How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperation at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Taking Care of Business
The pen and paper aspects of DV -- put it in writing!


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 12th, 2011, 06:44 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Victoria, BC
Posts: 202
How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperation

EDIT TITLE: How NOT to be taken for a ride...

Hi all, how do I prevent being possibly taken for a ride?

Over a year ago, I did some work for a very large well-funded operation - they are very profitable, and have a massive marketing budget. Shot in HD, and with some great motion graphic design, the 1minute ad went on to be displayed full-time in demonstrations, on the internet, featured on their site, etc. It's one of my best pieces of work, and stands out in the local market. I got lots of footage as it was indicated we'd be working on various videos over the year.. which never happened after.

I was told that the marketing director was difficult to work with going into the project. While I got paid my initial quote, I did several hundred dollars that I was asked 'not to invoice for.. .save it for the next time'. The client said more than once "we're here to build working relationships" - we don't want this to be a one time thing. I did my best work. It's been over a year now, and the client has worked with television stations in the meantime to produce for-TV ads that are SD and have a less-cinematic look.

This client has asked for the same video I did, but without the graphics so that the TV station that is producing the next ad - and getting paid - to be supplied to the station so that they can use the shots I got. No pay, just a 'favour'. Everyone would win except me. Doesn't sit well with me - both could capitalize on work I did without a tip of the hat or compensation. I didn't shoot it for TV, I shot it to have an on-going relationship with the client.

Suggestions? Is there a rate "per clip" I should quote if the client/station wants the unedited shots? Or should I just graciously cooperate and hope karma and the fact that stuff I shot is now on TV is kind of nice?

Much appreciated.

- Chris

Last edited by Christopher Ruffell; May 12th, 2011 at 06:45 PM. Reason: EDIT: How NOT to be taken for a ride...
Christopher Ruffell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 12th, 2011, 07:31 PM   #2
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

Horse is out of the barn in the form that you agreed to work for less than your rate inside a "promise" for future work. Hopefully, you'll learn from this and not make that mistake again.

Next time someone asks you for a discount in lieu of future work, try saying this. "I'll give you an even BETTER discount than you're asking for - the NEXT time we work together, however, to qualify for this "good client" discount your first project (this one) has to be fully paid at regular rates."

Client's who are serious about an on-going relationship and overall savings will agree. Those who don't are telling you clearly that they're just trying to lower your rates NOW.

As to how you handle the bad place you're in, the only question you're left to answer is which is more important, your money, your present feelings, or your long-term reputation. The possibility of money is remote at best. They likely won't pay you any more because they're taking their business elsewhere and you're part of history. It will FEEL GOOD to stick it too them, but won't get you any real return other than self-satisfaction, which has little to no business value. Because clients like this WILL bad mouth you if you don't knuckle under and give up the footage. If you hold firm, they'll trash you. It's what people like this do.

Understand too, that If you give up the footage, they they WILL NOT praise you. They will simple keep silent about the whole thing as NOBODY has any interest in saying anything positive about a vendor they've jettisoned. It makes them look stupid for dumping that vendor in the first place.

So giving up the footage in order to diminish former customer "trash talk" is aobut the ONLY non-negative result you can expect in a situation like this. It's a harsh, crappy reality - but it's how this usually works.

And this reality is precisely why lowering your rates to try to "buy" future work nearly always is a poor strategy.

Sucks, huh.
__________________
Classroom editing instructor? Check out www.starteditingnow.com
Turnkey editor training content including licensed training footage for classroom use.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 12th, 2011, 08:46 PM   #3
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
How NOT to to be taken for a ride

I think Bill is right and you have very little chance of coming out of this whole. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't approach this like a professional (and I'm not suggesting he said this at all).

Seems to me there are three jobs here, if I understand you. Job 1 you did and got paid for. Job 2 you did on the promise of getting paid "next time." Job 3 is a re-work of Job 1 so they can re-use your footage ad infinitum. Well, "next time" is now. So you tally up your charges for Job 2 and whatever it will cost to do Job 3, as well as the royalties which will be due to you for the ongoing usage of your footage in perpetuity for giving them said footage without graphics, and put them in your bid/contract. You have a lawyer make this air tight and you don't deliver a frame a footage until you have been paid all past fees due and you do this all sweetly and pleasantly and within the context of your "ongoing relationship."

If the royalty thing is impossible -- and remember, nothing is impossible -- you still collect on both jobs 2 and 3 before you deliver anything.

Of course they'll balk. But you will have taken the high road and learned something to boot. The discounts come after the volume, not before.
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 13th, 2011, 04:37 AM   #4
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

As Bill and Adam said ... think of it this way. They didn't originally pay you to shoot stock video footage to be kept on the shelf to be used for various undetermined future projects in perpetuity, they paid you to produce a finished program for one specific use. You did that ... the footage you shot was simply a means to that end. The new spot they want to make is a brand new project for a brand new use and deserves to paid for at full market rate. The fact that the footage shot for the first project can be reused and doesn't need to be reshot is irrelevant. You deserve to be paid the same as you were the first go-around.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 13th, 2011, 06:43 AM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Plantation, FL
Posts: 238
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

- "While I got paid my initial quote, I did several hundred dollars that I was asked 'not to invoice for.. .save it for the next time'. "

The way i see it . . . next time is now. Explain that you were requested to defer fees until the next project in order to accommodate their budget, and that you have kept these deferred fees on your books for 12 months. They get the editing done largely as a freebee tagged on to the media buy; they're upgrading the look of the spot by using higher grade clips, they should have an added expense for that upgrade.
__________________
Mark Ahrens
www.heritagefilms.net
Mark Ahrens is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 13th, 2011, 09:13 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 442
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

You've received what I consider to be some very good insight, Christopher - along with some terribly misguided advice, I fear.

For one thing, the fear of getting a bad rep is what I loathe the most about this business. Not only because it's used to keep service providers in line, but because it's mostly perpetuated by service providers themselves who have too low an opinion of their work. Bad reps from deadbeat clients have only cost me work from other deadbeat clients. Good clients know how to judge the worth of hearsay, from having dealt with deadbeats themselves.

To develop on what others have said, here is what I have learned in this business:

- clients promising more work in exchange for cheap or free work will almost never make good on their promise;
- in rare cases where clients make good on their aforementioned promise, they will never volunteer to pay more than the first time. Ever;
-as Adam said, "The discounts come after the volume, not before."

As an aside, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has contributed to this thread. I was debating in another thread about clients who ask for the project (Premiere) files and all supporting material to be delivered with the final video so they could do further edits themselves, and possibly another video. The request bugged me but I didn't know what exactly. Now I do: they signed for one video, not stock footage and material for future videos.


J.
Jacques E. Bouchard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 13th, 2011, 04:57 PM   #7
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Woodinville, WA USA
Posts: 3,464
Some more thoughts about this. I presume you didn't have anything in your initial contract specifying who owns the footage. If they do, you're at a disadvantage because you can't legally withhold it from them. But as an independent contractor, let's say you own it.

So you explain to them that you must protect your IP, and as such, you must be the one who produces any further use of it, on TV or otherwise. You're happy to do it for them and if there is volume involved, at a discount rate. And you must be the one to do the media buy because that's the only way to monitor how often your footage is used, which is how you calculate your royalties. They pay up front for the work and any media buy. If they fall behind in payments, no buy for next month.

Discount pricing: I like the Costco model. You can buy one at full price, or you can buy six at half price, but you gotta buy six and you gotta pay for all six now. Some will buy one, some will laugh and buy six, and many will tell you to screw yourself and will go elsewhere. These are the ones who were not going to give you the business anyway and are upset you didn't fall for their scam.

No matter what happens, you win. And whenever they call you, for anything, your response always is, sure, let me draw up a bid for you. Happy to do it. Thanks for your interest.

This way they know you take your business as seriously as they take theirs. When was the last time they refused their paycheck?

Here's another thread with a slightly less polite version of this philosophy:

How To Get Paid The Importance of Contracts (Video)
__________________
"It can only be attributable to human error... This sort of thing has cropped up before, and it has always been due to human error."
Adam Gold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2011, 04:53 PM   #8
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Posts: 3,782
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

Similar to what others have said:

Never discount for future non-contracted consideration.
While retail which sells widgets can loss lead on an "introductory" price, video production involves time so discounts are on bulk time purchases (since you can save time on marketing to future new clients). To put it another way, only contracted repeat business gets rewarded.

Charge for everything that goes beyond the contract and that includes a limit to the revisions. When I do a job it includes limits on revisions as well. Future work is new work and gets build accordingly. Nothing is delivered until AFTER final payment is made and it clears. The rare exceptions are clients with whom you've personally experienced good payment history.

I may disagree with Bill's approach about them bad mouthing you. I would never allow a client to hold me ransom to doing unpaid work for fear of "trash talk." Given the client's business model I doubt they'd do much damage and you'd have to weigh that against the damage of giving work away for free.

BTW there may be times when you do want to go the extra mile for a client. You should still issue an invoice showing the value of the work even if discounted to zero. That way there's a record showing the value. Those extra miles are earned (hmm, like the airlines?) so they're going to have to go on more paid flights to earn those extra miles, to be rewarded at your, not their discretion.
Craig Seeman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2011, 06:06 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Madrid, Spain
Posts: 238
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

Hi:

It's ok to "fire" a client that misbehaves. Sometimes this is actually necessary - unfortunately.

Simply tell them nicely that you have a business to take care of and if they want your services they have an interest to keep you in business, which implies paying for said services.

BR, Erik
Erik Norgaard is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 14th, 2011, 10:51 PM   #10
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Mumbai, India
Posts: 1,385
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

My take: Be nice but firm and ask for a reasonable price. They have already found another vendor for their services. Get it? It's like an ex-girlfriend who dumped you for your best friend and then asks you to pay for their honeymoon.

If someone asks them who produced that nice stuff playing on TV, whose name do you think they'll take? Don't waste any more time or money on this client.
__________________
Get the Free Comprehensive Guide to Rigging ANY Camera - one guide to rig them all - DSLRs to the Arri Alexa.
Sareesh Sudhakaran is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2011, 09:34 AM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: LOWESTOFT - UK
Posts: 2,125
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

After a year, I'm not sure I could find all the files for many of my projects that were designed to be one-offs. So to give them what they want would mean starting again, wouldn't it? I'm sure you'd be willing to rebuild the project for them from scratch, but as this would taken many hours, ask them what budget they have for what is essential 90% of the original.

This sounds quite reasonable. Nothing says you have to keep the project on file does it?
Paul R Johnson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2011, 12:13 PM   #12
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 5,742
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

IMHO, the product they originally contracted for was (or should have been) for a specific program to be created so it could be licensed to use for a specific purpose, perhapseven in a specific geographic area and/or for a specific time period. The original camera footage and the various internediate project files are the means the producer used to create that production but were not part of what the contract was all about. The client's expectation that they might be turned over to him to use for other projects is rather like him expecting the producer to turn over the camera and lenses at the end of the production. This is why a contract needs to be explicit as to that the project deliverables are and exactly what licenses and usage rights the client is receiving in exchange for the fee he has paid.
__________________
Good news, Cousins! This week's chocolate ration is 15 grams!
Steve House is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 15th, 2011, 01:38 PM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Pensacola Fl.
Posts: 627
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

I have been in exactly this same situation. The client paid me for the footage, and had me do other work for later projects. Here is what I told my client.

I am glad you decided to start the next project. I am a little disappointed you decided to use another editor but that is your choice.

The cost of the footage you have requested is $$$. Where do you want me to send the bill? Hang on a minute and I will connect you to the billing office. If you need any additional footage please let me know and thanks for your business.

It turned out that not only did he come back but he was disappointed in what the TV station did with the footage.
Ron Little is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 16th, 2011, 11:04 AM   #14
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Arlington, TX
Posts: 2,230
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

These situations are always difficult and a weakness for me. Great advice in this thread. I will try to add a little tid bit if it helps and not to Monday morning quarterback :) A golden rule is to watch out for the word "favor" in a business climate as it often really means "take advantage".

Quite simply put you would never ask a favor of a plumber who comes and fixes leaky pipes, would you? There is an expectation of charges to be paid for services. For some reason people view media providers as if there is wiggle room for charging compared to other industries.

The good thing is that if you do mention there is a charge for a service, the person wanting a favor does not have a leg to stand upon and they will pay the charge or exit. Leaving you without blame in the situation. Being careful not to lose weak paying clients is a road to heartache. By stating your fees up front and whenever new services are mentioned the concept of wiggle room goes away.

Sounds so simple but it is not always cut and dry. And the learning goes on...
Tim Polster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 17th, 2011, 07:21 AM   #15
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Jupiter, FL
Posts: 164
Re: How to to be taken for a ride: client didn't pay fully, now wants free cooperatio

"I'm so sorry, but we had a huge power spike and it looks like I've lost everything on my drive. Be happy to re shoot if you need. As you know, my charges are quite reasonable at $..." should cover it. This is not their footage, it's yours.
Doug Bailey is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > Taking Care of Business

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:28 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network