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I'd love to get some advice if possible in the following situation.

[edit: Thank you for all of your advice! It was solved peacefully & I got to keep the payment.
Because I personally don't blame the commissioner for wanting their money back, & I own up to how long it took me to deliver it, I won't be writing a beware.
I will make sure to use this experience & your advice in case anything like this happens again.]

Two months and half ago, I auctioned a fully shaded, fullbody YCH piece (with aditional NSFW shots), for which the buyer paid $120 USD.
On my 'commission' section and on my ToS, I make clear that the timewait for big pieces such as it is between one and two months maximum.

However, I'm afraid that for this one YCH, I had some life situations (mostly internet connection issues) that caused me a 15 day delay when delivering the piece. I realized that this isn't the commissioners fault, so as soon as I realized I was having a delay, I tried to be as professional as possible, & made sure to keep them updated on the progress of their piece.
On my last update, I assured them it was nearly finished, just lacking some details, & that I would send it to them ASAP. However yesterday, right before I send their finished piece, without any notice, I logged in to see a full chargeback/dispute being made. It read, more or less, 'I feel like 2 months & half is more than enough time for the product to have ben completed."

This surprised me because, while I realize 100% that I was wrong on my delay delivering the piece & that they are entitled to be upset because of it... the commissioner had never expressed desire to get refunded, or even asked for a WIP if they were doubting I was actually working on it. They didn't ask, warn, or contact me in any way before starting the dispute through paypal.
I also feel like a full refund for something that was updated as 'nearly finished' isn't exactly fair.

Regardless, I immediately sent a note apologizing, let them know that I'd refund them in full anyway for the trouble anyway, or that if they still wanted to receive the piece, I could offer extra art as a thanks for their patience during my delay. I also expressed that I would have preferred they had communicated beforehand that they were so upset with the waiting time; that if they wanted the money back, they could just have let me know, & I would have just refunded them (or partially refunded while them getting to keep the piece), without them having to escalate it to a dispute.
They have no replied yet.

What I'm wondering is,
1. Was offering a full refund & expressing my concerns about that behavior a correct way to handle it?
2. Is the commissioner entitled to a full refund if the artist takes more than expected to finish the work (but does get finished)?
3. Is it normal for unsatisfied commissioners to go straight to a dispute/chargeback if so?
4. How much time wait time is enough for big pieces like those?
5. Has it happened to you? What did you do? And if not, what would be your course of action?

I never had something like this happen before, so advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 20th, 2017 03:47 am (UTC)
Disclaimer: This is coming from memory so it may not be 100% accurate.

You should have a 3 - 7 day window with paypal to settle the dispute. You've kind of screwed yourself now by offering the full refund anyway, but what you could have done is quickly finish up the image, give it to the commissioner, show proof that it was delivered via paypal, and that should've closed the dispute in your favor.

Now that you have offered the refund (even if not through paypal), it would be bad form to not give it.

1. I don't know if it's the "correct" way, but it's certainly very courteous and professional of you. Many people would blow up at the customer over this.

2. Entitled, no. But it is a grey area and very contextual.

3. Hard to say if it's "normal." It's not uncommon but it's not too common, either. However, I am a commissioner not an artist, so other artists would likely have more informed opinions on this one.

4. Highly depends on the artist. Whatever is within the paypal dispute window (typically 90 days but I've heard it's gone up recently to 180?) is acceptable. However, typically as long as I am told ahead of time what the turnaround time is, so I know what to expect, I'm ok with it.

5. Again I'm not an artist, but a commissioner. I've been on the opposite side. Typically my process is contacting an artist a few times, and then if I am ready to file a paypal claim, I will send off one final email/note detailing everything and why I am dissatisfied and "if you don't respond by [date here] I will be filing a paypal dispute for a refund" at the end.

If the artist is not online to get those messages, then it may appear as if it comes out of nowhere. But if they check their email after the fact, the history of what I sent will be there.

There's only been one artist totally blind-sided by my dispute. They also had internet troubles. After being unable to contact them, and them passing their self-made deadlines, I filed the claim. When paypal froze their account, they finally started paying attention. We ended up working something out. I got unfinished work and a partial refund.
May. 20th, 2017 03:52 am (UTC)
I think I'd need to see how strongly worded your ToS is on this matter. If you have something like "maximum two months turnaround or your money back" then that would obviously bite you in the butt in this kind of situation. But if you have any modifying terms like "roughly two months" or "usually two months" then that changes things. (And if you don't already have terms like that then you might want to add them for future work.)

When you say you updated them on progress a few times, were they shown WiPs or were these just text updates? If they were shown actual WiPs regularly I don't think they have a leg to stand on as far as a full refund goes. They got to see that real progress was being made, with proof. But if these were just text updates I could understand why they would question whether you were just stringing them along or not.

How many days was it between your last update when you told them it was nearly finished and the chargeback?

Overall I think they are being unreasonable and I'd probably write up a beware on them. If you were able to regularly communicate with them they could have expressed their dissatisfaction at any time before taking it to Paypal. But, there may be a few things you could learn from for future transactions in this, if I am assuming correctly that no picture WiPs were sent and that your ToS has no modifying language (don't make it sound like you are guaranteeing a set in stone turnaround time would be my advice.) If my assumptions are correct then you may want to provide a partial refund for the sake of your reputation, even though I don't think your turnaround time for this piece was at all unreasonable.

Of course, partial refund or not will be a moot point if Paypal sides with them in their assessment.
May. 20th, 2017 05:56 pm (UTC)
I second this.

If there were WIP pics shared, it's not impossible that the client decided they got enough of the finished piece and wanted their money, too. Either way, I'd certainly like to be aware of a client who springs this on an artist with no prior warning.
May. 20th, 2017 03:53 am (UTC)
If you have proof of proper communication with the client, and when you broke through your time limit you asked the client if they are up for waiting a bit longer or they want a refund and they responded being okay with a little more wait understanding the piece was near completion, then you have a solid enough case to beware that client.

But you need solid proof that you had proper communication, and they chargedback you even through you were actively communicating.
May. 20th, 2017 05:57 pm (UTC)
Only thing I have to add to this is even if you did provide proof, Paypal would more than likely not side with you since it wasn't delivered. In the industries for art a lot of artist do not get paid until AFTER they've finished it and the commissioner can cancel at any time. Around here we mainly run off of morals but Paypal sadly doesn't see it that way.
May. 20th, 2017 09:34 pm (UTC)
" In the industries for art a lot of artist do not get paid until AFTER they've finished it and the commissioner can cancel at any time."

That's not at all true. Most artists in most art industries work on a contractual basis and are not paid upon completion.
May. 21st, 2017 05:10 pm (UTC)
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( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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