Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Now You See It...

Now you don't. I am referring to the amazing disappearing special order customer. I've only had a few of these over the years. It took me a couple of times to learn my lesson. I would instantly get to work as soon as a request was made. I would offer up a completed product or even worse, I would work on prototype that required tons of design work only to have them change their minds or simply disappear. Eventually I learned that I shouldn't do any work until I get paid.

Flash forward a year or so, I haven't had any of these bad apples in quite a while and I begin to trust that people who ask for something really want it or they are at least up front about the tentativeness of the request. I begin to let my no work until paid rule slide a bit and nothing bad happens so I start to forget that anything could go wrong. That of course, is when the amazing disappearing customer act is performed again with such slickness that I never saw it coming.

I don't think that these thing are malicious, just inconsiderate. This time, I ordered supplies, and made a prototype all based on very consistent communication. Then more than a week later...nothing. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, life happens, thing get in the way. In fact, I still hold out hope that the order is still coming, but either way the lesson has been relearned. Do no work, order no supplies, go not one step beyond until paid confirmation.

Luckily for me, the supplies I ordered can easily be re purposed if necessary and there was very little effort expended. This time I get off not too worse for the wear, but in the past, I even had a trade go south where I custom made five pieces before the communication stopped cold. At this point, I'm wondering if I should institute some sort of nonrefundable design fee for all request to avoid this drama in future, but I still want to operate under the assumption that people are generally honest and forthcoming. Maybe that;s me being naive, but I want to trust in people.

I hope that my disappearing customer turns out to be a fluke or better yet, that they reappear and I can create wonderful pieces for them. I would much rather be tatting than worrying about getting paid.

1 comment:

Diana said...

I'm so sorry for your experience here. And I hold out hope that they will resurface, that indeed life just got in the way for a bit. Because crap like that can really get you down otherwise.

Before I was a mom, I was a professional graphic design consultant (after being a marketing designer in the Silicon Valley Trenches forever). I learned very quickly not to take on new clients for similar reasons to what you're dealing with.

Why is it that art can be so devalued as to make contracts and intent so desultory? It can get weird that way.

I hope they resurface. But I agree: best to at least get a 50% deposit before ANY work -- including your precious mindshare -- begins.