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Daily Wire Tip: Customer Order Policies
Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip
I love doing custom/commission work. I usually talk with the customer to get an idea as to what they want, have them pick a piece of jewelry from my work that is `kind of` what they want. That has always worked, until recently. `Mr. Joe` wanted a `tree` made in silver on a rock (round, smooth, black basalt). I created it. He didn`t like it and described what he wanted changed. When all was said and done I had created 6 different necklaces before he had one he liked. I charged him my original quote plus shipping, as had been agreed to. THEN, the necklace didn`t show up at his house for four weeks and he was mad and requested that I send him a replacement. Unfortunately I did send it (I hadn`t gotten a tracking number on the first one.) The day after the replacement was in the mail, he called to say he received the first one and said he liked the the replacement better. I said to wait until he got the second and then he could return the one he didn`t want, or he could keep both if he paid for the second one as well. He hasn`t returned either pieces, nor has he paid for the second piece. I`ve contacted him a couple of times and he says, `Ohhhh, I`m sooooo sorry, I forgot. I`ll put it in the mail right away.` 3 months later and it is still unresolved. What is your procedure for doing custom designs? How about dealing with merchandise that doesn`t arrive at the customer`s house in a timely fashion? How should I handle the payment for the second necklace? I`m out $70. Fortunately, I`ve sold the other pieces I made for him.
I agree that this is a difficult situation, however if you are ‘up-front’ and firm about your ‘custom order’ policies, your client should appreciate your honesty. One sure way to state your custom order policy is to either print it on the reverse of a few business cards that you hold back just for this type of order, or on a separate card with your contact info that you can give to a client. My personal policy is to take full payment at the time of the order, which guarantees my customer that I will pay for any necessary shipping and insurance, and that I cannot refund their money if they don’t like what they have agreed to, until I actually sell the piece they had me create `just for them`.
The best way I can respond to your question is based upon my experience. This is how I personally take a custom order (which is also what I teach my personal students). Use a triplicate order pad. Have the customer fill in their personal info, including shipping/mailing address, phone numbers and if available their email. I then write out exactly what the customer would like (based on our conversation) including what metal(s), their stone or mine, their preferred style (if possible, the name of a piece I may already have that they like, which I also take a picture of with my cell phone in case it sells) what embellishments they prefer if any, and a quick sketch. I then go over their order in detail again, jot the approximate delivery date on the form, and when they are satisfied I have them sign the order slip. I add my contact info to the bottom and give them the top/original order slip as well as my card. When their order is finished, I include the second slip with their order when I either deliver it by hand or ship it to them. (If shipping the item, I also call or email this customer to let them know their order is on the way, with the tracking numbers.)
And before you ask, yes I have had a customer who was not happy with her order and I did send her a refund check when I sold the item about seven months later, along with a thank-you for her interest in my work. She has since become a regularly returning client.
You have learned a very valuable lesson in an unfortunate way, and in the future if you follow the procedure I have outlined above this should not happen again. (I learned this same lesson many years ago with a $750 ring!)
Now, in your current situation with `Mr. Joe`, my only advice here would be to actually travel to his home (which may not be worth the cost or your time depending on the distance) and again request either payment or return of your piece (as it has not been paid for, it is still YOUR piece). If a personal visit is not worth the trouble, write this off as a very valuable lesson learned and be glad the cost was not a lot more!
Answer contributed by Dale `Cougar` Armstrong
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