via paypal?

Because as far as I can tell, there should have been NO fee loss if you were getting proper refunds.
(Deleted comment)
Re: paypal - spiffystuff - Apr. 5th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: paypal - silverfalln - Apr. 5th, 2011 02:20 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: paypal - spiffystuff - Apr. 5th, 2011 02:26 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: paypal - silverfalln - Apr. 5th, 2011 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
sigilgoat
Apr. 5th, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting this here too, I tried to respond in the original post that the moderators here are VERY GOOD now, but I wasn't a member of the community <3
magicalmooch
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
i am having same problems where it only loads so far down the page. Chrome and Firefox both. Only with LJ. sooooo frustrating.
silverfalln
Apr. 5th, 2011 03:23 am (UTC)
I think it's from the random DDoS attacks LJs been experiencing for the past couple days. It wasn't loading anything for me, then suddenly started again.
anjel_kitty
Apr. 5th, 2011 04:26 am (UTC)
I'm glad you finally posted on here Synch. I know how you agonized about posting this, but you were really not left with any choice on the matter. As it stands you are out of both 500+ and the costume you ordered. Whether or not folks can squabble about being owed a full or 70 percent refund, 70 % of 1665 is still 1165.5 dollars, and you are still owed 115.5 dollars which is not a paltry amount, and is still over what her TOS which states is a non refundable deposit. I can only hope Sophie tries to finally make this right. Its always disappointing to see a suit maker with so much promise (Truffle Hog is still one of my all time favorite fursuits I've ever seen in the fandom, and I really loved FauxPaw too) falter and mistreat customers in this way. I know this has been in no way a good experience for you and taking it to the level of posting on A_B meant you were tried every other avenue. I hope this finds resolution.


Edited at 2011-04-05 04:40 am (UTC)
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