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Unread 07-15-2013, 03:54 PM   #1
Hwari
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Steps/advice to avoid scamming and maintain accountability?

I've just posted a thread under wanted commissions (it's still under moderation), and the research I've done since then makes me feel a bit cautious. Although I'm sure it's not often, I certainly wouldn't want $100-$300 to disappear with nothing to show for. I've seen the Commissioner Reviews, but are there any steps that can be taken during interaction with the seller to ensure accountability and that they won't be able to clam up and cut off all contact without consequence? Although I have dealt with craigslist-type transactions, none of them have been prolonged services and a simple background check was usually enough for me to only run into reputable sellers/buyers.

I understand that you should keep a copy of all your e-mails/interactions and that in the worst case scenario, you may be able to file for a chargeback if you actually have been scammed. Are there any other tips from experience someone might be able to give for a starting customer? I'm hoping in return for offering what I believe is a reasonable request/deadline and payment, that my first (and hopefully not last) try with this will be a smooth and pleasant one.
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Unread 07-16-2013, 02:01 PM   #2
lunaladyoflight
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http://www.cosplay.com/showthread.php?t=320820 This thread has "what to be expected when commissioning something" laid out pretty well.
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Unread 07-16-2013, 02:23 PM   #3
Hwari
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I did take a good look at that thread before, and I did once more when you linked it, so perhaps it's something I missed? I'm familiar with good etiquette and keeping expectations realistic, but I'm also looking for additional ways to bulwark myself from getting scammed (as rare as I know it seems to be, I'll take any chance I can to lower it) or getting my deadline missed with no accountability to be had.

The closest thing in that informational thread to what I'm looking for seems to be etiquette, but it doesn't really touch upon what I was hoping to see .
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Unread 07-16-2013, 03:26 PM   #4
lunaladyoflight
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Read reviews, and remember not to badger commissioners unless they're past your deadline. That's the best advice. READ REVIEWS.

Not everyone is out to scam you, you just have to be choosy about who you work with.
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Unread 07-16-2013, 03:37 PM   #5
SirWonderusMary
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I disagree slightly with that as reviews don't always work. Like, sometimes you choose someone with outstanding reviews and by the middle of it you're scammed. It happened to me before, and my fiancee, but she in the least got her costume. Though her costume looked like it was rushed. Right now working with a nice commissioner with another costume who makes wonderful work. My advice, is if you do so happen to get scammed don't blame every commissioner for that one no-show.

It's also possible to ask for a payment plan so you don't need to spend it all at once, unsure if you'll really receive the costume. But if they don't accept that, think if you're willing to take a chance on it!
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Unread 07-16-2013, 07:18 PM   #6
Cyanna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SirWonderusMary View Post
It's also possible to ask for a payment plan so you don't need to spend it all at once, unsure if you'll really receive the costume. But if they don't accept that, think if you're willing to take a chance on it!
I think that's one of the best things you can ask for really.

If the commission is really far out I only ask for supplies to be covered to "lock" the slot and a deposit for the first few hours to be sent at any time before the start date. Some people take advantage of that separation. Others don't and send the entire deposit at once. But the purpose is to give the client as much time to take advantage of that 45 day Paypal window as much as possible while the item is being made.

No one has ever needed to but many seem to like at least having that additional insurance in the event of a catastrophe. BUT this is supplemental income (my craft is too specific, demand is low, and I can only work 1-3 hours at night) so I can afford to take more risks like this. If this was my only source of income I might have a more strict policy. But payment plans would always be an option.

It's a fine balance. Many commissioners have to guard against being scammed too.
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Unread 07-16-2013, 08:13 PM   #7
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It is hard to know just from negotiations whether a commissioner will flake on you or not. Recent review threads are proof. Someone can have fabulous customer service in the preliminary stages and not follow through in the end, and you're right, how do you save yourself from being scammed then?

Insist on a contract, first of all. But after that, if you're worried, ask someone with experience in commerce or notary law just what your options are if you have a signed contract that has been violated. I know even small claims court can be scary to even look at, and threatening legal action is difficult when you can't follow through. Interstate and international commerce makes it even stickier when you're commissioning over the internet and don't know how the laws differ from state to state and country to country. It should hopefully be your last resort. However, I feel like a lot of inexperienced commissioners who end up garnering the most negative reviews might not get the chance to scam so many people if we had a way of making legal action stick.

That said, I do see just from watching this comm that the people most shafted by fail commissioners are those who have absolutely nothing in writing to prove that they have been reneged upon. No contract, nothing but a handful of emails with vague promises. It's much more rare to run into a problem when there's a contract made - not impossible, but rare.

Lay out not just your deadline but your time frame.

Refuse to pay too much ahead of time if you're worried. I know there are some good commissioners who can get away with full payment up front, but they're few and far between. Most of the time I would consider payment of anything from half to full payment in advance to be a red flag. Even if they aren't deliberately scamming you, it's a lot more difficult for a commissioner to refund hundreds of dollars than it is if they have to refund you a small deposit. I personally ask only for a deposit to cover cost of materials, so that if the customer flakes between fabric purchase and final total, I am not out actual money and can turn around and sell the costume for a reasonable cost to recoup labor. From the customer's standpoint, a deposit should be a commitment, but also a guarantee that the commissioner will follow through. If you try your best to get chargeback or refund and end up completely screwed, it's better to only be out maybe fifty bucks instead of hundreds - or thousands.

Finally, ask for detailed breakdowns of the commissioner's policies, charges, and even ask outright what you should do if they fail you. Don't accuse them of being scammers, but check to see what their policy is if they happen to break a promise or renege on a contract/agreement. A pro commissioner not only has these policies in place but can rattle them off to you - and then they stick to it.

I field estimates and questions from customers all the time who've been scammed in the past, who are understandably paranoid. I do what I can to reassure them because I have policies in place to protect them as well as myself. I wish there were easier and foolproof ways of guaranteeing a good business transaction, but if it's just someone taking commissions on the side with no actual license or legal standing, going after them legally to get your money back is a lot harder. It takes a little work to find the right person, but it's better to throw out a lot of emails and make a lot of negotiations than it is to just agree to hire someone who seems nice and get bitten for it.
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Unread 07-16-2013, 11:12 PM   #8
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It's up to the commissioner but i always try to make my customers as comfortable as possible. I give picture updates with progress everytime there is something new to show and don't ask for payment until the product has been seen by the customer and is ready to ship. If it is a commission that has a high material cost i will ask for a $50 deposit to ensure their interest in the project and that i won't get stuck with the bill should they back out, but nothing that is a scary number like the full cost up front. I would be wary of paying the full amount upfront as well as you are.
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Unread 07-17-2013, 10:55 AM   #9
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Along with what has been stated above, I also suggest you do a Cosplay.com search on the commissioner(s) you are interested in to see if up-to-date feedback has been left on their services. The commissioner review thread has not been updated in ages, and a thorough search will give a better picture of which commissioners are worthy of your time and money. I learned this the hard way.

There are many great commissioners here on this site, and I am sure you will find the perfect one for your cosplay needs. Just do not forget to do your research first!
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Unread 08-01-2013, 08:36 AM   #10
Hwari
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Thanks everyone, I've managed to catch a break and a friend of mine who's gifted in cosplay's willing to help me out (not for free of course), so the only elements of the costume I'll need at this point are items I don't consider as expensive or risky.

Of course that doesn't mean I'm magically okay with not getting things on time or losing money, but it won't hurt as enormously bad as it would have otherwise.
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