I was contacted by the client on 20th March 2022 with regards to a YCH advertised on Instagram:
Here’s proof of the client paying for the commission (potential legal name redacted):
I sent them a link to their spot on my public queue, which has access to my terms of service on it as well, and explained my work patterns. Here’s proof of this being added to my queue, as Trello tracks all progress and changes to anything on it:
For transparency, here’s my public queue link.
The client asked for an update on 1st April 2022, which is no issue at all, but I noted I had not started on the piece yet. While no turnaround time had been communicated by myself nor the client, my average turnaround is around three weeks, depending on the piece and length of my queue:
I was finishing up a couple of really large pieces before moving onto the next batch, as communicated above. I got a WIP of the line edits requested to the client the next day as promised, and added minor bits of colour as I was making sure the line changes looked correct:
The client confirmed that they were happy with the changes, but wanted a more obvious flick on the hair, and the bandana removing. The bandana is noted as not being optional on the ref, so I confirmed that they definitely wanted it removing. My terms of service state that it is the commissioner’s responsibility to ensure their ref sheet is up to date and changes are communicated in advance, but I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an honest mistake, and made the change with no quarrel:
For reference, here’s that part mentioned in my terms of service. Note that this refers to pieces developed outside of YCHs, so I show line art instead before continuing, as there is no sketch to show, only line edits where needed. As mentioned, my terms of service is available via my public queue:
As these were minor changes and the client otherwise stated that the piece was ‘perfect’, and not wanting to make the client wait even longer for the piece, I moved onto colouring the piece. At this stage, I noticed that the client’s ref sheet was very difficult to work from, as it was low quality and the markings did not line up across the different views. I actually had my husband and an artist friend view it as well in order to help me figure out if I was getting it right, as I have ADHD and can sometimes miss markings (which is also outlined in my terms of service):
To illustrate the issues I was having, here’s part of the conversation I had with my artist friend (identity not included as it’s irrelevant). This artist knows my struggles with some markings, and this is an informal peer-to-peer exchange in helping each other do the best for our clients. This tends to speed up commission work for clients, and means clients don’t get pestered as much over every single marking. I’m also including this to prove that I was not being complacent in trying to get this piece right for the client:
I worked on the markings and got back to the client on 7th April with how I had interpreted them based on the ref sheet. The client, rather than asking for alterations that they were very welcome to ask for, instead asked for a full refund:
I was quite taken aback by this, as this seemed like a drastic change from the line art being described as ‘perfect’ save for a few alterations. I offered a few options on how to move forward, which I felt were fair to both parties:
I linked to my terms of service, which were on my public queue but I was unsure whether they had missed them, and highlighted my refund policy. For reference, here’s my public Terms of Service.
I felt that I was being more than fair in offering to make changes based on presumably different markings that may exist on a new reference. The client appeared to retroactively take issue with the fact I had done the markings, as this meant they would receive less of a refund. However, I explained that because they had otherwise said the piece was ‘perfect’ and the changes were so minor, I had continued with it. If they had needed more edits to the identified issues with the line art, I would have been happy to oblige:
I calculated roughly how much the client would receive in a refund. The client then listed what changes needed to be made, so I assumed they therefore wanted to continue with the piece. While there are a few changes needed, they were all minor things that would take me very little time to change. This exchange took a few days, as noted in the screenshots, due to the client taking upwards of 24 hours to respond to each message. While I didn’t note it at the time, the first image that the client uses as proof of changes required is from an image I had not received at this point, and is pointing out markings absent or at least different from the ref sheet:
I asked for clarification on some markings and noted where I genuinely missed things, such as the nosering, which was my mistake to own. Some of the markings, such as the brown on the leg, I still do not think are consistent with the ref sheet, as they were asking me to put markings on the front on the leg onto the back. However, I was happy to oblige, and this is where the conversation ended, with my understanding being that they would like the changes made and then would review them.
As stated previously, I do not work on art every day, and happened to be away from home for a few days, but remained in contact with commissioners and worked on my queue a bit. I received notice from PayPal that a dispute had been opened against me by the client with no notice, and saw that they had blocked me on Instagram:
I tried to respond via PayPal to explain my side, but the respond button didn’t work:
I attempted to reach out on Instagram before realising they’d blocked me:
I had to reach out to PayPal but was unsatisfied with them essentially saying I had to now just wait until May for PayPal to step in to decide on the case, due to the website not working correctly. Here is me contacting them on the site before I eventually called them:
I realised that I had the client’s email address, since they’d emailed over a higher quality ref sheet image (same image as previously posted), and reached out there to try to come to an agreement. I reference what the client said in their PayPal dispute text, but due to the site not working correctly, I can’t retrieve a screenshot of this:
The client responded reiterating that they wanted a full refund, which seemed unreasonable for the reasons already explained to them:
It seemed that we were making progress, and they unblocked me on Instagram, but did not take down their dispute from PayPal, which meant I was still unsure if they were going to attempt to challenge the case either way. I explained how they could do it, but this never happened:
I made the edits asked for originally on Instagram, which took very little time as expected:
The client asked for more edits, which I did without issue:
The client then asked for more edits, and again used a reference image that they had not shown me. I could see that the piece had different markings to the ones visible on the original ref sheet, and they additionally asked for more line art changes:
At this stage, working with the client was severely impacting my mental health, and with the PayPal dispute still open, I was scared I would have to keep making endless edits based on images I hadn’t seen in order to please them:
The client went silent again after this message, which gave me time to reflect. I decided that the principle of keeping a mere £15 was not worth the stress that all of this was causing me, so when the client still hadn’t replied in the morning, I decided to just refund them in full in order to end the whole thing:
I could not refund the piece due to PayPal’s broken website, so I contacted PayPal in order to ask them to close the dispute in favour of the client:
I do not believe that I was treated at all fairly by this client and refunded them entirely just to end contact with them. This was already impacting my ability to work on my queue, and I did not want it to impact anyone else.