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Refund Policy Advice?

Question to all: What is your refund policy?

We've always held the policy that the deposit is non-refundable except under extreme circumstances (you know, at our discretion). And while I typically had it in mind that smaller items requiring full payment upfront were also non-refundable, I just noticed that it's not explicitly stated in our TOS. x) When you have someone wanting to cancel a paid commission out of the blue for no real reason (they just "don't want it anymore") what do you do?

Is it a good idea to make payments non-refundable, even if work has not started yet (except, again, in extreme circumstances)?

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( 34 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2011 02:56 pm (UTC)

i think it's unfair to make payments non refundable if no work has begun, but that is just my opinion. i also believe that money received from the transaction should not be spent until the work has been completed.

so, if someone cancelled on me out of the blue and i hadn't touched pencil to paper, i would fully refund them.

ETA: you guys are suit makers (duh melissa....). i'm not so sure if my policy would apply, since you all need to buy specific supplies and whatnot.

Edited at 2011-05-18 02:57 pm (UTC)
May. 18th, 2011 03:18 pm (UTC)
I think it would still work with adjusting for fursuit makers.

What I think, but I'm not a suit maker, so maybe it won't be as fair as I think, is that only part of the payment should be non refundable, the part you use for materials. If you haven't yet bought materials, then refund in full. But that way you won't be out of materials.
(no subject) - kappyjeanne - May. 18th, 2011 04:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 18th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
It's been my understanding that non-refundable deposits are for materials, and double as reserving that spot. If you've already bought the materials for their costume and have turned down other commissions because they have the privilege of being on the queue, then it would still be non-refundable. Probably if you haven't bought materials, or if the queue is not a big issue (for me, somebody taking up a slot that somebody else could have had IS wasting money and time when they cancel), then you could refund them fully.

It depends on what the deposit actually covers and whether you feel you've lost time, materials, or business in reserving their spot.
May. 18th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC)
I've always loved the idea of having a deposit for keeping a slot in queue, it happens so often people just disappear on me, not even letting me know something came up.

But, thinking it from a commissioner point of view, I think most people would be put off by it.

I may be not remembering right, but didn't a fursuit maker do that before and there was drama about it? It's cause the deposit was huge, but even when they lowered it, some people were still annoyed.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 18th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crssafox - May. 18th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 18th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crssafox - May. 18th, 2011 04:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 18th, 2011 04:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mialattia - May. 18th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crssafox - May. 18th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fenrirs_child - May. 18th, 2011 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - crssafox - May. 18th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
May. 18th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
This is a good approach to take for smaller items, though I would say there should be a time limit and like-new-quality stipulation in your agreement. (So, a customer can't wear the tail for a con one week, then return it the next all matted and obviously used, because you can't re-sell that.)

Fursuits are a huge investment of time, and are often customized to the individual commissioner's wants; if a costume is too unique, it has almost no re-sale value so it is harder for a fursuit to be re-sold or returned. In this case, I've seen makers offering refunds based on what they can get for the costume at auction, minus the cost of materials, or some such.
May. 18th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC)
I'm agreeing with Likeshine that it's unfair not to refund people if you haven't started on their commission. I've seen several artists stating in their commission policy that if they can't start/finish the commission, they can refund their customers
May. 18th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
I agree with mialattia. If something's non refundable it should be based on the time or funds spent on the creation of the piece (i.e. the materials).

Of course, I also don't think that the fursuit creator should be entitled to free materials at the client's expense either so I also feel that if the client is willing to pay for shipping they should be able to request the materials ~they paid for~ be sent to them.

IMO if no work has been done or material bought, the customer should be entitled to a full refund. In fact, (someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) I don't think that it is even legal to keep someone's money that way when they have nothing to show for it. I remember this being brought up in my own AB post when the artist didn't want to refund me despite not having started work on my piece, but that was a drawing. I'm only assuming that the same goes for tangible goods.
May. 18th, 2011 04:14 pm (UTC)
I wonder if this would apply if something is considered to be a "fee" though? Like I mentioned above, I have a non-refundable $50 fee to reserve a slot, because at that point I'm actively doing work for the customer. I might not have anything material to show for it (except perhaps a list of supplies compiled, and a pile of swatches received, and a ref-sheet printed out, maybe even drafting a pattern if it's, say, a specially shaped tail or some such) but work has been done at that point. It does take time to gather resources and plan out how you're going to actually do the work, even if work on the item itself has not yet been started.

Artwork is a little different. You have something tangible to show for early planning stages, like thumbnails and sketches, that can be used to justify a partial refund instead of a full refund. But in costuming, you're still doing work even though there's nothing really physical to show.
(no subject) - sbneko - May. 18th, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - pariahsdream - May. 18th, 2011 05:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - May. 19th, 2011 04:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - skyote - May. 18th, 2011 04:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - May. 18th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - May. 19th, 2011 04:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shukivengeance - May. 19th, 2011 04:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celarania - May. 19th, 2011 05:07 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 18th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
My refund terms are: "Refunds: Full refunds are only possible before work has been started. Where a sketch is provided, if at that stage you are not happy with the work, you will only be charged for the sketch and the remainder will be refunded."

May. 18th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
This is a commissioner's take, I guess. I only commission artwork but I think it works for general business practices.

If you (the artist/maker) are the one cancelling a commission then I think it's your responsibility to refund in full but if the commissioner is the one cancelling than they should be the ones to take a loss if work has been done (and proof of work can be provided. I think that's an important aspect). If no work/materials have been purchased and you don't have a non-refundable booking deposit like the commenter up thread than you should refund in whole.

This isn't exactly comparable but I'm a makeup artist and for weddings typically you have a non-refundable deposit just for booking the date so if the wedding falls through you get something for keeping that date open. That's been an industry standard thing forever, so I'm pretty sure it's not illegal. $50 is a good price that I don't think would scare people off when they're ordering expensive items. And again if the artist cancels or break contract by missing deadlines, etc, I don't believe the artist has the rights to that money either.
(Deleted comment)
May. 19th, 2011 04:23 am (UTC)
Why is it that you bar the re-commissioning?

I mean it's entirely possible for you to do your best and the customer wants to like it, but for whatever reason it just doesn't appeal to them. I mean it happens, no matter how careful you are in the step-by-step, and sometimes the artist just loses the life as the piece gets reworked.

I'm just interested in your thought process.
May. 18th, 2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
I want to treat my customers the way I'd want to be treated as a customer.
I'd like to be able to receive a full refund if no work has been done or a partial if some work has been done. So that's what I offer. Seems fair to me.
May. 19th, 2011 04:10 am (UTC)
For the sake of this post, I'm assuming it's the commissioner that's canceling for everything I'm saying.

I'd generally say that anything should be refunded except for what it's cost the artist. This means that supplies, if bought for that project, would be deducted (however, if it's something generic you go through all the time, e.g. the stuffing you use to make all stuffed animals, then it's not really an expense they put on you). To some degree, that is turning away potential customers, but that's more on the large commissions than the small ones. (Let's be honest, you didn't turn away much for the sake of a $5 sketch, but you might have for a $100 painting.) In addition, with the small stuff, I imagine it's kind of you've done it or you haven't. You should only charge for the work you've done.

To put it another way, for small stuff people generally pay all at once, yes? Why should it be non-refundable? Once they've paid for the smaller item, there's no advantage to canceling it if it'll just result in you keeping the money and them getting nothing in return. On that note, it's pretty designed to leave unhappy customers and I don't know why you'd really want to operate that way. I'd much rather spend the time making something for someone who wanted it.
May. 19th, 2011 07:43 am (UTC)
For me, purchasing materials = starting work.
Some of my materials are not easy for me to get and it requires time and effort. For instance a few stores I get stuff from are at least a 2 hour round trip. That is potentially 2 hours I could have spent working on someone else's commission.

If I haven't done anything at all regarding their commission, I think a refund is more than reasonable.
May. 19th, 2011 10:24 am (UTC)
My refund policy is (paraphrased from my ToS page):

* If I haven't begun work yet, I refund the full cost over a period of three to six months.

* If I have begun work already, I refund the full cost minus work already rendered (which is usually just a matter of subtracting the price of a sketch, inks, or flats from the original price and refunding that result), over a period of three to six months.

* If someone commissions a picture of themselves and another person and they break up or have some kind of falling out, well, that's not my fault. BUT, I will offer to alter the image to include a different person if it's still early enough. Otherwise, the cancellation policy as stated above applies. On my ToS page I actually mention this scenario and try to encourage my readers NOT to pay for commissions that involve people they don't know really well or don't trust, but -- furries! :D

* I originally considered having a policy that prevents someone from cancelling until a month or two has passed, but the reality is a) that can actually prevent them from being able to dispute the exchange, which would make me look sneaky and b) when I thought about it more, it doesn't really matter whether I've just been paid or was paid two months ago. I'd still have to refund the same amount. So I decided I didn't need to implement a policy like that.
May. 19th, 2011 11:44 am (UTC)
the long and short of any work i do is "i am paid for the work i do".

obviously, if no work is done, than a full refund is in order (if it is not a deposit and doesn't fall within an exceptional circumstance.)

commissions that have been completed and for whatever reason want a refund, partial is issued. this is usually for larger pieces, when ample time and correspondence has transpired. it may be different for a fursuiter as you have a physical item when can help recoup the loss (reselling it).

i would agree with borderdog though: if items are special ordered for a project, it counts towards the the cost of the commission. if that's the case, it should be itemized to the commissioner's invoice. i probably wouldn't count that portion of the cost as refundable.
( 34 comments — Leave a comment )


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