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Mortymaxwell

How do kill fees work?

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Posted (edited)

After  reading a recent beware that appeared on the site, I am wondering what the word "kill fee" is understood to be?

1. When can an artist keep some of the money if a cancellation occurs? (I've seen some websites say that an artist can keep some of the money if a customer cancels after work has started, and some websites say an artist can ask for money if there is a cancellation and no work has begun.)

2.  Is it different from clauses like:
"If the customer cancels and work has been started the client will receive a partial refund." or "If the artist cancels for personal reasons, the client will receive a full refund."

3. How can someone safely use kill fees in their terms of service?

P.S. I believe if a client cancels after an artist has started work the artist should be paid for what they've done. And if a client cancels before work has started they should get a full refund. I'm just throwing this question out because I see people asking "What are kill fees" and I'm not exactly sure what a kill fee is myself.

 

Edited by Mortymaxwell

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Artist cancels = full refund

Client cancels = partial refund. (unless work has not been started)

 

Obviously theres a bit more than black/white but thats generally the best moral code.

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I agree with @theodor

When I cancel, I give my clients a full refund. If my clients cancel, they get back money for work not done. I usually refund in percentage steps, e.g. Lineart finished -> 90% refund, Coloring/shading finished -> 50% refund, Art is almost finished -> 10% refund.

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Posted (edited)

That is pretty much how I understand refunds to work, and those percentages you gave, sound reasonable.

It's pretty alarming to me that some artists are taking kill fees to mean: "If a cancellation occurs before any work has been done, the artist gets to keep 40% of the payment."  Or argue, "I'm entitled to keep some of the money, even though I haven't done any work yet, because I took time to advertise I was taking commissions or read your e-mails." I recall one artist on the old AB LJ community saying they would keep 20% percent as a convenience fee, because they had to reply to notes.

And today I came across someone who has a 50% kill fee.  50% of the payment is kept, regardless of whether there's been work done or the artist is canceling for personal reasons.  And the artist puts just because they haven't drawn anything yet, "thinking" or "dreaming" about a commission still constitutes work. I'm kind of speechless that an artist is willing to deny a refund because they "dreamt" about a person's commission.

"The artist spends a lot of mental work on the piece and calls this mind sketching. A term used for working on a piece mentally instead of physically. If a piece is being referred to in this fashion, it is being worked on."

Edited by Mortymaxwell

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In digital media, there should be no percentage kept for unstarted work. There is nothing to buy which would require some sort of deposit, like a fursuit.

Even if it was tangible, %50 is insane.

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Posted (edited)

There was a digital artist from the old LJ community who said she would keep 20% of the money if a cancellation occurred before work had started.   I remember her saying she felt like there was stuff to buy, even though she does digital art. She was like, well, I've got to buy computer replacement parts. And she also said things about how posting a journal saying "commissions open"  and answering peoples' notes is really time consuming.  She charges $200 for a Wing It, so if a cancellation occurs before she's started work, she keeps $40.00. I'm not comfortable with that.

And the other person who keeps 50% if a cancellation occurs and no work's been done is a big NO also.

Edited by Mortymaxwell

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My commission prices include my time answering notes and marketing (journals and whatnot); I charge a private fee for clients that dont want their art posted because I lose out on that marketing.

But, you are not spending any money (or time) on a SINGLE thing that you will not be able to reuse (aka like violent pink fur, or a neon yellow marker, for example) so digital artists should NOT be charging kill fees when no work had been done. Computer parts are 100% write off on taxes (if its a work pc). You dont really 'lose' that money.

I would not buy from anyone who has any kind of fee for unstarted work. Thats a red flag for me.

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