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Deposits on custom

Hello, I have enjoyed the discussion on return policies. Being a new
store owner who has had very little retail experience I find the
very useful even though I have yet to encounter this
problem. After being stung a couple of times this year on custom and
special orders I have started requiring some sort of down payment to
assure that they are serious customers. Normally I get cash down or
use the center stone as the deposit and trust that the client will be
back for the finished product. However most my work is bridal and I
have already had one project halted due to a wedding cancellation. My
question is, what should be my return policy on deposits for custom?
And should I charge for any work that has been done prior to
cancellation of a project?

John Sholl
J. F. Sholl Fine Jewelry
2646 W Main St. Littleton, CO

Hi John, There was a discussion of just this subject recently, so look
in the Orchid archives. There are a lot of different perspectives
regarding this matter.


JoAnna Kelleher, owner
Pearl Exotics Trading Company, LLC

John Sholl, I don’t know what you should do, but our attitude is the
same for all the money that comes into our hands. We are happy to
give the customer a credit but we don’t give it back. But remember
that we also tell the customer this up front. Incidentally, we won’t
do anything on custom work without a deposit up front–and that means
absolutely nothing.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

Here is a suggestion. Try, try, try to get the full price of the
custom piece up front. If you have to settle for a deposit, make
sure that you can cover at least the cost of materials, and that the
customer understands that it is NON-REFUNDABLE. If there is a
cancelation in your order and the customer has paid the full price,
make sure that you only refund any money above and beyond your
material cost. At least this way you can put the custom piece out
for sale and know that if it does not sell, at least the materials
have been paid for.

Just my way.

I require a 50% deposit on all custom orders and the balance in full
before shipping or when the customer picks up the item. This is a
non-refundable deposit and I make sure that the customer is informed
of this policy. It is stated in bold type on my invoice forms. The
great majority of people understand why this is necessary. There is no
way that any of us can afford to work on speculation. The only
exception to this might be if you think that you have a ready market
for the item. I don’t operate from a retail location so this is not an
option for me. Joel Schwalb @Joel_Schwalb

I don’t have a retail store, all my business is from my website, but
custom work is the biggest percentage. I require a 50% deposit before
I start on a piece (no exceptions) and although I will give a refund,
exchange or credit - if they have simply changed their mind and decide
they don’t want the piece when it was made to spec I charge a $40 an
hour design fee. I keep track of the actual time spent in design
phase including emails, phone calls, and generating images/pages for
the customer to see.

I haven’t had to test this yet, but since 90% of the deposits are paid
by credit card that may be moot. On the web there is no actual
signature on a credit slip just below the stated return privileges and
the credit card company will usually refund the customer’s money if
they demand it and can prove they returned the item.

I am hoping that a system will evolve very soon so that I can get a
"signed" credit slip over the web in order to protect myself. This is
available already if you have the bucks for the software and hardware,
but that’s not me :slight_smile:

One other note, if I were in a gallery or shop, I would not give a
refund on special/custom orders because the face to face contact would
be more reassuring to the customer about what they were ordering. I
offer that on the web because there is more hesitancy about what they
will get since they can’t talk to me face to face or actually see some
of my other work. So far, except for one recent order with a group of
four people, I have never had a customer even ask to return or exchange
a custom piece. Don’t ever work with a group, at least not on the
web - they forget what they told you assuming since they agreed, you
must know what they want. This was a costly lesson for me!

Nancy Bernardine-Widmer
Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry

I have a “Terms and Conditions” sheet, which explains the pricing for
customized jewelry (depending upon what is ordered) and merchandise
in stock. I wish to keep the customers that I acquire, but I also
value my time, creativity and materials put into each piece that I
produce. LSW mailto:GRAMMYLSW@MSN.COM

You don’t need “the software and the bucks”. Use a credit
authorization form which you can generate yourself. It could consist
of a brief description of what the customer is purchasing followed by
the usual info: name address credit card number any restrictions
signature. You fax the form to the customer, have them fill it out
sign it and fax back to you. If a situation arises at least you have
a signed authorization form. I list the deposit, normally 50% and
also the total price. K P Kelly