I have a dilemma, this is my second year doing shows and I have never had a return. Until know. On 6-9-12 I was at Hinsdale Fine Art Festival and a customer punches a piece of mine and asked for me to hold it. I said no problem  and got a phone number in case she forgot about it, well she did and I made the call later in the evening, she asked if I could hold the piece because she was moving and once they got moved in she would pick up the piece and was interested in a couple of more pieces. Well it is know 7-30-12 and I received a phone call last sat.( I was at a show) left a message that she would like to return the piece and refund her credit card. I have already paid the sale tax. I do not have her credit #.  How should I handle this?

Tim Arnold

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  • I have a sign on my desk which states "All sales are final, there are no refunds or exchanges"

  • Technically if you didn't deliver the piece you shouldn't have run her credit card as a sale.  If the customer does not have possession (or being shipped to) of the piece it's not technically "sold" yet.  In most states this would be illegal.  I could never charge the full price for a special order until I shipped the piece, I could take a non-refundable deposit of about 25%.  You could have run her card as a hold for 30 days.  If she took delivery of the piece then you could have converted the hold to a sale.  My non-refundable deposit covered the unlikely event the customer decided she didn't like the piece of jewelry she commissioned, I could be stuck with something that would take forever to never to sell, or something that I had to take apart to recover the different pieces to re-use in another piece.  I at least wanted to get paid for part of my time and effort that went into a one-of-kind piece. 


    • I've never heard it was not legal to charge a client 100%$ upfront for special orders if that is your business practice. Never had a complaint from client's either. I take deposits on special ordersl placed at the studio depending on the job and amount; $200 more or less. On major orders, i.e. saddles $2-8K it's 30% down and non- refundable. I've been in business since 1973, and found this keeps the tire kickers away.

      Dick Sherer
  • Before I became a full time wood turner.  I once worked for a Big Box Department Store selling appliances.  From that I used my experience in developing a warranty for my work.  "With any natural product, there can be unseen defects.  I guarantee my products against workmanship flaws and said defects.  I do not guarantee against misuse, abuse, normal wear and tear. If in need of repair or replacement please understand that some materials may not be readily available.  If a return is requested for any other reason not listed. a 15% restocking fee will be applied. Custom orders may be returned however a 75% Restock fee will be applied."

    Have things in writing before your next event

    Now for your issue.  Bite the bullet and chalk up the money loss for a lesson learned.   The silver lining is that you can claim this as a loss of revenue as well I would suspect that the Sales tax being paid to your state. save that information and report it on the next form.

    • I did the same- and it is posted in the booth.

      As I do jewelry, I also include "care cards" with each purchase, which describe how to care for and clean the jewelry. As gemstones and pearls require vastly different care and cleaning processes, giving this info to my customers has helped cut down on the inevitable calls for me to fix, repair, replace due to a customers lack of knowledge. I find, educating the customer helps alleviate some of these issues.

      Repairs are par for the course in jewelry. I charge for them, as they are usually due to carelessness.

      Now the only times I really have to deal with exchanges, is if the items were purchased as gifts for another individual, at a show,and do not properly fit- particularly bracelets. I always exchange if it is a fit issue.

      When doing custom orders- I have never had to deal with any issues regarding returns, exchanges etc, as I have a consultation with the customer, in my studio. We go over materials, colors, designs, I take measurements. I take a 50% deposit at the consultation and set up a delivery date. Once the item is complete, I shoot off a photo, and invite the customer over a fitting- final approval consult. Any changes are discussed/confirmed. Then once the piece is finalized, I call the customer and arrange for delivery.

      This has helped simplify things for the consumer and for me. I have less refunds/exchanges due to consumer carelessness and lack of knowledge, they know my policies BEFORE they purchase, because I have that info in the booth and studio, and I have consultations with custom order customers to determine their exact needs and wants- eliminating waffling. 

      • Ooooh, I see some ideas I can add to my operations.  I see that I should have a small booklet of different wood plagues to help out clients. 

        Thank you Milady

  • Hey, Tom, it's Barry. Not beeeeeerry!!!

    • Sorry Barry I my typing is awful

       Tom Arnold


  • Normally, I would say no way because in my case the money would be spent the minute it got into my account.  However, I think you are SOL because you have the piece and she could easily call the credit card company and tell them.  Your merchant services would cheerfully take the money out of your account because you agreed to that in your contract. If you don't believe me get out your trusty electron microscope and read the extremely fine print.  Unfortunately, you have to communicate with her to get her CC number.  I would use email if at all possible and explain that since you paid the sales tax, you can refund the price of the piece, but, not the sales tax.  If you wanted to annoy her, charge her a 10% restocking fee.

    • Thanks Berry I think thats the way I will handle it.

      Tim Arnold

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