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Hi! While looking at commission pages, I came across a popular artist who mentioned in their terms of service they require advance payment, if you want them to draw their character. That's standard. But then they say that a large percentage of the payment is nonrefundable under any circumstance. The artist made it clear they keep this payment regardless of who cancels and if no work has been started on the commission yet. I believe the reason they want to have a policy like this is because are in high demand and many people want to commission them.

How do you feel about this? The artist's work is gorgeous, but a nonrefundable payment that they keep, no matter what happens, makes me cautious.

I've heard of fur suit artists having nonrefundable payments for materials+to reserve a slot, but never heard of digital artists doing nonrefundable payment to get added to their wait list.

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( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 23rd, 2017 01:19 pm (UTC)
Unless it's a physical piece of art where items may be used up and not able to be repurposed, I find items like this to be excessively unethical and a mark of poor professionalism.

From personal experience in working in this fandom, I've found artists with such clauses have them specifically due to poor work ethic. Eventually clients get tired of excuses and waiting, and will ask for their money back to move on. I refuse to give any individual with terms like this business, or even a watch.

If you haven't completed the work, then a client deserves a refund for work not done. If the artist cancels, then the client should be given a full refund. There shouldn't be any tolerance for anything less. There will always be someone else equally as skilled and with more professional terms.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 02:21 pm (UTC)
I'm feeling like there's no reason to have a non-refundable clause if the artist has a reasonable turn-around. I would avoid someone with a clause like that, to be honest.

That being said I see some artists take on way more than they should. Either they should raise their prices, start a patreon, or if it's an emergency of some sort they should start a gofundme.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the comments. I am going to be careful and not commission the person with this policy.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 03:32 pm (UTC)
Yeah I'd be wary of any artist who has a flat-out nonrefundable deposit no matter what. I'm not even sure that'd be legally enforceable if they took off without doing any work whatsoever, but who would have the time and money to bring up a legal battle if needed? I'd just stay away. Better safe than sorry.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 04:17 pm (UTC)
As someone who actually commissions an artist repeatedly with a "no refunds"-clause in their ToS (Despite all the warnings to be wary of those) and always received the art without issues and completely satisfied, I'd say: As long as the artist is reliable and finishes the commission to your liking, you can give it a shot.

Of course it doesn't hurt to check if some customers had some problems with this particular artist before.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 08:03 pm (UTC)
If the art is digital, no. Avoid, avoid, avoid. Traditional requires the use of supplies, and/or buying new ones for your commission so it's reasonable there.
Sep. 23rd, 2017 10:14 pm (UTC)
If they are in such high demand, they shouldn't have any issue with filling a slot if someone decides to drop out. A digital commission should not have a non-refundable "slot holding" cost.
Sep. 24th, 2017 01:32 am (UTC)
If they have a good history otherwise, I wonder if it's because they had to deal with a bunch of chargebacks/harassment?
Sep. 24th, 2017 01:44 am (UTC)
It still wouldn't save them from either.
Sep. 24th, 2017 07:24 pm (UTC)
Echoing some of the same above, unless the nonrefundable portion is covering the cost of traditional media items that can't be reused (i.e certain sized paper or paint colors meant for this commission), there should be no reason to have this type of clause.

Like other's I've only seen this same clause used by artists who keep massive wait lists and want a reason keep payment from folks asking when their work will be started months down the line.
Sep. 25th, 2017 12:32 am (UTC)
Hmm. I wonder if the near equivalent of this - charging a non-refundable amount for a service, one that doesn't necessarily have any materials expended - outside the art world would be dentist and doctors' offices charging a fee for an appointment cancellation without 24 hours' notice. They know they're not likely to be able to book that appointment slot again in that time frame so they charge a fee to discourage last minute cancellations.

I'm not saying that the two situations are equivalent as far as value goes but it's interesting to think about. I wonder if this artist's policy would go down more smoothly if they charged only the nonrefundable fee when the slot was taken and required the rest of the payment when the work was complete, rather than what they're doing now.

I'm of the opinion that it's fine for artists to keep customers waiting for a few months at a time IF they are completely upfront about the wait time and their queue, and if they keep on top of that wait time and don't let it balloon further. If a customer knows these things ahead of time it's their prerogative whether they want to jump in or not. A nonrefundable fee should not be used if the artist can't be transparent about the real terms of the transaction.
Sep. 25th, 2017 05:30 am (UTC)
Two of the artists I have found to have non-refundable deposit policies have very long queues. One has an 8+ month long wait and the other posted a journal about how they are six months behind on their queue. Their deposits go up to 50%.

I know one of the artists was charge backed by a customer and became very angry. I think their deposit policy may be in reaction to the bad experience they had, because the section where they discuss this is very defensive and also mentions other things they have to do to protect themselves... such as require their customers to have physical copies of digital commissions mailed to their home address.
Sep. 25th, 2017 07:33 pm (UTC)
I would definitely not commission an artist who warned upfront of wait times being eight+ months. That might be deliberate on their part if they know Paypal's dispute window is only six months.

I've been chargebacked myself (not due to wait times - credit card issues on the customer's part) and yeah, it definitely sucks, especially with the extra charges Paypal slaps you with. But I don't think a single chargeback justifies such drastic policy changes for all future customers.
Sep. 25th, 2017 04:42 pm (UTC)
Boozy Barrister has a very informative blog post (parts 1 & 2) about this issue, applied to fursuit makers, but the idea is still relevant for artists. Warning: he uses strong language.



In a nutshell, if you agree to a non-refundable payment, that's one thing, but it's really shady business practice AND considered theft to take money then not provide a product in exchange. He breaks it down really, really well.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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