I'm not sorry we stole your work, but the "distress" part sucks.
I can appreciate why you are angry.
I have as much empathy as any customer service representative.
We value your design work, and that of other independent designers, and of course you should be paid for it.
I'll say we value it now, but won't mention that we didn't value it before. Then I'll explain how a basic business arrangement works.
I would never intentionally do something untoward…
It's not my fault...
…but in this situation, our processes have fallen down, and need to be improved.
...it's the fault of those darn processes! They fell right over! Who put those processes in place? Who knows?!? I guess we'll never know! Moving on!
We have two immediate priorities:
Previously these were neither priorities nor immediate, but now that we've been caught, they're both!
(1) to work with you to ensure payment and (2) to take steps to ensure that this never happens again including:
In other words, we've decided to do what business ethics and common human decency say we should have done in the first place.
1. Ensuring all designers have a contract to outline how they will be paid and when.
Not giving out contracts doesn't work anymore, now that we can't get away with it.
2. Providing clarity on the invoicing process.
Because the previous system, where we hire you to do work, you send us an invoice, and we pay it, was WAY confusing!
3. Following up to ensure the designer has invoiced.
Our research shows that sometimes designers don't want to be paid and will purposely withhold invoices. You creatives! (Shaking fist)
4. Ensuring payment has been made.
I know, this one is crazy! We got the idea for this when we ate at a restaurant, and they had this process in place where the waiter checks to see if you've received the meal that he agreed to bring you. It was totally Six Sigma!
5. Giving feedback on the progress of the design through the production process.
See, prior to this incident, we thought "feedback" meant "Don't pick up the phone if she calls." Fixed!
We should have paid you the agreed amount on time but we didn't and for that, I am truly sorry.
I am stating what you already know, which is that we did not pay you. I was not sorry when we first didn't pay you, but with all of these people reading this, I will now express sorrow.
We've reached out to you directly and via your lawyers to ensure payment is made, along with compensation. In the meantime, we've removed the designs from our website until we can resolve this.
Actually, we didn't remove the product page from our website, but we did remove the photo of it and write "This Product is out of stock. Please try again later," so if enough time goes by, we might be able to rip you off again later.
This last part is true. My name is Debbie and I did co-found the company.