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bridezilla arguing over contract terms 3 weeks before wedding

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Thread started 15 Jul 2009 (Wednesday) 09:37   
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jpnettie
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Well I guess this was bound to happen to us at some point.

We booked a lovely couple last Oct 2008 for their upcoming wedding in August 2009.

Our contract which they signed and never questioned required a 30% deposit with the balance due on the day of the wedding. They signed the contract and gave us our deposit. We had a lengthy engagement session with them in January producing several images they were thrilled with including an online gallery.

She contacted us the other day and doesn't want to pay the balance on the wedding day. She claims that it isn't fair to her to pay for the images when they aren't in her possession until 4 weeks after the wedding. She is now asking us about actual printing of the images and wanting them included in her package. Our contract clearly states that she is provided with a high res DVD and online gallery with all images for 6 months .

My partner and I have responded with the terms of the contract and she keeps coming back to complain it isn't fair to her. We are shocked by this behaviour as we have always gone above and beyond for our clients and did so for this couple.

We have given her the option of getting out of the contract with a partial refund of her deposit provided we can re-book the date which is in 3 weeks! Not too likely. ..

Has anyone else experienced this and how did you handle this? I am really not feeling very inspired to shoot her wedding if this goes forward!

Post #1, Jul 15, 2009 09:37:58




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Photon ­ Phil
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Go with the contract.

If she wishes to break the terms then you don't show.

If you really need the money, then bend. But be ready for continuing complaints and whining.

Post #2, Jul 15, 2009 09:41:12


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jpnettie
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Thanks Phil we really don't need the money so badly. She chose us because she loved our work, and we had a great rapour with them. We shall see what she decides to do. It really blindsided us as she was so pleased with her images from the engagement session and recommended us to other brides.

Post #3, Jul 15, 2009 09:48:02




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Bula ­ Matali
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My impression is that they are strapped for cash and she is simply trying to delay the final payment. She has probably overspent somewhere else and is making U guys suffer. I don't think it's about U...it's her financial issues.

Post #4, Jul 15, 2009 09:58:33




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Peacefield
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I've had a rash of this lately. My retainer is fairly modest, but I want the balance 2 weeks PRIOR to the wedding. I ask for prior for a couple of reasons: neither of us have to deal with something like payment during a very hectic day and I get to know the check clears before I show up.

I always have a final phone call with the couple one month before the wedding just to confirm timing and logistics. Three times this month, I've had couples question why they need to pay BEFORE the wedding. They never said the words, but the vibe was how do they know I won't just take the money and not show up or produce the goods. I've been able to point to a combination of industry standard and my reputation and everything has been fine.

Beyond payment terms, there's no excuse for her wanting to renegotiate the deal. If she's already spending a lot with you, maybe offer the prints at a discount, but I wouldn't throw them in for nothing.

Post #5, Jul 15, 2009 10:09:49


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DunnoWhen
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With the terms of your contract, you've painted yourself into a bit of a corner.

What would you do if you turned up on the day and they gave you some sob story about not being able to pay you there and then. Would you leave immediately or would you do the wedding?. I suspect you would probably do the wedding but feel a bit put out.:)

I would recommend that, from here on in, you modify the terms of your contract to required final payment 14 days before the date of the wedding. This will stop the above situation arising.

I think she is strapped for cash so, for now, I would request full payment, in cash, before starting to shoot the wedding or let her cancel, in which case I would keep the deposit.

[edit] Is she elects to cancel, make sure it's in writing and delivered prior to the date of the wedding.

Post #6, Jul 15, 2009 10:14:28 as a reply to Bula Matali's post 15 minutes earlier.


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jpnettie
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I agree with you Peacefield. I know many photographers ask for the balance a week before the wedding. We did point to our reputation and pro accreditions and I think that Bula was correct in that she has overextended herself.
It has made me realize that we will verbally go over all terms of the contract with our couples so they are clear on the terms. We do usually have a meeting 3-4 weeks prior to their wedding and go over all last minute details but this couple has not had the time to meet with us .
I know in this industry we all have to go above and beyond and the last thing you want is someone who is rightly or wrongly dissatisfied with your work or business ethics...

Post #7, Jul 15, 2009 10:21:51




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Tommy
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Stick to your contract.

I've been asked before why I have to be paid in full before the couple sees the images. I point out that they're not paying me for the images at that point... they're paying me for my time. The response is usually "what if I don't like the images?"... then I point out my "Non-Guarantee" clause. Whether you like the output or not, I still can't work for free... I've never had any problems though... I always go through EVERY aspect of the contract with my couples in person at the time of signing. They must initial every page, and sign. This indicates their complete understanding of the agreement.

In any case though, I would stick to the contract. If they don't pay, you don't work. ;)

Post #8, Jul 15, 2009 10:24:02


Tommy
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Big ­ Mike
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Did they pay for the venue and the catering upfront?...probably.
Did she pay for the dress upfront?...probably.
Did she pay for the flowers before getting them?...probably.
Why should the photography be any different?

Post #9, Jul 15, 2009 10:32:04


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jonwhite
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Having your final payment date the day of the event is a big mistake, 2 weeks prior should be the minimum so then at least you can make sure the cheque or other payment clears and it also makes it easier to get people to pay because they sure as hell dont want to risk you not showing.

We have had a few B&G question why it is full payment up front so we have our argument well sorted on that one now and it goes something along these lines.

Our Insurance and professional association membership protects our clients so if there are any issues with either our service our products that we fail to sort out ourselves you have a quick way of getting these issues resolved.

Of course we would never let it come to that because our business is built on referrals so we will always do what we can to make our clients happy.

Spin it round the other way and if you guys fail to pay us we are faced with taking expensive and time consuming legal action that we don't want to get involved so with all that in mind we always take full payment before the event.


Now your in the situation your in I would try and find out what the core issue is and try to help in some way but without compromising or risking your business, but make sure you change your terms for future clients.

Post #10, Jul 15, 2009 10:38:27 as a reply to Tommy's post 14 minutes earlier.


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jpnettie
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Thank you all so much for your advice. It is amazing that this is the first time this has happened to us. We pay for insurance for these reasons thank you for reminding me of that Jon! In the future we will require payment two weeks in advance. We have some contracts for next year going out this week so this advice has been very helpful.

Post #11, Jul 15, 2009 10:47:49 as a reply to jonwhite's post 9 minutes earlier.




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RobKirkwood
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Agree entirely with what Jon just said - and brides sometimes get flakey in the run up to a wedding, so maybe she's over-stressed and not thinking straight?

One other thing, call it a "retainer" not a "deposit" ...deposit creates the impression in people's minds that it might be refunded. Ann and I have a strictly non-refundable retainer which guarantees we're locking the date out exclusively for the couple.

Rob

Post #12, Jul 15, 2009 11:27:26 as a reply to jpnettie's post 39 minutes earlier.




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Mrsjperry
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What is your process when contacting a client, do you:

Make/receive first initial call

Set up meeting to go over contract and collect retainer fee/deposit

Following meeting do you set up another meeting 2-3 weeks prior to wedding to collect balance/full payment, and go over details and last minute updates or do you opt out of a 2nd meeting and expect full payment via mail/credit card and replace the meeting with a phone call instead.

How would you handle it if instead of having a 1-2 years or 6 months notification of planning to shoot a wedding you're given less than a month

Post #13, Jul 15, 2009 18:04:06


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jonwhite
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Mrsjperry wrote in post #8286940external link
What is your process when contacting a client, do you:

Make/receive first initial call

Set up meeting to go over contract and collect retainer fee/deposit

Following meeting to you set up another meeting 2-3 weeks prior to wedding to collect balance/full payment, and go over details and last minute updates or do you opt out of a 2nd meeting and expect full payment via mail/credit card and replace the meeting with a phone call instead.

How would you handle it if instead of having a 1-2 years or 6 months notification of planning to shoot a wedding you're given less than a month

Stick to the exact same process as outlined above but you may end up taking full payment when they book you rather than a retainer if its that close to the wedding, personally I have never been booked for anything less than 3 months in advance but if I did get a short notice one the process would be the same as would be the payment schedule.

Post #14, Jul 15, 2009 18:36:27


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AngelaDuncanPhotography
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I had a similar situation to this for my first wedding of June this year, but the family admitted to financial issues. I require payment to be paid 10 days prior to the ceremony. In most cases, not only am I spending my time to be at the wedding, but I am also having to pay for transportation and lodging for myself, as was the case with this wedding - I travel 2.5 hours one way for this wedding.

When their payment approached nearly 6 days late, I spoke with them and they told me that they were working on a loan and should have the money soon. In my contract it sates clearly that no money=no photos (not in those words of course.) She then asked if she could pay it on the day of the wedding. I could have said no and not shot the wedding. I would have been legally in the right to not go to the wedding, but I was afraid of WOM referrals being bad and the bride twisting around the situation - her friends are going to believe her over you any day, whether what she says is true or not.

I sought the advice of some other photographer friends of mine and they suggested talking with them and trying to make a deal - such as I need X amount to be able to come out and shoot the wedding - that's the VERY minimum and then I need the rest before post processing on any of your images even starts.

I would approach it by saying something along the lines of "I understand your concerns..." and assure them of your morals and high standards and all that good jazz and then include "...but if finances are really the issue then perhaps our studio could be generous and allow you XYZ leway with your payment."

I know how important WOM is to photographers and I know that you are in a tough spot and really probably don't want to not shoot the wedding. End the end though, there are just people who want something for nothing and that could be one of those people.

Whatever you do will be what's right.

Good luck...

Post #15, Jul 15, 2009 19:30:34


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