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Clientele Headaches! Legal grounds?

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by JRose, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. JRose

    JRose Member

    Firstly, I hope I'm putting this in the best thread. Feedback or advice would be highly appreciated.

    I got a call from a gentleman about going an elaborate, customized scene with two muley bucks. A very sentimental piece to the client. I didn't ask for a deposit before working on proposals with him because I really did not foresee him backing out. We hit it off real swell and were in contact almost daily about the project.
    We spent 4 weeks bouncing ideas back and forth, trying to pin down exactly what he wanted. A dozen proposals were passed to him. We ended deciding on a final proposal what would have been around $1,700- two mule deer peds, custom aggressive-interaction poses, two large tanned capes, hand-made cabinet display base, prairie fence habitat scene, detachable mount features, the whole big set-up.

    I talked it over on the phone with him, sent him (he is out of state) a copy of my contract to review, copy of quotes and estimates and job summaries. Basically setting things in stone. We discussed making the down payment and all was in the clear.

    4 hours later he contacts me and says "I took the proposal to my taxidermist buddy and he says he'll do it for $100 less. He says you're way over charging me. I'm gonna go with him instead."
    The other taxidermist had told him that I should only be charging $30 for large tanned buck capes, and that my quote of $125 was a rip off. That is the literal price of the capes, nothing tacked on. Excuse me, but I've never seen a top-grade tanned 24" mule deer cape for $30...

    So basically he just lead me around for a month, wasted my time and resources, stole my job outlines and details and took it to a cheaper taxidermist.

    Is there any way that I can prevent him from using my plans and proposals? That has to be along the lines of illegality. You don't have a contractor create blueprints for you on a large job, then take it to the cheapest contractor you can find. Deposit or no deposit.

    Hoping someone has some advice. Either way, hard lesson learned.
  2. what a rip off. . . :(

  3. CJN

    CJN Member

    You are right, you do not have contractors create blueprints, architects and drafstmen create blueprints and they charge you for them. Contractors then bid the job from the blueprints and if bid is accepted complete or execute the job from said blueprints. Sorry you had this happen but the guy might be waiting to see if you will lower your price.If he did find someone else good luck to him with a $30 dollar muley cape. Sounds like you smell a rat but have not convinced yourself yet he is a rat.
  4. Welcome to the world of sales.

    Next time, don't spend so much time without a purchase agreement, or money put down on the job.

    Live and learn and then move on. You have already wasted too much time after the fact.
  5. gab

    gab Active Member

    you may be better off.depending on how custom the base was,I would've charged $2600 for what you described.sounds like the client and other taxidermist deserve each other.
  6. If he does go to that other taxidermist (assuming there really is one) then he'll get what he paid for, and it'll be all the punishment he deserves to have wasted his money on a mount that is no good.
  7. JRose

    JRose Member

    Well I know right now that his mount is gonna be slaughtered. Guess I'm too nice of a person, cause I actually pity the client for how it's gonna turn out. It irks me that they're over there studying the details of my job summary, getting ready to copy it.

    Like I said, hard lesson learned. I don't haggle with clients and I don't lower my prices for anyone. I charge what I need to to make money, and my clients know that. I'll just have to adamantly charge for proposal work from now on then...
  8. Im with Gary on this one. $1700 was really low. Im not sure where your price is on a mule deer, but I ad 25% for a pedestal. Then the capes are worth at least $75 a piece. As far as the base goes, you should ad 20% to the cost you paid for the base plus habitat. When you got done with it for $1700, youd be mad at yourself for not charging more. I doubt you can recoup anything on your time or design unless it was copyrighted.
  9. michael p.

    michael p. Getting better with age :)

    I'm with Gary & Hughiam! Furget the contract and work on profit! I am mounting a single whitetail next week, custom pedestal, oak base, $1,500, $750 deposit already paid.

    If your client was worried about a $100 difference on a mount of that magnitude then he was price shopping in the first place. You need some money in hand if you are going to spend any amount of time like that with him.

    Experience is the best teacher in life, chalk this one up to that and move on. It will turn into a he said, they said situation and pretty soon you will be dealing with more stress and losing your vision towards future work because this one situation will encapsulate you and your business in a negative way.
  10. cattrax

    cattrax Beats being in the shop!

    Figure your shop rate times hours spent thus far and send a bill. You still might not get paid but you may have those "legal grounds". And yes, your quote was too low.
  11. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    I'm with the other guys. WAY too low.

    And don't get hung up on this one. So the other guy butchers it. So??? The customer knows the gig and he made the choice. You can't mount every deer ever shot so don't select the ones that "got away". My opinion was you laid out too much of your game plan. When I get one like this one, I tell a guy up front what the MOUNTS would be. Then I tell him that special habitats are 35% of the mount costs added. Only when I have a contract do we start talking explicit details. Never show your hold cards. (Most times my clients get more than we spoke of anyway as when I start into it, I see changes that would enhance it more and I eat any overruns. Overruns are built in with that 35% anyway.)

    Looks to me as you came out a winner. You got rid of a pain in the ass customer without investing anything into the process except a little creative thinking.
  12. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    Money talks. Get some down before talking too much. I agree with the others, your price seemed low to me as well. Good luck and remember this bad tasting lesson.
  13. If you had written plans and sketches then it would be illegal for the other taxidermist to copy them. That being said though, good luck proving it and then not spending so much on proving it that it cost you even more in the long run. Listen to these guys and learn from this one. It would burn my a$$ if this happened to me too, but it really wouldn't be worth it to push the issue. Maybe just get back intouch with him and tell him it would be illegal to use your plans, and that if he wants to use the plans it will cost him $X.
  14. JRose

    JRose Member

    My prices are very, very low compared to my competition. And I am aware of it. Part of the reason I was so shocked by his decision, because my price was dead low, and I wanted $730 down. This other taxidermist wants $250 down for a $1500 job!? He must be taking out loans just to get the mount done. I explained to the client that about $500 of the down payment alone was going to supplies and he didn't believe me. The more I mull it over the more you guys are right. I'm far better off without his business.

    I can't logically pursue charges on them, it's not worth it unless I'm getting compensation for my wasted time, potential wage loss, and reputation slander from the other taxidermist. I don't get so shook up over things that I take it to court, but a part of me would sure love it if I did! It's all just ridiculous ::)
  15. Kerby Ross

    Kerby Ross KSU - Class of '83; U.S. Army - Infantry (83-92)

    A couple of things....

    First, you have no legal recourse. You wrote up an estimate and he took that estimate to someone else and will get it done cheaper. Oh well.

    Second, in the future you can write up that estimate for YOU, so you know how much to charge him. All your customer needs to know is the final price, not the breakdown. He can then accept it or go elsewhere with his ideas on how he wants to get them mounted.

  16. Bill Yox

    Bill Yox Well-Known Member

    JRose, it just feels crappy to be gouged by some loser who hires another loser. After awhile youll get a feel for those who are just talkers and those who put money up front. thats truly the key. Its hard though, when we really want a job, to look at it subjectively. Hindsight is always easy! Dont call the jerk with any parting words, one of these days he might wise up and become a decent customer...of yours!
  17. George

    George The older I get, the better I was.

    X2 Never burn a bridge over a river my may have to retreat over. You allowed yourself to get emotionally involved in a piece as it became special TO YOU. You're in business. That kind of emotion will ruin you eventually. IT'S JUST BUSINESS. Forget it, learn your lessons, and move on.
  18. JRose

    JRose Member

    It's not a matter of the estimate, it's the matter of the structure and proposal work that was done. As a unique scenario, it was handled differently. This was was going to be more of a work of art than a taxidermy mount. I don't care one way or another if a client takes my prices to compare with someone else. I ain't gonna crawl after em and beg for business.
  19. i'm new to this but maybe next time you can weed out the window shoppers by using the hourly shop fee as a design fee as well, that way you'll know if someone is serious or not and if they use you take it off the mount price and charge them if they take the work elsewhere maybe. just throwing that idea out there. consultations can make you $ too.
  20. Phillip

    Phillip New Member

    Always take a deposit. If the job does not eventuate you can deduct what expense you have outlaid from it.