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Advice request

Take on a rush order, finish entire costume on time, in two months start to finish, ready to ship on time. My end of the deal is finished.

Customer informs me after seeing final photos she will pay me the final (around 700 including shipping) on Thursday.

Thursday passes. Not entirely worried.

Talk to customer Friday, don't mention payment, talk about photos, normal conversation

Remind customer Saturday the remaining balance is due and I need to ship Monday to get it there on time.

Informed customer was robbed on Thursday and is unable to pay me anything until after AC.

Inquire about when I can expect payment, if they can get me anything by the 8th (I have bills too, you know)

Waiting for a response. Feels as if I'm getting the cold shoulder. Customer has been absolutely wonderful otherwise.

My TOS doesn't cover any situations like this. That is being fixed.

I'm completely heartbroken, I don't know what to do. If this was a normal commission (something that takes me 5-6 months to finish) I normally wouldn't have a problem giving 3 months for them to sort things out and put them on the back burner.... I put my other customers on the back burner to rush order something that now can't be paid for on time. I made this specifically to be at AC. Would it be fair to ask for further compensation/late fees?  I don't even have the room in my studio to have a suit hang out for 3 months.

Halp me AB; you're my only hope.

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
I think that a storage fee is reasonable. Not over a late payment, since that can be really dicey if not set beforehand, but asking you to store something large long-term should come with a fee.

I'd also seriously consider rush orders having to be paid for in advance. Or at least a large chunk of it up front.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
I agree. I'm definitely asking for 50% up front, if not 100 percent. I can't really blame my customers for my poor TOS.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
True. We live and learn.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC)
I think rush orders need to be 100% in advance henceforth.

For your situation right now, it seems really dicey. Maybe ask for a police report copy, because frankly if she asked for a rush order and is cancelling paying you at the last minute- she should have no issue at least showing you the article of proof saying she got robbed.

I may have been burned too many times and am horribly jaded, but something's rotten in denmark.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
Asking for proof is completely reasonable. If I was robbed I would file a police report.
Jun. 29th, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
Totally this. If there's no police report, then they're blowing monkeys out of their butt.
Jun. 28th, 2014 09:26 pm (UTC)
Defiantly change your TOS to have anything "rush order" be paid in full before it is started.

Jun. 28th, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
I'd say "wow that really sucks, but I can help you out a bit by storing it for $x/month. I have limited space in my studio and storing things takes up workspace room, but I understand that being robbed really stinks so I can help you out a bit while you get things sorted out on your end". While this obviously doesn't get you paid the final amount, it will encourage them to leave it with you as little as possible. If they don't got for it... insist more? If someone ever abandoned their project on me I'd attempt to recoup my losses by selling it, and the original client would get back whatever they've paid less the 30% deposit.

I personally wouldn't ask for a police report, since either the robbery is real and knowing so won't change anything for you, or it's not real and they're still not paying you.
Jun. 28th, 2014 10:20 pm (UTC)
The police report would let them know if they're being lied to. If the customer is telling the truth, then it's a crap situation and they could work with them. If the customer is lying, they could instead decide to cut their losses and just sell the suit to someone else.

Not to mention, if they're being lied to they would probably want to ban the customer from future sales and make a full Beware post.
Jun. 28th, 2014 10:46 pm (UTC)
That is true! I'd want to know for sure if this was a lie, I wouldn't want them to try to buy from me :S
Jun. 29th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
Usually what I do is charge a storage fee for the first two months, and if it isn't paid for after that, I just auction it off. Unless they have a really good excuse and CONSTANTLY keep you updated (not excuses, updates), there's no point in being dragged along like that.
Jun. 29th, 2014 12:56 am (UTC)
I had a similar case where I did a rush order squeezed in between other work and then the person couldn't pay for shipping.

In my case I only do rush orders that are paid in advance. But I still ask and have them pay for shipping at the end (otherwise how am I supposed to calculate the price based on weight for something I haven't created yet?).

In my particular case my client paid for their work in advance, wanted it by a certain date, was well aware shipping would be paid by them in the end once I could weigh and pack the item. ...but sadly didn't have the money for the shipping when that time came. Unfortunately, the sad fact of the matter is they just don't get their item until its covered.

I felt a little cruel not comping shipping, but as a business overhead that can cost a LOT of money it just ended up being the fact of the matter.

So in your case: Don't send the item. Its a bad situation, and stuff like this happens, yeah but asking for a police report is way too invasive and inappropriate. Also don't be tempted to send it out early. If they are unable to pay for it they don't get it.

Others have had other great ideas on handling storage fees, etc. I just thought I'd share that I had a similar thing and I handled it by not mailing the item until I was paid.
Jun. 29th, 2014 03:27 am (UTC)
Yes always be sure everything is covered before sending a suit, including shipping, and don't count on a check not to bounce!

I have been screwed more than once on shipping (one time it was a bounced check) but I must say the one time it hurt the most was when I did a rush clean and repair job for a customer's (somewhat abused) suit. They were going to the same con as me and I knew their trip to the con was expensive so at the time I was happy to accept being paid later on, we agreed within 3 months. Considering the cost of the clean/repair/shipping was a fraction of the suit's cost and they were a valued customer of mine I figured I could trust them...

...that was in 2011.
I am never seeing my money...
... and I don't know what hurts more, the hole in my wallet or my broken trust :[
Jun. 29th, 2014 02:30 am (UTC)
Chiming in with the recommendation of requiring full payment up front before starting any rush orders. Honestly it can be argued to be beneficial for both you and the customer - it protects you because you don't have to worry about not getting paid at the last minute, and it benefits them because there's no chance of lost/delayed payment that would delay their rush order being shipped as soon as it's complete.

Also I'm sure you abide by this but do not, under any circumstances, ship this costume out until you have every last penny in hand. It doesn't matter if the customer won't have it in time for Anthrocon - you have contacted them multiple times informing them of the absolute last date it needs to be shipped to get to them in time. It was THEIR responsibility to pay before then. Don't let that costume leave your hands until you are paid in full. Once you ship it, you lose any chance of getting paid.

If the part about being robbed is true, it's unfortunate, but it does seem awfully convenient for that to happen right as it becomes time to pay (and their lack of contact is also fishy). As you're doing, I would definitely add a storage fee/100% up-front payment required for all rush orders bit to your TOS. I would notify them that if you do not receive payment within 30 days, the suit will be considered 'abandoned' and you will go about reusing the fur/materials (perhaps an empty threat but it will let them know that you're not going to hold onto it indefinitely and you're certainly not going to send it to them without being paid in full first).

Edited at 2014-06-29 02:31 am (UTC)
Jun. 29th, 2014 03:44 am (UTC)
I agree with matrices that asking for a police report is rather inappropriate. If I had a relative stranger asking me for that kind of stuff, I'd be freaked out. And very ticked off.

Whether or not the robbery actually happened is, frankly, of little consequence to you. They need to pay you before you send the item, period. I haven't ever thought about 'storage fees' before, but I would definitely give them a date by which they need to have the suit payed for (or at least get some form of payment started) or you're getting rid of it however you deem best. If they really did get robbed and just don't have the money right now, they can always commission you again in the future when they have the funds again, no?
Jun. 29th, 2014 05:32 am (UTC)
If you store the suit, be very clear you are only willing to store it for a set time (What ever time you are comfortable with), and after that you are auctioning the suit off to recoup your lose.

This way there's no chance of misunderstanding should that time expire. The costumer knows they have only that set time to come up with all the money. Which includes storage and shipping fees of course.
Jun. 29th, 2014 09:54 am (UTC)
I read this entire thing except the last paragraph in Rorschach's voice.

For the future, working out a rush fee is probably a good idea, Even something like "for rush orders, *70% must be paid upfront to guarantee your order" in your TOS would help.

Perhaps you could work out an agreement for holding it- say $30*/month to hold it for up to three months, and then you auction it?

*Or whatever amount you decide.
Jun. 29th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
that sounds pretty fishy tbh :x
if i were robbed on DAY i was supposed to pay for something i think i'd tell the person i was paying? the fact that they had a conversation with you afterwards and didn't even tell you until you reminded them about the payment is a big red flag to me. for your sake i hope that's not the case, of course.

i think it'd be reasonable to offer to store it for them. 30/whatever$ a month is better than 700$ upfront until they can get on their feet if they really got robbed, because if they did i can't imagine he was carrying around 700$ that happened to get stolen.

so yeah, i would:
-not ask for a police report, as that could seem a bit intrusive.
-NOT send it to him until he pays for it.
-store it, and make sure he knows that you won't be storing it forever.

basically echoing what's been said here already, but those are my two cents.
Jun. 29th, 2014 05:55 pm (UTC)
Agree, I think it would be the first thing I would say to anyone I talked to. "Hey how are you today?" "OMG I GOT ROBBED" seems pretty expected given the situation.
Jun. 29th, 2014 08:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks you guys! I read through everything and at this point I think the fairest thing for both myself and the customer right now is to set up a short-term payment plan and make sure that communication says up. If it takes longer than 30 days to pay off, I'll have to charge a percentage of the total price (maybe 10 percent) every month, up to three months.

I also got a lot of great information about how to update my TOS to protect myself and my customers from getting into situations like this again. I know it's easy to blame the customer but it's really my fault for not having a better TOS *and being too lenient* Because they might have paid it off a lot earlier if they would have known there would be consequences and their personal incident would not have effected me.
Jun. 30th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
So they don't have money to pay for the suit but they have money for AC?
Jul. 2nd, 2014 06:01 pm (UTC)
They may have already had it paid for

At least in my case, when I go to cons, I have my badge/hotel/transportation paid off wayyy before I'm actually at con so that I can spend the most recent paycheck or whatever at the con itself. And usually all of those things are non refundable. So even if I suddenly had no money to spend actually at the con, I could still go

Idk, it does seem odd, but in the event that they were actually robbed, yet are still going to AC, maybe this provides a bit more of an explanation?
Jul. 6th, 2014 01:08 am (UTC)
"Informed customer was robbed on Thursday and is unable to pay me anything until after AC."

Gonna be honest, this has be raising an eyebrow. I'd be asking for a police report.
Are they going to AC? After being robbed? Assuming they can't pay you, they can still afford to attend a convention? Hrm... :/
Jul. 6th, 2014 02:08 am (UTC)
"Talk to customer Friday, don't mention payment, talk about photos, normal conversation
Remind customer Saturday the remaining balance is due and I need to ship Monday to get it there on time."

In addition, they didn't mention this to you until Saturday? This entire thing seems fishy to me. Even with what Kotacub said.

Aside from adding this to your TOS, I'd set a deadline for when this thing can be paid off. I'm not sure how to reinforce said deadline though. :/
Jul. 6th, 2014 02:34 am (UTC)
Look, I dunno how they GOT to the con, or if they're even a local to it; but cons take pre-planning, usually months in advance and if things like flights were arranged; those are hard to move, much less get refunded on. Hotel is usually paid to the room holder in advance if you're smart, on top of con reg, etc.

A lot of this could have been done pre-suit and pre-robbery. And even then, they might have gone anyway just to make sure their loss (if there was one) isn't doubled by not attending and losing all that pre-spent cash.
Jul. 6th, 2014 02:53 am (UTC)
I find it difficult to believe that the person in question will attend this convention with zero money in hand. How are they going to eat for example? They could be using that money to help pay OP. I'm jaded as hell with these kinds of excuses, honestly.
Sure, they may have the con all prepaid, but that doesn't answer as to why they waited to tell OP until two days after the alleged theft took place.
Jul. 7th, 2014 04:26 pm (UTC)
Hey, I agree with you about how its likely an excuse; some of it does not add up. I'm only explaining how the may have went anyway even if they were robbed.

In the case of daily living expenses, I've been to enough anime and comic cons to know even the brokest of attendees have things of 25 cent ramen and knock-off Nature Valley bars on them after blowing whatever cash they did have on getting to the con/badge/cosplay. They'll be there to be there and probably not buy a single thing because they're broke as a joke.

But again, these facts don't absolve the client from their responsibilities. Its just something I've observed in my con career.
Jul. 8th, 2014 03:20 am (UTC)
I can see your point, yeah. I'm just really jaded by these excuses being abused in the furry community. :/
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )


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