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Thread started 08 Apr 2010 (Thursday) 18:17
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Todays lesson learned...I should have gone with my instinct and not my pride.

 
captiva
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Apr 08, 2010 18:17 |  #1

I shoot family portraits, usually kids, when Im not shooting weddings. This post concernes a home shoot two boys aged 2 and 6 that was booked and completed 2 days ago (Tuesday).

Picture the scene, Backdrop and lighting units in a large living room. The kids were welcoming as was the mother, so after setting up I spent 20 minutes talking to the boys.
No problems here I thought so I got started with the older boy and things were going realy well. He was very natural eager to pose and show off and mum was beaming at her "Poser son".

Next up I planned to snap the younger boy and was getting on well untill he noticed his brother playing with a nintendo DS over in the corner of the room. All hell let loose, mum intervened but chose to target the older boy while watching the younger kick and punch him. At that point I should have stopped, but pride and a neglect of instinct ensured my mind was made up. The shoot was going ahead and I was not going to be beat.

The shoot.... Cajolling and bribery from the mum made matters much worse. The boys were now in command and they knew it. After nearly 2 hours I was done and done-in!.
On checking the camera it was good to see I had most of what I needed. Mum wasnt sure so I gave her access to view them on the cameras. She seemed fine, relieved even but I was aware that she was hurrying me out. She paid me and said she looked forward to seeing the proofs online in my usual 10 days. I retreated for a cool beer from my fridge and sat pleased that a sticky task had been overcome.

As an aside I use the social networking site bebo and have been fortunate to build up quite a following for my work in the last 2 years. Mum originally contacted me through bebo.

Today less than 48 hours after the shoot I got an email asking for a refund as she couldnt imagine the photographs being any good, also that her husband was angry with her for getting it done. I called her and told her I would not consider a refund or anything else due to her not yet seeing any photographs processed or uploaded for her to view. The result of this phonecall was my bebo profile being publicly commented to by the mum with acusations of anger, bad manners and an unwillingness to refund her.

Due to the language used the bebo admin removed the comments and have kicked her off. Unfortunatly for me many others that Ive done work for or have been booked to do work for in the future have seen the comments.

I know I am withing my rights to deny any refund for the reason that she hasnt even viewed one photograph from the shoot at this moment in time. When they are processed and on-line I will reassess the situation after she has viewed them.

Something that surprised me is the fact that this evening my bebo profile has been filled with references from many clients from the past. References concerning my ability, my manners and professionalism.

The lesson I have learned today is that instinct and the bell ringing in your head should be listened to. I will probably update when the photographs are uploaded.

Danny


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LONDON808
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Apr 08, 2010 18:34 |  #2

long as you have a writen contract and your work is on par with what she used as a refrence to book you then don't worry about it

If she thinks you should give her a refund explain that it's not going to happen o don't need it now is not a reason for a return in any company

as for social networking - it gives people the chance to share what they think - dosent mean it's the truth - if only every one could understand this then the world would be a better place
people semm to think they can say and do what they like on the Internet

As it's been said before if you wouldent do it face to face don't do it online


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Tomi ­ Hawk
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Apr 08, 2010 18:34 |  #3

To be honest, I'm not sure I'd even upload them for her to view .. at all.
Sounds like hubby thinks it wasn't necessary and wants the money more so.

Well, atleast they weren't nakie pictures of her .. now that woulda royally sucked ... ;)


  
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HappySnapper90
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Apr 08, 2010 19:10 |  #4

Tomi Hawk wrote in post #9959413 (external link)
To be honest, I'm not sure I'd even upload them for her to view .. at all.
Sounds like hubby thinks it wasn't necessary and wants the money more so.

But having a portrait session isn't like buying a blanket. You can't "return" 2+ hours of the photographer's time like you can by returning the unused blanket.




  
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lauderdalems
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Apr 08, 2010 19:22 |  #5

Tell her to make her request for refund IN WRITING within 3 days. Then offer her 1/2 refund, but be sure and tell her that those pictures are some of the best you have ever seen. Of course, do not allow her to ever see them. The only reason I say offer the 1/2 refund is to get them off your list. Some things are just not worth it.


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Tomi ­ Hawk
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Apr 08, 2010 19:24 |  #6

HappySnapper90 wrote in post #9959604 (external link)
But having a portrait session isn't like buying a blanket. You can't "return" 2+ hours of the photographer's time like you can by returning the unused blanket.

Oh no, I agree with the OP and those who say to tell the mum to .. "suck air" ..

People think that they can get out of anything today ..

I did a wedding once that was just fine .. nothing outta the ordinary and up to par with, and very comparable to my many other weddings, and yet the brides parents wanted a refund .. after talking with several other vendors that worked the wedding, including the tux place, the caterer, the florists ..

I came to the conclusion that they all went broke, and bit off more then they could chew. My contract, as well as the other vendors contracts saved us.


  
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Christina
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Apr 09, 2010 08:58 |  #7

I'm sorry Danny.

I'm just confused by one thing - what were your instincts telling you? Reading your recap, it doesn't sound like you had any reason to be concerned until the kids started fighting. At that point you were already there, already set up and had already started shooting. Are you saying you think you should have stopped at that point? If the mom wanted you to keep going, she probably wouldn't have been happy with that either.

Considering that she attacked you with language strong enough to be removed by an admin, sounds like she would have been unreasonable no matter what.

Tough one. I think it sounds like you've handled it with grace.


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digitalphotocandy
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Apr 09, 2010 09:20 |  #8

This is a tough one. We have a home studio and I have banned the Wii and the 360 from all of the rooms we use for business. Obviously mom didn't tell dad about the session and now that there is money involved he's mad as hell. Although I know you are correct, it is far better to just refund the session fee and be on your way. I know hindsight is 20/20 but maybe next time this would save your Bebo profile. Social networking is great, but London808n is so right. It's not always truthful. I would give her what she wants and get her out of your hair.


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MelindaG
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Apr 09, 2010 09:59 |  #9

I don't know that I'd want to deal with a client like this. Even when you've put the time into editing her shoot she can still claim she hates the photos in attempt to get her money back, even if they're great. There's never going to be a great working relationship there, so getting excited about editing this shoot or working on custom products like albums or anything (if she even bothers to spend money on something she doesn't want and her husband doesnt want to pay for) would just suck the life out of me. I would also probably refund the money and explain to her that my time was sacrificed for her shoot which is why I dont normally give a refund, and then be done with her.

Good luck, I dont envy your position!




  
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Jimconnerphoto
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Apr 09, 2010 10:56 |  #10

you may have been doomed from the beginning no matter how the shoot went. Considering the mothers reaction to the kids, her outbreak on your profile and how the husband reacted to having their children s portraits taken you were probably going to have a problem somewhere along the transaction.

Chalk it up, some people suck and there is not a thing you or anyone else can do about it.
Put the images online for her, deliver what ever she was promised. Personally, I would offer her something to make her feel like she has won something. She can cause many more headaches then just a rude post on some social networks. Do what you can to get her out of your hair and try to be professional about it.

I would post them, tell her if she likes the images I will give her a few extra wallets, if she doesn't we can discuss a portion of a refund.

As painful as it may be the point of this is not to win an argument and be right in the end but is to do what is best for your business in the long run.


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leninglass
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Apr 09, 2010 11:53 |  #11

Understand that this is business. Understand that customers will come first. They will be the one to feed you financially. Like MonteMomma said, Handle it with grace.

A few hours wasted wont hurt you. Give the refund. Don't even show them the pictures. Smile and walk away.

Anybody that gives you a "review" on bebo. Explain your position and that should be all that is needed.

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IslandCrow
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Apr 09, 2010 12:01 |  #12

That's certainly unfortunate. I'll tell you, though, when I read a customer complaint on a website that's obviously a hysterical rant (doubly so if the person is using profanity), I take it with a huge grain of salt. If it's against someone I've done business with and been pleased, it actually angers me, and I'm quick to defend the business and give my own positive experiences. There are always going to be people who will get upset, even if you're in no way at fault. It sounds like many of your other clients see it the same way and didn't put much stock in this one isolated complaint.




  
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m33p33
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Apr 09, 2010 12:40 |  #13

Charge a sitting fee due 1 week before the appointment.
Make it nonrefundable without 48 hour advance notice.
Get a signed contract/invoice for these terms.
This contract must specify that the sitting fee does not include or negotiate the sale of any photos produced during the photo shoot.

Prepare a second - separate contract for the sale, licence and distribution of all photos produced from the sitting.

Then, next time, the husband will know his little wifey is spending money before you actually do any work. If Hubby steps in and puts a kibosh on things you have nothing ventured, nothing gained.


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RDKirk
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Apr 09, 2010 12:55 as a reply to  @ IslandCrow's post |  #14

What I do and would do:

First: My fees are calculated to include a bit of "insurance" to cover a few "lost" sessions through return of session fees. I have a 100% satisfaction guarantee for portraits that I will return all moneies paid if my clients are unsatisfied, and I won't hesitate to use it...because I've covered the loss already. However, that amounts to less than one instance per year on average. My fee also covers a percentage of repeat sessions through the year.

If your initial instinct was to call off the session when it started going south, I would agree with that, and I'd have offered another session without cost.

I would also have refunded her money without hesitation. A policy of ready refunds is the best way to keep your Tums and Tylenol bills low. Just make sure your regular session fee covers a certain percentage of them per year.


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kayl
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Apr 09, 2010 13:10 |  #15

captiva wrote in post #9959323 (external link)
Today less than 48 hours after the shoot I got an email asking for a refund as she couldnt imagine the photographs being any good, also that her husband was angry with her for getting it done.

Danny

Let's be frank; this is the main issue here. That's not your fault. Her hubby is mad about her spending the money and she's scrambling to cover her own butt. I'd upload the proofs and follow though on your part of the contract.

As far as Bebo - let your other reviews and work do the talking. If a future client cancels, inquire why - if they say the bad review, just explain the situation to them. You're not being unreasonable.


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Todays lesson learned...I should have gone with my instinct and not my pride.
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