I was recently approached for advice by my subscriber, a handmade artist. She told me about her difficult relationship with some customers and asked for advice. That’s why I decided to write this article. Previously I had only read about such buyers and tried to understand why they do that – they consider themselves experts, look for flaws, pick on them, are rude, and demand bonuses for their “suffering.” Everything has an explanation.
Most “such” customers behave the same way, regardless of the product purchased or the type of store (online or offline store).
What is this phenomenon called?
A brief search on the web gave me an interesting concept of “consumer terrorism” (“consumer extremism”). A terrorist buyer, by his/her behavior, seeks to gain some benefit by manipulating his/her supposedly higher “right” in a given market for self-serving purposes. Buyers have long been explained that they are always right, and they believe it.
Indeed most of us know from the media about the millions of lawsuits brought by individual citizens against well-known companies for spilled hot coffee, foreign objects in snack bags, and bottles of lemonade. In the handmade industry, the scale of the tragedy is many times lower, but the sour mood and proceedings with dissatisfied customers are the same as at the big-name brands. Let’s take a closer look.
Tactics of the terrorist buyer
If you ask any of the masters to describe the behavior of such a buyer, everyone will unmistakably name most of the following:
1.Often avoiding the transaction through the shopping cart, probably to make it less official, so as not to leave unnecessary traces;
2.May write a bunch of compliments about your products and you at the beginning. Would you think such a nice person would be capable of sabotage? By the way, if you write nice, praiseworthy words to the artisan on Etsy at the beginning, they get tense. They know that further or soul will be taken, or a discount will be demanded.
3.Rarely chooses a product from those in the store. They need the same one, but only slightly different. Changes will be required a lot; it is easier to make from scratch. Often there are special requirements for the details: for example, if you use wooden blanks, they will demand the same, but from a different wood and on the principle of 3 mm more / less than standard, the flowers in the hand of the doll will certainly need to make by hand the master herself.
4.Additional requirements of the buyer drive the master into additional and often tangible material costs; the buyer does not agree to the optimum replacement from among the components available to the master.
5.Their motto is no specificity! Such buyers do not operate with dimensions, only with abstract notions of “average size,” “nice green color,” etc. They responded no to requests to find and send the most similar image. There is no time to search for it, and I have not found it / I cannot draw it.
6.The deadline is often requested less than allowed, and possibly, it may not be critical, but the master will have to strain.
7.They want to control the entire process – they will distract the master with questions and a request to send a photo of the intermediate result from all possible angles and in different lights. And the master has to answer these messages quickly and clearly.
8.They make their “expert” additions to the created product, often such that it is necessary to redo the details, which are difficult and entirely appropriate in terms of quality. In this case, the details do not affect the product’s functionality but, for some reason, are very important to the buyer. Often the artisan has to be distracted by detailed descriptions of the technology of making this or that part, explaining the reasons for the artisan’s choice of material from a particular firm.
9.When you send a photo of the finished product in 72 angles with all possible backgrounds, the buyer will be lost! In most cases, this is a mandatory part of this fascinating game. But don’t get your hopes up; he’s/she’s bound to show up. In as much time as they see suitable. From a few days to infinity. Sophisticated shoppers will look at the message rather than respond, pause, and build up the situation.
10.The buyer who disappears and suddenly reappears (after your 52 messages) will explain that he/she was away or busy all this time and didn’t have the opportunity to write to you. The phone was not getting a good signal. The internet was failing, and a few other excellent reasons. By the way, in some mysterious way, the connection and the internet are getting better just when he/she wants to write to you, but when you need to respond to your message – again, there are problems. And again silence.
– Buyer extremism in the handmade business
Next, the buyer reveals: he/she will write in detail that you have done absolutely not what he/she wanted (although he/she controlled and guided the entire process wisely and shrewdly). Will demand new changes – of course, with the maximum redoing of everything or individual moments. He/She will write hurtful words like “crooked,” “pale,” etc.
Of course, in the case of your agreement to redo the work, a new deadline is unlikely to be set – it is the master’s fault, so let her fix it as she wants. If the master starts to resist and cancel the order, they can press on pity and conscience: it is a toy for a little (and maybe even sick) girl; she is waiting, crying, and not eating. Or her birthday is in three days; you’re letting me down!
They may offer to pay for the order “anyway” (since the master is untrustworthy, self-serving, and insensitive). In response to the master’s suggestions to go and place an order with another master, he/she says that a lot of time has been spent already, and generally, it is your style that the buyer likes best.
If the artisan does fulfill this order, then, as a rule, a new portion of suffering about “crooked” and wrong color will follow.
“Whatever, I’ll buy it.” At this stage, the buyer is sure to demand a master discount. For what? For the frayed nerves of the buyer, ruined mood, and bad goods, of course!
After all, if the artisan is still alive and has agreed to the terms of sale and sent the goods to the buyer, the buyers can write after receiving that the product is actually even worse than in the photo.
The product is not worth the money paid for it, and it would be better for the artisan to change the field of activity. The buyer will leave a bad review (so that the artisan will not use her crooked hands to do something and wear out decent people like that).
Very sophisticated customers, in a few months after buying the product and starting to use it – will find a defect in the product or come up with the harm caused (allergies, for example) and demand a refund.
The very sophisticated buyers, a few months after buying the product and starting to use it – will find a flaw in the product or will think of harm caused (allergies, for example) and demand a refund.
Such a buyer will try to make the artisan nervous, hurry up, make unwitting mistakes, take it out of his/her mind, and lose his/her vigilance.
What are the benefits of the buyer-terrorist?
It’s very simple: the buyer-terrorist wants pleasure, goods, and to save money. The product itself is secondary here – the buyer does not like dolls or toys and rarely wears handmade jewelry. He/she doesn’t care what he buys. The main thing is to enjoy the process of such a “purchase.
Lawyers believe that such buyers seek to:
To cause harm (in our case, to the handmade artist). Can you imagine? Just cause harm. Doing a nasty thing is a joy to the heart, probably from boredom or an abundance of extra time.
They are overly taking advantage of their supposedly “special” position as a buyer. Some buyers believe that artisans grab every customer and will do anything to please any customer regardless of the number of crazy demands.
To get a material benefit. For example, a product with a tangible discount. Or two products for the price of one. The question price is sometimes – almost a penny, but you can harass the master for a long time, little by little, drop by drop. And not everyone can indeed compete with famous brands.
The choice of the victim. Peculiarities of the mental organization of masters
Here we can think of energy vampires. As a rule, the vampire buyers accompany the deal with a mass of conventions, rules, and clauses, changing the work conditions and the order volume. As a result, the artisan does not notice how she renders several services for the price of one, making a discount without sufficient reason.
The vampire buyer is interested in maximizing the master’s strength – this gives the most incredible energy flow towards the vampire him/herself. For this purpose, the “victim” must first be “prepared” as much as possible: to confuse, to confuse, to make guilty and obliged.
And to remember and relive for a long time – this probably “keeps” the energy channel open for some time.
These features of the artisans’ mental organization make them so attractive to vampire buyers. Add to this the fact that in an offline store, a more official place from a legal point of view, it is somewhat more challenging to terrorize sellers: they have to do it “live,” looking them in the eyes. The seller may call security or resist attempts to steal energy.
And online, it all seems easier – the stores are not quite real, and the guards will not be called – they will be blocked as a last resort. And artisans are virtual people who don’t seem to exist either. But emotions are real, and even the distance is not an obstacle to their transmission. Have you ever had your nerves frayed over the phone? It turns out that it is possible to do harm through the internet, too.
Do you want an experiment? Go to any store – well, with clothes, for example- and ask the salesperson where the dresses are made, why the stitching is made that way, and what the buttons are made of. Do not ask about the important points – the product size, the fit, the fabric. And you will see how the seller’s face will change (if he/she is not phlegmatic). He/She will probably start to justify him/herself or respond to you dryly and rudely. At best, he/she will be restrained and polite in answering your questions, but simultaneously he/she will “boil.”
Signs that you are a victim of the buyer-terrorist
Learn to listen and trust your feelings. Take a closer look at what and how the buyer writes to you.
The buyer, at the beginning of communication, makes a large number of demands on minor details of the product and forces the artist to fuss, to make the extra effort;
It avoids specifying specific sizes but requires a principal dimensional “match” – leaves room for oneself to pick on dimensions later on;
Avoids specifying specific dimensions but requires a principal dimensional “match” – leaves the possibility to pick on the dimensions later;
The buyer tends to control every movement of the master, demands to be in touch all the time, constantly makes suggestions and demands changes that he/she suggested, and picks on little things. This is a tactic of wearing down the “enemy”;
The buyer hurries changes deadlines in the direction of reduction – takes away from the rhythm, makes you hurry, make mistakes, and get nervous, so that later there is an opportunity to catch on to the mistake;
In correspondence, the buyer provokes the master into insults and excuses (often by voicing a remark unpleasant to the master, for example, “everything is crooked”). Pressure on self-esteem, doubts your skills;
The buyer suddenly attacks (in 15 letters, everything was going well, and suddenly in the 16th, the buyer writes that some nonsense is going on), takes the master by surprise (everything was fine!) – again, it is exhausting, again it hits the self-esteem;
The buyer disappears for unpredictable periods, especially at the end of the work or during the “exchange of pleasantries,” and then appears early in the morning (spoiling your mood and rattling around all day long) or late at night;
During correspondence, you suddenly begin to want to justify yourself, to protect yourself;
You are having “conversations” with a customer in your head outside of correspondence. This means that you have encountered a terrorist buyer and need to take action.
The deeper a person becomes entangled in a relationship, the harder it is for him/her to get out of it. In other words, after spending so much time, nerves, and money, the master must feel sorry for his/her efforts and decide to return at least part of the money to get at least some return. And so he/she will give the vampire buyer all his/her remaining energy.
Consequences for the master and the amount of damage
It is not difficult to guess what a master feels after such an attack:
– Buyer extremism in the handmade business
How to resist and not become a victim
Be vigilant in your correspondence with the buyer, but avoid being paranoid. Remember, if the buyer praises you, then, firstly, he/she may sincerely like what you do. He/She does not plan an attack, and secondly, to praise your products – the buyer’s decision, and he/she has no right to demand from you in connection with these bonuses, discounts, and special treatment.
If you “smell something wrong” in your communication, be vigilant. If the client asks to make three dolls at once – agree that you will make one. If the client likes it (and the client will pay), then you can proceed to make another doll. So, at least, your possible losses will be less if your intuition has not deceived you.
If you are caught, your goal is to break this game. You remember the terrorist buyer wants your energy, your product, and save money. Exactly that set, no less. If you do not give at least one thing, the pleasure of such a buyer will not be complete. Master, in this case, it is important not to let the buyer assert him/herself at his/her own expense, to entertain his/her self-esteem with the illusion that “the master will redo everything as many times as I tell him/her to.”
How to do it:
Refuse to perform the order at the initial stage under plausible pretext, and return the prepayment, if any.
Do not click the “accept order” button until the order is finished, coordinated, paid for, and shipped. Once the item has been shipped, it’s difficult to edit it. This will allow you to interrupt the transaction at any stage of execution of the order.
Refuse to sell. Even at the final stage, if the buyer continues to be dissatisfied with the product without an objective (strictly objective!) Reasons. Politely apologize and refuse.
As much as possible, involve the client in creating the product. He/she interferes and gives advice, doesn’t he/she? Let him/her not write you letters of recommendation, and you – what and how to do it better.
Does the buyer consider him/herself an expert? Do not hesitate to ask “technical” questions – what stitch is better to choose, what diameter of beads would advise, and what characteristics the product should have.
If the client is unhappy that you are asking him/her questions, be surprised. Explain that he/she explains everything and is so interested in everything that you thought he was knowledgeable and practically a professional in making dolls/decorations and therefore wanted advice.
Perhaps your praise will flatter him/her and he/she will soften. And if not, being so intensely involved in creating a product, such a person won’t refuse an order and won’t be able to say that it’s nothing – because you can tell he/she made the product him or herself! Who is going to criticize themselves?
Take advantage of the client’s prolonged silence (if the client has not warned you that he/she will be gone for two weeks) and say that the product has found another owner, even if this is not true. Still, you have decided that you are not ready to sell the product to this person.
Refer to the store’s rules if this clause is spelled out there. Ignorance of the store rules does not get rid of the consequences. In response to the buyer’s offer to make the same product again, politely decline, citing high employment or a sudden departure.
Do not get angry, do not “boil,” or show emotion in any way. Do not get into an argument; agree that you are irresponsible, for example, but nothing can be changed. No resistance, no argument.
If the client becomes too personal and goes to extremes, you can politely say that you are unfortunately not ready to continue communicating in this style and stop communicating.
If the client has acquired a taste and stopped “listening,” – you can apply his/her same tactics (with caution) – to disappear for a while (everyone is used to the fact that most masters predictably respond quickly). In critical disputes, when the opponent has already forgotten how it all began and only flares anger (fortunately, with buyers to this I have not yet reached), I like to send a winking emoji. Just a smiley face. How is that not an answer? So understand as you want, and now answer the opponent again. I hope that none of the masters will come to this.
Remember, any word you say will surely be used against you by a terrorist buyer. So try to answer letters in a businesslike tone. Do not explore additional, obviously irrelevant explanations, reasoning, and options construction. If you do, it means you are interested, worried. At the same time, pay close attention to what the buyer writes: hoping to confuse you, he/she will surely miss some nuances and no longer remember that the arrangements were different. Trying to confuse you in the minutiae, he/she will fall into his/her trap and get confused. This is your chance for a reasoned argument.
– Buyer extremism in the handmade business
How do you know that you’ve succeeded in breaking the buyer-terrorist game?
He/she will begin to get nervous him/herself, angry and confused. First, he/she did not get pleasure or receive, but not as much as he/she wanted. Secondly, the product “floats away” from his/her hands. Thirdly, a discount or moral compensation is highly questionable – even if he/she asks for it, the artisan will start refusing to sell the product again.
The buyers-terrorists will try to return control of the situation to their hands. Most likely, he/she will beg you to sell him/her the product, maybe even offer to pay you more (so that after the purchase, when the product is in his/her hands, he/she can talk about its flaws and your failure).
He/She won’t be able to admit that he/she only needed the product as an excuse for a scandal. Will begin to manipulate pity, the conscience of the master, and his/her obligations. Recall the tears of a little girl who is waiting for a toy. Can start to threaten – appeal to the site administrator where you sell your products.
If your conscience as a master is clear, and you are in correspondence and did not allow yourself to be rude to the buyer, then you have nothing to fear. The buyer may become angry and be rude to you, but you be correct to the end. Find a moment to write to the client that “sorry, we can not continue to communicate, very sorry, all the best, with respect. And a smiley face.
Vampires are very annoyed by all this. There is an opinion that if you do not give a vampire what he/she wants, and do not let him/her complete the process of taking energy, then he/she is unlikely to pay attention to you another time – it is very unpleasant for them when the energy flow is abruptly cut off. It’s like having a sandwich taken out of your mouth. Who knows, maybe these vampires have some kind of connection, and all the other vampires will know that their plan doesn’t work with you, and other vampires won’t get to you, either.
In an ordinary purchase with no hidden purpose of getting additional benefits, if the buyer doesn’t like the product, you can calmly and reasonably negotiate a change or quietly part ways. The buyer will not attempt to convince the master to sell, no matter what.
What to do if it was not possible to resist
The main task is to switch and by no means make any global decisions, like deleting your account on the marketplace, or your social media pages, swearing never to sew/knit/embroider/weave again, or throwing away your supply of materials. You must regain your composure first, which can take a few days.
When you calm down enough to return to the situation – calmly analyze it. Perhaps you can determine when you made a mistake in communicating with the client and gave yourself a grudge. If similar cases have occurred before – you can compare, identify commonalities, and find your weak point, which the terrorist buyers feel. This should help you think through a strategy for your behavior in the future if the situation suddenly happens again.
Think back to your other average sales, which have already been – 100? 300? 1000?
That’s how often you’ve managed to calmly and quickly negotiate with buyers. That’s how many buyers are grateful to you for your creativity. Are 2-3-5 terrorist buyers capable of knocking you out so much that you immediately cross out the relationship with that thousand buyers? Just negative “clings” are stronger and are remembered longer.
And finally, do what you love to do! There’s so much material lying around for nothing!
Instead of a conclusion
Some readers will write that the masters classify themselves as bohemians, chosen, almost saints, not understood, not recognized.
Not at all. I’m sorry if anyone thinks that. Masters are people, too. People is the key word. But if any reader has ever faced an exhausting, nerve-racking, and soul-weary relative, colleague, client, or neighbor, he/she remembers how unpleasant it was. And it’s not that masters are supposedly special; the fact is that no one should feed on the energy of others.
And how do you deal with terrorist customers?