Damage to a sold print

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by winger, Nov 18, 2009.

  1. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    If this would fit in a different section, please feel free to move it, mods.

    About a year ago, I sold a print (on Ilford glossy FB) to someone I know. He's the president of the local art club (which is nother big - about 18 members) and I'm in the club. The photo had been a winner in the club's annual art show (which was mainly why he bought it, I think). So, he left me a message the other day saying he'd damaged it and wanted to know what could be done. He said the glass had broken and there was some damage to the print surface. I'm guessing it got dropped.

    What would you do? My first thought is that he bought it and then damaged it himself, so he's stuck. But of course that doesn't help with customer relations. I don't have another one printed at the moment (though it's an easy one to do if I actually had a chance to get into the darkroom). I would feel sorta bad selling him another at the same price, but it wouldn't be entirely fair to me to just give him another print. I haven't called him back to find out what his expectations are, but should do that soon. Have any of you dealt with this before and what did/would you do?
     
  2. johnnywalker

    johnnywalker Subscriber

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    Charge him an hourly rate for your time in making a new print, plus materials would seem fair to me.
     
  3. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    I would just call him to let him know that it is unlikely the print can be restored, if the emuslion of the paper has been damaged it can't be repaired. However, if it is a slight mark you might be able to use some spot tone to help hide the flaw.

    Frankly, i don't think you need to bring up anything else. If he suggests he purchase another print then you can decide if you wish to give him a special rate , but i don't think you owe him another print. Just be nice and understanding and see what road he travels but be prepared.
     
  4. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member

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    Adversity can also be opportunity. Seems like a choice time to show him new work. Perhaps you could replace the print at a rate that seems fair, and maybe sell him another as well.

    It also depends on how much you sold it for. If you have a sizable margin then half would be a nice gesture. If it wasn't much, then you have to decide what good will pays.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Suggest to him to claim for the damage on his household insurance, that should cover at least part of the costs of replacement.

    Ian
     
  6. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    sell him a new one with acrylic!
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Was this a "limited edition" print? if so, then you're kind of on the hook legally. You could make a new print to replace it, but you'd have to mark it as such, and reclaim the damaged print to destroy it. If not, you can just print another one with no additional hassles. Regardless, I'd ask for the return of the damaged print. Since you are still a working, living artist, it doesn't pay to have extra copies of your work floating around with damage/flaws that could be misinterpreted as the result of your own carelessness. If he is acting in good faith and not being a jerk about it, I think half-price to 3/4 price is reasonable. If he's being a self-centered twit and expecting you to replace it "under warranty" (as it were), I'd tell him he can buy another at full price.
     
  8. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    If you only have a phone message, I'd first call him and see what he's hoping....is he just asking if the print can be retouched/repaired, or is he offering to buy a replacement?

    He obviously still likes the print, otherwise he would not have contacted you, so it seems an opportunity, as others posters have said. If you do make a new print, it would seem reasonable to agree on an amount to cover at least your time and materials, don't think anyone could object to that. The print wasn't faulty in any way, and you're not responsible for the damage.....(if I buy a vase and drop it as soon as I get home, I can't expect the shop to replace it for less than the full price.)

    Edit:- FlyingCamera's post has just reminded me that I have a friend who publishes
    limited-edition images, sometimes analogue or digitally processed/printed and he mentioned that, once he has done the 20 or 40 or whatever, he will destroy or delete all supporting negs or files, and would never produce any more for any reason. As he said, that's his duty to the buyers who've supported his efforts.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2009
  9. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    Rotary International has "4 Way Test" of the things we think say and do as Rotarians. If your transaction fits within this test, I think you would find the yourself on solid ground.

    4 What Test of the things we think, say or do:

    1. Is it the Truth?
    2. Is it Fair to All Concerned?
    3. Will it Build Goodwill and Better Friendships?
    4. Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned?

    I'd probably express my concerns about his loss and offer a replacement at a reasonable replacement cost.

    Bill Barber
     
  10. coops

    coops Member

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    I would replace it in a heartbeat. I don't know your situation, but I am trying to establish myself in my area and would rather make someone happy than not.
     
  11. mikebarger

    mikebarger Member

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    I had the very same thing happen on a print I'd paid $225 for. When I contacted the photographer (several states away) to buy a new print he wouldn't even let me pay postage to get the new print to me.

    I've bought one more print from him since, and I check his website more often than before.

    I'm not saying you should do the same, but this guy picked up a sale anyway.

    Mike
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not a Rotarian, but I'd probably do what Bill Barber would do--discuss it and offer a replacement print at a reduced cost, and work on developing the relationship.
     
  13. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    Not sure that I'd go with that 100% in these circumstances, as there is no fault whatsover on the part of the OP in this case. If the print had, say, faded from poor technique or processing, that would be e very different situation.

    Having built up a business myself in the past, I would argue that there is often room for goodwill gestures, but this always needs to be balanced with not undervaluing your own service or products.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2009
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  15. bill schwab

    bill schwab Advertiser

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    Bethe, I've had this happen a few times and if it can't be repaired I usually replace the print for the cost of a replacement, not the original print. Most times I don't even charge that. It is better to have a happy collector that will come back to you in the future. Considering I am alive and fully capable of printing another, it really isn't that big a deal. If it is an edition print, I ask for either the damaged print back or proof of it's destruction, usually a cut corner of the print including the signature.
     
  16. Perry Way

    Perry Way Member

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    if he's well connected socially, replace it for material cost and in a hushed tone beg him not to share that detail with his friends. reverse psychology. he will sell your skills to many many other people, highly recommending you.

    just an idea. i think this sort of thing works in the long run.
     
  17. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Bethe,

    I was only a Rotarian in Greensburg, PA, your neighborhood, for a couple of years, but I made a sales career on the concept that a transaction is only a good one if both parties feel it was so. I would talk to him, get all involved in what happened and how. Often in relating the story the person admits that it was his stupid fault. Give him something, but make him give you something back. The “somethings” can vary widely. He may be able to direct you to several sales. He may only want you to listen to his tale. Just your gesture will be a long step toward a positive solution. Be sure you have a good idea of what is reasonable to you. Make sure he does the same.

    It has worked well for me. The safety catch is “beneficial to both parties”. A reasonable person will want to be treated that way. An unreasonable person knows he is trying to rip you off and will not be surprised if you don't let him.

    John Powers
     
  18. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    I really don’t understand the reasoning here. So let me present these 2 quotes and see if someone can explain it to me…..

    If one of my limited-edition numbered prints was returned to me damaged, I would destroy that print and make another identical one, and give it the same number. I don’t want to discuss any fee at this time, because that would depend upon the individual circumstances.

    So my questions are…..

    1) Why would I mark it as a “replacement”? (if I’m reading TheFlyingCamera’s post correctly).

    2) Why would issuing an exact replacement print impact any other buyer? (as railwayman3’s friend suggests).
     
  19. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    As I understand it, my friend is advertising that there are only 20 or 40 of a particular image which are or will be ever issued, and the neg or files used will be destroyed. In one sense the buyer is happy or feels good he is getting something "unique"...in another sense the cynical might say that it is just a marketing ploy. A matter of opinion or perceived value.

    A photograph can be replaced or reprinted relatively easily, but if you consider a different "limited-edition" item, say a vase produced by one of the prestige ceramic makers like Wedgwood or Meissen, you wouldn't be able to get that replaced if it were broken.
     
  20. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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    Just curious, how did this get off on the "limited addition" tangent? The original post never mentioned it and, as a matter of fact, implied otherwise. Like I said, just curious.
     
  21. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    It can be a difficult circumstance to grapple with. As I read it, he bought it. It's paid for. He dropped it or somehow otherwise damaged it. Well? Just because you are a member of the same Club as he (in his position of President, and potentially influence) does not ameliorate upon you to redress the situation on special "friend" terms — and if it did go that way, you are setting a precedent for yourself: others will undoubtedly follow. Looked at in professional practice, cosy customer relations must be balanced at all times with cost. Whoever I deal with, they know it is not my responsibility to replace or repatriate a (framed) print damaged after sale under any special terms; if they request another, the usual production charges would be leveraged, or I would investigate repair — at cost. Sensibly, you could offer to produce another print, mat and frame it with a small discount, but definitely not do it free of charge just because you are friends. You do have to set emotions aside and look at this from a professional perspective to ensure a balanced and fair outcome for both parties.
     
  22. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

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    I would call back and tell him you were sorry to learn of his misfortune and can make a new print the next time you are printing. Then pause and see how he responds. He may offer to pay or ask what you would charge. At this point you could say that you appreciate his gesture and would accept whatever he values it at. I once had an experience (not photographic) where the party was very fussy so when presenting the fee I doubled it. Needless to say when the work was complete he wanted changes that could only be made by a remake. He knew it was his fault and asked what the cost would be. Although I was only having to change half of what was done I told him to pay whatever he felt I should receive. He paid half of the original fee that I had charged (which was double) and was very appreciative. If he is an upright guy he will make an offer.
     
  23. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    Find out what he wants. Replace the print for him at a discount that covers your time and materials, and maybe a bit more if there's sufficient margin in your pricing. You can do this on a case-by-case basis, and you need explain this to no one. Unless you have a steady stream of clumsy collectors requesting replacement, I'd not worry about setting any precedent by an act of goodwill today.

    If it's limited-edition, he should return the damaged print or destroy it convincingly; you replace it with a like-numbered replacement. This avoids "diluting" your edition and keeps faith with the other buyers of that edition.

    This really doesn't seem that complicated, if your long-term plan is to build relationships and gain repeat customers, once you've freed your mind from the notion that you'll set some kind of adverse precedent.
     
  24. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Thanks all for the responses! I do plan to call him (probably tomorrow) and see what his expectations are in the first place. I know it's an image he really likes, so I suspect that the 1/2 price or less replacement idea will be fine (it wasn't much more than 2x cost to start with). He's also a photographer, so I think he'll understand that the materials and time are not free. I'm glad a few of you mentioned getting the original back because that's one thing I was thinking of doing. Not that I'm cynical or anything, but I want to see for myself that it's actually damaged and not just a story to get another print. And it's not part of an edition or anything, so I don't need to worry about that (though it was good to see the thoughts on that situation).

    It's actually a pretty easy one to print - I just have to find the time to get into the darkroom (which I need to do anyway). And I should probably make a few of this one while I'm at it.

    Thank you!!!
     
  25. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I would:

    1) collect the damaged print
    2) make another print and charge nominal fee for it to cover your expense and time

    This way, your customer can't benefit from the damaged print and you incur no cost. While you are not obligated to do anything at all, being "nice" and accommodating goes long way when situations are turned. Word gets around. I think you will benefit more by his good words to your other potential customers.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hi bethe

    if someone happened to call me
    i'd just make him / her another
    and and just give it to him.
    maybe you have an extra from when you made
    the original print ?
    i wouldn't worry about it .. as jason suggested
    it is a good chance to show more work in your portfolio
    and to keep a happy collector a happy collector.

    - john