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Old January 18th, 2009, 04:11 PM   #1
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Contract Termination Question.

Hopefully none of you have had this issue...but if so I'm looking for advice/thoughts?

I booked a couple in March 08 for an Oct 09 Wedding (so 18 mths away). They paid the deposit, signed the contract, end of story. Fast forward 8-9 mths later and I get an email from them and turns out they are trying to cut costs and need to omit videography. No biggie, they realized they needed to forfeit the deposit, and again clean and simple. I now have the date available.

So....here's my thing...it has occurred to me recently that we have nothing on paper that states the contract is terminated. I'm worried this could come back to bite me in the behind. What if they contact me AFTER the event claiming I didn't show up and demand a refund?

What should I do in the future when a contract is terminated?

ETA: In this case I'm going to try and dig up the emails and keep them on file ( IF I still have them!)

Last edited by Kelsey Emuss; January 18th, 2009 at 04:12 PM. Reason: added sentence
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Old January 18th, 2009, 04:28 PM   #2
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Hi Kelsey,

I actually just had a couple cancel on me for July.They broke up unfortunately.I decided to give them their deposit back after checking with the venue and church where they were holding the event of course.I just made up a simple form and had them sign and date it....end of story.Hope that helps:)

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Old January 18th, 2009, 06:49 PM   #3
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I had a lady cancel on me as well. The contract requires something in writing... so she sent me a note saying my services were no longer needed on that day.

That way IF the couple DOES get back together and things are on again and they forget to tell me about it, they can't come back and say, 'where were you?!'
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Old January 18th, 2009, 07:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ryan Morey View Post
Hi Kelsey,

I actually just had a couple cancel on me for July.They broke up unfortunately.I decided to give them their deposit back after checking with the venue and church where they were holding the event of course.I just made up a simple form and had them sign and date it....end of story.Hope that helps:)

Ryan
Be careful refunding deposits, or as we call them retainers. Once you do it, you will end up having to do it for all customers. We have given a credit for services later, but never refund the retainer fee. I took a day and made no plans with my family, or another client, chances are I turned down other income for that day.
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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:04 PM   #5
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I am not returning deposits only in case when I prove profit loss for the date, with the phone # and names of the potential customers that I had to turn down,
other than that, sign the paper off you go, life, you know..
but that's 'me :)
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Old January 18th, 2009, 08:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Denny Kyser View Post
Be careful refunding deposits, or as we call them retainers. Once you do it, you will end up having to do it for all customers. We have given a credit for services later, but never refund the retainer fee. I took a day and made no plans with my family, or another client, chances are I turned down other income for that day.
I'm not to worried about word getting out on this particular refund if that's what you mean.They live out of state.Either way it's in my contract that all deposits are non refundable and we make that painfully clear when signing a contract.I've already re-booked the date and am not concerned in the least about something coming back to haunt me.We have a signed cancelation of services form and a cancelled check.No worries....If anything came up I would just have to go break some knee caps (Saprono's style...hehe) oooooh ya!

Ryan
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Old January 18th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #7
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Three things.

First, I'll bet most of us have had to deal with cancellations. I know I have. It's all part of the business we're in.

Second, you MUST have it in your contract that if certain payments aren't made at certain times, then the date is no longer held for that client. In other words, say the remaining balance is due 30 days before, or say you have a 3-month-before payment due. In your contract it should state that if either of these are not paid on time, then the date is no longer reserved. That covers you in the event that you don't get anything in writing.

Third, get something in writing. Either by email or regular mail .. even a voicemail is better than nothing. Just be nice with the couple and ask them to send you an email (since that is so convenient for most). I had a couple last year that booked my largest package, but they work for the airlines and their jobs came into risk. They had to postpone their date. Even though we had discussed it on the phone, I sent them an email and asked them to confirm back via email.

Hope that helps, and sorry. At least you got the date rebooked. I never did.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #8
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We have a no refund policy on deposits, but rarely stick to it. If we have a bride call/email about a date that is already booked, we make a note on the calendar. If one of our brides has to cancel for whatever reason, we check to see if someone else has asked about that date. If there were no requests, we will refund their deposit. If someone has asked about the date, we explain to the bride that we have turned away possible business because of them and we are not able to give them a refund. If they cancel us 9+ months before the wedding, we also give a refund. So far we haven't had any problems with this. If brides ask us up front what our cancellation policy is, we explain this to them.

hth
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Old January 20th, 2009, 07:23 AM   #9
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when I first read the title of this post I must have been reading it backwards. I was wondering why we were discussing a "termination contract" I thought perhaps I went to the wrong forum-maybe "Hitmen Incorporated" or something.
Anyway, I always make sure I have any cancellation in writing. As my lawyer has always said "if it's not in writing it deosn't exsist". Secondly depending on the how far out the cancellation is will determine IF and HOW MUCH of a refund they might receive. My service has thecancellation policy spelled out quite clearly and while I go over it with my clients it's a very low key thing. I don't make any more of it than I do the fact that they need to supply me a meal of some sort.

Don
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Old January 20th, 2009, 09:01 AM   #10
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Personally, I haven't had this happen yet, but I think it's wise to have a no refund of the deposit policy in your contract - for your protection. But, I think depending on the the case, if it' s enough out to either book another client or spend time with your family, it's cool to refund it. Good kharma and all that...

Kelsey, I'm not a lawyer, but I think it could come back to bite you if it's not in your contract. I would add that line ASAP for all your future clients.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 12:53 PM   #11
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Not sure if this applies in the US or not, but in New Zealand, we take a "booking fee", and never refer to it as a "deposit".

A "deposit" is a down-payment on goods or services, so it can be argued that if no goods or services are delivered, then the "deposit" must be returned. Or at least, there might be a legal case for someone to argue this.

A (non-refundable) "booking fee" however is a fee charged to hold the date for someone. If the date is cancelled, no monies get returned because the service has already been provided.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 02:18 PM   #12
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John makes a good point... thus it is commonly referred to as a NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT in most professionally written contracts. Leaving out the key term "NON-REFUNDABLE" leaves the door wide open to litigation.
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Old January 20th, 2009, 02:37 PM   #13
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Thanks everyone!

In my contract (which this couple signed and understood) I do state that the fee is a RESERVATION fee and it also a NON_REFUNDABLE fee. Of course the reservation fee is applied to the balance on the day of the wedding.

One thing that my contract is lacking is a cancellation policy. I am going to ensure that from this point forward I am going to get the cancellation in wrting as well.

In this particular case the couple were apologetic and didn't even request a refund. BUT my concern is that without anything regarding the cancellation in writing, they could claim I was a no show and try to get thier money back.

Worse I can't find the email in which they contacted me and cancelled. Even worse...I don't want to all of a sudden ask for a written cancellation and make them realize that they could screw me. We'll see what happens!
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Old January 20th, 2009, 06:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom View Post
when I first read the title of this post I must have been reading it backwards. I was wondering why we were discussing a "termination contract" I thought perhaps I went to the wrong forum-maybe "Hitmen Incorporated" or something.
You're from Chicago, right? (grin)
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Old January 26th, 2009, 12:46 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chad Dyle View Post
We have a no refund policy on deposits, but rarely stick to it. If we have a bride call/email about a date that is already booked, we make a note on the calendar. If one of our brides has to cancel for whatever reason, we check to see if someone else has asked about that date. If there were no requests, we will refund their deposit. If someone has asked about the date, we explain to the bride that we have turned away possible business because of them and we are not able to give them a refund. If they cancel us 9+ months before the wedding, we also give a refund. So far we haven't had any problems with this. If brides ask us up front what our cancellation policy is, we explain this to them.

hth
Just throwing in my 2 cents to say that this seems like the most reasonable policy to follow on refunds.

Edit: Kelsey, don't worry about it too much. If worse comes to worse and they threaten you with legal trouble give them their deposit back, but I don't think that'll happen. You're better off preparing for the future.

I know you're worried about lawsuits but the problem they present, while large, is really overblown. If you were taken to court and gave the deposit back the judge would laugh them out of the courtroom for continuing litigation despite them not losing anything and despite you giving them their money back. Judges can throw out frivolous suits and even if you didn't refund them the money the suit probably wouldn't stick.
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