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What to do When People Don't Pay

I have many really wonderful customers.  I get a lot of repeat business, I have new customers that send me notes telling me how much they love the pottery they bought, I have customers that refer other customers to me.  But once in a while someone bursts that bubble of happiness.  Usually it's because I have to track them down to get payment on a piece.
I tend to be rather trusting, many potters are.  I've often heard stories of someone who wanted to buy a piece from a potter but didn't have the cash and the artists didn't take credit cards so the artists said "take it home with you and mail me a check."  This helps make for loyal customers.  In many of the studios I've visited in Western North Carolina the potters leave a box and a calculator (for computing the tax) in the showroom just in case someone wants to buy something when the artist isn't there.  I love these bits of faith in people.
So it really bothers me when I have to pursue someone for money for a piece they purchased.  It feels bad in so many ways.  I do worry that some problem has occurred, like the customer is ill or they found something wrong with the piece.  It almost feels like a bit of a relief to find out that everything is ok, they are just to busy to remember that artists have bills too.  Then it just feels vulgar and like a big time suck to beg someone to pay me for the pottery that I've delivered or at least made to there order and would like to give to them.
Once I created a pot that is intentionally chipped on the bottom, the glazes are dark moving into light.  I made it to remind myself that when people do things to chip away at this potter by doing things like not paying a bill I will still reach for the sky.
What do you do when someone is resistant to paying?
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery


  1. Beautiful post, Lori. I'm sorry you are having issues with this customer and hope they come through soon.
    I'm having a little trouble reaching for the sky right now, so your pot is a beautiful reminder. Thank you.

  2. I once had someone write me a bad check at my lavender farm. I drove to the person's house and asked them for payment and the fee for the bad check which I had to pay my bank, they went right in their house and gave me the cash, but I could see they were moving very soon, so I think they had unexpected financial problems and the bad check was probably the least of their worries. It took a lot of courage for me to show up in person, but I finally went and did it and was glad I did. Before that I had called, but never got a call back. Other than that I haven't had a problem as yet with folks not paying.

    I did have a big open house and sale at my lavender farm once and had some folk steal from my shop - a small boy took some lavender perfume and his mother and sister also took some items.

    One other time a little old lady came into my shop asking for lavender essential oil and I said it's right there, she said she didn't have any money with her, then after she left I noticed one bottle was missing. I decided to move the essential oil behind my desk on a shelf, since the bottles were small, easy to pocket and rather expensive. The very next day another woman came in asking for essential oil, I said it's right here behind me, how many do you want, she said she didn't have any money with her and would have to come back. I couldn't help but think she was also going to steal from me. She never did come back.

    Your pot looks like a beautiful sunrise or sunset, cool.

  3. Anonymous- I hope you can start reaching for the sky really soon. Sorry you are so down.

    Linda - Your stories are so scary. This does feel like someone stealing from me and even if it's unintentional it's breaking a trust. It feels really bad when someone steals your product and your trust. I hope you don't have similar experiences with your art.

  4. I am waiting for 35 bucks from a friend now....been a week and a always seems like I have somebody to chase for money, and I put down written reminders in my calendar .....that is why I love etsy and or paypal--they have to pay up front and wait for the item!


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