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Sarahcat

Client won't pay after service is finished

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Hi all! This is going to be a bit complicated so please bare with me.

Back in January I finished a fursuit commission for a client and delivered it to them. Immediately they busted a seam in it but didn't want to pay shipping to send it back to me so they found a local tailor to do the repairs. They wear the suit to another event and pop another seam but have someone else fix it for them. Fast forward to July, we're both at a convention together when they discover the tail hole (a hole for the tail loop to go through) was sewn up. I offered to fix it for free at my booth and give it back to them within the span of an hour. So right off the bat, this seems to be an issue for them and I've never had a client in my years of business bust a seam before so this is very new to me, especially having it occur multiple times.

Recently they wore the fursuit to a convention and messaged me after the con that they wanted the sleeves lengthened. I offer to extend the sleeves as long as they pay shipping. To avoid shipping costs we agree to meet at a local furry meet (I drive 60 miles to pick up the bodysuit). 
I had other work to do so I did not get to repairs until this Sunday, two weeks after picking up the bodysuit. Immediately upon removing it from the bag I can tell it has not been washed and has an odor, again, something I've only read about but never dealt with myself. Not only is it unwashed but there's a 10" seam rip in the arm pit, as well as multiple holes in various places along the sides and front. I resew everything (including adding to the arms) with upholstery thread twice in the areas that are damaged, package it up and mail it back to the client.

Except... they don't pay me. They offered to buy me food when I picked up the bodysuit (which I declined) and offered to pay for shipping at the beginning (which was compromised when we met up) but now I'm out $14 in shipping and did work for free. I gave them a tracking number, gave them my PayPal and in the 24 hours since mailing it have yet to be paid. All they said was "thank you," they've read my message, been active on social media, just never bothered to pay me for my service. 

I've lengthened sleeves before for clients and easily worked out a compromise but never had someone bust so many seams. I've also had clients pay me every time I did this, or at least give me a tip on top of shipping, but I haven't even been paid for that. I admit it was very stupid of me to mail out the bodysuit before payment but man, it really sucks. I'm not sure what to do at this point. Unfortunately I did not invoice them for the commission a year ago so my PayPal doesn't have the email stored in there. I changed my TOS to reflect this incident and build off of it but I'm not sure what more I can do. 

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I'm a little confused...

In the way your wrote this, it really seems like you offered to fix everything and never discussed a price. If that's true, then of course the client won't pay you... they assumed it was free...

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So was there an agreement for payment?  You mention doing repairs for free at a con, and then say you'll add length to the arms for shipping.  How much did you quote them to repair the suit itself?

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2 minutes ago, Bornes said:

I'm a little confused...

In the way your wrote this, it really seems like you offered to fix everything and never discussed a price. If that's true, then of course the client won't pay you... they assumed it was free...

No actual price was discussed (I feel the length problem is an issue on my end and not the client's) so I offered to do it for free as long as shipping was paid for. This was agreed to by both of us, at least I am assuming such since it was mentioned twice. 

1 minute ago, Celestina said:

So was there an agreement for payment?  You mention doing repairs for free at a con, and then say you'll add length to the arms for shipping.  How much did you quote them to repair the suit itself?

The only payment was to be for the cost of shipping. With how my TOS was previously I said repairs are on a case-by-case basis but this wasn't so much of a repair as it was an initial issue with the suit, albeit it was finished nearly a year ago and has been worn to multiple events so I'm not sure how that issue wasn't caught sooner. I feel it is my responsibility to fix an issue like that for free, even though the two previous sleeve jobs I've done the clients were kind enough to tip me on top of paying for shipping (which was agreed to much like it was with this case). 

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Send them an actual invoice for the shipping and see what happens.

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1 minute ago, Bornes said:

Send them an actual invoice for the shipping and see what happens.

From my post, 

Quote

Unfortunately I did not invoice them for the commission a year ago so my PayPal doesn't have the email stored in there. 

 

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If it were me I'd kinda just write it off at this point.

But this sounds like the type of person who might actually answer honestly if you just randomly go "Hey, what's your email? I'd like to send you something." lol

Edited by Bornes
forgot a part of a sentence

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1 minute ago, Bornes said:

If it were me I'd kinda just write it off at this point.

But this sounds like the type of person who might actually answer honestly if you just randomly go "Hey, what's your email?" lol

Do you think they would give me their email? There's a part of me that feels kinda crappy sending them an invoice, but to be fair, it's REALLY crappy to have someone do a service for you and not pay. 

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I mean if you want to recover the money, do you really have anything to lose by asking for their email?

If you're certain they're not going to pay on their own then I would imagine an invoice would be the last thing you could do to coerce them to pay. Otherwise there's submission of a client beware.

You could try to message them again and ask that they pay you for shipping, and ask when you might be able to expect the money. 24 hours is a short time - usually I'd say give it longer - but from prior actions (such as seemingly going out of their way to meet you in person to get fixes) they seem like they either don't care or don't have the money to give you.

It's really up to you and how much you weigh $14 vs this client's relationship with you and the potential PR fallout should the client decide to get nasty publicly.

Edited by Bornes

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4 minutes ago, Bornes said:

and the potential PR fallout

If you don't mind, can you explain what you mean by this? I assume this comment would be about the potential beware, in which case how would that make me look bad? They asked for a service to be done, the service was finished and I was never paid for it, albeit the bare minimum of having the item shipped as what was originally agreed to. 

Usually I would just shrug it off (ex, if I charge someone $30 for shipping and it's $50) but they agreed to pay for the shipping in return for the job that was done. The item is now in their possession and I'm out $14 I could use as gas money to get to college. 

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"Potential PR fallout" was my general term for them bad-talking you.
This is probably over-explaining it and you likely have nothing to worry about, but here we go anyway:

- If the customer feels like the type to spout on about how bad of a person/maker/your business is
- If the customer has a substantial social presence or "pull"
- If the customer has relentless spirit/motivation in their vendetta

Let's say that you provide a 100% perfect service to (we'll call them) Molly. Molly then decides that they don't like you. It really doesn't matter the reason why.
Molly decides to go to social media and scream to anyone who will listen that you are a terrible person, that their business with you was horrible, etc. Maybe they even conjure up some screencaps that, out of context, make you look bad.

Nobody cares about Molly if they have, like, 3 followers. But suddenly Molly becomes a huge issue if they have 100+, a relentless agenda to post their vendetta on every social platform known to man, and seemingly limitless free time to bring up their vendetta any time your name gets mentioned anywhere.

Of course Molly has completely unsubstantiated claims, but people who don't know your history (or your history isn't perfect enough to completely override Molly's story entirely) will likely form an opinion about you and your services if they see Molly's story everywhere. You might lose customers. If Molly's story gets to them first before your good works do, then you may lose potential customers.

If you have enough business as-is and/or don't want to work with people who believe Molly, then obviously the "PR fallout" isn't a big deal for you, and you can continue on, totally ignoring Molly's screaming in the background. Plenty of people are able to do this (furry community included).

However, some people/businesses are really hurting for customers or don't have much of a history, or for some other reason have a very important relationship to their online presence being entirely positive. Those people don't want Molly's screaming, and will do whatever they can to prevent it from happening.

 

The thought process behind the calculation of whether your customer is going to be a Molly and whether or not that actually matters is a determination only you, as the business owner (and the person who presumably knows your business's social and financial standings best) can make.

So that is why I say, it depends on how you value the $14. Will this customer turn into a Molly? Can this customer make you lose more potential/future money if they become a Molly? Are those risks worth pushing for $14? Or is it better to cut your losses and write it off now so you don't have to deal with any of it?

 

Sidenote: this is why I would never be able to run a profitable business.
Good luck to you.

Edited by Bornes

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Take a screenshot of them agreeing to pay the shipping, send it to them, and provide paypal info. If you have proof they agreed, and they refuse to pay, post them here and see if its accepted.

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Have you communicated to them that shipping was $14, and you're expecting payment from them now? I'm really not seeing in your post where this has happened. From reading your post, it sounds like they agreed to pay shipping, but then you picked it up specifically to avoid shipping fees so they probably think they're off the hook or have misunderstood. If you haven't actually said "hey, could you please reimburse me for the $14 shipping charge", I can see where they may be confused and a gentle nudge would be appropriate. At least to find out if they intend to actually pay or not.

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