With over 25 years of dealing with galleries, I have seen just about
everything. Some stores, like Nordstroms, will accept a return even
after several years of wear with no questions asked. In my gallery,
I will accept returns only within 30 days, so I will wait thirty days
before sending out a consignment check. But…I will bend my rule if
I feel it is appropriate for that customer in that situation.
Many of the galleries that I have worked with over the years have had
work returned. There are also as many return policies as there are
galleries…but just because it is the store’s policy, that doesn’t
mean that it is also your policy by default.
If you don’t have a clear policy in your consignment agreement, then
everything is open to negotiation. I have found that the better
galleries and stores do not expect the artists to live by the store’s
policies, and simply place the returned item back in their stock. If
it is a major piece, however, they may be more reluctant. And I don’t
blame them. I do not like it when a store expects me to accept a
return for a small or custom item, particularly after a month or more
has passed. I do not like to see obvious wear on a returned piece of
jewelry either. I will look at each situation individually and ask
myself this question: Is this a reasonable request, or am I being
taken advantage of?
If I don’t agree with the request, I can, of course, refuse to honor
the return. If it is somewhat reasonable, I can offer an exchange or
credit. I have to consider the long term relationship.
Sometimes, I have had to bend a little. Most of the time, this was
rewarded with a better relationship with wonderful gallery owners
that continued for years. Sometimes, I got screwed. So it goes…
My suggestion is to treat each situation as unique, and don’t set
unbreakable rules. Trust your intuition…