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How do you handle a situation where a piece gets damaged by a customer during an art fair?  While packing up at my last art fair, I noticed a woman taking one of my business cards from a holder on a shelf.  I glanced away & the next thing I hear is a big crash.  One of my pieces had fallen off the back of the shelf onto the pavement & broken.  The customer looked at me and said "Oh, do you think that happened because of those kids going by?"  I just looked at her.  What kids?  Where?  I had just moved that particular piece away from the edge of the shelf a few minutes before the woman came into my shop.  Since I didn't see her bump the shelving unit or knock the piece off, I didn't ask her to pay for it.   How would you have handled this?

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I think you handled the situation appropriately Jillian.  Since you didn't actually see her knock the piece off the shelf it would be difficult for me to ask her to pay for it unless she fessed up.  Is it possible that when you moved the piece away from the edge that it became less stable?  For example if the piece was on a little easle, did one of the legs slip off the shelf and you didn't notice that? Either way, if she didn't admit to it and you didn't see it, why create a confrontation?  I'll be interested to hear how people handle breakage at the hand of the customers. 

Personally, if I accidently broke something in someone's booth I would feel obligated to pay for it.  However, knowing that we've got people of all ages and shapes, wheelchairs, strollers, and pets, (and in some cases unicyclists and flame-throwers), it's important to make sure that our art is as stable and secure as we can make it.

I have never asked a customer to pay for breakage. It is always their fault.  You could try to get them to buy another piece. (unbroken, of course)


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