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Replace broken piece?

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:46 pm
by Valerie Adams
I need some advice, please.

I've been selling my work for about 11 years and this is a first for me. I was at a show last weekend where a customer bought two of my pieces. Since she wanted both, she asked if I'd give her a price break. I've never done that before but wanted to make the sale so I took $20 off each piece. The pieces were wrapped carefully.

So I just got a call from the customer's assistant telling me that "One of the pieces never made it home. It broke before she could get it in the house." When I asked what happened, she couldn't tell me, since the customer is now out of town. She only knew that it was "shattered" and she was told to call me and ask what could be done.

Those pieces were each almost five years old (which is why I discounted them). I've toted them to several shows over the years and know they were properly annealed. In my experience, pieces don't spontaneously shatter. I expressed my surprise, and asked if it could have dropped. Of course, the assistant insists she was only told to call.

So it looks like I'm stuck having to replace the piece, and ship it to her, am I correct? I feel suspicious but don't want to accuse her/them of lying. What would you do?

Thanks in advance!

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 9:08 pm
by Brock
I wouldn't do anything until you talk with customer. Get her to explain what happened.
Impact marks on glass are obvious, have her send you photos.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 10:06 pm
by Jeanne
I would want to see proof myself. Sounds suspicious to me. If you feel you must do something, how about refund her money and be done with it?

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:22 am
by CH Glass
I agree with Jeanne and Brock. Have her send a picture of it. If you think she's being honest, give her a refund. If she wants another one like it, and you feel like making it, charge her your regular price, no discount. Your work is one-of-a-kind, and that one is broken. And make sure you don't lose any money on packing and shipping.

We've all bent over backward in our effort to satisfy a customer, and sometimes lived to regret it.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:27 am
by Morganica
I agree...shattering happens when something pretty extreme affects the glass--you've dropped it, you've subjected it to extreme, rapid heat, you've whacked it against the doorknob, the artist did a really bad annealing job or stuffed it full of incompatible glass...and the response is usually immediate.

But did the assistant actually request a free replacement? Seems like they left the door open to additional discussion. I think I'd find out what really happened to the piece, first, and then figure out where you want to take this.

I don't think it's out of line to offer a discount on something new because you've already made the connection with this customer...assuming you're comfortable with her story when you finally hear it. But unless you have some doubt about the piece (which I can't imagine, knowing your work), I wouldn't offer to replace it for free unless you just want to cultivate a potential collector.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:53 am
by rosanna gusler
i can not imagine why anyone would feel obligated to replace something that someone broke in transit. i would offer to make another and maybe maybe give some sort of sympathy price break . rosanna

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:54 am
by Judd
If the pieces are big enough, maybe you could piece it together and re-fuse it. Not for free (maybe charge for re-melting the glass), not free shipping, and tell them it's being re-made and won't look exactly like the other piece. This has been my policy for customers who drop what they bought. Don't screw yourself.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 1:25 pm
by Valerie Adams
Thanks everyone; this has been really helpful. I emailed the assistant saying I need photos of the broken piece so "I can learn from it." Sent it yesterday evening and have yet to hear anything. Depending on what it looks like, I may consider a refund but personally, I know it didn't have any kind of defect on my end. I looked at my records and realize the piece was made in 2007. Considering how many times I've schlepped it around to shows, if it was going to break I believe it would've done it when I had it. Too many red flags here.

I'll keep you posted!

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:41 pm
by rosanna gusler
just a thought but how do you know 'the assistand' did not break it and is just trying to get you to cover their ass for free? rosanna aka cynical today

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:15 pm
by judith
rosanna, aka smart always

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:55 pm
by Bert Weiss
Manufactuiring defects may result in a crack. Shattered happens from a serious blow or drop. To quote Sancho in Man of La Mancha. "If the stone hits the pitcher or the pitcher hits the stone, either way it is not going to be good for the pitcher."

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:03 pm
by Valerie Adams
So I finally received the photo a few moments ago. My response was that it's obvious there was quite an impact to the piece so I can't take responsibility for it. I've offered to remake it and ship it, and quoted my regular price to do so. Thanks for all the great advice!
broken.jpg

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:08 pm
by Brock
Good for you. They were trying to rip you off.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:16 pm
by Jeanne
Sure that's not an annealing problem? /s

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:42 pm
by Valerie Adams
I extended the offer to remake the piece at my standard fee, plus shipping.

Today I received a response:

"Hi Valerie,
I spoke with Ms. XXX and she is unwilling to pay the original amount of money for the replacement of the piece.
Thank you for your consideration.
Also, she does agree that the piece must have had an impact on some groceries."

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:26 pm
by rosanna gusler
well, ms xxx has some cahones. i guess she works on the ' if you do not ask, you damn well will not get' premise. sheesh. some people. rosanna

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:33 pm
by Morganica
I dunno, Val. I think I'm with Jeanne. Clearly, this is thermal shock. ;-)

Impact on some groceries? What did she do, stick it in the grocery bag and drop it? Wonder if an unshattered egg ever reaches her fridge?

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:05 pm
by Rick Wilton
(This is directed to the other commenters more than you Val)
Personally, I don't see where they did anything wrong. The piece broke, they informed the artist that it broke and asked what to do next. I didn't read anywhere where they were asking for a free replacement or implying that that it may be the artists fault. We are a bit too sensitive to the possibility that it could be an annealing or compatibility issue. The customer has no idea about these possibilities so sure she may have been hoping for a deal but certainly wasn't really expecting too much. Once you quoted her a price she declined but didn't jump up and say well it's your fault or try and BS you at all. She did exactly what any of us would do when they purchased a one off hand crafted item, if they broke a ceramic dish from a dept. store they'd just go replace it, but you can't with a one of a kind piece. Some of us are a bit edgy with the whole broken item issue it seems.

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:41 pm
by Brock
"She only knew that it was "shattered" and she was told to call me and ask what could be done."

Well . . . she could buy another one. Informing the artist of a breakage that the customer was responsible for could be seen as an attempt to get redress for something the artist had no control over. And yes, I agree some of us are a bit edgy with the whole broken item issue, because customers seem to think we will replace items for free.

And too many artists do . . .

Re: Replace broken piece?

Posted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:41 pm
by rosanna gusler
Brock wrote:"She only knew that it was "shattered" and she was told to call me and ask what could be done."

Well . . . she could buy another one. Informing the artist of a breakage that the customer was responsible for could be seen as an attempt to get redress for something the artist had no control over. And yes, I agree some of us are a bit edgy with the whole broken item issue, because customers seem to think we will replace items for free.

And too many artists do . . .

yep sounded like a fishing expidition to me. rosanna