Denali Lobita (growly) wrote in artists_beware,
Denali Lobita

Problems with Sasha Dobie

This is in regards to Sasha Dobie, who also goes by Totally Trouble, Cynthia Sophia, Aerisa, Shiela, and Lauren Ashley. I've had unfortunately had many issues with this customer, it's a long story.
Her main account is SashaDobie on FA.

Note that most of the correspondence is copy and pasted from emails and notes, but I can provide screencaps by request.

In October of 2009, I accepted a commission for a fullsuit from Sasha Dobie.
The commission started without any hitches. She even paid the full price up front when I only required half payment as a deposit. I thought I was going to have a really easy time with her. Her character was very complicated, so the price was relatively high, at $1850, but she was very friendly and willing to communicate with me, and I was chomping at the bit for a good challenge. She agreed to my Terms of Service, which included information stating the warranty on my suits lasts 60 days after it arrives at the customer's location, and covers workmanship errors, like claws falling off, popped seams, etc. This will be important later.

Shortly after we started the commission, I got a full-time job, my first. I told her the rough deadline was April, but added "unless my new job just completely swamps me during the weekdays" (which it did unfortunately... took some getting used to a new schedule).

At one point during the commission process, she made mention of getting all the leftover fur from the commission... I was worried she meant for free, so I mentioned I'd be happy to sell it to her after the commission was over.

Here is our exchange:
Sasha: "Could I possibly bother you to send me the remained of the fur? I can pick it up with the suit at FWA, but I so need some fur to practice pillows and paws with <3 would that be alright? I can empty your fur closet again xD"

Me: "I can sell you the rest of the fur I suppose. We'll talk about that when I'm done, I'll probably be cutting off bits and pieces for assorted projects during construction, so we'll see how much is left when I'm done. :)"

Sasha: "I just paid you almost 2 thousand dollars. I think that's incredibly rude for you to say you're going to SELL me the fur I PAID FOR. that's not right at all >:( I want the fur with no charge. You can keep small bits for your projects, sure, but the rest belongs to me and I will not negotiate buying it. That's not fair or right.

Other then that misunderstanding on your part, the rest is fine. Nice markings. They are perfect, as usual! :D

No hard feelings, okay? I appreciate your work, but I'm the paying customer."

Sasha (she replied again without giving me a chance to reply): "By the way, I do apologize. I know my message seemed a little irate, but you must understand mysituation. I supplied the 1850$ to supply you all materials and even labor. Therefore all materials purchased with my money does rightfully belong to me.

I am not asking for the foam and glue and any tidbits. I want the fur I paid with my money. I'm allowing you to keep small cut off bits. I think this is more then fair of me.

If you truly find this unacceptable I will request a majority of my money to be refunded and all of the fur to be sent to me.

I really love your art and I highly respect you, but that was incredibly wrong of you to try and sell me my own fur. It belongs to me. You are my suit artist. I request the fur. I do hope that with having paid you all your due that you would understand.

Thank you, and do respond as promptly as you can. I'd like to get this cleared up before too much else is started, in case we do not see eye to eye.

I'm sorry for sounding rude, again. It's not my intention to come off as a bitch. I promise you!!"

Me: "I apologize if this wasn't clear from the start, but the fursuit commission price is for the finished fursuit only and my labor. You only paid for the roughly 5 yards it'll take to build your suit. I will have 6-7 yards of fabric left after your commission is done, which is my own business expense I'll be using to replenish my fur stocks for future projects. Basically, I did not charge you for 12 yards of fabric- I charged you only for what's going to be used on your suit. The rest of the fur I basically paid for out of pocket.
You wouldn't commission a 2D artist for a badge, then expect them to include the rest of the bristol board pad they used, would you? The unused ink in the markers? It's the same principle. I'll give you a few fur chunks free to practice on, but if you want all roughly 7 yards in scraps that'll be left over, I do insist you pay market price, which we can negotiate when the commission is done and I have all the scraps in front of me to measure out."

Sasha: "Ooooohhh okay. I understand what you mean. I'm sorry I didn't realize that. Okay then x3. Well if you could please, may I have a few larger pieces to practice making heads with? I'm a starting artist wanting to experiment with a few things. Lol I'm so sorry, please forgive me. Totaly a jackass moment on my part."

Well, I figured she was just having a bad day, so I kind of mentally "whatever"ed and got over it and continued with the commission. Misunderstandings happen.

I unfortunately had to miss her deadline due to adjusting to the new job... I really didn't have any way of knowing how I would adjust to the new schedule, but it was an oversight on my part and I should have let her know sooner.

But one of the perks of this job is access to a serger, so as a freebie to her, I stayed after work a few days and serged a lining to each pattern piece in the upper portion of the bodysuit. I don't really see anybody lining their costumes, it really does add a nice professional touch, I think. :)
I also showed her intensive WIP photos when I had to deliver the bad news, those pics are here:
She approved the work in progress shots and I continued.

I finished the suit in May and sent her tons of pics and she sounded very happy and excited. When I shipped the suit, I included some largish chunks of fur as another freebie to thank her for her patience.

When she got the suit, she informed me of a few flaws that sounded very much like it could have been an oversight on my part- for instance, I was originally going to attach the feet to the legs with velcro, but that looked bad, so I undid the stitches and just sewed the feet directly on. Apparently the teeny tiny stitch holes from the earlier velcro attempt had stretched and gotten larger. Somehow a black mark got on a talon, which I'm still baffled by, as I used a brand new shipping box, and printed out the address and taped it on, instead of writing it with a marker. A few finishing details on the wings needed to be improved.
So no problem, I said- just send it back and I'll fix it. I was horrified and embarrassed at my mistakes and wanted to make things right. She just sounded so upset. :( She said she could fix most of it herself, but I still offered to recoup her shipping costs if she wanted me to ship it back to me to fix. And I offered to pay for any supplies she used to repair it, if she wanted to just repair it herself.

Didn't hear back from her for a long while, so I figured she fixed it herself and was happy with everything. Then I saw her review of the costume on fursuitreviews, where she mentioned all new problems she never once mentioned to me (yellow claws not yellow enough, arm marking pickiness), which was a bit of a shock. Here is her review:
But overall the review was very positive, so I just kind of let it go and didn't say anything except to thank her for the review. I figured the new issues weren't a big deal since she never mentioned them to me.

More time passed with no word, then I got a note on FA from her saying she had another suit builder make her a new bodysuit, but it wasn't as high quality as they promised... I'm so confused, why commission someone else for a whole new body when I can fix her bodysuit issues for free?

Here is our exchange:
Sasha: "Sorry it's been so long ;.; I've tried getting a body suit made for me through an artist, and I figured I'd have it by when we agreed, but that fell through (What is it with fursuit artists and deadlines? xD) not only, but it's... Not the quality I was promised....

Anyways, when she sends it back to me I can send you the suit (She's got that big box) some time after AnthroCon. I've also picked over what I really think needs editing and what does not, and this is what I figured:

Refleece the leg. Yeah, the more I put the suit on, the bigger the holes get x.x I can't ignore it. I tried to XD

Talons. They were originally supposed to be yellow, and while the off white is nice, it's not quite characteristic of her. She's supposed to be loud and obnoxious from head to talon-tips x3

The arm parts:

This is hard to explain, so I will try my best. I noticed the two references I sent had a bit of contradiction on it:

I'm pointing out the under arm marking. It is actually supposed to be a stripe. I will show you in these pictures:

Anyways, it's a very small fix, but I also illustrated what I'd like done on the suit pictures:

Shouldn't be too hard.

Another really big one is actually kind of funny- It's the boobs XD

They're um... Way too low O.O I keep trying to see if the suit will stretch, but they won't go up into place. They hang more then 2 inches too low. About 3 inches, actually.

Anyways- Let me know what you can do! <3 Thanks so much, I will send it back asap. Though I'll hold onto the hands, tail, and wings to save on shipping cost and room.

Also- Need me to send back any scraps to help you with? Thanks again!"

Me: "Good to hear back from you, it's been a while, was wondering what happened.
I can definitely refleece the legs (need them longer while we're at it?) and replace the talons with a brighter yellow instead of banana yellow. I can't alter the bodysuit pattern on the arms though. I was following your art and I'm still really having trouble seeing how it's wrong, based on the references you sent me. I can do my best to reposition the chest padding, though the fixes will look a little "ugly" inside. From the outside of course it'll look fine since it's all that nice shaggy DF.
Do you still need stuff done with the head, or have you figured out how to wear it yet?
No worries about shipping it to me you can just give it to me at AC if you're still going."

Sasha: "I will do my own adjustments on the arm patterns, but I seriously wonder how you can't see the differences in the pictures I sent you.... I didn't think it was much to ask, but I guess it is. That's fine.

The rest of the fixes will be fine, and enough. I will be wearing her a bit at the convention, try to stretch her out some more. <3 The legs COULD spare to be an inch or so longer, actually!! <3 Though not necessary at all.

The thing about the head, is I'm not sure how to fix it.. The vision just sits really high on my head, and I have to walk around with my beak down, but that's alright. I don't really know how you could fix it, but if you can, please do. I remember you saying you would not redo it, so I will probably just commission someone else to make the head better.

It's okay if the inside looks wonky x3 I know it'll be alright on the outside cuz of the long fur, and that's absolutely fine! The breasts need to come up about 3-4 inches at LEAST, and if you could- give them a boost for me. lol. They need a bit more padding! x3 The bigger the better. I'm almost wondering if you could make them twice the size?

Thanks for getting back to me. I have only about a 20% chance of making it to AnthroCon, but once I get there, I will surely hand the suit back over to you <3 Want the wings and the tail for anything? They fit just fine, but I would like to put green fur on the visible foam on the wings (You can see if as I move around :O)"

I was a little confused about the extra changes desired. I thought I did a pretty good job of matching the concept art, so I asked for clarification in some areas.

Me: "Re: Arms: I was following the art on that. It shows a peak of blue under the arms, so I put it on the suit. Perhaps next time the art could be clearer?

Re: Legs: Yeah I can make it longer, pretty dern easy fix.

Re: Head: I never said I wouldn't redo the head, I just said a redo is a last resort, since it's such a drastic action. So let me know what you want to do in regards to that. As I mentioned though, usually the beaks/muzzles/whatever do tend to point down on my masks. It still looks just fine worn, and it doesn't block your vision with that big ole' beak in the way. Just look up in photoshoots :3

Re: Breasts: I can move the breasts, but I can't enlarge them- I can shave them down strategically to give them a bit more definition though! I think it's just that the chest is so fluffy. I think the way I did the breasts originally matches the art, sizewize.

Re: Wings: if you want to send it back, you can, I can add on the extra green. It should be a flat fabric so it still sits fairly flush, so I was thinking fleece. Just a tip if you want to redo that part yourself, but I'll certainly alter it if desired!

I'm sorry I didn't see you at AC! [note for artists_beware: I had a Dealer's Table at the con under "Growly Lobita". I was definitely not hard to find!] Shipping the suit works for me. When can I expect it to arrive, approximately?"

Sasha: "Arms: If you want to argue that, I want you to take a very good look at this art. I will show you it was not my lack of clarity, but your misunderstanding:

Were the exact pictures I sent you for the suit.

Here is the problem area, and how it's SUPPOSED to look-

What you made me-

Explaining problem areas-

Now... If you are seriously saying that you believe you did the correct markings, you're absolutely full of it. lol. Sorry, but that's not close to the character design. All I'm asking for you to do is make it a stripe and not a blob. It's a very easy fix. It was also drawn straight onto the duct tape dummy for you. I do expect this to be fixed. It's a simple enough fix, as I explained before.

Legs- great to hear! <3 Everything else is great- just needs yellow talons <3<3

Head- I understand it being a last resort, but.. Birds don't walk with their beak down, they walk with them up high, silly! lol. I plan on doing a LOT with my head (ever watch a bird hop and look around? It's head it tilting, glancing, looking everywhere) and I really don't want my beak to point down. I'd like for you to find a way to make it so it stands straight out when I look forward, as I want the beak to be raised at times as well, and I don't want to crane my neck completely back. Also- The vision is just too high. By about an inch.. Trying to think of a way we can fix it without doing much editing, but that's up to you, honestly.

Breast padding: It's okay that you can't enlarge them- no worries! Just raise them up at the least 4 inches, please :D I can mark where to on the lining of the bodysuit if that would help?

Wings- Thanks for the tip about the wings. I will just scrape up some lime green fleece and edit it so I don't have to ship it all back in a huge box..

Sorry I wans't able to meet up with you at AC, but the body suit for my other suit came out very poorly, and I had to send it back with her in the box, with the dummy. If you don't need the dummy, I can send it back as soon as possible, just let me know when you're ready!

Sorry it took me so long. Everything is hectic around here!"

As you can tell, things were devolving pretty quick. I was really hurt at the condescending tone, and I was really turned off from wanting to do anything at all for her. And it seemed she kept coming up with more and more revisions she wanted that she never mentioned after initially getting the suit, or in her review. I had to have someone help me reply to her, I was full of dread and anxiety talking to her after all of this. I've never had to deal with this kind of problem I was faced with. I knew I had to try and keep things civil and make the suit right, so here's what I said.

My reply: "Hey there! I appreciate the honest input on my work. I apologize again for the inconvenience on having to send the suit back. As always, I am happily willing to correct any errors on my part. I see now what you mean with the arms, here's a quick mockup of the proposed changes based on the ref pics you sent me, let me know if you approve and I'll make it happen.
Things here are getting quite busy for me, so I can't guarantee a deadline. If you would send the duct tape dummy back, I think that could only help. I couldn't help but notice you sound kinda angry in your last few PMs... I know this ordeal is frustrating, but it really hurts to be insulted, and I must insist on being treated with respect.
Anyways, keep me updated with the status of shipping the suit back out to me :) Thanks!"

Sasha: "Thanks for getting back to me :)

I'm glad you realize the mistakes in the suit arms. Though the mock up design you made isn't correct still. I am sending you a picture of what I'd like done to the suit.

Everything else we've discussed is great. I'll send you back my DTD with everything else.

Also, I went over my letters time and time again, and I fail to see how I was rude or even insulting. What I find insulting, is the fact I paid you two thousand dollars [note for artists_beware: it was only $1850, which included shipping... the costume filled two large shipping boxes] for a costume, and you had to argue changes and mistakes with me... That's rather rude, don't you think? So If you were insulted or offended in anyway, I assure you it was not my intentions, though it seems the feeling is mutual. My intentions are to get this suit fixed in a proper enough fashion where I can comofrtably, and happily wear it to many conventions in the years to come!

Here is a picture to illustrate the changes I'd like made-

Let me know if this is still unclear to you, or if you need anything explained better. I'm glad we understand one another now :)"

I was shocked she wanted me to completely remove a marking that was on her ref sheet. Maybe I gave in too much, but I just wanted her to be happy with her costume and for this issue to become resolved, so July 11th I sent her a PM with the following:
"Okay, so you want the entire underarm triangle eliminated? Sure.
So here is the list of changes I'll be making to the suit, just so I understand right.
-replace blue underarm triangle with green fur
-replace the purple leg fleece and lengthen a couple inches
-recover the talons in bright yellow
-move breast padding up a few inches
-take a look at the head and assess if the fit can be improved

Please let me know if all that sounds right to you. :)"

She never read that note... she STILL hasn't read that note. She'd been active on other accounts, and recently active on the CynthiaSophia account, so she's not just away. She just... hasn't read it, about this suit she is so upset about and wants fixed. o_O
Through this I realized by the ToS she agreed to, her warranty had expired (I should have been more on top of this, but she didn't remember either). I waited about a month to hear back from her, but nothing.
I decided to give her a heads-up and tell her I was still willing to fix these things for free if she sent it back within the next week. Afterall, I forgot to give her the initial warning her warranty was about to expire. Otherwise, I said, I would assume she is happy with the costume as it is.
That note is still unread to this day as well even though there has been activity on that account since then. So I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I am not really bound to do anything if she never sends me the suit. She also never got me photos of all these issues, though I did request it several times. I was especially curious to see the holes in the leg and the black mark on the foot, the latter because a photo might help me figure out how it happened.

I stumbled across her FA page main account at SashaDobie last November and saw she was trying to sell the costume. I was kind of relieved and about to go help her advertise it so I wouldn't have to keep having literal nightmares about her coming to me and asking for more changes, when I saw the posted comments on the auction (which closed with no bidders and was here, but got deleted from the site:
I took a screencap, which can be seen here:
Here's a copy and paste of the text if you don't want to look at the screencap, or are unable to:

Random Furbuy Browser: "i would love to buy it, its just so awsome. but sadly wont fit me :(
hope all goes well"

Sasha: "I appreciate it! Though know the creator, Growly, has already offered to make some slight adhustments to it! So if you need it altered, all she asks is that you mail it to her! :D"

I saw this and I was floored. I never, ever promised anything of the sort- she was telling people lies about me. That was just the icing on the cake and I was very close to posting about her on a_b back then. I will absolutely not have someone trying to promise things on my behalf behind my back.

I think she would have sold it to someone and asked them to mail it to me (and given this stranger my address, yikes!) or mailed it to me herself and sort of casually mentioned "oh yeah and the legs need to be extended by _ inches and the arms should be lengthened by _ inches because it doesn't fit me right". So then not knowing I was actually doing changes for a new customer, I would have done these things and sent it along to its new owner. :/ Maybe I'm being paranoid, I don't know. I never said anything to Sasha, I didn't think I could say anything that wouldn't explode into an argument, and by this point I was really exhausted with dealing with her.

She dropped the ball on mailing the suit back, I even extended my warranty to give her more time and offered to do extra things that really weren't covered by warranty (underarm triangles, toenail color). It really bothered me I never got to make good on my errors, but I gave her months and months to mail it back, and she even had the chance to deliver it in person at Anthrocon. It's out of my hands at this point.

So a large span of time passed with zero contact. I figured again that the silence meant she was satisfied and worked out the issues herself, but on April 3rd 2011, more than half a year since our last contact, I got a note from her on FA.

Sasha:"Hey hon!!! Sorry I dissapeared forever! However I wanted to try your suit out in a few different settings before finally deciding on necessary edits, and well, this is what I got!

Despite it being RIDICULOUSLY HARD to put on (Two people required) I don't much mind, the final look of it is so awesome that it's worth it. However there are a few things that I am still pretty sure need to be edited-

1) The chest padding/area- I'm actually debating having you take it off. It's way too low, and even if it were bumped up, lots of people have been asking "Why would a bird have boobs?" lol! So. I think I'd just like the middle white part flattened out. This also ties in with the width of the waist. It's quite a bit wider then my waist, and I'd love it if you could tailor it in a bit, it's kinda odd on my stomach, it bunched up where the rest of the suit is a perfect fit.

2) the head. I tried as hard as I could to work around the vision problem, but I just can't.. This is probably the biggest area that needs editing- the vision is up way too high on the head, and I don't like having to pull my beak to lay down over my best so I can see straight. When people take a picture of me, I tried using your advice, and lifting up my head.. Problem is this- I don't know when they're done taking the picture, or if they have a video camera... I have looked like an absolute idiot to a few people already, because I have to tilt my head back and pose, and hold it for a bit, and when I look they're trying to get me to jump around ;~; I just hate the vision so much ;~;

Other then that, everything is great. The fur is stretching slightly, so I can now sit down in it, and I can successfully touch my toes. <3 Anyways- I can send it back any time. Is it possible to have it ready for AnthroCon? If not, would FurFright in the middle of October work? I understand you have lots to do, and I don't want to rush you at all! <3

Thanks so much for waiting so long. like I said I wanted to try out a few things before making a final decision on the suit <3 I found a lot of things, like you said, ended up working out just fine <3"

I was amazed to hear from her after so long, and I knew I had to put my foot down right then and there. Changing the design of the character (no breasts) is definitely not covered in warranty, and it had been almost a year since she first received the costume. Also the thing about the vision is confusing, I guess she doesn't like how the beak doesn't come out of the head at a 90º angle? That's just a trade-off of fursuits, a beak that long will droop slightly, and she didn't want it from stiff foam, she wanted the soft foam, so she could pack it easier for travel. So there was really no avoiding it.

My Reply:"I apologize, but as per the terms of service you agreed to on October 4th, 2009, your warranty has long expired (it expired on July 14, 2010, 60 days after the completed costume arrived at your home).

I notified you on August 19th, 2010 that even though your warranty was up, I was still willing to extend it for an additional week in favor of us working out these desired changes. I never got a response from you or the costume in the mail, so I am unable to do free alterations on this costume.

I am very busy lately, but if you are willing to pay for the alterations, I can fit you in towards the end of this year. If this is something that interests you, let me know and we can figure out what exactly you want done and what it will cost.


Sasha:"odd.. I thought you said your suits were garunteed for far longer then that.. Something makes me want to think you garunteed it's life... Very odd... And surprise- just a few days ago every note I had dissapeared.. Well either way that's fine I'll do the alterations myself. I was trying to do as you suggested, you told me to try and deal with it. I did exactly as you asked, I figured it wouldn't have been an issue in the least. I guess I was wrong. Sorry for assuming. I guess that makes me an ass."

Okay. FA is full of its share of bugs and easily exploitable coding issues, but out of all those problems, I had never heard of notes vanishing, and certainly nothing about it from that time period. Plus, even if her notes had vanished a few days prior, she had half of a year to reply to my notes. Additionally, I always email people- I only reply to notes, I don't compose new ones to customers, because I know FA is unpredictable. She had my email address through the whole transaction, not sure why she chose notes.
I pointedly ignored the jabs in her note and just said this:

My reply: "Nope! I never mentioned any sort of lifetime guarantee. If you wish, I can forward you a copy of the exact terms and conditions you agreed to at the start of the commission, just ask. Good luck with the alterations!"
I see this note has never been read either.

So more months pass and I thought this is finally over. I was browsing Furbuy the other day and saw the suit up for auction on Furbuy once more.
I noticed the measurements she was listing were way off, and she's claiming the suit cost $400 more than it originally cost, presumably to artificially raise its value.
That auction can be found here:
I know Furbuy deletes auctions after so long, so I've also screencapped it for when it goes poof.

Now keep in mind this customer was a few inches taller than me, about 5'4", no larger than 5'6". She said the suit was fairly tight in the vertical direction when she first got it, so it really looks strange that in the auction she states the tallest person that can wear it is six feet tall. That's a huge difference. Now it may be she's done her own alterations to the costume, but if that's true then she needs to take new photos- she's still using the photos I took during my original photoshoot. I am five feet even, so if the costume looks pretty good on me, not too much bagginess, then you can imagine how it would be for a six foot tall person to try and wrestle it on.
It also seems like a bit much for a 190 lb individual to wear it, but I'm not as good at imagining different body weights in costumes as I am heights, so I'm not sure. I just know that as a 125 lb individual, the costume looked pretty good on me. Again, it is entirely possible she made her own alterations to the costume, but if so, she needed to have said so and taken new photos.

I took a look at the comments on the auction, and she seems to be denying that she ever promised I would do free revisions:

Then I saw her FA journals about the suit and saw she originally claimed the suit would fit someone "No taller then 5' 8"". That's a difference of four inches... that might not seem like a lot, but when you're dealing with a form-fitting costume, that is kind of a lot. I'm not convinced she's representing the suit accurately, it seems like she's desperate to sell it.

So the second auction finally prompted me to speak up. I had a really awful time dealing with this customer, and it seems more and more issues crop up every day, even though it's been over a full year since she received the costume, and over a full year since the warranty expired.

I can only try to caution others that dealing with this individual may turn out to be extremely stressful and upsetting. I only hope the way she treated me was a fluke, and that it doesn't happen to anyone else. :(
Tags: beware, comm-sashadobie/totally trouble/laurenas, fursuit
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