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long-distance consignment - a cautionary tale

updated mon 14 jul 03


L. P. Skeen on sun 13 jul 03

Awhile back (a year or so) a person from New Jersey posted to this list =
a call for artists to consign work in her new gallery. A friend of mine =
consigned some work with this woman, and last week Friend was telling me =
what a PITA it is to get the $ owed or to find out anything at all about =
the remaining inventory up there. I said, "I never consign ANYWHERE I =
can't drive within a couple of hours and check on the place in person." =
Here's why:

Once upon a time, I consigned a fair amount of pottery in a gallery in =
Atlanta, GA, figuring that since it was ATLANTA, ie: supposed arts =
capital of the south, it would be a good thing. I received payment for =
one piece that was sold, about a month after the batch was delivered to =
the gallery. A few more months went by, wherein I received NO checks, =
and no response to phone calls. =20

I sent friends who live in Atlanta to check the gallery and be sure it =
was still open. Yes, it was open, but my work was nowhere in sight.

I never could get hold of the owner (only an "assistant"), so drove 5 =
hours to the gallery to pick up my work. This was 6 months or more =
after delivery. The gallery had put my work out in a BEAUTY PARLOR, =
without asking my permission to do so, and without my knowledge, so the =
trip to Atlanta for pickup was a waste of time/gas/energy because the =
beauty parlor was closed.

A month or so and many phone calls later, a large box arrived containing =
my pots. All but 1 were broken, because they had not been wrapped =
properly. (There was one piece of bubble wrap draped between each pot.)

I filed an insurance claim with USPS, which is usually very quick to pay =
claims, and waited for payment. And waited....and waited. It was so =
long that I forgot about the payment, until I was doing taxes 14 months =
later, and found the claim form. I called the USPS to find out where =
the JUMPING JELLY BEANS (sorry, had to borrow that one ;) ) my money =
was, and was told that the claim was paid out the month it was filed, =
but the money was sent to the GALLERY, and the check was of course, =
immediately cashed.

By this time, the gallery phone is no longer being answered. I got an =
internet detective service to track down the owner of the gallery, =
including home address and phone, her (new) work address and phone, and =
other information, and started calling. When I finally got to the owner =
of the store, the owner claimed to know nothing about the check. "My =
assistant must have just put it in the bank." =20

I told the (now former) gallery owner that if I did not receive a =
cashier's check or money order for the entire amount of the claim within =
5 days, I would file fraud charges with the Atlanta District Attorney's =
office. A money order arrived 3 days later.
It took all that to get money from a gallery 5 hours from here. I'm not =
doing it again, I don't care if MEL owns the place. =20

L. P. Skeen
Living Tree Pottery, Summerfield, NC
Get your copy of the 2003 Clay Lover's Calendar
at my website above! :)