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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old September 24th, 2007, 08:26 PM   #16
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My 2 cents...and that's all it's likely to be worth...

My conscience says "go easy on the newleweds...they're still adjusting." My practical side insists 1) this is a business, 2) they made a commitment. Because they did, their credit rating should reflect how they meet their obligations. Not to be a harda$$, but I don't think I've ever had a bill "forgiven", have you? (Though I've never not paid one, either).
Even a payment plan that they adhered to would be better than nothing; even credit cards companies do that.

That makes we wonder: would accepting credit cards be your best protection against such situations? (I suspect that's how many caterers and banquet halls take deposits). I'm curious what others think of that. I seldom do weddings, but don't know why others wait for lump sums on a day that has to be among the most hectic of a client's life. What are the pitfalls of taking credit cards? Is it because of the amount that goes right to the card company? (I don't accept them yet, but may in the future).

Perhaps they need a gentle reminder from someone other than you. Ask a lawyer to write a letter; it can be done politely but clearly. If nothing comes of that, turn it over to collections. A year is plenty of time to wait, especially without interest or late fees.

Good luck, and get as much as you can! You worked for it and you're entitled to it.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 08:42 PM   #17
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Small Claims Court

Travis,

Small Claims Court (or, Conciliation Court is what I think they call it up there in Hennepin County) is the answer. If your claim is less than $7,500, and you have the documentation to back up your claim, go for it.

The filing fee is probably around $50, and no lawyer is needed. You present your evidence and the defendants give their sorry excuse. If you win, the defendant not only has to pay the judgement, but also your filing fee.

Well, that's how it is in this state. MN might be a bit different. You can probably go online and find out what your local procedure is and whatever forms are required.

I've been that route a few times, and it works. Well, okay, I've never been stiffed by a relative. I can understand how that could cause some hesitation on your part.

But, the bottom line is you have a contract, you fulfilled your part of it, the client did not. You are not SOL and you should not chalk up the loss of payment to "experience." Unless there's more to it than what you've written, the law is on your side, and a relatively inexpensive procedure to make things right is in place for you to use.
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Old September 24th, 2007, 10:04 PM   #18
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Now I'm not going to get off on a rant here but it does appear that Tom and I have very different views on how to take this situation.

Tom makes good points about small claims court in that the filing fee is relatively low and if you win you can collect the filing fee (as well as attorney's fees if you consulted one in preparation for the case).

So let's say you go to court, and you win. Now what? You have a judgement. A civil judgement. Not a criminal judgment. So what if they decide they still aren't going to pay? What are you going to do then? Invest more time and effort? You can't make them pay especially if they haven't got the means to pay. There are no debtor prisons. You could try to garnish wages. More time and effort.

If collecting on a civil judgement were so easy, the family of murder victim Ron Goldman would not be trying to collect from OJ Simpson some 10 years after winning a civil judgement.

Just my view on this small claims matter. But it may work well for you so I encourage you to explore that route if you think it will be to your advantage.


Robert Bec,

I inadvertently omitted the words "on or before" in my post when talking about when payment is due. I've never had a B&G wait until the wedding day to settle the bill. Bands do it all time. But to answer your question about walking if "they" forget the money. I haven't run into this but if I do, I'll not only walk, I won't refund their retainer either (the 50% at signing). Before I up and walk, I'll give them the opportunity to go get the money or they can use a credit card since I have the means to call in a charge. But if they don't pay, I don't record. It's that simple. I wonder how they would react if I told them I forgot to bring my cameras.

I've done enough freebies, nearly freebies, and charitable work that I won't feel bad If I have to walk because someone forgot they had to pay before I tape. Maybe my attitude is not the same as many other videographers but one thing I know. If I'm going to have a hard time collecting payment from a customer, it's going to be before I roll tape, not after. It's nothing personal. It's just business.

Jeff
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Old September 25th, 2007, 08:24 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post

Tom makes good points about small claims court in that the filing fee is relatively low and if you win you can collect the filing fee (as well as attorney's fees if you consulted one in preparation for the case).

So let's say you go to court, and you win. Now what? You have a judgement. A civil judgement. Not a criminal judgment. So what if they decide they still aren't going to pay? What are you going to do then? Invest more time and effort? You can't make them pay especially if they haven't got the means to pay. There are no debtor prisons. You could try to garnish wages. More time and effort.

If collecting on a civil judgement were so easy, the family of murder victim Ron Goldman would not be trying to collect from OJ Simpson some 10 years after winning a civil judgement.

It's nothing personal. It's just business.

Jeff
Small claims court is certainly an avenue to take, though could easily be considered useless unless you want to really make a statement and go the garnishment route. In my state, even though you might have a judgment, that gives you no more resources to collect the debt, i.e. it doesn't automatically get a collection agency or even the court working for you sending letters or knocking on doors; you have to collect it yourself, through your own effort. Which means an attorney, or at least more letters, visits, phone calls, whatever. Such judgments are basically toothless in my state; it depends on the deadbeat's fear of the law. Makes me think a collection agency would be more effective; at least they have the ability to affect someone's credit rating; I don't think a civil judgment does that.

Good luck with whatever decision you make.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 08:35 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Jeff Emery View Post
So let's say you go to court, and you win. Now what? ........
Each state has it's own rules as to what happens if you win in Small Claims Court and the defendant doesn't pay or appeal the ruling. The state Denis lives in doesn't sound very supportive. Here's what a defendant in NC can look forward to if he/she loses in SCC and still refuses to pay up:

"If the defendant has not paid or appealed in the 10-day period, you can come to the civil division of the Clerk of Superior Court's Office and have the clerk issue an order to the sheriff called an execution. This gives the sheriff the power to demand payment of your judgment from the defendant. If the defendant does not pay, the sheriff can then seize any cash, vehicles, goods or other property of the defendant, sell them, and use the money to pay the judgment. The sheriff turns over any money collected in this way to the clerk, who notes payment in the official records and gives the money to you."

Small Claims Court here is not small potatoes. It has some teeth.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 09:25 AM   #21
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I'm very much in line with Jeff on payment.
I am paid in FULL by the wedding day. I think people who ask for final payment on delivery follow bad business practice. I can not spend time editing without payment.

As to small claims court, yes it may depend on the state but if you got a partial payment up front from anything with an account on it, you have an account to garnish if you win. Of course that account can be empty by the time you win if they really have no intention to pay. The judgement can damage their credit rating so you do have something to hold over them. For a newlywed couple damage to credit rating can have a major negative impact if they plan on buying a home, car, take out a loan, etc.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 09:54 AM   #22
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Just to clarify, this is NOT family or a friend. I think someone else metioned that they had an experience like that. Right now, were trying to go the payment route. Isnt it ridiculous that it pays for being late on payments? This account is over 100 days past due, and now I send her monthly and bi-weekly payment options, to make it easier for them to pay me. My attorney recommended trying that before taking further action. Also, as i stated in my original post, I understand I shouldnt have given the DVD's to the client without full payment, obvisously thats not my policy, but I tried to give the clients a break, which of course bit me firmly in da buttocks. Tis Business.
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Old September 25th, 2007, 09:21 PM   #23
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Travis,

I think it's total BS this runaround your customer is putting you through. It appears to me that her "I'll pay you when I can" attitude is an indicator that she doesn't intend to pay you at all. If she had any intention of paying you, she'd try to pay you a few dollars here and a few dollars there.

She's likely very content to let you suffer the loss. Now I don't know this person but I know that kind of behavior. And take some comfort in the fact that "what leaves home, comes home." She'll get burned eventually and deservedly so.

But no need to let this deadbeat affect your life in any way anymore. You don't need the aggravation, hassle, and headaches. Just put it behind you and move on. It can't be that much money.

Besides, I've checked out your website, which I like quite a bit. You've got talent. I don't think this one bad egg is going to ruin your business or your future.

Forge on and tell the deadbeat to ________ off! It's quite apparent that you could do more for her than she could ever do for you.

Jeff
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Old September 26th, 2007, 09:46 AM   #24
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I've had the exact same thing happen to me. Only difference is that I have not delivered and will not deliver the product until I have full payment.

It was a last minute booking, I didn't get them to sign contract or even a deposit (my mistake I know). I have made two requests for payments and got, "I'm trying to get your money together" both times.

Bottom line is that I'm putting it down to experience, I do not think they will come looking for the video, if they do all well and good it's there waiting for them. However, I will not be contacting them again, as I said I'm putting it down to experience!

NEVER DO A SHOOT WITHOUT A SIGNED CONTRACT OR A DEPOSIT --- that's what I've learned the hard way!
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Old September 26th, 2007, 09:57 AM   #25
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My advice, don't shoot without full payment for the event. Corporate work may be different, but weddings......... no payment no shoot, my time is very precious and I can't spend editing time for my other clients calling over and over again for payment.
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Old September 26th, 2007, 02:06 PM   #26
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This can be tricky, especially if it is a friend.

I think your only defense in this industry is to not tape their event if they do not pay on the day of.

You can prep them well in advance that there will be no filming unless I am paid in full before the ceremony.

Otherwise, you still do a lot of work and after seeing the catering bills, they can blow you off.

Not an easy situation, but more prosessional you can be up front, the better they will treat you.
That's what I do. 50% is due up front to book it, the balance is to be paid in full before the first tape rolls. If they've booked early enough, it gives them time to make 'easy' payments, so that by the wedding day, the balance has been paid off. It works for me.

But to respond to the first question; pester, pester, pester the @#$% out of them.

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Old September 30th, 2007, 11:29 PM   #27
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That's what I do. 50% is due up front to book it, the balance is to be paid in full before the first tape rolls.
Iím not going to say what is right or wrong. One great thing about owning your own business is that it is your business to conduct as you see fit.

I work on a 50/50 structure. 50% due at booking, the remaining amount is due before I edit.

This policy seems to work very well with me.

I usually get the final payment on the wedding day, if not, I go home and let the tapes sit in a file folder until I get a check in the mail.

The nice thing is that the client feels secure because they know you have a motivation to show up to their event.

I donít get angry if it takes a while for them to send me the second half since I havenít edited yet. If the client flakes out, no harm done since I havenít done any work yet.

I think more established companies can get away demanding 100% percent since they usually work on referral and reputation vs. craigslist, if you know what I mean.

One day, I hope I can be so demanding!
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Old October 1st, 2007, 01:01 AM   #28
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once you have a judgement - you then need to know where they keep their $$ ... if they paid you part of the payment then you know their bank ...
or you can get a collection agency involved either by selling the the judgement for X cents on the dollar or you get them to collect for X percent ...

IMO once they have the product there is no motivation to pay you -
so they don't pay you - what has happened so far ? nothing !!
they have a nice wedding DVD and they have saved a $xxxx$ = not a bad deal for them ....
you either go get it (by legal means) or forget about it ( as in eat it) - your choice ...

all the weddings that i've paid for - everybody had contracts where $$ was paid before the wedding date ( flowers , food, photo's/video, clothing, location).
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Old October 1st, 2007, 02:53 PM   #29
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all the weddings that i've paid for - everybody had contracts where $$ was paid before the wedding date ( flowers , food, photo's/video, clothing, location).
If you can get 100% payment, more power to you.

The difference with video production is that it's a 2 phase process. Catering, Venue, DJ, Flowers need all the money in advance because once the event is over that's it. From that point on, there is no further motivation to make a client pay. They don't have anything to hold onto like we do. If they don't pay, we keep the video, so we have some protection at least.
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Old October 1st, 2007, 02:57 PM   #30
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I like others request 20% on booking and then the balance 14 days before the event.... no pay, no return of deposit.

One issue always seems to be that before the event money is no object...what they want they go for as it is their special day.

After the event, they realise the cost of what they have done and any future expenditure for the event is very unlikely!

I offer some montage discs that hold just the short clip of the wedding for them. I have many couple that say they will order them after the wedding....guess what, not one ever has. If I do not sell them before, they certainly wont pay for anything else wedding related.

With this thought in mind I would suggest all of us get paid before. You may think that ethically this is right or wrong, but if you want to get paid.....
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