Update 1: Since the AB, Iko has agreed to a full refund in weekly increments. Will update when it is complete.
WHO: Iko, Sierra Tudor, Kay the Dragon, Pathetic Dragon Studios
WHERE: http://furaffinity.net/user/Iko, http://www.furaffinity.net/user/patheticdragon, http://www.furbuy.com/seller/Iko.html?as=a
WHAT: A Nightfury Fursuit for $850 on 2010/04/29
WHEN (with proof): $410 Downpayment on 2010/05/05, $86 materials on 2010/12/12.
EXPLAIN: In 2010 Iko posted an auction on Furbuy for a Nightfury fursuit, and though she did not have many recent good examples of her work, she was really excited to be spending more time and working on Fursuits, and the concept art posted of what she intended to make was looking really nice.
We had a lengthy email discussion to confirm the features, design and looks, and the initial downpayment was sent. I bought two pairs of good shoes & created a DTD, and shipped them all at total extra cost of $145.
As much as I really wanted to give her a chance, and I was really patient during those three years, it was a frustrating and prolonged flop of a project, with lost costume parts and need for constant requests for updates. :c
Timeline of issues:
2010/05/05: Payment sent.
2010/09/08: Asked for update: Bodysuit sewn, needs zippers/spikes/airbrushing. Said she has been slow because she doesn't know what to do next. We discuss and agree on features and design looks again. Motivation issues mentioned because someone had criticized her work.
2010/10/05: Asked for update: Foam base for indoor paws and tail done.
2010/12/12: Iko emailed over some pics of the head in progress, mentioned another $86 of materials needed to be bought, sent via paypal. LEDs for the head almost done.
2011/04/13: Asked for update: long period of no contact: Iko mentioned work was slow because she was unsure what to do about zippers (Handpaw and head zippers). Iko asked if I was willing to send the second payment, but I declined until the suit was ready to ship, due to some small worries about the lack of updates and progress photos.
2011/08/18: Asked for update: Iko says most of suit done, still waiting to install zippers, make outdoor feet and wings. Sewing machine broken.
2011/11/22: Iko emailed: Says it's nearly finished, but is tweaking it after someone helped model it. Apoligises for how long it has taken due to how complex the suit is. Sewing markings.
2012/04/07: Iko emailed: She had lost the duct tape dummy due to leaving it out when apartment cleaners came. Requested I send a second one, but I declined, though I provided detailed measurements instead. (I was also wary at why it was still needed after the bodysuit was said to have been completed.) Said progress is slow because of complexity and working on four other fursuits at the same time.
2012/07/03: Asked for update: I requested pics to see everything in progress, as I wanted to see exactly how she has been doing. Iko mentions she doesn't have the bodysuit due to a recent move, but will get pics soon.
2012/10/03: Asked for update, multiple emails before getting one: Bodysuit & rest of costume has been in storage in another city due to a recent move. Promises Christmas shipping date.
(After how long and dragged out this had become, I started getting more insistent about regular contact, emails, updates and pictures)
2012/10/30: Asked for update: Bodysuit still in storage, until she has free time to go and get it. Zipper problems cited as reason for slowness again.
2012/12/04: Asked for update: Iko said she has lost the bodysuit, cannot be found anywhere. Again requests another DTD so she can begin making a new one. (I really didin't have enough trust in her left after all the previous delays.... to make another DTD and ship it over). I politely declined and she gave a reference sheet explaining all the measurements she would need. Sais she still intended to get it done by Christmas, but that it's probably going to be late.
(Emails become unresponsive/sparse, so we start communicating on FA Notes)
2013/02/26: Asked for update: Iko said her water heater exploded, and was afraid of mildew affecting costumes, so didin't want to bring them out for work yet until it was fixed.
(I was a little sad and frustrated with the issues so far, so I started requesting fortnightly updates and requested a firm deadline of when the suit will be done)
2013/03/04: Iko came to the conclusion she doesn't have the skill, time or motivation to continue working on the suit, and apoligised profusely about lack of contact and unprofessionalisim. Offers to send me all the materials she has available, including the Head, tail and one set of feetpaws, as well as a $100 refund. She says even though her auction said the downpayment isn't refundable, she'll be nice and offer the token refund anyway.
(Due to how few parts there were, and the head not even being complete, it wasn't worth me asking her to ship them over, so I ask her to list the parts on furbuy and refund it all.)
2013/06/13: After direct questions & requests for exact payment dates, Iko mentions she will not be giving a full refund (FA note transcript), as her auction says the downpayment is not refundable, but she is willing to be nice and will cover half.
After 2-3 months of notes & eventual direct questions of when and what she intends to refund on FA, it turns out her idea of the refund was $320, given in 5 $64 installments over the next months. I was out $645 at this point, and she is adamant that she is not responsible for the other half of the refund, due to materials and it saying on her auction that downpayment is non refundable.
I'm really sad the project ended this way :c I do understand life gets in the way at times, but the final staw in deciding to post this was her refusal to offer a full refund, even in light of how many years it took for Iko to put her hands up and say she doesn't have the skill or motivation to continue the project. I also wouldn't like to see anyone else experience what I did during this project.
It is also a painful lesson that researching your seller and seeing how professional they are, in both communication & their existing work is really -really- important. I sadly gave the benefit of the doubt her few fursuit examples were just because she was just starting up... but that is no substitute for seeing real professionalisim & ability in completed & delivered works.
I also understand now that $850 is a very low price for full suits like this, including wings, digitigrade, leds and features, which I should have saw as a warning flag too.