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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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There are "rules" to the whole limited edition print thing, and one of those is to insure that there is one and only one set of prints, totaling the number in the edition plus the artists' proofs, and no more. It's kind of silly, but if you are adhering to the notion of a limited edition, then technically, the loss or destruction of one of your prints is not something you should concern yourself with, certainly not to the point of replacing the print, because with one gone, that makes the others in the edition more valuable, because there's now 1/nth fewer copies in the world. It's a rather contrived thing that makes sense mostly if you are selling through galleries and not directly to the customers. That's why I said to make the replacement, but since it is no longer part of the original edition, it is supposed to be marked as such.
Originally Posted by resummerfield
The number one goal for my business is to help my customers. On one hand, I need to keep it alive so that it can help others which means that I need to cover my costs. On the other hand, I see no value in making a profit off of my customer’s mistakes or problems. Your customer knows they messed up. If he is president of the club, I am sure he is reasonable enough to not expect you to give him a replacement for free and it sounds like he did not ask you for one. He is simply asking how you can help him out. In cases like this, I sacrifice my gross profit and offer a deep discount. My business stays cash flow positive and I am able to help a customer that will generally be grateful. This can go a long way with the internet.
In the old days it was thought that an unhappy customer would tell 10 people about your company. A customer that was ok with the transaction might tell a couple. A customer with a serious problem that you solve beyond their expectations might also tell about 10 people. This is still true with the internet, but you need to add a few zeros to the ten so that it becomes 1000. Here is an excellent example -
If you google “framesbymail.com” you will see the website “avoid framesbymail”. That website has been on page one of google for years. Here is another example from a blog that involves my company. Fortunately for me, I own the latter company mentioned in the blog:
It's interesting that the president of an art association would present you with this issue without a specific request for a remedy. He surely knows that replacement would not be possible had he damaged a pastel or oil painting. Had he purchased a photograph by an artist who is deceased, he would also realize that there would have to be a possibly significant fee paid to repair a damaged 'graph if it were even possible. I wonder if he fully realizes that you've sold him a hand made print, and not an inkjet-pushbutton "poster". It's an interesting quandary that purchasers may expect remedies to damaged work in direct proportion to what they think may be involved in making the remedy.
I think, though, that you've gotten a preponderance of suggestions that speak to accommodation and building good will...especially in your own local region. I think that advise is wise. I hope you'll get back to us with the results of your conversation with the guy.