Edit: 4/24 - Last night, after speaking with Prefur, she's offered to take over the head of my commission and see it finished. I've put a hold on taking legal action for now, and assuming the head is completed, the charges will be dropped.
Edits: 4/19 - Updated information after contact from the maker, commission involuntarily canceled. Also uploaded photos of what they've sent me so far.
WHO: Avsun Mascots
WHAT: Fursuit started in 2010.
WHEN: Initially, their communication was very good. As in, from the first week that I put in payment, until about a month afterwards. I knew my suit wasn't first in line, but it had a due date of the end of February for a con, which they assured me would be done. From November until now, communication has been painfully difficult, at best.
PROOF: It was a $1145 suit, I paid the $350 down, plus another $150 before communication got so bad that I stopped paying. Also, this fursuit maker insists on talking on the phone instead of using e-mail, which makes having any visible proof of things discussed very, very difficult.
In October I'd put in a quote request for a fullbody suit (also received a quote for the suit as a partial, and as simply a head), got the price, put down a deposit and we discussed fabric and completion time. I was told that they'd be in contact with me around early December, which is when my suit would be started. I was told I'd receive concept art, foam head sculpt photos, and then updates until completion, which was February. I sent payments between October and December, and come December hadn't heard from them, and sent an e-mail to establish contact. There was no response for awhile, supposedly someone in their company was supposed to send me the concept art, or something, I waited and it never came, and contact dropped off for about a month. Early in January I sent a few e-mails to their wide array of e-mail accounts, still trying to find out about this concept art, and didn't hear anything back. This was also when I mentioned that I'd be stopping my regular payments until hearing from them or seeing some form of progress. I had the remainder of my balance in full ready to be paid, but they never got back to me.
Unfortunetly, this timeline is hard to follow as this maker insists on talking on the phone, as opposed to doing business through e-mail. At one point they called me at 6am, I don't even remember why now, but the guy insisted on trying to talk to me about fursuits before I was even awake. I asked him to e-mail me, he never did. Finally, two weeks later near the end of January, I got the concept art and it wasn't... good. I'd sent them tons of references, and it really wasn't close at all, so I redlined it, asked for a few things to be fixed, and over a month later finally saw the updates to the art (which were a little more than smudges on the original). Keep in mind, the entirety of this suit was due for completion by the end of Feb, it is now Feb 22nd, with the con less than a week away. I receive more random phone calls where they maker goes on and on about his personal life, and doesn't really talk about anything regarding the commission. The con comes and goes, and from Feb 24-Mar 24, I hear nothing at all. No e-mails, phone calls, etc.
March 25 I'm promised pictures of the foam sculpt, but then told they needed to go to someone else in their company for redlining or something. I ask to see the pictures without the redlines, but get no response for two more weeks. April 10th, I finally see pictures of the foam sculpt and it looks awful. I lose my cool a bit, as it's two months past completion, I'm just now seeing foamwork, and it is just not worth the wait so far. I redline it again, e-mail it back. A few days go by, it's updated again, and still looks bad. I ask to talk to the person incharge (whoever this may be, they have like five people working on suits), but am given the run around. He wont return e-mails, use MSN, etc.
I get a text message from the 'owner' explaining that he doesn't feel like using internet until everyone's account is paid in full, including mine. I point out that my suit is overdue, I'd been trying to pay them since January, but with no communication and no updates, didn't feel comfortable or safe sending them more money. We go back and fourth for a bit, he insists that $500 isn't enough to cover supplies and start the project, and that I need to pay it in full immediately. I tell him that I'd like to at least see the fur purchased for my project, as well as the foamwork fixed, and then I'd send another $200 or so their way. He says that's impossible. I ask to just have the head finished instead (original quote for the head alone is $400), and have it sent to me, and we'd just leave it at that. He doesn't respond for about a week. When he does respond, it's to tell me I can either pay off the suit in full (and just deal with the fact that it's several months past due, and I haven't seen any signs of progress) or he would refund me $7 (!!!!) and keep the rest of the deposit. Keep in mind this company doesn't have a contract, likes to present themselves as 'professionals' (though they fall back on the 'but we're still new!' thing everytime something goes wrong), and are literally making up these policies as they go along.
(the following was in response to a text from me asking if he could get online to discuss these problems. Keep in mind this is also where I start to lose my cool, so I apologize for some harsh words.)
Edit2: Also behind the cut, just for the sake of having it here, is the concept art I waited months for, as well as the foam sculpt based on it.
Avsun: Actually just left from doing Wifi. I can be available by phone
after dinner to go over any further changes though.
Me: I'd like to do this in writing, it seems like a lot of information
gets forgotten or overlooked whenever we discuss the commission on the
Avsun: I would love to do that too, I prefer Skype myself, but I wont
turn on the internet until we have recieved everyone's payments to
current so we can secure our lease.
Me: I've sent you $500, roughly the cost of a head. The work so far
has been unsatisfactory, how much more do you want me to send before
you'll use the internet again? It's hard to fix problems when you dont
want to make use of the more reliable form of communication for these
Avsun: I'm not at the studio bu as I recall the quote is around $1200,
give or take, so $500 is only 42%, 30% reserves a slot and payments
are made until completion.
Me: Right, 30% reserves a slot, buys supplies for the suit, and begins
production. I've paid you /more/ than 30%, haven't seen any pics of
the fur purchased (which I've asked for several times now), and am
just now seeing a wonky foam sculpt (two months after the deadline).
So again, how much more do you want before you're willing to discuss
this like professionals? What'd my $500 go to?
Avsun: Feb was your last payment, I don't feel thats unreasonable to
suggest a payment.
Avsun: As far as progress, we'll work on accounts that are paid
current or in full before someone who isn't.
Me: Okay, again, so what has my $500 paid for exactly? I've seen
scribbly concept art, and a wonky foam sculpt. I had a $500 payment
ready for ya'll a week before the con, but never heard anything back
Avsun: I've explained before that our line up has multiple suits
before yours. Every bit of work we have done on your quote has been
out of order and at your request.
Avsun: No one else is demanding that of us. You will recieve a much
higher quality suit if you allow creativity to inspire building your
Me: Demanding what? Updates? That a project be completed by a certain
deadline? I'm sorry if you dont' realize this, but your reputation is
at the bottom of the barrel right now. I literally cannot find a
single person happy with their suit. Creativity has nothing to do with
it. Just tell me straight up, was the fabric for the suit ever
Avsun: Unfortunetly it takes money to do anything and we rely on
regular payments to continue. If you paid your remaining balance down
$100 a month it would.
Me: At the moment it's a lot more likely that I'm canceling the
remainder of the project and turning it over to a professional
builder. You can finish the head, but considering the communication
record and lack of progress, unless there's some major improvements,
like, immediately, I'm not comfortable sending more money your way.
Avsun: It would be 7 more months before you were paid in full. We have
suits that are paid in full that are ahead of you, its' not fair to
them or us.
Me: Then why give me a completion date for nearly two months ago? Why
not show me a finished product when I tell you I'm ready to pay off
the remaining balance?
Avsun: Justly and patiently becaise no one is great overnight. I am
completely confident in our ability to make a good product.
Me: Okay, why are you advertising yourselves as professionals? And has
the fur for the suit been purchased yet?
Avsun: My dinner is getting cold, please excuse me while I eat, thank you.
and the foamwork:
I took a glance at their FA page before writing this up, and there's at least eight other people on there replying to their last journal asking about updates. Several of them had work due before Halloween it seems. This company and at least one artist 'working' with them have been posted here and on Fursuit Reviews recently with very bad results.
Edit: As of today 4/19, the guy supposedly in charge of the company, Esh, called me (after I'd asked him not to call me anymore), had a meltdown on the phone in which he insisted their company had 'no unhappy customers' and that the comments in the journal on their FA page (here - http://www.furaffinity.net/journal/2246266/ ) were a fluke. He also 'canceled' my commission, citing a contract I never signed, and remarking that he was keeping the entire deposit. He mentioned I was being unprofessional and unreasonable by wanting progress photos (in his words 'I have over 30 customers, NOBODY but you is asking us for this!"), and that by 'threatening' to take this to Artist Beware, I automatically ended the contract. Huh. He also stated that, despite giving me a quote for just the head of the suit, once a project is started, according to the contract (which I've still never seen or signed), it can't be changed at all. Again, this is all news to me.
The nice thing about this is I actually /do/ have a lawyer handy who has already stated he doesn't mind looking into this, as it should be a fairly cut and dry case. If anyone else is interested in filing against Avsun, please contact me as soon as possible.
If you have any suggestions on how to deal with these people, especially if you know who I'm talking about and can contact them in real life, I'd really appreciate the help.