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Having trouble collecting payment

Hi allwas wondering if any of you out there is having trouble
collecting payment from galleries and stores for orders or sales
made last year. been having a difficult time with one gallery which
has decided to become invisible and change to a different gallery
name and shed reponsibility of the older bills. this issue has been
going on since June of 2010, been trying to get payment from them to
no avail and little to no communication from them. I was holding off
writting to this forum about it giving them a chance to repair their
mistake, but today I just got word from the BBB that the gallery has
not responded positively to the BBB requests of resolving the unpaid
bill. I do know that there were other jewelers also not paid from
them during this period. and I am pretty sure the gallery owners
Sadly are part of this forum on Orchid. Just for clarity’s sake the
work was sold on consignment, and they simply did not pay. the
agreement was 50% artsit 50% gallery, (you sell the work, you get
your %, and then decide to keep the artist’s share also. how fair is
this?) no matter how or what agreement we tried to come to, they
still have not paid. I am at wits end short of showing up at his
door step with the police. it seems this is a huge part of our
culture (jewelers) and am not sure how many of you deal with this
type of problem and what you do when faced with it. I have been in
business for over 28 years and have always been careful but have had
the occasional delinquent gallery business owner. I could safely say
this one takes the first prize. if anyone is intrested I can be
contact off list. I am keeping the gallery name off list for their
sake in case they wanted to repair the mistake, I would say I have
been more then fair waiting (calling and emailing on a weekly basis)
for them since June of 2010 but will name the gallery to anyone
intrested. thanks for listening

Hratch Babikian

You have access to this blog and others so threaten to blog their
name and all the facts to all.

It is amazing how companies react to the probability of having their
name put all over the internet.

Once posted and picked up by another it is almost impossible to
remove. I have had to do this 4 times in the last 6 years and each
time the company paid up very quickly.

You may however be too late if the company has gone out of business.

Cal Luchuck

I had a similar situation. I had a list of items which they signed
for as being received. I told them that I needed to have the items
back within 48 hours or payment in hand, or I would file with small
claims court. Suddenly, they remembered selling the items, and cut
me a check.

I think you should let us all know the name of this gallery. Six
months is plenty of time and with no response to your request for
payment I would say they do not intend to pay. I would already have
sent the local police to collect my goods. I have a contract that
states title to my goods is mine until paid in full. As artist we
often neglect the fact that we are business people as well. If the
gallery was working with you to pay off the debt or reduce it in a
scheduled manner with interest paid on the money owed, that would
be_/normal business practice/_. Avoiding you and ignoring your
communications is a very bad sign… do what it takes as a business
person… this is your source of income. If you did not pay your
vendors and ignored them what do you think they would do???

At this point, what do you have to loose posting their name here and
anywhere else you can think of. It might stop other artists from
being ripped off.

As to what is owed to you, what do you have in the way of a signed
(hopefully) contract (hopefully), as well as any other supporting
documentation (invoices, delivery statements, etc. any and all
hopefully signed). To me, this is 6 months old and day by day, it is
not smelling any better. If you are not going to do any further
business with them, take what ever legal actions you can to get paid.
Put them on notice, payment in 3-5 days, certified delivery, total
amount due (and if you want add any finance charges that might be due
if part of the contract/agreement/your normal billing) and if no
check is forth coming, take them to small claims court, assuming the
amount is within the small claims court maximums. Non payment by long
time businesses is terrible right now, I have been shorted by 2
different operations this past year, not in jewelry, but shorted is
shorted. Go into their store and do not leave until they hand you a
check for the amount due. Be ready to make a stand and stay up to and
past closing. It is tough but what are the alternatives???

Good luck.
John Dach

I will be writing you offlist.

I would definitely like to pass on their name to my other artist
friends around the world so they can avoid being ripped off. People
like this need to be starved out of business.

Hi there,

I am from Australia & this is a common occurrence.
Go & bang on the door & demand your money.

Regards Phil

If someone hasn’t paid you in over 6 months then it’s time to take
the gloves off. First write them a demand for payment letter. There
are examples on the internet. In the demand letter be specific on how
much is owed and a deadline in which you want payment, usually 30
days from receipt of letter. Also, include in the letter what your
action will be if payment is not received, usually a law suit. Send
it USPS registered mail so they have to sign for it and you have
proof of receipt of said letter.

If the gallery is in the state as you, you can file a suit in small
claims court. Find out what the limits are for small claims court.
It’s usually $5000 or more. Hopefully the gallery owes you less than
the small claims limit. Most courts have websites and have forms and
info on filling a small claims law suit. There will be a filing fee
and you’ll have to pay someone to serve the gallery the papers. Some
courts have the sheriff serve the papers, otherwise you will have to
pay a process server.

If the gallery is in a different state then you will have to file a
law suit or sell the debt to a collection attorney.

Rick Copeland

it is an unfortunate sign of the times that more stores and galleries
are not paying in a timely manner…and some not at all. It has
always been true but it seems more than “normal”. Going to a gallery
and demanding the money could work…if you are within driving
distance. But with so many artists having work in multiple galleries,
literally around the world, it is not always possible to go in
person. If you and other artists here do not yet have wholesale
policies that clearly outline all your policies including what
actions will be taken once payment is overdue I would highly
recommend having them and giving to your stores and galleries. I
would also recommend having a business lawyer review it prior to
sending it out. If you set up a contract that can all be outlined in
the contract. When requesting payment on overdue invoices it is
helpful (doesn’t always get the response one wants) to include the
pertinent points from the policies or contract. Policies can include
turning over to collection agencies, small claims court and/or
interest charged. If this is a store/gallery you wish to continue to
do business with (usually straight sales not consignment) then all
orders become pro forma with full or partial payment for overdue
balances included with new orders. And usually if you have to put a
store/gallery on pro forma they will always need to be pro forma.

Mrs. Terry Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts, LLC

Is there a small claims court in your state? If so you may be able
to file against him for the unpaid funds. One way to get around this
issue for future reference is to put a clause in your consignment
contract that the gallery representative is personally liable for
any unpaid fees or jewelry not returned. I’m not an attorney so check
with one to learn whether this would be an option for you. Includes
a copy of the person’s drivers license I think. That way you can go
after the person in addition to the gallery. I hope that you manage
to get your money. I would think that word would spread among local
artists when a dealer has done this sort of thing.

Pat Gebes

I had a gallery decide not to return unsold consignment work, and
what finally worked was having a lawyer friend write them a letter
on his letterhead… the trouble with an actual lawsuit is that, as I
understand it, you have to file where THEY are… I would definitely
see if you can get a lawyer to write them a letter, and you should
also write to the local Chamber of Commerce.

Good luck!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

I agree with Terry Binion. That said, in my experience, I have been
stiffed only once. Ok, got the payment out of them too. Generally, I
present as understanding, and I am. I ask the gallery to go on a
payment plan. Some have paid as little as $50 a month (hey, its
better than nothing!), but they appreciate the understanding. Many,
once they have paid, ( and I have been generous with the payment
time), have come back to purchase more when they have become more
solvent. Understandably, these shaky galleries are on a pro-forma
basis until they prove reliability, but most are grateful that I am

My theory: You can’t get blood out of a stone. If they don’t have
the money, they simply don’t have the money. Often, I am paid ahead
of other creditors because I am “nice”. The one one bad gallery?
Reported their bad check to their State Attorney General. Then wrote
letters to each and every trade show documenting the check bouncing
and the legal follow through. The bad gallery sent me a check
(cashier’s) and a scathing letter calling me every name in the book.
I sent them back an exceedingly polite letter thanking them for
their renumeration and letting them know that I had informed each
and every trade show of the payment…by including a copy of
their scathing letter in the l note. No. This gallery is
no longer in business.

Lisa, (Rain rain rain rain. Sick of rain!) Topanga, CA USA

When galleries/businesses/people are evasive or otherwise "squirrely"
in situations like this, watch out. If a usually honest business
owner acts like this, s/he may be in a cash pinch and just trying to
work out of it. Dishonest people, however, may just be stringing you
along while they commit their crime. Either way, the end result may
be the same: Gallery insolvency/bankruptcy, a closed gallery and/or
missing consigned goods. Recently, a local Scottsdale artist had a
similar situation with over $500,000 in missing paintings after a
local high-end gallery abruptly closed and his paintings disappeared.
It has become a police matter.


Hratch and Ganoksin readers,

Did you read the series on ASK Harriete about bad Payment Issues
with Galleries?

I wonder if it is the same places.

Post are from Boris Bally and Victoria Lansford,

"Good Galleries Gone Bad " series of posts by Victoria Lansford,

Boris Bally’s Bad Payment Experience! Does this sound familiar?

I think these posts might be informative.

Harriete Estel Berman

after a long few days of reading posts and deciding ; finally came
to the conclusion that I will post the Gallery name here on this
forum and let the owners deal with the consequences. i will keep it
short for the sake of accuracy, The Gallery is Zaruba and Zaruba
Gallery In Fredrick Maryland, at 35 north Market st., which now is
Vortex 13, owned by Douglas Zaruba. which he claims not to have
anything to do with Zaruba and Zaruba Gallery, nor Zaruba Gallery
before that.

Zaruba and Zaruba Gallery owners show up on line as Douglas and
(son) Andrew Zaruba. and also according to the Better Business Bureau
of Baltimore. also read, on the same issiue and gallery as far as taking action after 7months of
trying any which way (and i really went the distance) I can to have
them meet their payment responsibility, the only thing left now is
civil court. I know another artist that did not get paid, is in
litigation with the gallery now, and another jeweler that had gone
and collected payment in person to have one of the checks collected
bounce on her a week later. I did apply a complaint with the Better
Business Bureau of Baltimore, and after 2 months of negative to No
response from the gallery finally the BBB has placed the matter as
unresolved in the Negative against the business. simply put 7 months
later I still have not been paid the $1000. 00 they owe me for the
sale of my work. Had I sold the piece my self at one of my shows in
the Christmas season that would have been 2000. 00. which i now have
nothing to show for. it just adds to the frustration, which really
should be energy spent being creative and on making art works,
instead i am here posting and trying to find a way to get paid for
my artwork sold. thanks for the support

Hratch Babikian

sadly it is a 2.5 hour drive from where we are each way, so it would
be at least one days worth, plus not knowing if they are open or not
so I had planned on going and staying in a motel over night and
handleing it that way, but realised that the expense would be cost
ineffective, he owes me US$1000. there was another artist who had
done that gotten a check from them and a week later the check had

Hratch Babikian
Atelier Hratch

the trouble with an actual lawsuit is that, as I understand it, you
have to file where THEY are. 

Not necessarily. This is what lawyers call Minimal Contact. A State
court can have jurisdiction over out of state party, if such party
has a minimal contact with the state. So if this gallery does
business with some other artists in your area, or even have been
doing business with you for some time, or have any other kind of
business relationship with your state. Sometimes even having a
vacation home in your state is enough for your state court to
acquire jurisdiction over them and allow you to sue in your state.

Another option is Federal Court. Federal court requires contracts to
have some minimal value. At present it may be around $70,000, I am
not sure. You can overcome this by suing for additional things to
get to the magic number. Law does not require you to be awarded this
number, only to file a lawsuit.

Sometimes, contract disputes can be framed as violation of Criminal
Statutes. If contact negotiations involved Post Office and
non-compliance was planned, it could be a Mail Fraud, which
incorporates other fraudulent activities.

Do not take it as legal advice, since I am not a lawyer. I am sure
that competent attorney should be able to construct several other
avenues of attack. The main point is, if you deal with scum, go all
the way and wipe the scum from the face of the planet Earth.

Leonid Surpin

I think it is a State issue, but writing a check on insufficient
funds is/can be a “time in jail” offense. Also one “could” demand
the check be a cashiers check, presenting the problems of other
artists and businesses with receiving bad checks. Bad people tend to
be just bad people and one has to take every action possible to
protect themselves.

John Dach