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06-18-2010, 05:36 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Move on. You don't have a contract with them because you waived one of the clauses.
This is incorrect. Although the up front deposit was deferred, an agreed date was noted and recorded, therefore the contract could still valid. Mutual agreement to change the teems does not void a contract. What is not known is what specific wording is in the contract with respect to the contract coming into force. I say could still be valid because we do not know the wording. Usually this is exchange of funds.

06-18-2010, 05:43 PM   #17
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If the OP took pictures, the wedding party do not have a right to expect those for free either. I guarantee a win in small claims court if it were local to me had pictures been actually taken but under the circumstances, no win. Just because a deposit was waived doesn't mean he was doing the shoot for free. If a land lord waives a deposit to allow renters to move in, they still have to pay rent as per a lease or month to month. However, in this analogy the renters didn't move in. That's what the deposit was for in part! However, its not worth the trouble for recouping a deposit.

P.S. I won't do a wedding unless someone is holding a shotgun to the back of my head. I'd rather shoot a funeral because nothing good can come out of a wedding most of the time regarding brides, mothers and mothers-in-laws. What are the odds of all 3 being pleased?

Last edited by Blue; 06-18-2010 at 05:49 PM.
06-18-2010, 08:55 PM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
If the OP took pictures, the wedding party do not have a right to expect those for free either. I guarantee a win in small claims court if it were local to me had pictures been actually taken but under the circumstances, no win. Just because a deposit was waived doesn't mean he was doing the shoot for free. If a land lord waives a deposit to allow renters to move in, they still have to pay rent as per a lease or month to month. However, in this analogy the renters didn't move in. That's what the deposit was for in part! However, its not worth the trouble for recouping a deposit.

P.S. I won't do a wedding unless someone is holding a shotgun to the back of my head. I'd rather shoot a funeral because nothing good can come out of a wedding most of the time regarding brides, mothers and mothers-in-laws. What are the odds of all 3 being pleased?
My understanding is that they backed out prior to any work being done other than the sales pitch.
Whether or not it's an enforceable contract (or more to the point, is it even a little bit worthwhile to try), take the lesson that if you don't get money, keep looking for work that day, and make certain that the couple knows that this is the way it is. We'll happily book your wedding day, we'll allot studio time, and we'll arrange to have a photographer scheduled for the day, but until you've paid us a deposit, you will get zero notice of a change in plans.
Someone comes in and drops money on the counter for the same time, you just ceased to exist, though we will phone you to tell you about the cancellation as a courtesy.
If you cancel after paying the deposit, we'll open that time slot back up and if we can fill it, we'll refund part of your deposit.
Otherwise, deposits are non refundable unless their is a catastrophic failure and we cannot supply pictures or service.
06-19-2010, 03:13 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
There is a difference between a valid contract and one which can be enforced.
Under contract law, the terms valid and enforceable are related. A valid contract can be enforced. An invalid contract (a contract which is illegal or a document that doesn't meet the requirements for a contract) cannot be enforced.


QuoteQuote:
The OP has nothing, since he didn't enforce the contract from the get go.
My understanding is he agreed to postpone receipt of the deposit. The parties to a contract can agree to change the terms of a contract. It doesn't invalidate the original contract and doesn't mean there is no enforcement of the terms of the contract.

QuoteQuote:
Also, as a business, you can't force a customer to pay for services not rendered without looking like a complete ass.
I don't get your point here. I don't remember saying the op should force someone to pay for services not rendered, in fact I specifically said you cannot force someone to enter into a contract. Requiring a deposit be paid as one of the terms of the contract is not forcing someone to pay for something not received.

06-19-2010, 05:42 AM   #20
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I'm not schooled in law but I've run a few businesses and done simple transactions (like buying a house or a car). To me the TS was just too yielding and compromised his business and negotiating position by not insisting on a paid deposit at the point of contract agreement to render his service. I don't know if the contract was verbal or documented but it is pretty obvious there would be little dispute if there was a proper paper trail (proper quotation, invoices, receipts and documented correspondence) and the TS covered all bases.

Negotiations > contract signed > invoice done up/deposit received/ receipt issued > work or service rendered > collection of balance payment once deliverables handed over. What could be more straightforward than that?

If I wanted to buy an apartment for example and after negotiation with the seller, agreed on a price but if I didn't put any money down, there is no recourse for me if the seller decides to reneged on whatever was earlier agreed upon and sell to someone else simply because no consideration changed hands. Same for the TS, how is it binding on the wedding couple/planner if they didn't put down any commitment money to book the photographer's services. Sorry but the TS got no one else to pin the fault but himself.
06-19-2010, 06:24 AM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
Under contract law, the terms valid and enforceable are related. A valid contract can be enforced. An invalid contract (a contract which is illegal or a document that doesn't meet the requirements for a contract) cannot be enforced.




My understanding is he agreed to postpone receipt of the deposit. The parties to a contract can agree to change the terms of a contract. It doesn't invalidate the original contract and doesn't mean there is no enforcement of the terms of the contract.



I don't get your point here. I don't remember saying the op should force someone to pay for services not rendered, in fact I specifically said you cannot force someone to enter into a contract. Requiring a deposit be paid as one of the terms of the contract is not forcing someone to pay for something not received.
My point is that this isn't a contract that is going to be enforced without costing more that it's worth, if it is, which I doubt very much.
Generally, until there is valuable consideration involved, there isn't a contract, no matter what's on paper. By allowing the valuable consideration to slide, the OP essentially invalidated his means of enforceability.
If you think that enforceable at any cost defines enforceable, go hard, I take a somewhat more pragmatic view. My wife the lawyer shares the view that a Pyrrhic victory is no victory at all.
YYMV
06-19-2010, 07:28 AM   #22
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I decided it is not worth perusing. Especially since my "beef" is with the wedding planner and not with them. I nicely explained to her that this was a valuable lesson for me and that in the future if a contract says non-refundable and the clients paid and then canceled they do not get their money back. I also don't think I would jump at the chance to work with another wedding planner considering how rude and ignorant this one was...

I do appreciate all the comments on this thread though! I am going to be revamping my contract this week to ensure I don't run into another issue like this.
06-19-2010, 08:10 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
If you think that enforceable at any cost defines enforceable, go hard, I take a somewhat more pragmatic view. My wife the lawyer shares the view that a Pyrrhic victory is no victory at all.
YYMV
You must not have read my other posts. I said I didn't think the matter was worth pursuing.

06-19-2010, 08:13 PM   #24
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Senserrific - exactly the attitude to take on this case. Learn the lesson and do everything in your power to prevent this from happening again.

I have skipped on the deposit a handful of times but only for small portrait sessions and only for repeat customers. The only thing I would have done differently in your situation is to send a letter requesting them to sign in agreement that
** you agree, at their request, to release them from the contract previously signed and agreed to by both parties.
** there is no additional agreement pending or legally binding between the two parties.

It's just an additional CYA for you.
06-19-2010, 09:02 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by George Lama Quote
Senserrific - exactly the attitude to take on this case. Learn the lesson and do everything in your power to prevent this from happening again.

I have skipped on the deposit a handful of times but only for small portrait sessions and only for repeat customers. The only thing I would have done differently in your situation is to send a letter requesting them to sign in agreement that
** you agree, at their request, to release them from the contract previously signed and agreed to by both parties.
** there is no additional agreement pending or legally binding between the two parties.

It's just an additional CYA for you.
This is sage advice.
What happens the Wednesday before the wedding when the wedding planner and her boyfriend photographer break up and suddenly they need a shooter for Saturday.
Can you guarantee your availability? Right now, like it or not, there may be a contractual obligation, certainly they could bring an action.
Which you would likely win, and perhaps be out real money.

As a point of interest, have you talked to the couple or just the wedding planner?

As always, consult a lawyer rather than trusting legal advice over the internet.
06-22-2010, 07:16 AM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by Senseriffic Quote
...I shoot weddings on occasion, a wedding planner contacted me. She was not pleasant to deal with at times... but the clients were awesome. So long story short they signed the contract but did not pay a deposit because they were having financial issues.....
Having a wedding planner (who probably ensured her deposit was paid in full up front) and financial issues, for me brings up the point - Where was the bride's mother? If money is tight, let Mom help out and plan the wedding and reduce the overall costs.

I would avoid working with the flakey wedding planner in the future and the combination of "wedding planner and financial issues" would set off alarm bells about having a good conclusion to the event - as in payment in full.
06-22-2010, 07:32 AM   #27
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This kind of thing is why I'd sooner eat live grasshoppers than shoot a wedding, seriously. The crap people will pull on the caterer, the photographer etc. I've actually seen worse, a $15,000 wedding canceled only an hour before where they tried to just get everyone to wave all of it including asking my friend who was the caterer to "just take the food home and forget it" when the food was already in the kitchen, ready to go, and the tables were all set etc.

As I recall everyone but the minister sued.

;P
06-22-2010, 08:57 AM   #28
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QuoteOriginally posted by magkelly Quote
This kind of thing is why I'd sooner eat live grasshoppers than shoot a wedding, seriously. The crap people will pull on the caterer, the photographer etc. I've actually seen worse, a $15,000 wedding canceled only an hour before where they tried to just get everyone to wave all of it including asking my friend who was the caterer to "just take the food home and forget it" when the food was already in the kitchen, ready to go, and the tables were all set etc.

As I recall everyone but the minister sued.

;P
It's why, if you are going to pursue wedding photography, you need to both have a solid contract that ensures payment up front, and be hard nosed enough to stick to it.
Small contracts of a few thousand dollars are barely worth the paper they are printed on when it comes time to enforce them with a recalcitrant client simply because it will be both more trouble than it is worth, and because there is really no way to enforce the thing anyway.
I realize this might vary from place to place, but in general terms, you have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars outstanding so you go to small claims court. The judge agrees that you are owed money and you win a judgment.
And they don't pay, which leaves you with the option of trying to collect it yourself or selling the debt to a collection agent, which means you've just lost at least 50% of your money in real terms, and have probably lost more than the other half in time and frustration.
This is why I don't think the OP has an enforceable contract.
That he willingly waived one of the money clauses, thereby ensuring that there has been no valuable consideration just makes the paper worth even less than a$$wipe.
There is just no way in the world he is going to make it stick for a profit.
06-22-2010, 10:54 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
It's why, if you are going to pursue wedding photography, you need to both have a solid contract that ensures payment up front, and be hard nosed enough to stick to it.
this is true, you set up your standard terms to protect yourself
QuoteQuote:
Small contracts of a few thousand dollars are barely worth the paper they are printed on when it comes time to enforce them with a recalcitrant client simply because it will be both more trouble than it is worth, and because there is really no way to enforce the thing anyway.
here I disagree, regardless of size, a contract can be made enforceable, it is simply wording. if you are as hard asses about getting contracts enforced as you are about getting payments up front that is
QuoteQuote:
I realize this might vary from place to place, but in general terms, you have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars outstanding so you go to small claims court. The judge agrees that you are owed money and you win a judgment.
And they don't pay, which leaves you with the option of trying to collect it yourself or selling the debt to a collection agent, which means you've just lost at least 50% of your money in real terms, and have probably lost more than the other half in time and frustration.
I believe this is incorrect. You don't need a judgement to sell the contrat to a collection agent, simply show the contracting party is in default. If they don't pay after a court ruling then they are in contempt of court, and you can garnishee their wages to collect the entire thing.
QuoteQuote:
This is why I don't think the OP has an enforceable contract.
That he willingly waived one of the money clauses, thereby ensuring that there has been no valuable consideration just makes the paper worth even less than a$$wipe.
There is just no way in the world he is going to make it stick for a profit.
You keep repeating the same mistake, he did not waive a clause, during negotiation, there was mutual agreement as to the date the down payment would be made, that is all. This new date was noted, therefore it is part of the total contract. the contract is not just the paper, which is signed, but all discussions and other notes pertaining to it. It may not be good practice but what was agreed in total, including the new payment date does form "the contract".

What you mentioned in a previous mail is more relevant, that the cancellation came prior to making the down payment. This may depending upon the exact wording of the contract form termination without compendation. We can only guess because we don't have the contract wording, to know even if the contract, without downpayment was in force.

The other thing that is interesting, and I can only speculate on this, is that there was never any intent to contract out the photography. Let's just imagine a scenario here. Someone else commented that the wedding planner was not local I believe. If that planner had a "pet photographer" i.e. someone they planned to do the shots on the cheap, or perhaps a family member etc, why not enter into discussions about types of shots total number of shots, local locations etc. that an out of town planner would not know about, and then just defer things, and cancel out. You get all the ideas and locations but don't pay a cent because you never intended to go ahead with the shoot using that photographer but you took advantage of his time. This type of activity is fradulent, and you can claim. Don't believe me, Microsoft did this all the time, they would look at buying a small software firm, enter disclosure agreements to look at the software , then cancel or back out, but magically the same function and sometimes same code would up in a later release of windows. They have been sued for billions over this type of activity. it is just a bigger scale
06-22-2010, 04:26 PM   #30
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Lowell, I don't make the mistake in thinking that suing for hundreds and suing for billions is on the same level, nor do I make the mistake of thinking that just because something is technically possible, there is any merit in doing it.
Trying to collect a few hundred dollar debt falls into the category of being futile unless you have to do it to send a message (small credit card dept, for example).
If you've looked at garnishment laws, you will realize how futile it can be if the debt is small and the plerson is having financial trouble anyway.
Certainly it will be a money losing venture for a few hundred dollars.
I wouldn't venture to guess at what point it would become worthwhile, that would change from person to person, I expect.
Some people will, I am sure, spend a thousand dollars to collect five hundred.
Most, I suspect, will just walk away mad when the reality hits home.

Your comment about finding locations via a local photographer hits a bit close to home with me. While I haven't personally had locations scouted, I know a couple of photographers who have, and they both had problems with getting an up till then quiet location "stolen" from them.
Of course, it's only a matter of time until it happens with any nice spot, but it's a pisser to talk to a photographer and then a few weeks later have them setting up shop at the same time you wanted to.
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