Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Another Cheap Bastard

This post is for no other reason than for me to vent.

Early last week I had a woman walk into my framing shop. The first thing out of her mouth was "I hope you aren't as expensive as "The Other Place". Even with their 25% off it was SO expensive! Our friends, "The Smiths" sent me here."
"Well, first of all, if you're looking for discount framing, you've come to the wrong place. We use all preservation material, and quality material and quality work is not cheap. With framing, you get what you pay for. And if "The Smiths" sent you in, they did so because they know the kind of work we do."

The woman lays out a hideously framed picture on the table. It is a black and grey toned sketch sporting a (God help me) pink mat, a green inner mat and a pink frame.
"Oh dear God, tell me you're getting rid of that mat and frame."
"That's what I was planning. Why?"
"Because THAT is horrible on that picture."
"It just doesn't go anymore now that we've repainted. I'm thinking of going with a beige mat with a gold frame."

I proceeded to give her "The Lecture" about not framing to match your decor, but to suit the piece, and I began to select the correct tone of grey for the top mat.
"Oh, that's so drab on it. I wanted something lighter on the wall."
"You might want to consider a brighter picture then. This is a very drab picture and the best thing for it is a grey mat with a black inner mat."
"Well, what if we compromise and go with a white mat?"
"Whoa. How is THAT a compromise? It's going to look horrible. Your eye is drawn to light before dark, and a white mat would just detract from the picture."

Let's avoid a whole lot of pain here and jump ahead about an hour and a half. She had four pictures that she wanted to do, and each one was more painful than the last. The one that killed me was a professional photo of their "cottage". The place was a mansion. The side featured in the photo was nearly all windows and balconies facing the lake. Cathedral ceilings, beautiful stonework, great design. I can't imagine what this place would sell for.

At one point the woman took a quick run home to bring back another frame that she wants to re-use on another piece she brought in. That's right. She wants to re-use some ghastly gold frames on the pieces we were looking at. I managed to steer her in the right direction for the black & grey piece and the cottage photo. The other two were a poster and print of golf scenes. Those ones were the ones using the old frames. She wanted off-white (boring) mats on the pieces, but I showed her how much better they would look with complimentary mat colours on them. She was won over. The price (less than 200 bucks per piece) seemed to give her some grief. I decided against my better judgement to give her a blanket 10% off price which seemed to ease her mind somewhat.

"I'm just not sure what my husband will think. He's so used to off-white mats and gold frames. Tell you what. We're going to the cottage this weekend and we'll take a look at what's there and I'll get back to you."

After a total of about two and a half hours, she was gone.

Friday arrived and I got a phone call from her saying that her husband wanted to come in this week to look at the pictures. No problem.

First thing this morning, up drove a Cadillac SUV and in they walked with another framed piece they wanted to use as comparison and another piece that the artwork had slipped down in that needed repair. There was something about the husband I didn't like right off the bat. Maybe it was his taste.

The husband asked me if we could fix the picture and I told him that we can do that. I explained that the original framer should do it for free if it slips like that (as we do), but we could do the repair. "Oh, ok. Well, then I'll take it back to who did it the first time." (Translation: I'm cheap and would rather not spend any money.)

I showed him the first golf picture with the green mat that perfectly matched the golf green and the accent of yellow that was captured in the foliage in the background. We showed him how the off-white would look on it, and he was actually accepting of the colours we had selected. Good start.

Next I showed him the black & grey piece with the mats and frame his wife and I settled on. He was a pain in my ass. He complained about everything. He said he preferred what was on it before. Pink and green? Excuse me? Did I mention his taste? But after showing him a number of different options he was clearly overwhelmed and just shot back at his wife with "I don't care, pick what you want." (Ya, Mr. Passive-Agressive)

The cottage picture was next. It had a warm taupe top mat that picked up the stonework and siding, and a warm amber inner mat that perfectly matched the glow of the lights shining through the windows. We actually had selected a gold frame because it worked on the piece. Naturally he wanted to see off-white mats again, so we did the song & dance and again he said to his wife "I don't care, pick what you want."

As I was working on the computer confirming codes in their work orders, the husband asked me, "Do most people take this long to pick colours and frames?" Without looking up from the computer, I replied, "Most of our clients walk in the door, drop the work on the table and say 'call me when it's done' and leave. They understand that we know what looks best on their art."

Fast forward about half an hour, and they finally left after much bitching and moaning on the part of the husband about the price of every component in the price of the framing. Even though their cottage is all windows, he insisted on using regular glass instead of UV blocking glass. "It won't fade" was his verdict. OK, buddy, whatever gets you through the day. They also requested that their work be rushed so they can take it to the cottage next weekend. I noticed right after they left that they had accidentally left behind the slipped picture, so I called their house and left a message. Before they arrived home, he must have realized it was left behind and he came back in.

"I'm just thinking, it's quite a drive back to where the artist is who framed this, do you think since we're leaving so many pieces here for you to do that you could fix this at no charge?"
"And to what do I owe the pleasure of doing your work for free?"
"Well I figured since we're giving you quite a bit for these pieces...."
"Whoa. Hold up. Half of the pieces we're framing for you are using your old frames. We're not making anything on them. It's a rush order. I was stupid enough to already give you the discount that we give to our regular customers, and now you expect me to do this work for free? And why exactly would I do that?"
"Alright, if you don't think it's fair, then just charge us for it then." (he was actually backing down!)
"I am willing to do the work and I will give you the percentage off on this too, but I will not be doing it for free. This is not just some hobby to fill my days. This is my living. And I don't appreciate some ass-hat pulling up in his 60 thousand dollar car flashing pictures of his million dollar cottage and nickle and diming me.
- Note: the italics represent dialogue that did not actually happen, but I sure wish it did!
"You know," he started, "when I first came in here I was prejudiced."
"I know. I could tell."
"It just seemed like a huge amount of money considering we're using two of our own frames."
"Bear in mind that this is custom framing. We use high quality materials and we do quality work. Most of our new clients are sent here by our current clients because they know what kind of work we do."
"OK, I can appreciate that. We'll see you next week when we pick up."
"Have a good day."

I just have that sinking feeling that these people are going to be more grief than they're worth. The cheapest people are always the biggest pains in the ass. I'm just waiting to see if they call back in the next couple of days for some other issue. If that happens, I'm going to tell them to come in and get their belongings because we will NOT be doing their work for them.

Come on phone....ring!

Unreal! They're cottage is bigger than most people's home and they're nickel and diming you to the nth degree. I hate rich people. Of course, it's been said that the reason they're rich is because they're cheap. No more discounts for cheap bastards! ;-)
Their cottage...bloody hell.
I hear ya! I was so pissed. I wouldn't have the nerve to act so cheap. I could understand it if they pulled up in some beater of a car and weren't flashing a photo of their mansion, but this is just pathetic.
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