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06-18-2010, 12:33 AM   #1
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When someone signs a contract...

This isnt really a DLSR question but a general one...

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. I wrote down the day they would be paying me and today the wedding planner tells me they decided to do something else..... Needless to say Im very annoyed between spending over an hour with the clients and countess emails with her back and forth and her nitpicking everything even though the clients were getting a very good deal and they knew it (they were local and Ive lived here my whole life, I knew tons and tons of places to take them for photos)

Question is do I have any grounds to collect payment, especially the deposit, it is non-refundable. I don't think Im going to bother because I dont think it'd be a good day for anyone if I forced them to pay for a service they don't want. I never thought Id run into a problem like this though! I guess I learned my lesson and I will be taking payment up front because Ive also have a few people take MONTHS to pay me....

06-18-2010, 01:06 AM   #2
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This is a good business lesson... one most people need to learn like you did... money up front...
if you signed the contract and the deposit was listed as required... they should pay it... small claims would be your only real choice... but likely just take the lesson and eat the lose... it might even be a tax right off of uncollected debt... money up front does two things for you... one it lets you know that you have the money and two it lets the client know the cost of the deal... what you need to watch out for is... refunding money when you don't provide the service or if the service changes dramatically from what you quoted... at my firm I run a hybrid system... I take a 50% deposit before ANY work is really done at all and I am VERY firm on my quotes... if I realize half way through a project I completely miss quoted... I eat it... but that's just me... everyone else needs to have their own standards...
06-18-2010, 01:19 AM   #3
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I end up taking 50% before I actually show up to the wedding and start snapping photos. I listened to my older brother who said that no one is going to pay for a product they don't have in full. I've been also learning not to listen to my brother :P

I am more or less annoyed at the wedding planner. I am not sure what I'm going to email back to her but she REALLY should know better and I hope she didn't tell them this sort of thing was acceptable.

I might file court documents just for the heck of it... its good to know this stuff for the future....
06-18-2010, 01:26 AM   #4
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After weddings most people are broke... if most people are going to toss large sums of money around it is usually before the wedding...

sure... it is good to know about the courts... i know enough to know only the lawyers come out ahead in most cases... but really be careful not to sour the water for future clients... you don't want that planner mentioning to people how you sued her... "because you are a crazy artist who doesn't understand the wedding industry..." or some other half cocked story...

06-18-2010, 01:41 AM   #5
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Very good point... and most people spend more money on things they truly can't afford.

That is my main concern too is I do not want this to become a fiasco. The deposit is only about $200, not the end of the world if I don't get it. The wedding planner is very new to her job and is the groom's SISTER (I didn't know this till HE told me) The problem lies in her lack of experience, she tried to be very demanding with me and I gladly answered all her questions and made a very detailed contract but when it came down to it she is clueless. They are local but she is on the other side of the country, she is trying to establish herself as a planner in that area (I know it pays big bucks) but she also needs to learn that you can not say,"oops changed my mind" after signing a contract.
06-18-2010, 01:59 AM   #6
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have you sent her a statement with the amount outstanding... maybe tack on some interest... a note that says please pay as per the signed contract...
06-18-2010, 03:40 AM   #7
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If they signed a contract in which they agreed to pay a non-refundable deposit by a date certain, and the contract did not contain an escape clause, then I would think under contract law you have an open and shut case.

Whether it is worth your time and trouble to pursue it, only you can decide. But you're talking $200, it won't take long to spend more than that trying to collect it. The time you spend trying to collect cannot be spent generating income.
06-18-2010, 04:53 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Senseriffic Quote
This isnt really a DLSR question but a general one...

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. I wrote down the day they would be paying me and today the wedding planner tells me they decided to do something else..... Needless to say Im very annoyed between spending over an hour with the clients and countess emails with her back and forth and her nitpicking everything even though the clients were getting a very good deal and they knew it (they were local and Ive lived here my whole life, I knew tons and tons of places to take them for photos)

Question is do I have any grounds to collect payment, especially the deposit, it is non-refundable. I don't think Im going to bother because I dont think it'd be a good day for anyone if I forced them to pay for a service they don't want. I never thought Id run into a problem like this though! I guess I learned my lesson and I will be taking payment up front because Ive also have a few people take MONTHS to pay me....
Your compensation for failure to execute was the deposit, and you waived that. In court, that won't go over well with the jurist. You could pursue, but likely at no material gain to you.

06-18-2010, 05:15 AM   #9
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generally, a contract as a minimum requires 3 basic points,

1) an agreement must be reached between the contracting parties regarding service and compensation,
2) service must be performed as agreed
3) compensation for the service must be provided.

the agreement need not be written, but it is better if it is.

in your case, one could argue the hour you spent could be cost of sales determining scope of work, and not part of the contract (you have not told us the details)

You also have not specifically told us whether the contract waswith the wedding planner or the bride and groom, this is also important.

But at the end of the day, you did not perform the contracted service, and they have not paid, You need to look at your contract very carefully to see what compensation for cancellation you are entitled to. Something for everyone to remember is that contracts are not needed when everything goes well, they are need for when things do not go well. You shoulld have cancellation structured as a function of time before the wedding, because if they sign a year in advance and cancel a month later it is a different economic impact then if they cancel a month before the wedding, or the day before, or decide they don't want any prints, but demand the rights to the shots. All these need to be specifically covered.

But regardless, you spent an hour. That's all you would be entitled to, unless you can prove loss by having refused other work for the dates required because you comitted time to these clients. This would be difficult and even if you win, you would certainly gain a reputation in the busness that is undesireable. Better that the wedding planner get a reputation for over spending and cancelling contracts than you for taking clients to litigation.
06-18-2010, 05:58 AM   #10
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You also may want to consider the possible negative impact if you seek compensation from the couple and they tell all their friends and family to not work with you... you said you have lived in this area all your life and the the couple also has a history in that area, so chances are their connections/referrals will be worth more than the $200 you stand to collect.

In general, if the planner is the problem (and I imagine she was giving the couple bad advice to walk away from your agreement/contract), just put her on your "people to not do business with" list. Since she is not from the area, you can probably count on not having to deal with her again.

I think it may be worth contacting the couple, but perhaps just say, "listen, I thought we had an agreement, and its disappointing to not get to shoot your event. I hope you'll consider me to photograph your next event." Since they were actually pleasent to work with (wedding planner aside), I don't see the point of burning a possible future client or referral.
06-18-2010, 08:40 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Senseriffic Quote
This isnt really a DLSR question but a general one...
You're right - so I'm moving it to the "General" forum. There's also a specifically "Pro" forum you might consider.
06-18-2010, 10:16 AM   #12
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Move on. You don't have a contract with them because you waived one of the clauses.
06-18-2010, 02:08 PM   #13
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Like Wheatfield said...

To my understanding, any contract requires a consideration (agreed payment) for it to come into force. Since you did not insist on a deposit, the other party is strictly speaking not bound to adhere to any conditions agreed upon. They are not obligated to pay you anything. Sorry but consider this a business 101 lesson learnt. You may think the small deposit is no big deal but no court will entertain you because you essentially have no contract. Imo you should ask for at least for at least a 40% deposit before any commencement of service. No money, no deal.
06-18-2010, 02:38 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Like Wheatfield said...

To my understanding, any contract requires a consideration (agreed payment) for it to come into force. Since you did not insist on a deposit, the other party is strictly speaking not bound to adhere to any conditions agreed upon. They are not obligated to pay you anything. Sorry but consider this a business 101 lesson learnt. You may think the small deposit is no big deal but no court will entertain you because you essentially have no contract. Imo you should ask for at least for at least a 40% deposit before any commencement of service. No money, no deal.
This is not correct. The primary requirements for a valid contract are:

Agreement (I make an offer, you accept the offer)
Capacity to contract (you can't enter into a contract with a mentally retarded person)
Consideration (something of value changing hands, but this is not central to a civil contract)
Consent to contract (you can't force someone to enter into a contract)

There are other requirements, but this is sufficient for the purposes of this post.

In addition, there are two types of contracts: bilateral and unilateral. In a unilateral contract only one party promises to do something (I promise to pay you a reward if you find my lost dog). In a bilateral contract, both parties promise to do something. (I promise to shoot your wedding if you promise to pay me.)

There was consideration in the contract (the agreement to pay) even though the consideration had not yet been received. I don't see where the OP indicated in his post that he waived any rights, and my assumption (without seeing the actual contract) is the other party has breached a valid enforceable contract.

But as I stated in an earlier post, I doubt that the matter is worth pursuing.
06-18-2010, 05:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
This is not correct. The primary requirements for a valid contract are:

Agreement (I make an offer, you accept the offer)
Capacity to contract (you can't enter into a contract with a mentally retarded person)
Consideration (something of value changing hands, but this is not central to a civil contract)
Consent to contract (you can't force someone to enter into a contract)

There are other requirements, but this is sufficient for the purposes of this post.

In addition, there are two types of contracts: bilateral and unilateral. In a unilateral contract only one party promises to do something (I promise to pay you a reward if you find my lost dog). In a bilateral contract, both parties promise to do something. (I promise to shoot your wedding if you promise to pay me.)

There was consideration in the contract (the agreement to pay) even though the consideration had not yet been received. I don't see where the OP indicated in his post that he waived any rights, and my assumption (without seeing the actual contract) is the other party has breached a valid enforceable contract.

But as I stated in an earlier post, I doubt that the matter is worth pursuing.
There is a difference between a valid contract and one which can be enforced.
The OP has nothing, since he didn't enforce the contract from the get go.
Also, as a business, you can't force a customer to pay for services not rendered without looking like a complete ass.
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