It turns out that two years prior to her coming into the shop, she had paid the owners $3,000 to have a necklace custom made for her. They gave her a waiting period of six months. Since she was only in the area one month out of the year, when she didn't have the necklace sent to her after six months she tried calling the shop and leaving messages, but they never got back to her. The next year she came in and confronted them on it, and they very sweetly and apologetically told her that the artist was taking longer then expected, but should be finished within the month. Uncomfortably, the woman decided that since the artist was almost finished she might as well wait. Another year passed and once again none of her messages had been returned. It was completely understandable how she was more than a little flustered to come into the shop and have me tell her I didn't know anything about it.
I promised her that I would confront the owners on it. I could tell she wasn't satisfied, but unfortunately it was the only thing I could do. When they came in at the end of the day I mentioned the incident to them, "Oh yes!" the wife said, a little upset, "we MUST remember to send that money and order in to the artist so he can get started!" "Yes!" replied her husband, looking only slightly uncomfortable, "Tell her that it will take him six months to make the necklace!"
I should have quit then and there, but I ended up lasting the whole summer. The incident repeated itself with customer after customer. It got so bad that I eventually started turning down requests people made for custom work from artists, having them buy premade work instead. It was easier to say, "The artist is too busy at this time!" rather than explain to each and every person that the owners of the shop would take their money and then not consider the order important enough to actually place. It was obvious they didn't care about their business or their customers at all.