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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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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.


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