Hi, I have just had an e-mail from a customer that has quite upset me . I would really appreciate some advice/support, and just generally need to get this off my chest!
I made a little bear called Bluebell (she's in the showcase section) for a lovely lady, at half my normal commission cost because I'm daft like that and this lady has bought a number of my bears....but the whole episode has been nothing but trouble :rolleyes:.
Firstly, I asked my customer to choose a fabric and sent various photos. Instead, she insisted on the colour of one of them but in a different fabric (she wanted mohair, not synthetic). So I tried to oblige (my first mistake!) and went on the hunt...found a lovely intercal kid mohair in navy blue which looked to be the same colour on my monitor...confirmed with her that it was ok, and ordered it. When it arrived it was darker than I expected. I told her this, and she again confirmed this would be ok. Made Bluebell, sent her off yesterday, and today got an e-mail expressing how disappointed she is....the colour's too dark....that navy blue is not at all like the first colour she saw, she thought the bear would be 'bright blue'.
The thing is, on my monitor this was the closest I could find to the bright blue fur she originally chose the colour of, and I did warn her that the actual fur was darker before I made the bear. So what do I do? She's also implying that my photos of Bluebell have misrepresented the colour, yet to me Bluebell looks navy in the photographs.
I'm upset for several reasons - the difficulties of making a custom bear to such tight specifications, the negativity of a lady who previously has been nothing but positively encouraging about my bears, and the fact that she obtained this bear cheaply yet has the nerve to complain about it! Aaargh. I'm so upset I feel like crying....
Oh dear, I am so sorry could you possible resell this bear and make another or is this not an option - I figure that since she is a regular customer that you might want to try to "fix" teh problem Or maybe you can explain to her the trouble you went through and maybe she will understand
Yes, I'm going to do everything I can to put this right. And I would much rather re-sell (or keep!) this bear than have this lady unhappy with her....
But it makes me think again about commissions, and whether or not I'm really happy to do them.
By the way, here's the original fabric that the customer chose for colour: http://tinyurl.com/75alf (scroll down to 'bright blue') and here's the mohair fabric I chose: http://www.intercaltg.com/colors/1115n.html . But the mohair was much darker than this when it arrived.
Bluebell is an absolute cutie. I can not understand how someone could not love her... Maybe if you tell your customer to send her back, she will understand she can not let her go ?
I do not think I have ever seen a blue like the bright blue she would like in mohair... It's a difficult commission... Maybe the "blue" in Cushing's Perfection Acid Dyes ?
I am really sorry for you, it's a really difficult situation.
Hi Helena! I can completely understand how you feel. Commissions are either the most wonderful experience in the world..., or they can be downright terrible.... inevitably the customer has a vision in their mind, and it's downright impossible for you to be able to EXACTLY produce what she was thinking of precisely. I've generally had pretty good luck with commissions, I do them on a regular basis and have about a 6 month waiting list at this point, but I did have one that just completely went terribly from start to finish. Since this woman has been a good customer, I'd simply offer to try again.... rename the Bluebell that you've already made and sell her through your website or on eBay.
Beary truly yours,
Wild Thyme Originals
Awww I'm so sorry!
I would definitely take her back. And as for the "color on the monitor"... I would let her know that it was certainly not intentional! Monitors vary greatly in color and brightness! Just go into a television store with all the TV's tuned to the same station and see the variety of colors and brightnesses to really understand.
Heck we have 2 internet computers in the house and photos on them look very different. How aggrevating... I'm so sorry!
My current avatar is 1115 Navy Blue.
I agree with the others; I would offer to take the bear back and sell to someone else since this is a good customer. She hopefully will understand the risks of selecting a color online without actually having the product to look at. Sometimes different monitors show colors differently too, so it might have even looked different to her than it did to you.
Helena, I'm so sorry and feel your anger, sadness....I hope this lady thinks twice and writes back saying sorry or something...awful thing to do to you...
I hope it turns out okay...hope if she is really not happy you can sell him to someone who will be wrapt in him like he deserves to be treated :)
big hug and feel better
I agree with you on commissions. They can be a pain in the you-know-what. But I would kindly inform the customer that I was sorry the color was not exactly as she had envisioned and that I would be more than happy to have the bear returned to me in the same condition as she received it for a refund. I would explain that colors are so hard to match. The same color can be slightly different from one run to another.
Then I'm sure you will make your customer happy and you will get your bear back to perhaps sell to someone else for more money.
Whenever I do a commission and a special color is involved, I always send a swatch of the actual fur I'm gonna use to the collector. Remember, even with teddy bear collectors, the customer is always right. I'm sure she will think you a very gracious teddy bear artist and will purchase more teddies from you. And you do not have to feel that you are to blame for this. These things just happen and should not be considered anyone's fault. I know it hurts the ego a tad bit, I know I would be upset if any one of my collectors was unhappy with a bear. But the collector has purchased several teddies from you, so she apparently loves your little guys.
Anyhow, this is how I would handle the situation.
Wow, I just came back to the computer and found everyone's wonderful replies....thankyou!!!!
Wanda, I agree, the customer is right no matter what....and much as it hurts I'll offer to replace this bear with another one that the collector will hopefully be happier with. Sarah, thankyou for the hug, I needed it! Ellen, I'm inclined to agree with you and am thinking carefully about taking my 'commission' page from my website. Jenn, I really do hope this particular bear finds a more suitable home! Laura & Deb, colours can vary a lot can't they? Perhaps I should have sent a swatch.... Kim & Kim (LOL), thanks for your support - I could go the route of dying mohair but even then I wouldn't be able to guarentee an exact match. I do think this lady has a strong vision of what she wants and it will be hard fulfill that. Marion, I'm going to check out those dyes, thanks (though I don't think I'll use them this time, maybe in the future). Thankyou everyone!
Will let you know how it turns out....
Your bear is simply gorgeous and I'm sure you would have no problems re-selling her for a higher price than this lady was going to pay.
I agree with the problems that commissions cause. I am very nervous about them and usually decline politely. Firstly I can only afford to buy mohair in small pieces which only usually makes one bear and usually people want a very similar bear to one I just sold which I can't do if I run out of that fur.
Also, When I have sewn commissioned bears I find that I don't really enjoy it. I like my bears to be original and come from my imagination, evolving piece by piece into a character of their own. With a commisioned bear based on a previous bear I end up taking such a long time to sew it and get bored with it that my creativity evaporates.
I never really know what to charge. So far I have only really sold bears on eBay which find their own price. I'm too soft and like Helena did with this lady, I would probably charge lower than I would get normally get.
Plus there is always the fear that they would not like the bear. Too different from the one they originally liked or not liking the fur (particularly if it is different to the first bear). I don't think I would want to go to the trouble of sending fur samples.
I agree though that you should explain all the trouble that you have gone to with this bear and wait for her reaction.
I don't do commissions anymore for the reasons you cite, and similar ones. I find it freer to work without constraint, and more ego-protective not to worry about rejection from specific collectors surrounding specific pieces, which I work extra hard to make pleasing, but sometimes, were not. Mostly, this is because the collector had something very specific in mind that I could not "see" in my own head, because I never did graduate from mind-reading school. :)
Your work is wonderful and I'm sure you have a market for whatever you make so put on a happy face, keep a happy repeat customer, and sell it elsewhere, likely with ease. That's what everyone else is recommending and what would be the course of action I would take as well.
Oh, I really appreciate your support.... :redface: Kate, it's funny you should mention your lack of enthusiasm for commissioned bears because I find the same thing. They take me longer to make, and I enjoy them less. Not good!
I've e-mailed the collector with a comprimise, suggesting I make her a minibear in the exact fur she liked most alongside a small refund, in exchange for the navy Bluebell. Or else a full refund. The colour she requested is just proving too difficult for me to find in a suitable mohair (she originally stipulated size too). I'm sure she'll understand (fingers crossed!)
Bluebell is gorgeous and I think a truely horrible, rotten thing has happend to you today. I agree with everyone else - you'll have no problem finding her a new home. Your compromise is a good idea and I hope your customer appreciates your kind offer.
Something I'm beginning to accept recently is that everyone has different taste and although Bluebell is not necessarily what your customer was looking for, someone else will be absolutely besides themsleves to have her. It's a nasty knock for you though - but remember it was only the colour not Bluebell herself. She's a lovely bear.
I was wondering did you send your customer a sample of the actual fabric - something I do with commissions is send a little swatch card with lots of samples stuck on it. I keep all the samples from the suppliers and lots of little off cuts and even if the quality isn't the same, the customer gets a better idea of the true colour. Hopefully this goes some way to eliminating chance that the bear is not what the customer is expecting. I always feel aprehensive about taking commissions (I don't particualrly enjoy them either) and I have to say your experience today is making me think twice about making commissioned bears.
Anyway on a cheery note, I just wanted to say that I saw Fido on ebay last week - he's absolutely fantastic, my daughter fell in love with him instantly, but the bidding went way beyond her pocket I'm afraid!
Hopefully you'll have resolved the problem and be feeling better by the time you get my message.
That sucks. If only these people realized how much time, effort and heart goes into making our bears. Even if I asked for a green bear, and bluebell showed up at my door I would be happy. It's such a nice bear. How could she just not love it. I'm very curious to see what she does with your offer.
Yes, the customer is always right, but still. I don't think she's being very nice.
I don't like commisioned work, maybe only when I'm famous enough to charge a really good price.
Best if luck,
Thankyou Vicky. I do feel better than earlier this afternoon. I'm realistic enough to realise that we all have knock backs sometimes and that people have different tastes - but as Heather says, it still sucks! No, I didn't send a sample of the fabric and I know I should have (hindsight is a wonderful thing :doh: ).
Heather, well I think I now know why this lady is acting a little out of character. She replied to my e-mail saying that she would like to keep Bluebell, says she will be loved, but makes it clear that she's 'settling' for the darker blue. Then at the end she mentions there's been a death in the family today... So I think she's feeling very sad at the moment. And maybe this is why she's less happy with Bluebell than she might have been. If she's using me as a punchbag that's ok, I really don't mind under these circumstances.
So Bluebell stays in her new home and I'm still on good terms with the collector! Thanks everyone, I really needed to talk about this and you've all been wonderful :clap: