Posted By Kathleen David on October 2, 2012
I have seen a pattern out here on the Internet that both puzzles and disturbs me. And I am honestly trying to find a delicate way of putting it. It boils down, for me, to one can’t be emotional in a business transaction. I learned this lesson at a relatively young age but I am seeing more and more emotions leading to bad business decisions.
I know a number of artists that have what they term a nuisance tax for clients that they know are going to be a royal pain to work with. And I am OK with that and have charged it on very rare occasions. One knows that the client is going to be one that is going to take extra time for the project to be done so one factors in the time and extra materials cost into the final price. Also if the client is willing to pay that amount for the project, then it is worth one’s time to get it done well and in a timely fashion.
This does not excuse a trend I am seeing of “No Refunds No Matter What” which includes if the artist decides that the client is too much to handle so they keep the money to “teach” the client a lesson about the client’s behavior. That is out and out theft and, I am pretty sure, is illegal just about all over the world. I know artists that have been burned by charge backs after the good are received or checks that are no good. That does not excuse taking money for goods not delivered.
Another thing that bothers me is people who create companies to sell their goods to clients and then use the monies paid for that project on other projects or on themselves before delivering the good. I am not talking about purchasing the materials for a project; I am talking about creating what almost seems like a pyramid scheme. They take on too much and create a problem for themselves because they find themselves in over their heads. So the client either receives quickly made shoddy goods or it takes an incredible long time to get their product. So some owners start changing their terms of service that they have all the time that they want to do the project and the client just has to sit tight and wait. (Again I know about the obsessive client that thinks once they plunk down their money, they own the artist. That’s another column entirely). If one has a queue for custom work, then list it so that prospective clients can see how long it is going to take for one to get to the top of the list and give them some ballpark figure so they know how long it might be before they are gotten to.
Once one has entered a contract, both parties have things that they are responsible for. Getting in over one’s head and then adding more clients is not sound business sense.
Leading with one’s emotions when things go wrong is not the best way to go for either party. I try hard to take the emotions out of the situation. This is work and it is a job. One needs to look at it from that point of view rather than flying off the handle when someone comes to the artist and asks for an update or a refund because it is taking too long.
Then there are the artists who go into these projects totally gung-ho. They have a skill and they are going to make money off it. However once they get started they find that something that they enjoyed doing as a hobby is not something they want to do as a job. And that is one heck of a wake-up call. Some rise to the occasion and others just drop the ball and go onto something else leaving people hanging who have paid them money for the artist’s skills.
I am grateful for those people who do rise to the occasion and become good business people.