June 09, 2010


So this person contacts me through Etsy about a Made to Order Sushi Set for 4 that she is interested in.

"Do you offer military discounts? How can this be "personalized"? It's beautiful :)

Listing: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=30349368

I reply:
"I've never been asked about the military discount.
Not sure how that could be worked out.
I really just make everything by hand, so...
It could be personalized on the bottom...
Thank you!

She responds:
"In the past, sellers have either made a separate listing at a discounted price or refunded money once I paid. There's just no way I can afford them at your current price."

So I continue:
"I understand...
I can make smaller sets too if you are still interested... no large platter, no sy bottle, just for 2 people..etc..."

At which point her response is:
"Nope, this is exactly the set that I want. If you don't offer a military discount, I will just go elsewhere. A set straight from Japan with designs is about the same price, if not cheaper :) "

And so...
Here was my long winded response:
"I have to be honest with you. I am a little offended by this whole interaction.

#1 I have no idea who you are and what you do for the military.
#2 I do not know where you are having me send this too.
#3 This is a MADE to order set, Handmade by ME.
I would be wedging the clay, creating the items piece by piece for you, firing them in my kiln, hand glazing them(with glazes I make from chemicals and raw materials) and firing them again and then piece by piece wrapping and shipping the set to you.

#4 I sell on Etsy especially because it was established for this type of work by creative makers and artists. I happen to be in America but I could live any number of places(as other artists do on Etsy)and it would still be the same process.

#5 This is my art.

I designed this set because it came from somewhere inside of ME.
I did not see it somewhere else and copy it. If you DO find the same set elsewhere("cheaper" or not), I would be very interested because that means that another artist had the same idea as mine and I would love to know such a kindred soul and if that was not the case, they must be copying MY work.

#6 I do not make molds of my work and mass produce it in factories or use other production potters. My craft is my art and I have to stand behind this notion if only for the principal is based upon.

#7 Many customers buy my work as they understand this. They may prioritize this purchase financially over something else, I do not know. I do know that sushi is expensive.

Perhaps I have lost a sale but I have saved my soul.

Good day and I only wish you positive energy.
Thank you,
Judi Tavill "

This was her response:
"And I am offended by how little respect you have for the people that defend your freedom to make your art safely in your own home. I'm hope someday the death of my brothers and sisters will weigh on that soul you just saved, but I fear it will not.

Happy belated Memorial Day."

and another one:
"PS. Just in case you were confused, your unwillingness to even offer free shipping means you're greedy, not principled.

Good day and I only wish you positive energy. "

And so I am debating as to whether to even respond.

Ok...I responded:
"I debated as to whether to respond to this but I just think you need to open your own mind and I believe you missed my attempt to educate you on the creative process.
I wasn't unwilling to do anything.
I still have NO idea what you do for the military, what the connection is, etc.
ANYONE could send me a convo and ask for a military discount.
I completely respect the people that defend this country and I feel priveledged to live here.
Not to mention, you have NO idea as to what MY OWN connections are with the military.
That said, GREED does not even play into my thought process.
I am not confused at all. I am completely clear. Perhaps you should re-read the approach that you took in asking me for a discount.There was NO MENTION of free shipping. I have worked out many arrangements with others on Etsy, Sellers and Buyers as needed and I have NEVER received any sort of ATTACK like this."

Here's the latest:
"I asked for a military discount, and you avoided the question like the plague. To me, that seems like you were unwilling. I'm sorry if I misread it. I don't see how knowing what I do in the military would make you offer a discount, but I'm a(I will not include this part as it may be considered in appropriate including where the person lives) I can send you a copy of my ID (with everything but my name blurred).

But, you never took the time to ask and attacked me first. I said if you wouldnt give a discount, I would go elsewhere. You took that time to attack me. I was just defending myself because I was genuinely offended that you thought I was trying to swindle you, and you didn't ask any of those questions until you started the attack. I do appreciate your process, but it's just out of what I am willing to spend. I make my own sushi so it's quite cheap (because I don't do anything fancy). Was looking to buy this for my husband as he graduates an Army school.

I really do wish you the best of luck. You have a great talent."

My final(I promise) response:
"I am so sorry you viewed my response as "avoid(ing) the the question like the plague".
I believe that you DID "misread it" and the response i gave was not an "attack", it was responding to: "A set straight from Japan with designs is about the same price, if not cheaper :) ". I could not help but find that uninformed, if not a bit of an "attack" itself because if that was your thinking, why were you approaching me in the first place? The whole interaction was rather strange to me.

I appreciate your interest and I truly mean it when I wish you and your husband the best but at this point, I think we should just agree to move on.

Thank you again."

So... I ask you...Was I rude?
She still hasn't explained ANYTHING about what she does for the military!
Shouldn't that matter. Is it her? Is it her spouse? Anyone could randomly say... hey, I work for the military.
I intended to be clear and educate her on the process so that she could learn something from the experience.
I also could not help but feel like I was having my arm twisted over a handmade sushi set.(That would need to actually be made in the future!!!).

Honestly, I don't have time for this back and forth but, it got me going.


  1. Running Dog Pottery said this:(I accidentally deleted the post!)
    That whole thing was beautifully hilarious....
    This person seems very young, foolish, and entitled.
    My brother in law is in the military and he is always reaching out for the military discount as well, but i believe it is simply a courtesy to offer one, at places like museums, etc.
    I wonder if this person would demand a military discount when purchasing "Street Wise" magazine.
    I don't know either of you; i do follow you posts and your work is great (that dinner set was great!), but you should send her one last message showing her this posting so she can see what the unbiased public thinks (i may be biased as a fellow potter).
    You should send her the set for free to crush her foolish soul (that my be brash).

  2. And the last response was this:
    "I suggest you take a customer service class.

    Please delete this email chain, I cant have my affiliation with the Army documented with someone I don't trust."

    I will not be responding.

  3. Sorry, this person sounds ignorant and greedy, and it has been said before: patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. PHHbbbtt to her!

  4. What a crappy interaction to have been thrown into. I think that this person was trying to find a way to buy something of value that they could not in any way afford.

    IMO, your response with your 7 points should have been your last. I know that it is easy to get caught up with emotion and beat a dead horse, but after that response it was all just name-calling & bad vibes flying around in a circle going nowhere.

    You showed respect to the person and got none in return. At that point I would have been done.

    Thankfully you won't have to deal with them any more and hopefully you feel better after the rant!!

  5. Oh Judi! Good grief the world is full of all kinds.
    We have all had our fill of the strange but this one was a bully from the start.
    You handled it the best you could, but I always want to ask folks if they give 10 to 30% of their pay checks back when they are paid.
    Gee, I don't need all this let me give a % back to my employer.
    That is what they are asking you to do- they are asking you to take a cut of your profit and give it back to them.
    Don't do it.
    I have learned a valuable word called, "no".
    Just say no- there is someone else out there waiting to purchase your work for its worth.
    my 2 cents...

  6. Judi, if the person can't afford your work, it is simply rude to ask for a discount instead of just purchasing something they can afford, especially throwing out that they can find something not made in the USA as being cheaper. How patriotic is that?

  7. "especially throwing out that they can find something not made in the USA as being cheaper. How patriotic is that?"

    Excellent point!! Well said, JDWolfe.

  8. just went to look and the work is well worth the price and the shipping cost is super low in my book and I have been shipping pottery for almost 30 years!
    Great work great price on shipping- they played the fool!
    Okay so I had 2 cents more to put in.
    I am up to 4cents worth ....

  9. Kudos for being as patient as you were. I probably would not have given her that much time after it was pretty clear in my interpretation of her messages that this was a rude person with a misplaced a sense of entitlement.

  10. We have a discount policy in our shop: Generally, if you ask, you don't get one.

    That sounds harsh but it has protected us. We want people to like and buy our stuff and if you're not careful you can end up working for less than free. We already don't make enough for the time we put into it. In 90%+ of the cases it's just someone that wants to haggle and there would be no end to it.

  11. "Please delete this email chain, I cant have my affiliation with the Army documented with someone I don't trust."
    Of course, because you are obviously a spy posing as a potter! This is a security breach for the whole country!!

    She's probably a cleaner for pitty's sake.

    I don't know how things work in the US, but in the UK I've never heard of a military discount. No disrespect, but we pay their wages through our taxes! There's no doubt about it, they do a very dangerous job, but they CHOOSE to do it. They deserve respect, not worship.

  12. Wow... Thanks for the responses... of course I should have stopped earlier... but Jerry's right... I got caught up in it... I guess I always feel like eventually we can all get along... I am learning(not negatively, but just realistically) that no... we cannot.

  13. And if this is "exactly the set she wants", how does she expect to get it from Japan???

  14. Yikes Judi.

    I'm glad you educated the person on what it takes to make your one of a kind art. It's really sad that he/she was demanding respect while giving none.

  15. awwwwww, I left a bunch of profanity but I'm too chicken to leave it on your post :) just use your imagination. If it was my own blog
    the profanity could stay (haha!)
    Let's just say, I don't like this woman;s attitude one bit and I for one DO NOT want customers like that, nor do I want people like that owning my art work :(
    raspberries to her!!

  16. Judi,Clearly you are missing an opportunity here. Put two or three flags in your yard and double your prices.

    I served America by being a special ed. teacher.Kroger gave me no discount on groceries.My property taxes did not go down. My doctor did not treat me in exchange for a kind word and a chicken.Millions serve America in thousands of ways.Thanks to all who serve but it doesn't change what you need to make a living.

  17. Oh my, talk about getting my dander up. Some people just like to haggle and only feel good if they can say they purchased something at a discount. I am sorry you had this interaction, but glad you posted.

    I found myself wondering what I would say if someone asks me for a discount before a purchase and thought I'd say something like "I am independent artist and hand make and design each piece, but I can give a small discount of 1 percent or 5 percent (or whatever), I hope this helps". Hopefully they are agreeable and purchase the item. If not then I would think to myself they were just looking for a rock bottom price for anything and probably wouldn't have purchased anything anyway.

  18. Jacqui K6:32 PM

    I did get a little chuckle out of her basically saying she would buy an import knock-off cheaper because - hey, isn't that what we used to provide to middle America back in the day?!? I actually had a huge attack of the guilties after watching the HBO special recently about the garment industry which showed the total decline of the our manufacturing industries here - not that my position at Venture Stores was totally to blame but you know what I mean..... Did you watch it? Great show btw.
    Anyway, Judi, you were very patient and she rubbed me the wrong way too!

  19. wow thanks for the 'entertainment' this morning... I love this post!! and i really dig your bandana pic...sooo cool :P

  20. Weird Etsy request...and responses from her. I come from a military background (father and father in law both career Army officers). Never once have I ever heard either of them or their spouses ask for a "military discount". When I was selling, it was always awkward to be asked for one - do you have a discount policy in your profile like Mike suggested? Might be worth it for future transactions. But thanks for this evening's entertainment.

    Haha - spy disguised as potter :D Good one!

  21. PS - beautiful sushi set!

  22. Well...Thank you for all of your responses.
    They were all very helpful AND I had a few private emails.
    My friend who has ALS, Pam actually put the idea in my head to establish a policy... I was visiting her today and was filling her in on the past 2 weeks and I read her the whole scenario. She has NO use of her body or voice...she is on a feeding and trach. with a vent and you basically use an eye chart to communicate with her to spell out words and she can slightly move her eyes to signal yes or no... anyway... she was able to tell me State a policy(or something like that) and I thought: that makes sense(before I saw your comments) and here is what I added to my shop policies:
    *I really don't negotiate for discounts.
    I will occasionally give a code for a discount and in that case, I will accept the code during the purchase of the sale as a "message to the buyer" or through "conversations" to me on Etsy.
    In that case, I will refund the discounted amount through Paypal or adjust the price as reserved for the buyer prior to the purchase.
    Thank you for understanding this scenario.

    Now if I choose to offer a memorial day,etc discounts to military, I can decide that in the future. That really isn't something I had thought of(as there are tons of people who are in need of a financial break and I wouldn't expect people who really can't afford my work to buy it. I do consider handmade ceramic art essentially a luxury item. If i heard a whole story that created a connection, I would tend to offer something on my own, I was surprised to have someone suggest to me that it should be expected.)... Anyway... That's the latest.

  23. It probably would have gone down a bit more smoothly if you had given her a straight answer right away that you don't give military discounts.
    However, I can very much see how offensive this would have been to you! Especially the part about finding a cheaper set from Japan...

  24. Anonymous11:21 PM

    jebus judi, i get sick for a couple days and miss all the fun. i hate to go around kelly's barn here but this person is... well, they're wacko. although there were several parts that stand out as insane to me and i admire your patience in the beginning, the part that really stuck out to me was the "I'm hope someday the death of my brothers and sisters will weigh on that soul you just saved, but I fear it will not.". i assume that they mean brothers and sisters in the sense that those who have died are our brothers and sisters too, in which case, trying to leverage it for a discount seems crass and if they actually have brothers (multiple) and sisters (multiple) that have died, that would mean that they come from a family of at least 5 siblings and they have all died except the one trying to buy sushi sets, which seems unlikely and of course this is the typical sort of sentiment a sane person would express when trying to negotiate a discount. the suggestion that they would send a picture of their ID with the name blurred out should have been proof to them that verifying special individuals for discounts is a bit absurd in this scenario, of course the whole thing is absurd. rambling, sorry, it's a beautiful set though, too nice to be used with cheap sushi.

  25. Hi Judi,
    You were not rude. I think asking for a discount is brave of a potential customer, but they should be graceful about it and not expect anything. She should have realized right away you were not into giving a discount, and backed off instead of telling you "how" to give a discount. You attempted to offer something else to help her out, and she declined, rather snappily. My read on the whole thing is that the customer came across as naive, entitled, and demanding. And then just ridiculous, rude, and ignorant.

    Your attempt to patch it all up while educating is admirable. I would have not been able to do the same thing. When people ask for discounts you are not willing to give in the future, keep it simple, if you can!

    "Thank you for your interest in my work. I do not give discounts on my work as my prices reflect the labor and materials that go into them. I'm happy to try and create something for you that fits your budget."

    Someone trying to manipulate you into giving them a discount based on their military service is just... crappy.

  26. E-gads! I'm not sure I could have been nearly as gracious as you were -then I'd probably have been a target for her military-hater-e-mail spam chain!! Good idea for you to establish what your policies are because there are always going to be those who push our good nature...

    Check out what Whitney Smith said for her policies:

  27. ouch jim!! 'cheap sushi' heheheh... i had to read it again judi, soo entertaining!! cheers ang

  28. Thanks guys... as always...useful AND entertaining comments...Jim, my husband really enjoyed "CHEAP SUSHI"...

  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

  30. wow....what an annoying thing to have to deal with, and you did it with much more diplomacy and reserve than I would have!! the bottom line is - it's your product, and your art....you could have told her to kiss off the moment she asked for any type of discount,and I still would not have blamed you...YOU DON'T OWE ANYONE A DISCOUNT...regardless of the reason.

  31. Judi- You were absolutely NOT rude. This is a wakko, plain and simple. What troubles me about the whole interaction is the sense of "entitlement" she conveys. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate people who serve in the military- but I do not believe they are "entitled" to things just because of their life choice.
    My advice~ let it go and chalk it up to your wakko experience for the year ;)

  32. U N B E L E I V A B L E ! but nothing that comes out of people these days surprise me (i was brutally attacked by an "anonymous" person on fb . . . more on that soon). people like this are just ignorant about artists who make handmade art. she should go to walmart where she just might get that discount she is hoping for.

    she could have been more gracious about the way she asked and responded. a little kindness goes a LONG way.

    you handled the situation perfectly. not rude at all.

    forget about this person. you don't really want her owning a piece of your beautiful work anyway !?

  33. Wow. All I can say is way to handle yourself and defend your artwork. You did much better than I could have done.

    Be thankful for all of the customers who are grateful to own one of your pieces and respect your prices, policies and artistic talent.

  34. again... thanks guys..your support is so very much appreciated.

  35. My Daughter has been a military wife for 9 years. I told her about this situation and she was appalled. She said the only time they take advantage of military discounts, is when the company has discounts clearly posted. To ask for a discount is tacky.
    Bummer that you had to defend yourself and your art.

  36. what a crack-up. Loved reading the replies, from Jim's hilarious take (cheap sushi!) to Whitney's professional response. Great stuff... There is that saying "Don't cast your pearls before swine."

  37. I agree with Whitney- finding a more condensed way to counter the request might not have made things quite so nasty and heated in the end. However, it is really ridiculous for someone to use a 'Military Discount' as a reason for you to offer a deal. Military Discount, Seniors Discount... well where do you stop?
    I thought it was good that you offered to make her a smaller set to suit her budget and perhaps leaving it at that would have been the best. The whole sushi set made in Japan thing was an ignorant threat and best ignored.
    It's a good lesson in being able to read and know who your target market/clients are so you know where to put your energy and time.
    Best of luck. Us potters are a passionate bunch...we all have our moments:)

  38. Yikes what a rude person. Both my parents were in the military and I never heard either ask for military discounts, ESPECIALLY on a piece of artwork! If you can't afford it, you don't buy it. So good job standing up for yourself, especially after that snarky "made in Japan" comment!

  39. Well...thanks again guys.

  40. Haha.. wow, sorry you had to deal with that judi. I am glad you stood up for yourself and your art!

  41. Anonymous11:32 PM

    WOW... just unbelievable on her part. You were very patient and kind, and did a very good job of educating her about your craft. Good work! Thank you for sharing it with us. I really have enjoyed all 40 comments!

  42. Teaching online courses you learn alot about how what you read is not always what you hear. I've learned if something upsets you that is written you should have just offered a two words response like " thank you for your interest" and moved on. If we fire back, you may not have "heard" the ton she was thinking when it was written.As for the discount...people who are cheap or just want some sort of angle just lose out in my book. Why waste the energy...karma always comes back in some way or the other!


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