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Needing some advice

Not quite a beware just yet, more me looking for some advice.

I'm a suitmaker, and generally I tend to be quite lax with payments, saying to the customer that "So long as it's paid off before I ship it out, that's fine!" And I feel this attitude may have come back to hit me in the backside a little bit.

I have a customer who owes me just over half of their suit payment - having only paid their deposit and an extra 200 pounds since. They paid me the deposit back in June 2015, but then they had massive problems with their money, having bills and ex-landlord issues.

They assured me they'd be able to pay "soon" but when it got to October I sent them a message to say if they were still struggling to get money sorted, I would be more than willing to refund everything, including the deposit and the materials I'd bought for their suit to help them out. They insisted they wanted to keep the slot, and managed to pay me  the 200 on November 27th 2015. Since then I've had almost radio silence from them regarding money, until they sent me a message a couple of weeks ago to say they'd be able to pay another chunk of money towards me.

I sent them an email over the weekend, to ask if they would be able to pay the money, which as far as I am aware, has not been read yet. Certainly there's been no reply yet. I'm seriously just considering refunding them everything, and cancelling the slot, despite it leaving me out of pocket because it has been over seven months and their suit is not fully paid off.

When I next open for commissions, I'll be enforcing a more strict "once a month" payment plan to prevent this from happening again.

TL; DR: Customer taking ages to pay off their suit, thinking of just cancelling and refunding completely. Or do I give them one more chance?

EDIT: RESOLVED. I emailed the customer saying "Refund or strict payment plan" - they opted to go with the refund with the materials I bought posted to them. Thank you all for your advice!

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( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2016 12:09 am (UTC)
Wow, you have the patience of a SAINT. I would have absolutely refunded them by now (minus the down payment for supplies, if you didn't charge them for that then try your best to calculate how much supplies were).
Feb. 17th, 2016 12:38 am (UTC)
If the maker is canceling doesn't that mean they have to refund in full?
Feb. 17th, 2016 12:59 am (UTC)
If work has been done on the costume then no.

EDIT: If you spend $150 on fur, glue sticks, a balaclava, etc. then you shouldn't refund them in full, it's money that went into their commission.

Edited at 2016-02-17 01:00 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2016 10:48 pm (UTC)
If you're canceling, you would need to either mail them that fur, balaclava, gluesticks, etc and withhold their purchase cost+the cost of shipping them...or keep the items for your next project and refund the full amount. You can't keep both the money AND the items.
Feb. 17th, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
Yes. You keep the supplies and give them the money.
Feb. 19th, 2016 12:01 am (UTC)
I have no need for the materials I bought, and it's techically stuff I got with their money, so I'm just going to send it to them to free up space.
Feb. 17th, 2016 01:40 am (UTC)
I've seen people mention abandonment clauses when a client has stopped paying for their suit.

Though I'd be wary of someone who said they could cancel my $1,500+ commission on their own and not at the very least send me the materials I've paid for.
Feb. 17th, 2016 08:16 am (UTC)
for fursuit comissions I've always felt that giving them two options for the refund to be the most "correct".
Either full refund and the maker keeps all the materials, or a refund minus the material costs and they get the material shipped to them.

if the client cancelled however I'd also add that the maker would keep an agreed upon % either way.
Feb. 17th, 2016 10:20 am (UTC)
I'm thinking of giving them one more chance - I'll be sending them another email, and giving them the option of "Refund now or if you miss one more payment I'll cancel the commission."

If they picked the refund I'd send them ALL of the money minus the stuff I sent on materials, and send them the materials as well.

Feb. 17th, 2016 12:44 am (UTC)
This type of situation is going to happen every once in a while regardless of payment plans. When the client's life gets upended, fursuit payments will get skipped. I usually require one-third up front, one-third at the estimated mid point between deposit and completion, the final third upon photos of completion. Monthly payments are not bad to accept, I recommend leaving a final larger payment for after you provide the client with completed photos. For your own sake as well as theirs. The biggest thing with cancelling and selling a suit is, how generic of a character is it? If you're selling a suit with noticeable markings specific to your client's reference, things get a little more difficult.
Feb. 17th, 2016 10:21 am (UTC)
I understand that, and in a way it's me trying to help them a little bit, like the money they sent to me for a new suit is being sent back to them to help with their real life issues, if that makes sense!

I haven't started on their suit yet, since due to the lack of payments from them I've just bumped them down the list for other customers who've been paying more readily / have paid in full.
Feb. 17th, 2016 06:04 pm (UTC)
Oh! I misunderstood how much work had been done on the client's suit build. Refunding is a good route. The amount you refund, versus what you've spent in materials and what you keep for the work you've done. (building a quote, planning stages, ordering materials, all of these cost time and have value) Is all a balance of what was stated in previous agreements and contracts, but also a factor of how nice you want to be and how much mental anguish refunding or not refunding will leave you with. Good Luck!!!
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )


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