Philip Poburka on mon 27 aug 01
There is another view in these matters...broadly...as...
Hmmm...with me, all 'sales' have allways been 'final'...whichever side of
the 'sale' I am or was on.
Other than maybe some 'new' electronic device that does not work, or had
immediatly failed....other than unambiguous 'failure' of some kind IN the
pragmatic rhelm...of a 'new' device or other...
Or if something is or was conspicously the 'wrong' thing entirely, as maybe
I send off for a '60-Series Buick Water Pump for a '37 Century...and 'get'
one for a '38, '40-Series'-"Special", because the seller goofed, or didn't
know the difference.
If he won't make it right with a reasonable happy conversation...I will find
some guy with a '40-series' and say..."Merry Christmas".
I have never had the involute impudence to demean myself or anyone else
with a banalification such as to 'return' an item of any kind for any
'reason'...or to push to do so...except for like a ''fax' machine that
pooped out after a week...like that.
If I make a mistake, and I make some, I feel they are mine...I should not
trouble others with them.
..or if I have, made a mistake that 'troubled' someone, I will make ammends
as intend to satisfy their sensibilities on that...whatever it is...unless
they are a tyrant, and some are...where I would then say, "here are the
ammends, and shut up."
And I am not liable to much sympathy for the occasion of someone's doing or
trying to do that....to 'return' things...
If something was misrepresented, or if there is some reasonable basis on
which to construe a probable misunderstanding had occurred, or as relate to
misapprehension...well...that could be dealt with AS 'that'...and may could
result, as an incidental TO the 'point', in me takeing something back, or
leting someone take back to
me...some 'thing' or other...
But that has never happened with me selling...and only seldom and very
'slightly', with me having
What are the 'agreements'?
That is allways the question...
I have been only very rarely regretful over some purchase I had made...and
so I just gave the
And I I have been 'had' some very few times (or as relate to
brooded...sought restitution or ammends IN conversation...and
usually...then...just gave the things away...or threw them...'away'...
Since I make things...and sometimes also sell certain Artifacts and Relics
as I may have...I cannot say that there has ever been any occasion in which
anyone has ever tried to 'return' something, or not been 'happy'.
The closest TO that, is in some business...has been that I realize the
person is nuts, and that it is not at all about the 'item'...rather, it is
That has happenned once that I can recall...twice...where they felt that
conspicous 'faults' in somethinig I had made which they bought.
I said send it back to me for examination, and I will reimburse the
postage...I get it back, and it...is...'perfect'.
I call them...I say I cannot understand!
They go on and on...
I say, Okay...I will send you another, and you try that...
I include their postage reimburse...and...
They get the 'new' one...they examine it...they call...and complain.
I say, "your mind is not workiing right, and NO you may not have your money
back, AND when you may converse neatly or with sincerity and sense, I would
enjoy to talk with you all you like...'till then, I will now ring off, and I
will not oblige your impositions."
Some of the things I make...if someone buys one...and realizes afterward
that they ought to have gotten a smaller one, or a bigger one...or one that
is different than what they DID get...well, I can understand that, and I
happily will exchange it for one that WILL suit their purposes more neatly.
Sometimes one must try or use the thing...before one knows, if they did get
the 'right' one...
I often ask TO see how the thing is working out...and if I sense that they
may feel somehow, that maybe a 'different' one would have been a better
choice...well, they may have that 'different' one instead...that is
fine...that is basic manners and appreciation....and I am happy to prod a
little TO make sure the thing is working out for them...or to find something
This in reciprocal sincereity...
No one has ever abused that...I am happy in my efforts, gentle as they may
be, so see to it that the things I make will 'do' what was or is wanted of
them...if as an experiment, I try something for someone...and it does not
'do' the thing quite as they wished, I would take it back...in these
senerios, no money has changed hands or will untill we are happy that the
thing DOES do what is wanted...so...there was no 'sale'...will be no
sale...untill we are happy with the thing...
This is not often, but sometimes...and allways...worked out nicely...honored
the intent...I am fine with that.
AND...that is not at all the 'same'...as...someone saying they wish to
'return' something which was made in and of, good faith,
and...well...I will not 'enable' or patronize people who wish to make
themselves fickle, foolish and banal...they must do that...on their own...or
others with whom to do it...I cannot help them with that.
The 'finality' with which I may 'buy' or 'sell'...is 'in' the mood of self
respect...I would respect it in them, for them, even if they do not for
> I am interested in hearing how others deal with a customer who decides a
> week later they don't want the pot after all.
> The reason I asked is last week at a craft show my husband sold a $375.00
> sculptural vase that had handles on either side and a large octopus
> around it. It was sprayed in an almond ash glaze. Today the man calls up
> and says that he thinks the vase was damaged and that the handles were
> back on. Husband explains that what he sees is the glaze is lighter in
> color where the handles were attached as he used some slip with colloidal
> silica in it and he sees the different grain of the clay body. The man
> tells him that he must have refired it. Wrong. The customer was an
> dealer and feels he knows what he is talking about as he buys antique clay
> pieces. Conversation ended with man telling husband where to "stick it".
> This man bought another vase for $100.00 in which he had no problems with.
> Husband felt he had buyers remorse and just wanted to get his $ back.
> Husband feels bad, but what do you do when accused of something you didn't
> do and the piece was priced right. Earlier that morning he sold the other
> large octopus vase for $500.00.
> Do you post in your booth a sign that says, "All Sales Final"? And will
> this legally work?
> Do you give them their money back or exchange it for something else no
> question asked?
> This is the first time this has happen to us. We in the past have
> pieces i.e. when there was a hair line crack in a pot we didn't see and
> later customer came back to show. But when there is nothing wrong with
> piece do you take back the piece or not?
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Paul Taylor on wed 29 aug 01
I think there are two issues here and although it is tempting to see one
in terms of the other . I feel that that is a mistake.
Firstly although as Janet states unless the buyer can find functional
fault with the item legally its "Buyer beware". However the best shops have
an exchange policy and the better ones take the unused goods back without
any hesitation - so I do the same.
I think the reasoning is this . If you get the item back for resale you
have not lost any money apart from the time taken to retail the piece and
the cost of not having the piece on display while the customer made up his
mind. This can be off set by the promotional gains from a very satisfied
customer who is now telling every body they should only buy from outlets and
artists like ourselves who give such confident and understanding service: as
opposed to the customer stuck with the goods, who will use every opportunity
to bad mouth us. There is an argument that being too liberal will encourage
customers to take goods home on appraisal constantly, but I still have
enough faith in human nature to believe that most customers will not take
advantage, and those that do will do so only once. I would say shop lifting
is more of a worry to the average retailer.
The trouble with shows, and like, is that you do not get much feeling for
customer loyalty. One has to have a more spiritual outlook. As if your
generosity of spirit will add to the ambience of the good will to wards
artist craftsmen that the public have. And what is more -- an attitude of
generosity that shows up in the work, that can be picked up on
subconsciously by the viewer. I am less sceptical about this than I would be
about pots recording the sounds in the studio (if only we had the equipment)
and other quasi scientific speculations.
I hate selling . I am not very good at it. Claire, my wife, is much
better with customers. She greets them with a cheery "Hello" that I can not
manage (stage fright ). I try to talk about the making process as much as I
can and that sells the pots as well.
I agree that your customer probably did have a loss of confidence and even
though he may have convinced himself that there were other reasons - it is
better to err on the generous side. I know myself how entrenched an attitude
of denial can be. I remember not being easily talked out of some ludicrous
One of the most useful things I have leaned about customers is, that we all
suffer from buyers panic. Typically- on the way home from the shopping
spree-. Reading all the literature and the instructions on the packaging -
and Hoping that we do not see one for half the price in a nicer color too
soon . Good manufacturers are wise to this and print loads of instructions
and comforting messages on how brilliant their goods are - the process has
a fancy name which I forget.
When a customer buys something here he get's a card with every pot and
a leaflet adverting the Nine Mayo potters -to calm the mind. It does not
matter too much what is said as long as it displays an honest confidence ,
and the more writing the better . A signed ticket of authenticity with a
series number as the print makers do is also a good idea for soothing the
nerves _ if I had spent that much on a piece of art the nerves would need
When advised of the wording I was told to write about how good every thing
is until I felt embarrassed - that would be about right for ireland and
north West Europe. But be careful I come from a culture of false modesty and
understatement. I'm sure some of you could "protest too much".
Secondly. I think the rudeness of the customer is a different issue. It is
not acceptable and the customer should be told that in no uncertain terms .
Do not be tempted to mirror the "shaming" but you can be direct as you like.
No way is any bully going to brag about you standing up to him. He will not
be impressing any body with a story of a telling off from you for being
We do get the occasional bully. These people seem to pick up on an
emotional scar or insecurity very quickly; and there is nothing more
emotionally insecure as selling your own work. These people are 'shaming' of
a first order. They usually start with a shaming or negative comment "the
stuff is too expensive is a favorite". Like a customer who commented on
some tiger lilies growing in a pot out side; they were superb (the tiger
lilies :) they smelt great, but she just bitterly warned us against taking
them indoors as they would stink the place out.
It is difficult to asses people ; by the time I had shown the husband
around, and he was genuinely interested, she had relaxed - and they bought
some pots. So its better not to be too quick of the mark with ones
With mildly unpleasant people I respect the proverb " if you sit on the
side of the river long enough you can watch the body of your enemy pass by".
Only once have I been forced to assert myself when a cheese maker (only
blessed by Brain) offered me half the money for a table full of pots. I left
the showroom and my then assistant Richard just put them back on the shelf
with out saying any thing - best days work of my life. Richard said he was a
little embarrassed but it was better than a rowe. Just 'walk away' It works
wonders but takes a little strength to face the void. It's the way you deal
with abusive phone calls. Put the phone down gently the second you here any
thing you do not like, I do not even bother to open the posts of people who
are in the habit of being abusive.
And I always remember the customer is always 'right' a 'stupid moron' yes
but always 'right'
Regards from Paul Taylor
>> I am interested in hearing how others deal with a customer who decides a
>> week later they don't want the pot after all.
>> The reason I asked is last week at a craft show my husband sold a $37500
>> sculptural vase that had handles on either side and a large octopus
>> around it. It was sprayed in an almond ash glaze. Today the man calls up
>> and says that he thinks the vase was damaged and that the handles were
>> back on. Husband explains that what he sees is the glaze is lighter in
>> color where the handles were attached as he used some slip with colloidal
>> silica in it and he sees the different grain of the clay body. The man
>> tells him that he must have refired it. Wrong. The customer was an
>> dealer and feels he knows what he is talking about as he buys antique clay
>> pieces. Conversation ended with man telling husband where to "stick it".
>> This man bought another vase for $100.00 in which he had no problems with.
>> Husband felt he had buyers remorse and just wanted to get his $ back.
>> Husband feels bad, but what do you do when accused of something you didn't
>> do and the piece was priced right. Earlier that morning he sold the other
>> large octopus vase for $500.00.
>> Do you post in your booth a sign that says, "All Sales Final"? And will
>> this legally work?
>> Do you give them their money back or exchange it for something else no
>> question asked?
>> This is the first time this has happen to us. We in the past have
>> pieces i.e. when there was a hair line crack in a pot we didn't see and
>> later customer came back to show. But when there is nothing wrong with
>> piece do you take back the piece or not?