Was it something we didn't say?

Dan Larson

Grumbler in Training
Oct 5, 2004
Goffstown, NH
Anyone ever run into this before?

A customer picks up a picture today, keep in mind that she was an "artist" and is HORRIFIED that there are white beveled lines around the window of the mats on her finished piece. Yes. Bevels. All mats have them. Acid free bevels are pretty white too.

She proceeded to let us know without any question how disappointed she was with the quality of the piece based on the fact that there were white, beveled lines. She said this was something she's never seen before and would never have purchased the piece if someone had explained it to her.

We showed her every picture in the shop that had a mat on it and explained that it was... well... THAT is what a mat is. We were pretty much speechless. We didn't know what else to say to her.

It's not like she was looking for a fillet, or wrapped mats, or a solid core mat or anything like this! I can only assume that the only mats she had ever seen were the pieces of paper that you can get in frames at dollar stores.

She flung her check at us before she left letting us know that we'd never have to worry about HER again!

Trust me, lady, you'll be doing US a favor by not coming back!

Please, tell me we're not the only ones who have experienced this kind of insanity. And if you're a framer in New England, be on the lookout...
Dan, I don't make a rule of pointing the white bevels out to my customers, I figure it goes without saying. But, there are times when a white bevel might interfere and then I suggest a reverse bevel cut or painted bevels.

Sounds like your customer was just looking for something to lash out at. Maybe she had a bad day? You could still offer to reverse the bevels or to paint them to assuage her feelings.

Even if they never plan on coming back again, I hate, hate, hate anybody leaving my store dissatisfied. Nothing better than turning around irrational behavior.
It's not out of line for someone to say that something doesn't look the way they expected but for her to react this way is definitely, as you put it, insanity.
I agree with Emibub as far as the options for "fixing" it (even though it ain't broke!) but since she's already gone it might be better to just let it lie.
And if you're anything like me it's gonna just fry you for the rest of the night...
What a day ruiner!
Do you use the mat samples right out of the box? If so your samples do not reflect the fact that they will be beveled. You can never assume a customer will know what you are planning on doing unless you tell them or show them. An idea to prevent this in the future would be to make sure your samples have a white bevel cut on them.

I do think the lady is a nut by the way. If she hadn't paid you I would have thought that she was one of those people that search for a problem so they can demand a discount.
Wouldn't it be great if she came back and apologized? She should!! I know it's no consolation but the next 999 customers will probably be swell. I'd take the check to her bank right away and get cash(better safe than sorry!)
This is why I spent untold hours bevel-cutting about 2500 mat samples before I put them out.

It's also why I gravitate toward the sold rag mats.

And, yes, it's also part of why I closed my store and went to work for a big insurance company.

I had a customer once throw a fit in the shop and grabbed my "store copy" of the receipt and fled to his car. I chased him out, we grappled a bit, exchanged some really interesting names, and, when I ripped the receipt out of his hands, I told him not to come back ever again.

Two years later he shows up (last week, to be exact) and didn't recognize me. tee hee. He told me he had been coming to our shop for YEARS! I treated him like royalty. His piece was completed to perfection. And when he picked it up, he threw the same fit. HA! This time the owner told him not to come back again.

He'll be back.

Sometimes I just get a real kick out of dealing with these people....
I have had someone complain about bevels on their mat. I just said, "Oh, that's they way most people prefer it, the bevel adds a little class. But I can change it if you want."

She looked at it for a bit, then said, "well, if that's the way most people do it..." and was satisfied.

It was strange, since it was a color core mat I sold her.
Artistic temperment, Dan. Some artists are just this way. I have one artist client that has been thrown out of every frame shop in my area (the other framers have told me they have asked her not to return).

She used to drive me batty. Now I just accept it as part of her "style". She is a very combative type of person.

I discovered that I didn't have to take the bait.

I also add an upcharge to her order.

Her special influence helped me develop a unique price list available only to clients who share her qualities.

I feel better about helping her. She gets her framing done.

We have struck a balance that works for both of us.
I knew it wasn't just us!

I've been framing for a while now and have dealt with the crazies before. But we only opened our shop in October of 2004, and you take it a little bit more personally when it's YOUR reputation on the line and not some national chain.

As for her "style," yeah, she's flagged in the computer and will get a extra special "handling fee" next time she comes in to offset the discount we offered her as an "artist."

Bevel cutting your mat samples? But there's so many of them...
We bevel cut all our samples once and boy! were we sorry later! The edges are sharp and cut the handler. At least for a while they are sharp. Then they get dented up and then! they get collapsed. We hated it so much we ordered all new samples. We discuess bevel choice as one of the design elements, just as we discuss glass choice and mounting choice. We even have a 'show-and-tell'. It is a landscape scene which we put two openings on (so it looks like a diptych) One opening with regular bevels and one opening with reverse bevels. Then at the bottom there is a title block (shows how a title block works) with an explanation of both types. IT is a combo- one mat beveled and the other not.
And, BTW, feeling upset when a customer storms out doesn't get any less with time in business. I have been doing this for 25+ years, and it STILL ruins my day when a nutcase acts like that. I try to tell myself that the good news is that I only had to deal with her/him for 15 minutes, and they have to deal with themselves all the time (not to mention their long-suffering spouses). And don't worry that they will trash you to their friends. They all know what kind of a person he/she is, and will heavily discount what they hear.
Dan, take my word for it, her type is in every frame shop at least once. I wish I could say you won't have more of her kind, but from my experience there could be more. I, too, still take it personally, but I try to tell myself to consider the source.
Just wondering how old the artist was?
Funny how a career change can adjust your perception of what constitutes an irate customer.

I always suspected, and now I know, that I was dealing with some of the happiest people in the world when I was doing framing full-time.

I'm not complaining, mind you. I love my new job and I especially love the challenge of dealing with someone whose $25,000 claim has just been denied because their plan doesn't pay for gastric bypass and nobody thought to check ahead of time.

Count your blessings.
Hey Dan,

That customer wasn’t from Dunbarton was she?

I think I might know her. :(
If you've opened your doors relatively recently she may just be trying to yank your chain and get a deep discount!

I had people come in and try to shake my confidence, they just want to save a dime!
Sometimes when showing a design I will emphasize that the white bevel is a design element which will key in to the highlights in the image. If the mat sample I'm using isn't bevelled, sometimes I'll slip a white mat sample underneath it, showing 1/16 to 1/8 inch, and saying that this represents what the mat's bevel will look like.
I've never had a problem with bevel complaints.
:cool: Rick
We have found that the question of the bevel usually comes up during the design phase and that it is an opportunity to switch to a white linen liner in place of the ugly beveled mat. We also have found that a few customers object to mouldings that are upside down on the bottom of the picture.

Jack Cee
Next time you get a crazy, pop an Alka Selzer in your mouth without them seeing you , wait a moment then start barking wildly at them and make low gutteral noises.

If they don't leave on their own then they are crazier than you, give them their stuff for free!
Being an artist, she probably always cut her own mats straight without a bevel and never realized most board has a white core.

I agree that the bevel should normally be discussed as part of the design discussion. It provides opportunities to upsell where fitting to color cores, fillets, double mats, v-grooves, etc. and eliminates any misunderstandings.

I also agree not to worry too much about what she says to others. Most people she talks to would probably know and tell her that a bevel is the norm and she'll end up feeling silly. Don't hold your breath for an apology though. People who throw fits generally don't apologize.

The only worry I'd have is that she sounds like the kind of individual who would "embelish" her story to make her look sweet and innocent and you as a victimizer. People who know her will just nod, but the ones who don't really know her well enough to know her behavior may believe anything.


Learn from the experience and go forward.

Dave Makielski
I am seconding what a lot of folks have already said: It never gets easier. But the recovery time does indeed get shorter. I find it always helps to remember that we don't always know the whole story. Perhaps your customer was having a REALLLLLLLY bad day and you just happened to be in the way.

The plus side is that she must be very new to framing. If she had had framing done before, the bevels would have been old news. I would drop her a note, killing her with kindness, something like "thanks for the biz and if you find the white bevels on your mat to be distracting I have a few ideas about some options. Just let me know. And thanks again." You could mail it on your way to the bank to cash her check.

edie the nothinlikeapoorlytrainedcustomer goddess
All the mats i cut out always have the white bevel, UNLESS there is NO white in the print, poster, etc. THEN, i tell them i will "reverse the bevel" and explain why. Simple. ajh
I appreciate all of your comments.

I have personally only been framing for about 5 years now and have never come across it in my experience. But then, I'm sure there are A LOT of things I haven't come across. As for my partner, she's been framing for about 13 years and this was new to her as well. We'll make an adjustment and know going forward. I figured if any forum on the web would sympathize with that, it would be this one!

As for where she was from, Bill, I'm not sure. I had have to check. Does she sound familiar to you? I'd love to know if she's a repeat offender.
Does she sound familiar to you? I'd love to know if she's a repeat offender.
Of course she's a repeat offender! Anyone who acts like that didn't start doing it the day she happened to be visiting your shop!

I like Goddess's advice- kill 'er with kindness. And some good customer training.
i like to keep my samples tidy, recut new bevels when they get worn and not as bright.
if i'm designing a piece that looks like the bright white bevels might not go, i will suggest the alternatives to my customer (reverse bevels, painted bevels, etc.) i still manage to come across those crazies who freak out anyway.
dan, that particular customer was definitely a fruit!