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  • How would you handle it?

    Let's say a customer brought several photos for you to restore. It's good to get payment up front, but for one reason or another you didn't this time, and the customer told you to do whatever it takes, and you will be paid by an amount agreed upon per hour. You have given the customer a rough estimate of the time that might be invoved. You scanned the originals and gave them back to the customer. You have done what you consider to be an excellent job on the restorations, but the time involved was a little more than expected. The customer comes back, and the bill is reasonable at $400.00. The customer tells you that is way too much, and is unwilling to pay for it. Since you have a signed agreement detailing the work to be done at the hourly rate quoted, you could take them to court. Would you do this, or would you consider this bad for business? Would you negotiate a lower price? How would you handle it?

    Ed

  • #2
    Put it this way...if someone pulled the same stunt on a lawyer or other profesional, how long would it take for the summonses to fly? I'd take all the legal action necessary to get payment, for if you let it go or worse, negotiate, you will have set a precedent which will come back to haunt you in the form of other clients doing the same thing to you. Business is business, and if you are going to run a successsful one, there are rules and precepts to follow or you wont be in business long. If you dont have a signed agreement, and this has happened to me, I give the customer a choice...pay or I destroy the copys. If they are not good enought to pay full price for, they are not good enought to leave the shop. I destroyed one set of copys just reciently as the customer decided that they could bargain down the price, something this individual is noted for doing, and discovered it doesnot work with me. Noboby gives me bargains when I buy supplies or equipment and I am not about to sell myself short then listen to the bragging which follows about how so-and so "pulled a fast one" on me. Just my hard nosed thoughts though and perhaps not correct.... Tom

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    • #3
      I have to disagree with you.
      I imagine that, as with any service, if the work needed goes beyond the estimated price, I would expect to be contacted for my consent before the work was done. Think about an automobile service center that has your vehicle in for repair work. Would you want them to just go ahead and do the extra work (which would increase the cost), without your consent?
      You didn't mention what the original quote was, so I don't know how far off the final total was. Are you talking a couple of dollars, or a couple of hundred?
      It's my opinion that you ought to bite the bullet on this one, and accept payment at the originally quoted price. Otherwise, you may get your name thrown around in a negative way. I would rather lose a few dollars, than a few potential customers.
      This problem is another reason why I do not charge by the hour.

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      • #4
        I think that the term "rough estimate" might be key here. On occasion I have received a rough or ball park estimate for a cost related to having something done and it usually turns out that the final price is higher...an estimate is not a hard firm figure. If I give a customer a firm price, thats what they pay..regardless if it takes a week to do the work..I eat the loss, but as an estimate is not a fixed firm price, there is not the same ethical constraint, and the customer in this case pre-authorized additional work if necessary. The people who complain about price are always the same ones to find fault with what ever work is done for them and will "bad mouth" the service provider even if given a "break". In my experience, it is best to not seek those types as clients...they will never be satisfied and will give negative advertising for your business as well as attacking your personal integrity and skills. Good points, though. Tom

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        • #5
          Vikki,

          There was no quote per say. The customer was given a *rough* estimate as to the time involved. Also, the customer told you to do what it takes, and agrees on an hourly rate. The time involved was a *little* more than originally thought to be necessary.

          Ed

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          • #6
            Have you released their originals already? They wouldn't get them back until payment for sure. But for that kind of money I guess I would sue only if I thought I stood a chance of winning the case. Unfortunately, in small claims court you need to have proof that there was a "meeting of the minds" as to what was agreed upon especially if not specified in writing and sometimes that boils down to your word against theirs. What I'm saying is that you might not be able to win in a court of law with out the paperwork or a witness to the discussion. It's a tough case and I guess if it's that much money on the line, things should be better stated than just a "rough estimate" and a verbal response of "carte blanch".
            DJ

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            • #7
              if the customer say "do what ever it takes" then they should be prepared to pay the extra cost. I've never been in that situation and I like to think I would be able to stick to my guns nd destroy the originals if they refused to pay what the work was worth.

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              • #8
                Sandra,

                I'm hoping that you meant you would destroy the restorations instead of the originals (and I think that's what you meant).

                This has turned into a reasonably good thread with the different inputs. Personally I would do the same as Tom. It's my impression that if the customer is going to bad-mouth you, he will probably do it whether you give in to his wishes or not. And as Tom pointed out, re-negotiating the deal should not be an option to consider. Strictly my opinion. If anyoone else has more input, we'd be happy to hear about it.

                Ed

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                • #9
                  Ed,
                  I'm inclined to assume that the customer trusted your rough estimate as a professional call. It seems that it is an important part of the business, to be able to assess the damage as soon as you look at the photo, and categorize it for pricing, accordingly.
                  What happened that caused you to under estimate (what problems did you encounter)?

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                  • #10
                    Another consideration is that of the contract that was signed. If nothing was in writing, there is little you could do except compromise your business standards and settle for less, or simply destroy the copys and put the individual on the "No Service" list. However, a written agreement, signed by the individual is a different matter. Just because they dont like the price after giving informed consent to proceed doesnot excuse them from the obligation they entered into willingly. If you are going to use contracts, then they have to be adhered to..by both parties or else dont use them. In business you are going to get the occasional dissatisfied customer, period. That is a fact of life. Mostly these people have a history of being difficult and for all the complaining they will do, very few people will give it any serious consideration, and those who do are probably not the ones you want for customers. We are Business People, providing a highly specalized and highly skilled service...not Dance-hall denizens bent on extracting the final buck from a cowpokes pocket. I would rather loose a few customers and keep my integrity than compromise away my ethics and ultimately my self respect and business. Besides, the good customers, the ones who keep coming back, dont complain..and they are your true treasures. Tom

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                    • #11
                      Vikki,

                      I didn't have a problem because I don't have a business. My restoration skills wouldn't qualify me for one anyhow. It just seemed to be something that might merit discussion.

                      Ed

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                      • #12
                        From past experience I get the impression your 'customer' would have jibbed on your agreed quote anyway. As DJ has mentioned masters should not be returned separately but as the completed package.

                        Originals supplied should be receipted both ways to avoid comebacks.

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                        • #13
                          I think keeping the originals until payment is made is a good idea. There are others who would rather give them back to the customer as soon as possible to avoid any possible mishaps with them.

                          Ed

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                          • #14
                            oh yes only the restorations. I would never intentionally dmage an original.

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                            • #15
                              A nice question, but of course the real answer is to avoid the situation in the first place. We do that by filling out a form we have that gives the customer the final price before we start any work. And we always try to get at least 50% of the cost in advance, the rest is due when the work is completed.
                              But even with all that, we have had customers who have complained about the price after we did the work, and who have just walked away, leaving both the 50% down payment and their orginals and the restoations here with us!
                              Mike

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