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refund advice

 Ok, so I have a few weird situations, but they all involve refunds. I took a few commissions for some footpaws, and after finishing one, I realized how badly I was underselling myself, and refunded all but one person, who is local and will not respond to me at all. I took cash as payment, and have no address to refund to, and she has repeatedly ignored my offers for a refund. I have another local who commissioned me for a fullsuit, but due to some drama with a third party (if you really feel it's relevant I'll elaborate) he decided to cancel his commission. My TOS states that deposits are non-refundable, but anything past the deposit is. He's paid me $100 past the deposit, but once again, he paid in cash, and I have no address to send a refund to, and he's not answering my messages asking to meet to refund him. 
 
My question is, how long should I hold their refunds for? It's been months with the first one, and it's getting close to that with the second... Is there some sort of etiquette for this kind of thing? I don't want to rip anyone off, but I'm not a bank either...  

EDIT: I sent them both notes and an email to the one I could send an email to, and screencapped them. Also updated my TOS 

EDIT 2: finally got in contact with the first person and tendered refund!

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Comments

( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
snobahr
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
My advice, if you live in the US, is to get postal money orders for the amounts you're refunding them. Fill them out with their names (assuming you have real names on these folks), tuck them into an envelope and stick it on your fridge (or the side of your monitor, or some other safe place that won't get drowned in clutter). If/when they're ready to receive their refunds, you're good to go without dipping into emergency cash, and because it's being held as MOs, you can't be tempted to dip into it for (insert reason here), "just this one time".
mialattia
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Oh man this right here. I hope you have their RL names so you can get this done!
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately I do not :/
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
IIRC money orders do have an expiration date, and I'm sure not gonna throw money away because they won't respond. Postal ones may be different, I'm not 100% on that, though... but no, I don't have real names for either of them, unfortunately :/
snobahr
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:53 pm (UTC)
USPS are valid for an unlimited time, and can be purchased from a mail carrier or the post office itself. However, since you don't want to go that route, if you have online methods of contact for the two people, I suggest you do the following:
  1. Message them, stating that you have their refund ready, but it will be invalid after 90 days (set a date of 90 days after you send the messages).
  2. Post a journal on your FA/DA/whatever method they used to find you, that "Refund information has been sent to the two people who are to receive them. (Name them if you are comfortable doing so) Please contact me before (date) with the information requested in the private message, to complete the transaction."
  3. Screencap those suckers.
  4. (Optional) Name 'em here, so that they can't cry foul 4 months down the line about how you ripped them off, blah blah blah, never made any contact with them, they tried to contact you, whine drama some people's children.
  5. Check your email/art site messaging systems daily, and otherwise go on with your life, until...
  6. They send you their contact info, you refund'em, and you go on with your life.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
see, this is the exact thought I had in my mind, I just wasn't sure how to go about doing so... I may do just this, but I'll wait a bit longer to see what the general consensus is first before hastily jumping into that ^^ Thank you ^^
celarania
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
On a similar note, why not do the same thing with cash? You can just stick it in an envelope so you won't accidentally spend it, but if they never show up you're not out money?
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
Because I'm not the most organized person and we're about to be moving very shortly, I'd be afraid to lose it :/
otana
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
This is a seriously good idea.
mialattia
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Unfortunately, I think the best thing to do is either keep their refunds until they respond, or, in the case of the feetpaws, just do those to get it done and get them a product.

However, any more specific advice really depends on some other details here. The feetpaws person: How did you contact them originally? Do you think they're not responding because they want the product, not their money back? Are they ignoring you by saying 'no, it's okay, I want my product' or are they not responding at all?

When you undersell yourself, it's a shame, and it's lucky you were able to refund the others, but you may very well just have to make the product this time to get the transaction finished and you have no way of manually refunding her.

As for the fullsuit, I have no other advice except, yeah, that money is still his unless you have a time period clause in your contract (I think this is the case, so somebody feel free to jump in).
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
I'm absolutely not making the footpaws, I didn't even cover materials with my initial estimate and they stressed me out to the point of being ready to stop making stuff altogether, and she's not responded to anything I've sent her for MONTHS... It's a huge drama fest, and I need to wash my hands of it and get on with my life. We originally dealt through a past mutual friend, but then we were talking regularly. One day she just stopped responding, and I know she's still active both with other mutual friends and on FA.

kiriska
Jun. 13th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to suggest about your current situation, especially as they deal with RL commissioners, but my own TOS dictates that I only offer refunds pending eventual contact from the commission within a set time period (60 days). This way, it isn't on you if the commissioner goes MIA and they can't come back three years later (or something) demanding a refund you tried to give them forever ago.

Perhaps you could issue them both a sort of ultimatum on contacting you about the refund and if they don't meet it, too bad? It doesn't sound really fair on the commissioner's end, I suppose, but it isn't your fault they won't respond and it isn't fair to you to have to have it hanging over your head in the meantime, imo. :\
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Well, I'll definitely be updating my TOS after this with a similar policy. The other people I've had to refund gave me no trouble at all, but that was also with paypal... but I've had communication issues with both of these commissioners the whole time too, and the fullsuit guy gave me a pretty big runaround too with the whole dramafest... I'll be glad when I can be done with this X3
wolf_goat
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:05 pm (UTC)
I'd say 6 months is a reasonable time to hold their refunds. I can't imagine them waiting out longer than that.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
The first one is nearing that mark already if my memory serves me correctly... it just seems so weird to have people not want to put forth the effort to get their money back, I mean, all I need is 30 seconds of their time to meet somewhere! (I may not deal in cash again after this, no one else has been this much trouble)
shukivengeance
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
There are some really good suggestions above, I can't really add to them but I suggest in future making sure you get sufficient contact information from clients like names and addresses, especially when dealing with cash and/or a product to be sent out.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
I agree, but I and they knew I was just getting started doing commissions and wasn't well versed on etiquette. However, they were supposed to get their completed items locally in person, so it didn't seem relevant at the time... lesson learned, for sure!
spiffystuff
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:00 pm (UTC)
Hold on to them forever :P
You've essentially got an interest-free loan, and the $'s not hogging any storage space, unless perhaps you take out cash and tuck it away somewhere. Even then, not much. Just save info on what you owe who somewhere and forget about it until someone comes asking about it, then give it to them.

I don't really see what the difficulty is in forgetting about it and just checking any claimants as they come?
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:05 pm (UTC)
Because if I have to keep it available at any random time in the future to just pull out and give them, it's not much of a loan, is it? It's a nagging worry on my mind, and I'd rather be done with it one way or another so I don't have to keep track of it. I'm not a big company, I'm one person, and I don't want to forget about it and spend the money or be accused of ripping them off months or years down the road.

And I don't see what the difficulty is in them taking 30 seconds out of their day to meet me and get their money back either :P
spiffystuff
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:18 pm (UTC)
Well yeah, they should have gotten back to you, but you can't control their actions, just your own. Without any other agreement established when they gave you the money, the right thing to do is give it back when/if they do pop up.
If the $'s enough that it could put your account in the red if they show up unexpectedly, then like others have said, put it in an envelope somewhere safe? (use cash if an MO won't work)
spiffystuff
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
to add
Alternatively, it would not be unreasonable to take a little time in paying them back, if they do step up, since it's been so long. I just figure considering how hard it's been to get a hold of them, you're better off being able to get it too them ASAP and resolving the issue.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
Re: to add
Right, I suppose that's not unreasonable either... I guess I just expected a backlash if I couldn't instantly drop the cash on them if they suddenly pop up. That does make perfect sense, actually ^^ This is why I love a_b <3 I learn things ^^
celarania
Jun. 13th, 2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
My question is this; both are local, right? How did they commission/contact you in the first place? Do you know for sure that these people aren't having issues? It pertains more to the first one than the second as it seems like the second has contacted you since the first commission. In both cases, have you asked local people about finding them? Finally what TOS did the footpaws customer agree to? How were you supposed to deliver the final product?

Basically my issue is that by saying they've been ignoring you, you're assuming that they've gotten the messages, read them, and have chosen not to respond, when that might not be the case. You might try using a second email address in case one lands in the spam bin. Also, what might be best is to try to contact them the way they've contacted you and for the first one, that might be at a real life event where you'll both be attending.

If you know they have been ignoring you, then I agree, set a date for the refund, and if they don't get in contact with you by then you are either done, or give them a refund in 'store credit.' That way you're not dipping into emergency funds but you aren't leaving them out in the cold either.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 13th, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
They both were referred to me by a past friend on YIM. I know at least the first one is ignoring me because she replies to a mutual friend, but not me. My TOS is here: http://www.fenrirschild.com/tos.html, which is a word for word port from my weebly site (which is the one they saw), and that goes for both of them. I've not seen either of them in person since the refund process started, or I would have hit the ATM and refunded them on the spot. The second one I'm not as sure, but he contacted me with his cancellation, so I know he knows he's due a refund. He just isn't responding to my repeated requests to set up a time to meet... they both were to take local delivery at a meet or meet with me at the time the items were finished, and we were all on a friendly basis (at least to my face, apparently >.>) so in the beginning nothing seemed out of the ordinary...

The first person I'll not be dealing with in the future, she is a dramafest, and the second one cancelled his commission due to drama with the first one, and it was a nightmare trying to get measurements and a DTD from him in the first place (I even offered to help him make it, and he cancelled 4 times including three times when my fiancee took days off work to meet at the commissioner's convenience) and only made himself available after I gave him an ultimatum to either meet and do it within 2 weeks or I'd cancel and make him something equivalent (or slightly greater value) to what his deposit was. I'm not inclined to work with him in the future because of this, either.

I really want to just refund them and be done with the whole situation, because it's been an albatross around my neck for a while, and I've got enough other stuff to worry about...
mekania
Jun. 14th, 2011 03:29 am (UTC)
I kind of wonder the legality of saying someone has x amount of time to claim their refund before it's yours for keeps unless it was something they were made aware of before the transaction occurred. I mean, it's not your money since you're not delivering product so is it really that much of a hassle to hold onto it until you can get in contact with them?

I think if you don't want to sit around and wait because you want it over with than you need to go all out in contacting them. Post comments on their public pages with REFUND in caps/bold letters. Ask them for paypal addresses or a mailing address so you can send a money order or something instead of trying to meet up with them in person, maybe they don't want to/can't see you in person at this time. As a very VERY last resort I would try contacting a friend of theirs in a passive manner (do not show frustration here) and ask them to please have your client contact you so they can get their money back.

I think if you really do exhaust all ways to get in touch and they come back to you a year later you can show them and tell them tough luck (though again not sure of legalities here)
fenrirs_child
Jun. 14th, 2011 04:08 am (UTC)
I've done most of those shy of posting publicly on their pages, and I know neither have a paypal which was why they had to pay in cash to begin with. I believe a wholesale copypasta "please contact me within X days to arrange a means for me to refund or I'll consider it abandoned" is in order for this, because it's taking me time to continually try to contact them, and this is time I'm not being compensated for :/ I guess I see it as if it was important to them, they'd put forth the minimal effort to respond and give me some option to send their money to/deliver their money to.
mekania
Jun. 14th, 2011 05:01 am (UTC)
I don't know what to say as I don't know exactly how you've been contacting them but I really believe if you want to be secure in your right to keep money you didn't earn (especially for the commission you cancelled) then you should do everything within your power to get it back to them (and keep proof) even if it's an inconvenience time wise.
fenrirs_child
Jun. 14th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
As I said, it's been months, and most communication went through YIM so I've sent both many messages with no response. We're all on the local meetup group, so I was able to email the guy who cancelled on me through there, but the other one's email is cut off as undeliverable :/ I'm not 100% comfortable doing public page shouts like that though, because it was a private transaction. With the one whose email is undeliverable, I will have a mutual friend contact her as well and get me a screencap too.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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