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SO um... I have 2 fursuit customers who have been paid in full for a long time, one since the start of August 2014, the other since June of 2014.

I have made tails for both and asked both for their duct tape dummies n such so I can complete the rest, and I have done so on more than one occasion, but I have yet to receive them. It has been months since I had contact with the June customer and I put up 2 shout-out journals on FA trying to reach them, the first in September the second in December. As for the August customer, once they paid in full they seemed to fall off the face of the planet as I have had zero response since that day.

My concern is at the prompting of my peers I raised my prices, and my prices have gone up a lot since last year. I already have it in my TOS that quotes for customers choosing to do payments vs pay in full up front are good for 6 months, and that one needs to pay in full within those 6 months to keep their original price because after that I am allowed to change the quote if I change my prices.
This clause in my TOS keeps me from dealing with past issues were I ended up feeling very underpaid once I was actually able to start a project that sat on my list unpaid for a very long time...

... thing is this time I have 2 projects that have sat on my list a very long time but fully paid for...

...so I am back to the old issue of doing work I feel underpaid for...

....but is there anything I can do about it? I feel like I am in no place to change the prices...

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( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 18th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
it's never good to change the prices on people that have already paid in full imo- even if you're undercharging, you wouldn't refund them if you lowered the prices, so it wouldn't make sense to ask for more money just because you upped them.

and if people aren't responding especially, maybe you should refund them and if they want to continue, tell them you will no longer do it for that price if they want to commission it in the future or something? it sounds like you could refund the august person their amount if they aren't responding and just sorta... suck it up for the june person?
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 18th, 2015 04:33 pm (UTC)
actually I have had no response from the June customer since September, I *thought* I had reached them via a shout-out journal on FA in December but I cannot find a comment, note or email that confirms this.

*I have edited my post to include this information

Edited at 2015-04-18 04:34 pm (UTC)
Apr. 18th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
It's not kosher to raise prices on people who've already paid in full, but if were you I'd just refund them and take on new clients. It's not your fault they stopped responding and their projects have sat on your queue for so long.
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:31 pm (UTC)
Yep, agreeing with this; especially since it's not good business practice to spend money from uncompleted projects, and you have no ability to estimate when you will be able to finish these ones, I'd say refund and move on to a different client.

Edited at 2015-04-18 05:31 pm (UTC)
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:35 pm (UTC)
If I did this would I still keep the 30% down payment? Not only have I purchased all the materials but also made the tails already.

Either way *if* I did refund them I would allow both to jump right back onto the list at the new price vs wait until I am open for new customers.
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:49 pm (UTC)
Keep the 30%, send them the tails and materials.
Apr. 19th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
I second this.
Apr. 18th, 2015 05:51 pm (UTC)
If you are keeping the down payment you need to find a way to mail them all the materials you purchased with that 30% since they are not the ones terminating the commission.
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:02 pm (UTC)
Maybe you can refund all, and sell the tails as premades, if they are more general?
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:42 pm (UTC)
^ This is the option that will probably make everyone happiest, unless the character tails are very unique to that particular character.
Apr. 18th, 2015 07:24 pm (UTC)
I'm working on a partial now for someone who dropped off the face of the earth for months, after I'd already started and they disappeared when it was time for them to okay the head base. Picking up ~6 month old work after my prices have raised makes me feel like I'm not making enough, and now on top of all of that I find myself redoing things because I've improved in that time. Super frustrating.

But anyways, if you don't have one already, for the future I'd add an "abandoned project" clause into your ToS. Mine basically says that they expect of me to return contact within a reasonable time frame, and I also expect that of them. So if they don't respond to contact for 30 days then I have the right to refund anything over the 30% and re-purpose what I've done so far into something I can sell. I've never actually done it, because I can be a bit of a pushover and usually I need to get stuck in a bad situation a few times before I put my foot down about it. But it is a reasonable thing and it's a good thing to have for situations like this. This current project, after 3 months with nothing I sent an email giving my client one more month to contact me, or I was going to do it. And they responded on the last possible day.

I'm rambling, but if you don't have an abandonment clause then I'd send them an email now giving them an ultimatum for contact/receipt of DTDs, like 30 days. If they come through, just push through and learn for next time. If they don't contact then I would tell them in the email that you'd keep the 30% (or at least payment for what you'd charge for the tail and however many hours of planning you've put into it or any other specific materials you can't easily reuse).Then send them the tails and anything else you can't use on other projects if you have an address. And if they show up later and want to commission you again you can always give them a bit of credit if you do keep the full 30%.

I just feel like if you dropped off the face of the earth during a commission, they'd be rightfully angry and want a full refund. You wouldn't be the one cancelling in that situation, but you aren't upholding the agreement to make a costume for them since you aren't even able to be contacted. So if you turn the tables and look at your situation, then I don't think you should be punished by being out all of the time and work you did do.
Apr. 19th, 2015 02:07 am (UTC)
I agree with the "abandoned project" clause! That's actually a really good idea, more people ought to have something like that in their ToS. I think dealing with things like this (stuff that costs a LOT of time, labour, AND money), communication needs to be airtight on both sides.
Apr. 19th, 2015 02:46 pm (UTC)

this! i've actually had to implement a similar clause.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:38 pm (UTC)
Yeah I would just message them one last time that if they do not get back to you by so and so date you will refund for work not done. So you would keep the 30% AND however much you charge for tails and then just send whatever you got done like the tails to them.
Apr. 19th, 2015 03:39 pm (UTC)
Here's what I would do- run a google search for their full name + city to see if something bad happened to them and that's why they have stopped replying. Plug their name into Facebook and see if they're active there or if one of their friends + family members can get in touch with them.
Send a message saying that if you don't hear back and receive a dummy in ___ amount of time, you'll cancel their commission and refund them.
Then change your ToS to account for this... I recently added in a section to mention that the dummy/measurements need to be sent within a reasonable amount of time: http://growly.livejournal.com/1289297.html

Definitely don't raise prices after the commission's been agreed on and paid for though. If you're concerned about this happening again where old projects don't feel like they're "worth it" after a price hike, take on smaller batches of work at a time.

Hope my advice helps... I know we run our businesses differently, so your mileage may vary.
Apr. 19th, 2015 11:17 pm (UTC)
I agree with the above said. I do not feel you can just raise your prices on their project when they have already paid in full for the amount you both agreed on back when you accepted the commission. I've gone through that myself and yes it really sucks but it's not fair to the commissioners that you changed your mind later despite the lack of communication. So either refund them the full amount and sell the stuff you made or refund them the 30% and send them the tails + materials purchased for the money. And do as the others suggest, make some changes to your TOS. Best of luck.
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
Law ahoy! part 1
Ohhh, this is a meaty contract dissolving case different from what we usually see.

People aren't going to like me saying it, but the law is clear on this: if YOU are the once cancelling then you don't get to keep the deposit. And especially not if it was, during discussions with the client, termed 'down payment'.
(just an FYI for custom item sellers: don't use the term down payment, use "deposit". You don't get the same legal protection unless you use the term deposit. Down payment and deposit aren't interchangeable terms. Down payment is part of the price of the product- so no product delivered, no keeping down payment. Deposit is an amount to help cover unreasonable loss in custom item cases. It's automatically awarded to the seller when the buyer breaches, I
still if the seller cancels, no deposit kept.)

Now since both paid in full but no duct tape dummies have been delivered for months, in these cases you could try and argue a "fundamental breach"(normally A_B deals with what's called a "material breach") on the buyer's side. Basically in this case the material breach is that the client didn't give you a chance to do your job by providing the duct tape dummy, and you did all you could do by making them the tails.
If you want to try and justify keeping the deposit and go for fundamental breach you'll want to send an email and a registered letter stating something like:
"if the duct tape dummy is not received within 2 weeks/10 days/whatever of receiving this letter I will consider you in material breach as I cannot continue working on your custom costume project. I will therefore be providing you a partial refund minus: the cost of the completed tail and a deposit of X amount".

You'll need to send them the tail. If you keep a deposit you can't also keep the cost of materials, so remember that. And if you declared your deposit amount in your terms/contract at the time the buyer sent the funds you can't change that amount now.
If want to go for FB it'll be worth your while to speak to a lawyer to properly frame that letter.

So decide if keeping the deposit is worth the hassle/more than the cost of a lawyer.

Honestly, as my totally-not-legal-advice-legal-advice, I wouldn't bother. I would consider yourself as the one cancelling and offer a partial refund minus the cost of the tail(the price is what you sold a tail for at the time of the initial deal, not what you sell them for now) + sending the completed tail to the client, and selling or keeping the extra materials for yourself.
Or you can do a full refund, and sell the completed tails +sell/use the materials. You're a big name in the fursuiting community, Beastcub, so I suspect those tails would fetch good prices.
This is the best solution customer-good will wise.

If you, the seller, are the one cancelling I wouldn't send the fur and subtract that price from the refund. That's not fair to the buyer. Imagine if you bought a custom paint job for your car and the painter(seller) had to cancel and you(buyer) ended up being refunded with
a partially painted car and jugs of car paint/painting masks. Not much good to you!- even if they have value to the painter. The one who cancels eats any loss, the one who doesn't cancel is made whole.
Now if the buyer was cancelling in this case, then, yes, by all means send the tail + the fur and subtract both the tail cost and fur cost from the refund! In this case I wouldn't.

Additionally you need to get rid of this:
"I already have it in my TOS that quotes for customers choosing to do payments vs pay in full up front are good for 6 months, and that one needs to pay in full within those 6 months to keep their original price because after that I am allowed to change the quote if I change my prices."

That's unethical contract law-wise and asking for trouble. One party never gets to unilaterally change the deal!

What you need to replace it with is specifying payment dates and amounts in your contract; and if 6 months is your cut off for how long you feel a price should apply then never contract terms longer than 6 months. If a client can't afford the price divided 6 ways monthly or 12 ways bi-weekly then they can't afford the product.

Apr. 20th, 2015 12:28 am (UTC)
Re: Law ahoy! part 2

Remember my number one piece of advice for 99% of AB cases: a "TOS" is never a replacement for a signed detailed contract. I very, very rarely come across a TOS that would actually be enforceable in a dispute.

So set up you contract this way: buyers agreement including sale terms(like deposit amount, total cost, payment method, etc.), clarification of product terms and product description(what you are making for them and what those things are: like "one costume mask consisting of a resin base, cast resin eyes, tear duct vision, moving jaw with plastic hinge, faux fur covering, cast resin horns and teeth, and synthetic hair wig") as one part, payment schedule with dates, amounts, increments(monthly, weekly, whatever) and what happens on missed payment. Remember you may have to legally give a grace period before considering the client in breach for missed payment. Check the law for your state, it's usually two missed payments, with a 72 hour grace period for payment dates but it's different state to state.
BE SURE THE BUYER INITIALS THE INCREMENTS/DATES/AMOUNTS SECTION! Along with the signing of the main contract. If you wanted to get them to initial each date that's overkill but, hell, if the buyer seemed iffy at all/likely to miss a payment I'd get them to do that.
You initial next to their initials before sending the final hardcopy + scan.

So the contract is a sched/sect A: buyer's agreement, sched/sect B payment plan agreement. (if you wanted buyer's agreement split up into i. the terms of sale and ii. the product description/clarification of product terms that's fine too- especially if it's a complicated costume design that needs description)

So what you end up with in your TOS is something like:
"Payment plans are accepted as long as payment is received in full by 6 months from the time of the initial payment. Payments increments, dates and amounts will be clarified in the final contract."

I'd also hold off from buying project-specific materials until the duct tape dummy is received from now on. That way you can have a TOS term/contract clause that allows you to do a no-fault dissolving of the contract if the duct tape dummy is not received within one month of payment, or two weeks, or whatever you think is reasonable time for client to get it to you. If the deadline goes by and no dummy arrives you can just refund the total amount and that's that. (this is called "rescission" in the law)
Apr. 20th, 2015 12:32 am (UTC)
(oops, one mistake, in part 1 I called fundamental breach material breach one time by accident.

"Basically in this case the material breach is that the client..."

Should be:

"Basically in this case the fundamental breach is that the client..."
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:46 am (UTC)
I always enjoy when your posts come around, I'm always learning so much.
Apr. 20th, 2015 01:50 am (UTC)
IA. I was waiting to see if Sable would post here, as his advice is always fantastic.
Apr. 20th, 2015 03:05 am (UTC)
Apr. 25th, 2015 10:25 pm (UTC)
Really glad I could help!!

And I hope Beastcub does read this because that clause has got to go.
Apr. 25th, 2015 10:48 pm (UTC)
how's this

"Your price quote is good for 6 months, do be sure to pay in full within this time, I am not picky about how much I get paid and when just so long as it all comes to me within 6 months.

If after 6 months you find that you need more time to pay and do not wish to cancel your commission then your current commission slot will be dropped and what has been paid will carry over into a new customer slot, any changes in my prices will be applied to this new slot. If after 6 months you wish to cancel completely all but the nonrefundable deposit will be returned via paypal."

(I am actually not sure how to word it, I basically want to set things up to where a person not paid it full at 6 months can be dropped as a customer but then turn around and get right back on my list as a customer again vs be told to come back when I open for commission)
Apr. 27th, 2015 01:33 am (UTC)
part 1
Hmm, no, that's really not great, either.
You don't want to try and TOS convolutedly what you can do easily and cleanly in a contract.

This for example:
"and do not wish to cancel your commission"
You just wrote yourself out of keeping the deposit. You're specifically saying you're cancelling, not them, so no deposit.

Also, by not "caring" how much and when that amount comes just as long as within in 6 months you set yourself up for problems down the road with 'abandoned' sales like this one.
I'd avoid that. Make payments regular and set those dates in your contract. If they miss X(probably two, just again double check you state) you get to, with legal backing, consider them as having cancelled things.

You're not doing anyone, yourself especially, favours trying to be 'nice' and not insist on a payment schedule. You gotta use the law to your favour. Make and enforce a payment schedule.

I get you want to be able to cycle them back into the queue but it's not tidy from a business point of view. Also it's wrong to keep their deposit from this time and then if the same thing happens again keep a deposit again.
It's not ethical really to double dip, even if it's nice to let them hope back in the queue.

So my advice is put in your TOS something similar to what I said above regarding payment and deal with the payment plans dates and amounts in the contract- keep TOS terms short and clear and to the point. TOS does not replace a contract. So don't try and contract payment plan stuff when the law already has most of that hammered down with the rules for buyers and sellers of custom products.

I'm going to suggest you double check what the maximum legally you can keep for deposits in your state/country is as well.

About the 'cycling back into the queue' issues. Honestly, queue is a personal thing so not really a contract issue. If the person defaults on their payments enough to void the contract I can't imagine why you'd want to give them another chance to screw you(again, you can't just keep giving them chances knowing fully they'll miss payments so you can farm deposits!! That's a whole bunch of wrong, deposits make you whole they don't ); but if you really, really do want to try and let them cycle back in here's what I'd suggest:
you close the deal as per the contract- if they missed X payments including past legally mandated grace periods you notify them they are in breach and send back funds minus deposit and cost of completed items. Send all completed items, like tail, paws, etc. If they want partially completed goods/fur you can hash that out.
You can't hold on to those items because you want to try and get a higher price for them when you cycle the person back in.

Apr. 27th, 2015 01:33 am (UTC)
part 2
Once you confirm their refund then tell them if they can come up with the entire remaining amount you will allow them to commission you again at X time(30 days, 45 days, whatever). (DON'T DO A PAYMENT PLAN AGAIN, like do I even have to say this??)
You'll have to scan/sign/scan/send digital and hard copy contract again.
You can't reuse the old one/consider the old one still in effect if you want to keep the deposit. You have to cancel everything out if you want to keep the deposit.
That deal is dead.

It feels wrong cancelling everything out knowing fully well you're willing to restart the deal and keeping the deposit. Like it's not good what you want to do here but if you want to do it, than do it. Also if you are keeping the fur and etc., from the first time around you'll want to reduce your deposit, again deposit is about making you whole not a windfall. If you were taking them as a client for a new contract and a brand new product, yeah, standard deposit applies, but this is the same product.

But I'm telling you: once they miss those payments you are making a bad business decision taking them back as a customer. It may seem like a 'nice' thing to do, but it's bad business on your end, and it brings in some business ethics questions as well if you consider them in breach, take your deposit and then hop back into the same deal with them again.

Really, the ethical thing to do is if the payments dates go by and they have missed the required payments to dissolve the contract but you don't want to dissolve than you offer an amendment.

Draw it up kind of like a new buyers agreement with new payment dates and amounts, and sign/scan it. Also write in and both initial the changes to the payments dates and amounts on the old deal.

In your TOS just list along with the other payment plan stuff that you may consider an amendment to payment plans in extenuating circumstances.

Apr. 27th, 2015 01:37 am (UTC)
Re: part 2
Just to clarify this from Part 1 since I think I didn't phrase it very well:
"So don't try and contract payment plan stuff when the law already has most of that hammered down with the rules for buyers and sellers of custom products."

What I mean is don't try and rewrite the law on payment plans, especially not in a TOS of all places, work within the law to the best benefit to you.
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