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mailing quilts


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So far the only customers I have quilted for have been local, so they pay me when they pick up the quilts. What do you all do when you deal with customers by mail? How do you assure you will get paid? I can't imagine they prepay you. Are you set up with credit card machines? What have you found to be the best and safest method of shipping them?

Sorry about all the questions, questions, questions!

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I would charge a deposit of half of whatever you gave them as an estimate. The deposit would be included along with the quilt when it is mailed to you, and for immediate deposit. By the time you get to that quilt to start on it that check should have cleared their bank. That would start to give you an idea of their honesty. Then, when you complete the quilt, send them an email with a few pics and let them know the final charge so they can mail that last check.. Give that check time to clear their bank and only then return their quilt. The quilt is the only security you have to be paid, so keeping the quilt until you know you have the payment for sure. I would do this for quite awhile with each customer, not just one time. Beware of "rush" jobs where they have an emergency and need the quilt back before you have been paid or before you know for sure that check has cleared.. There have been people on several of the longarm sites that have been sucked in by someones sob story and were never able to get paid. Or you could just do the quilt and accept payment by cashiers check or money order only.

Maybe someone will jump in and tell me I'm nuts?

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Paypal works great for credit card payments! Easy and secure for both you and your customer.

We mail our quilts via USPS with insurance. USPS will pay if the quilt is lost and you paid for insurance.

UPS has a history of not paying for "lost" quilts even if you pay extra for insurance. Ask a few famous quilters how much they were re-imbursed when the UPS truck caught on fire with their quilts on the way to a national show!

Do not write "QUILT" on the package that you are sending back or receiving. If you must describe the contents, write something like "bedding". Better yet, don't describe the contents at all.

If you haven't boycotted Mark Lipinski, he has a great article on shipping quilts on the Quilter's Home hompage, go to http://dev.quiltershomemag.inetz.com/articles/how_to_ship_your_quilt

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No Kenna your not nuts....and pretty much how I handle out of state or town customers.

I have one old customer regardless of if I lived where she was or now away, I KNOW HER CHECK IS going to bounce at least twice before I can get my money...so for her I have to wait till the check clears before I send her the quilt.

The other if I have an established relations I will mail the quilt back and they send me a check.

The rest its a deposit when I take it in, and the balance to me before I send the check.

Sorry...to many horror stories of sending quilts and then find the check as been stopped...money up front first and then they get their quilt back.

Also Robin PayPal is a great way to get your money up front and its very secure to both you and your customer.

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This question probably sounds stupid but...how do you know how much to charge for shipping? Wouldn't it depend on how much the quilt weighs once it is all packaged up and ready to go? Do you have to go to the Post Office or UPS store and have them weigh it first, then you contact the customer?

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Betsy - I bought a postal scale from costco - http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11220985

You can get an estimate on www.usps.com, once you know the weight. I usually purchase postage on-line via paypal and print on my own computer. I estimate the postage when I give the customer their initial estimate but it is only an estimate. I usually estimate $10 to $20 per quilt...depends on your supplies and expenses for shipping.

I don't charge the customer until I'm ready to ship the quilt back - then I know how much my actual postage will be. They pay me via paypal for shipping and services. Since I have their quilt, I haven't had a problem with customers paying me when it's ready to ship back to them.

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Lisa and Joanne- thanks for the info. Mark Lipinski's article was very good. I printed it out for future reference. I think it might be worthwhile to look at UPS and USPS websites too. I'm finding out that the computer can be a pretty good thing now that I'm learning how to use it for more than reading email!!:P

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Most of my business is by UPS. When I get the quilt in, I do the overall check in.....size, what the customers price range is etc...then I call or email them with possible charges (I charge by the square inch). When I get the quilt finished, I write up an invoice and either call or email. When I get the check, I put it in the bank then send their quilt.

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The problem I've heard with the Postal Service is that if you don't have receipts for every part of the quilt, or an appraisal, they won't pay you. I see Mark's article mentions putting all your receipts in an envelope w/pictures of the quilt, probably for this very reason.

I have to admit that I've quit insuring for this very reason.

As to out of town customers I just have them mail me a check, deposit it, then mail the quilt back.

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