I've always stood up for artists and authors trying to make a living, especially in the face of childish boycotts, petty blackballing and rampant slander. Now, I'm standing with my colleagues James Battersby and Christine Aguilar. Read on for their harrowing experience with the "Bully from Cyprus"...
Most customers we deal with are honest people . Tarot artists build their businesses on reliable customers, deck sales, and a good reputation for quality service and products. Every once in awhile, someone problematic comes onto the scene who challenges this. Recently, it's come to our attention there's an individual who targets indie deck makers in an elaborate scam to build his Tarot collection. While I understand deck prices are high, that's no excuse for this deplorable behavior. Deck costs are high because production cost is high. We also have shipping to consider, which has gone up considerably in the last couple of years. It takes an artist lots of man hours--months, and even years in some cases, to produce a quality deck of cards. For example, Twisted Tarot Tales took almost two years to complete.
Meanwhile, we have to rely on profits from previous work and side projects to pay the rent. It's not easy living off your craft. So when someone comes along who routinely tries to score a free deck of cards, it comes out of our pockets. This is not just a hobby for some deck creators: it's also a means of livelihood .
People who buy from "Battersby Tarots" get a quality product. We also attempt to do our best to please customers, as well as shipping products in a timely manner. We just ended our first Indiegogo campaign and so far we managed to ship out all the decks on time and include our special printed tarot bags with the higher tier contributions as a way of saying thanks for the support.
7 of Swords from Twisted Tarot Tales
Returning to the topic: there's a "customer" whom we will call "Mr, Cyprus" (yes, I'm including his country because I feel deck creators need to be able to identify him. Also. his victims will know who I'm talking about). Unbeknownst to me, he is notorious for pulling a non-receipt scam. One person I spoke with called him an "evil genius". He orders decks from indie tarot artists, claims non receipt, inundates the victim's email box with threats--as well as foul language and abuse (he called me, Christine, a c*nt--demanding a refund . He's done similar things with charge-backs in the Kickstarter campaigns he participates in. The shocking thing about all this is he's been getting away with it for a couple years now. Artists don't really want to speak out about Mr. Cyprus for fear of reprisal or revenge. His messages are quite nasty, trust me.
We first became aware of his potential for being problematic with the last Tarot deck we published. He ordered a deck from us, claimed non-receipt and I promptly refunded him. Jimmy and I take great care to keep customers happy. Like other artists, we don't want negative feedback about our business. We also just published a deck which proved to be very controversial (Cultural Revolution Tarot). The last thing we wanted was a bad feedback about our service posted in some retaliatory thread on Aeclectic or some other card collector's forum. I promptly contacted the printer who can back up what I'm saying about Mr. Cyprus's complaint. He told me they didn't receive a returned parcel with his details on it.
Fast forward a year later. Mr. Cyprus orders our new Twisted Tarot Tales deck. In between this time, another Tarot merchant complained to us about Mr Cyprus on his Kickstarter. He was pledging, cancelling and sending nasty messages. He did this several times driving the seller nuts. Ultimately, the artist barred him from making a contribution to his campaign. I kept this in mind. Again, he claimed non-receipt. This time I gave him the tracking number from the printer. I also contacted the printer who told me to wait a few more days, because decks could take as long as 25 business days to arrive in the post. The customer service representative said he would issue either a refund or deck replacement if the customer hasn't received the item by that time.
Mr. Cyprus then emailed me and told me he couldn't make sense out of the tracking number. He then accused me of trying to save money by getting a bogus tracking number. I replied I most certainly did not save money; it cost me extra for the number. I purchased the tracking available through the printer who uses Hong Kong Post. I set up a replacement deck, but he was pressing me for a refund. It was at this point I decided to talk to a few close artist friends about Mr. Cyprus. We discovered they also heard of him and were among the artists who had unfortunate encounters with him resulting in a loss of money, decks and time for all involved. JImmy went a step further and posted Mr. Cyprus's name on his Facebook wall. A few artists responded via messages and gave us quite a story about his scams, abuses and threats going back a couple of years. They all agreed he was notorious for his "forced refunds", "vile words" and spamming inboxes with nasty, profanity-laced emails.
8 of Swords from Twisted Tarot Tales
Mr. Cyprus decided I was next on his spam list after I confronted him with my suspicions. He informed me of his numerous orders and, of course, some of them are bound to get lost in the mail. I inform him of all the orders for decks, books and bags I've received over the years, and how I have never had a parcel go completely missing until I started dealing with him. Initially, I told him I would require another address for shipments, but in lieu of new facts, I would never deal with this person again.
Meanwhile, the printer has dispatched yet another deck to this customer who, instead of feeling some remorse for his abusive language and veiled threats, has taken it upon himself to contact another Tarot artist and accuse him of giving me information about his shady dealings! The funny thing is, that particular artist never came to mind--and I never mentioned him at all.
So, his list of past victims grows.
Scam or missing decks? You decide. I decided this customer isn't worth the risk. Between the printer and myself , his claims of non-receipt cost us about $200.
Note from Janet: John Yiacoupis from Cyprus--the jig is up.