I was perusing the Etsy forums tonight and came upon a post that for any artisan who does custom work would be heartbreaking. The seller was talking about having started a custom order only to find that the person went ahead and had someone else on Etsy make the items they wanted.
This seller was talking about making sure to get the money for the order up front. Other people piped in that they use a 50% non-refundable deposit for custom orders. Of course, they also mentioned that the deposit should be listed in your shop policies and that when they pay you, if they do so by PayPal, then it needs to be listed as a service, because PayPal does not allow refunds for services.
So now I find myself wanting to go through and look at my custom order policy and see if I need to make changes to them. Fun fun. :)
I don't know how other artisans feel about it, but to be honest, I find it extremely disrespectful to contact an artisan about a custom order, find out that yes, it is possible for what you want to be done, and then find someone else to do the job for you. While it is nice to see that someone respects your professional opinion on something, it isn't so nice when that person that respects your professional opinion so much decides to have someone else make the item for you. But that might just be me. :)