Wherein I relearn an important lesson after getting suckered (*originally posted privately, reposted to share publicly):
I attended RavenCon 2014 with my family and purchased an art commission from Rob Quill (link), who is a frequent sight in artist alley at various national SFF cons.
After paying up front and an initial brisk exchange of emails, including a pencil concept sketch, ol' Rob went, as we used to say in the Navy when describingd a ship that has lost main power, 'warm, dark and quiet'. He just wasn't there and I couldn't raise him by email at all.
After a few months of this I did the basic due diligence that I should have performed at the outset. I found multiple pages of authors and fans describing exactly my experience with Rob Quill. Payment in full, a concept sketch and then radio silence. A few (perhaps half?) who persisted or knew someone in the biz were able to leverage their contacts and get a product although only after great delay (12 months+).
I reached out to the Ravencon chair without the expectation of a response (I am after all only one dude, after all) and the chair (name omitted since I didn't ask if he minded that I related this) answered within 24 hours. He pinged Quill with my concerns and asked that I follow up if this didn't get resolved. Keep in mind at this point that RC'15 was a month away and Quill was exhibiting again. The RC chair followed up again, as well (kudos to him!).
After several exchanges with Quill (often with delays, one of which was mine while I travelled internationally), I asked for a partial refund - I lost confidence that I was going to get a useful image. We agreed on a figure, I sent my Paypal info to him and he replied that the $ was sent.
Post RC'15 he went radio silent again. He definitely didn't send the $ via paypal. He hasn't responded to my latest few missives (including a time stamped screen shot of my Paypal deposit page), so I have decided to forgive the debt as outlined in my mail to him:
"Hi Rob, haven't heard back from you on this. Frankly, the amount of time I have spent so far is worth more than the money in question. Please take this email as my permission to retain all funds for the picture that you didn't deliver and the refund that you didn't send.
I plan to extract more than the value of the commission in terms of my personal enjoyment as I share this experience in detail with the (modest number of) contacts that I have in various cons, SFF publishing houses and fan groups. Since I only know a few score people, I will probably have to re-tell the saga a few times.
Truly, no need to reply or refund at this point.
With greatest sincerity,
Lessons learned -
1. Beware the 'Happy fun time effect': I was @ RavenCon, which is a smaller, fannish, cozy con. I was having a good time and made the very naïve snap judgment that since this guy was vetted by a well organized non mercenary con management team (unlike huge cons such as SDCC) that my $100+ wasn't at risk. I know, I know - I am usually the soul of caution and the center of cynicism on this sort of thing. Mea maxima culpa. Don't make my error.
2. Never, ever, nowhere no-time buy from Quill. Ditto allow family to do same, nor permit friends to make purchases without knowing this tale.
3. Get references: I still want that picture, dammit. I will find someone else and use references before any money goes anywhere.
4. Don't forget that one don't trust unvouched-for strangers for a reason... regardless of being at a con.
*edited for formatting and detail after original post, and reposted for a public share.