WHO: dA user gloomyguts, previously known as ufoparty
WHAT: Item artwork for an ARPG
WHEN: Initial conversation, sometime in January. Payment in full, January 29th. Now waiting for a refund.
1/20 — I first discussed commissioning Gloomy for around 80 total pieces of item artwork for an ARPG on the 20th of January. In my very first message I just asked if they took commissions for them, and in their very first message to me they said they did and quoted me a discounted price for bulk ordering (which I did not ask for, but accepted). This price is on-par for average between all the different ARPG item artists, with one who charges $3.50 — $5 for excellent work, another who charges $7 per item, a few who charge $15 per item, and one who charges $70 per item, so I was happy to accept this price. Up front I explained to them the type of items I was looking for. I tell them around when I'll be ready to commission and they say they should have their commissions queue cleared by then.
1/29 — We agree to the commission and I pay in full $350 up front for 1 batch of 50 items, with the other batch to be commissioned later. I send a full list of items with detailed descriptions and references, which they are pleased about, and I tell them if any of them seem too complex or difficult to let me know. I explain that not all of the items need to be done by the time I want to launch alpha, but Gloomy gives themselves a deadline of having 5 done a week, with all to be done within 2 months. There is a small delay in them sending the invoice in which I didn't even notice or mention, but they mentioned it had an excuse for it anyway. They tell me they should have the first 5 items for me by the end of next week (2/9). They tell me they'll make a big sta.sh for all my items.
2/11 — It is now past the deadline Gloomy set for themselves by 2 days, so I message them and ask to check in on things.
2/13 — I get a message from them (with an excuse) and said they finished 5 items but forgot to upload them to sta.sh. They apologized for taking 2 days to get back to me because they just finished refunding a lot of underpriced past-due commissions and changed their username on all accounts (alarming). They insist they will get them uploaded to sta.sh for me to see and will have another 5 done by Saturday (2/17)
2/22 — Again it is past Gloomy's own deadline for the next 5 items, and they have failed to contact me again. I reach out wanting to check in again.
2/23 — They apologize again and say they are "trying to compile a sta.sh of them together for you". They confess they are taking them longer than their last ARPG item commission because "the person was rushing me and paying me next to nothing for those". They confess to me they talked to some friends who told them they should be charging more, and that they'd stick to the agreed $7 per item for this batch but would be raising them to $15 per item for the next batch. Also that they would take longer. Okay, that's fine, I was a bit uncomfortable that they would mention their prior commissioner but it was relevant, so I let it go. I again state I'm not in a rush to have them all completed (which I'm not) and that I'm fine with the price change. They go further in depth talking about the last person who commissioned them, about how they were "rushing" them and paying them "next to nothing", which I can sympathize with, but I don't see why they need to tell me. They KEEP GOING about this, which is kind of weird and makes me uncomfortable. I say it's fine, but just to keep me updated. They also said they should be able to have a "good chunk of them" done by April, but going off of how long they say the items take them to paint, that wouldn't be physically possible since they only had 5 done at this point (supposedly).
https://sta.sh/01f9592nztvq (captions at the bottom)
https://sta.sh/016qs09mjbhq (captions at the bottom)
https://sta.sh/01h42t4sgcgv (captions at the bottom)
https://sta.sh/01jue0eduh2q (caption at the bottom)
2/28 — Still no sta.sh link as promised from Gloomy. I'm fine with the idea that we're no longer working on a 5-per-week deadline, but Gloomy's to-do list states they've still only completed 5 items and I still haven't seen even 1 yet. I message them and confess I'm sort of nervous and don't expect WIPs of every item but I'd like to see how they're coming along since they offered to put them in a sta.sh for me to see on multiple occasions.
https://sta.sh/05pb14gvpkl (caption at the bottom)
3/5 — Still no response from Gloomy to the last message. I explain the situation to my friends and family who all start screaming at me (who are also familiar with commissioning art, and we've all done it for years) that I need to get my money back because of all the red flags. Refunding old underpriced commissions (to which there is still a huge list of orders to refund on their to-do list), changing their username on all accounts, talking crap about previous commissioners to me, not responding to messages, promising things they can't seem to provide, not even showing the work completed so far, and raising the price. I removed a proxy part here but I contacted the other person who commissioned Gloomy for ARPG art, who apparently had a very similar experience to mine. At the suggestion of everyone to get a refund, I message Gloomy with my concerns about the art and about their lack of response to me. As it's now been well over a week since our last contact and they don't seem to be responding to messages, I regret to inform them that if I cannot get a response/reassurance about my concerns I will have to file a chargeback as I don't want to do business with someone who does these things and refuses to reply to messages. I may have been presumptive and possibly aggressive here but I had started to panic as unfortunately I have had artists vanish without a reply before.
https://sta.sh/0j9zer81ngn (caption at the bottom)
3/9 — I finally get a reply, in which Gloomy has an excuse and also says a bunch of things that are simply untrue (that I asked for a bulk discount, which I did not, that I am asking for free changes to the art, which I did not, etc.). They claim that many of my items are recolors (first of all, only 2 items are recolors, a gemstone and a plastic ID card, and wouldn't it be easier to just change the color rather than repainting? not sure what the point was here) and that many of my items are more difficult (I specifically went off of their examples for items for their convenience, and also again right away asked them to tell me if things were too difficult). They tell me they will refund me in full if I give them my Paypal (what? I paid via invoice, they have it). At this point I accidentally hit send too soon and I sent them a few messages because I was pretty furious they would imply that I needed to learn how to commission artists and that I'm literally made of money so none of this should "really be a big deal" to me. I called them out on that, and pointed out that I never once asked for free changes (just asked to see them to make sure they feel right for the theme I've got going for the group right now, which I can always change if the art doesn't quite fit), and that THEY offered me a bulk discount in their FIRST MESSAGE TO ME, despite me never asking for it.
https://sta.sh/01nds9xyo04n (caption at the bottom)
I give them my Paypal and ask for my money back. They then again flip out at me and claim I'm threatening and harassing them, and claiming again that I'm working them for slave labor and expecting free changes (again, never said that anywhere), and that I have to give them 1-2 weeks to get me my refund. They say if I file a dispute any time before that they will void my right to a refund and "it will take longer to get [my] money back". They also say if I ever message them again they will block me. I message them back to confirm that they have 2 full weeks, until 3/23, to refund me, and then blocked them because I didn't want to hear whatever else nasty they might have to say to me.
3/24 — It has now been 2 full weeks. I gave them the benefit of the doubt and gave them all day yesterday to try and get me that refund. But, here we are. No refund has been initiated, and an hour ago I filed a chargeback with Paypal. So despite them saying I needed to give them 2 weeks to refund or else it would take longer to get via chargeback, now I get to file a chargeback anyway and take 2 more weeks than necessary. This whole thing has been a very strange, unprofessional experience that I've never had the misfortune to fall upon with all my times commissioning. If Gloomy had ever once reached out to me without me having to reach out to them repeatedly only to never get an actual update on the status of my art, I don't think any of this would have happened.
Sta.sh link with all the screenshots:
My partner realized in their own TOS they have a "I will not tolerate bullying or harassment to complete your commission sooner" clause, which of course makes us wonder how many other people have been through this same song and dance (apparently from what I have heard and seen on their own to-do list, that number is quite high).
Edit to post was only to fix the incorrect title.
UPDATE 3/30 — Paypal initially told me they were giving gloomyguts until 4/3 to provide more information (due to the holiday weekend), but today Paypal intervened ahead of the deadline with the information I provided and ruled the case in my favor. I got my money back thanks to Paypal, unfortunately no thanks to the artist.