trade tales | Feb 11, 2022 |
Do you allow clients to use personal credit cards for procurement?

Credit card companies have never made it more enticing to use their cards on major purchases than they do now, but should design clients be allowed to use those payment methods when procuring product? We asked eight designers—Cachet Adams, Regina and Robin Reaves, Tanya Selway and Benjamin Stelly, Kathleen Walsh, Marla Walker, and Jennifer Weisberg—if they allow clients to use credit cards for procurement.

Benjamin Stelly and Tanya Selway
Benjamin Stelly and Tanya SelwayCourtesy of Stelly Selway

No worries
“We do not use client cards for procurement. Working with our firm gives clients access to our trade relationships, pricing and procurement services. This is not only advantageous to our clients, since it's one less thing they need to worry about, but also works in our favor as we build stronger relationships with our vendors and track supply chain and delivery while consolidating purchases for client invoicing. We're always looking for ways to improve our service offerings and transparency to our clients.” —Benjamin Stelly and Tanya Selway, Stelly Selway, London, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas

Marla Walker
Marla WalkerCourtesy of Marla Walker

The extra miles
“I handle procurement for my clients, but I almost exclusively use the client’s credit cards for these purchases. I find that it simplifies my process, helps keep my cash flow stable and means I don’t have to chase anyone down for a payment after the fact. My mother was a designer and I have memories of her being in that situation, and it was very stressful for her. I have also found that clients like the opportunity to earn miles and rewards for themselves and appreciate the additional record of all the purchases made for their project, in addition to the detailed records I provide.” —Marla Walker, Marla Walker Interiors, Rhinebeck, New York

Regina and Robin Reaves
Regina and Robin ReavesCourtesy of R & R Design

Too complicated
“Our policy is not to allow clients to use their own credit cards for procurement, as it complicates the process. There are definite pros and cons to allowing credit card payments, however in our experience, it adds additional fees for the consumer and or vendor. The benefits do not outweigh the liabilities for our firm or our clients.” —Regina and Robin Reaves, R & R Interior Design, Charlotte, North Carolina

Kathleen Walsh
Kathleen WalshCourtesy of Kathleen Walsh

Change of policy
“For many years, we did allow use of client credit cards directly with the vendors, but that was an answer to the need for greater transparency in the early 2000s. Recently, we found it became too transparent. No matter how diligent we were , small discrepancies for things like shipping adjustments and deposits confused the optics of the process, and it didn’t feel like the right strategy anymore. For our clients, hiring us is about investing in luxury and obtaining beauty, expertise and service. We now assure transparency via different methods and keep the headaches of purchasing behind the scenes, maintaining an impression of the industry that serves us all best.” —Kathleen Walsh, Kathleen Walsh Interiors, New York

Jennifer Weisberg
Jennifer WeisbergCourtesy of Jennifer Weisberg

No power
“I do not typically allow clients to procure goods with their personal credit cards. Vendors often will not allow end users to pay them directly, as they cater to the trade and like to maintain relationships with designers. Purchasing items through my company allows me to address any issues that may occur. If a sofa arrives damaged and it was purchased by the client, I do not have the authority to resolve the situation.” —Jennifer Weisberg, JLW Interiors, New York

Cachet Adams
Cachet AdamsCourtesy of Cachet Adams

Lesson learned
“I no longer accept clients’ credit cards for procurement. During my first few projects, it was my preference to use the client’s card. This was due in part to my own ignorance. I now know that it’s too much of a liability. I once had a client reach out to me months after her project was wrapped and asked if I accidentally used her card to make a recent purchase. I assured her I had not, and I’m certain she believed me, but I felt bad she was in the position to have to ask. It was awkward for both of us. I quickly reorganized my payment structure to avoid having to go through that again, and I haven’t run into any issues since! If a client is insistent on using their own card, I’ll refer them to e-design services where they can make purchases at their own leisure.” —Cachet Adams, Cachet Demaine Interiors, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Homepage photo: A bedroom by Stelly Selway | Courtesy of Stelly Selway

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