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Old December 30th, 2011, 03:55 AM   #16
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Taky's right - you supplied a wedding service just as the caterers, flower arrangers, minister, DJ and limo driver did. They all got paid and so too should you.

tom.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 06:59 AM   #17
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Good point Tom. I'd like to see them try and get a refund from the limo company or the baker.

Michael should ask his client who else is refunding money. The client's response would answer their own question.

Michael: "Is the cake lady giving you your money back? " . Client: "No".

Michael: "Is the church refunding your money?". Client: "No".

Michael: "Neither can I."
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Old December 30th, 2011, 09:04 AM   #18
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

I agree with others that you provided the service, so you should be paid in full. And until a person who has actually signed the contract with you contacts you to tell you things have changed, I would continue to finish and deliver the product as though the brother never called you.

Perhaps suggest to the brides brother that the bride herself contacts you by email to continue the discussion. That way she can contact you in a non-confrontational way in her own time, and you'll get written evidence of the conversation should you ever need it for a defence case.

Hopefully, the issue will not go any further, becuase as you said, neither the bride nor groom want anything to do with any wedding related stuff, and I'm sure that the divorce proceedings will give them their fill of civil court drama. The fact they got their brother to call in the first place might be a good sign that, attorney or not, the bride is not planning any action - at least not any time soon - which means you have some time to finish the project, deliver it, and make a thorough record of the events.

Of course none of this advice comes from a legal proffessional, it is merely what I would do in this situation.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 10:37 AM   #19
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

I was in a similar situiation, in fact I posted it here to get advice advice. 2 weeks after the wedding they are getting a divorce. The fight was who gets the wedding album, the groom wanted it coz he wants to burn it, the Bride for some reson wanted it as well. The wedding was paid for btw. In the end, thanks to advice given here, I gave it to the Groom and let him signed a letter stating that my obligation has been fulfilled.

In your case, I would definitely not give them a refund. Work has been done and you have fulfilled your part of the obligation.

My 2 cents.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 03:18 PM   #20
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Wouldn't even consider a refund. You earnt it. Period. Sounds like they didn't think anything through, including the marriage, so why should you pay for their failures? Finish it up, send it, show us the highlights, add it to your showreel, revel in the money. :)
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Old December 30th, 2011, 10:01 PM   #21
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

I don't think I've ever seen a thread where opinions were so unanimous on a subject.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 12:50 AM   #22
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Hope we get a followup!
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Old December 31st, 2011, 03:56 AM   #23
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

okay, so I'm going to (sorta) go against what everyone else has said.

I agree that it's not your problem to refund any money, nor should you in most cases, but what sticks in my head is that you really enjoyed working with them. So should either of them get married again in the future (or any of their fun family members) hopefully they'll call you again, but they may not if you dont offer some kind of goodwill leeway.

I suppose that would be something you'd be able to gauge yourself better than anyone here, if your reluctance seems like it could ruin the relationship you had (and might still keep) then offer some kind of (small) refund as a condolence...just enough to cover the cost of exporting and burning and packaging etc.

That's just my thought, and I don't really know if couples would be interested in using the same videographer because it might remind them of the last wedding, so maybe Im just totally off point here.

Just thought it was worth mentioning.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 07:46 AM   #24
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

David, take the advice offered from your fellow videographers.

Communicate only with those people whose name appears on the contract.

Your idea of a refund and their idea of a refund may be be two different things. Why kick that door open? Now you've opened up a point to debate. Maybe you think $100 is fair but they think $1000 is fair. Now what? You've entered into a discussion of a refund with all those sticky implication. The more you talk the more you loose.

Don't ask who else is giving refunds. How do you know if they are telling the truth? Actually, you shouldn't care if the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker all offered refunds. You have no way to verify the truthfullness of that statement.

Next time around the bride won't wear the same dress, the groom won't offer the same engagement ring and you won't be the video guy.

I understand this is a painful situation but it is their pain. Don't become a partner.

I say, deliver the final product ASAP to all contracted parties.

Then take the family out to dinner use the money you might have refunded to remind yourself not only are you a good videographer but a good business owner too!

Last edited by Jay Knobbe; December 31st, 2011 at 07:50 AM. Reason: thought
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Old December 31st, 2011, 08:04 AM   #25
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Jay, no one is giving refunds, that's the point. Wedding vendors don't give refunds for reasons of divorce. If the client says her cake baker give a refund she would by lying. If she says the church is giving a refund, the client would be lying. You never ask a question to which you do not know the answer in a situation like this.

It's all besides the point anyway, the client is not mature enough to handle the situation themselves anyway. It's over, and they brother is only trying to see what he can salvage. Their point of view is likely "It never hurts to try". No reasonable person could expect a refund after the work is performed.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 09:14 AM   #26
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

Hello Jeff,

When I said don't ask who else is giving refunds I was refering to other vendors who supplied that particular wedding party, not our own video community.

It sounded to me like the clients brother asked for a partial refund to "better serve the family" and Mr. Bray was wrestling with that decision, partially based on the thought of possible future business from either couple or family members. I based my response that premise.

A consideration could be an offer of discount for future contracted business. Then there is no monetary loss now and if on the remote possibilty there is the opportunity of future business they would be more likely to call.

I believe discussions with anyone other than the client will only lead to trouble. Even a statement as simple as "let me think about it" opens the door of discussion to a subject that should be avoided.

Last edited by Jay Knobbe; December 31st, 2011 at 09:24 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old December 31st, 2011, 09:37 AM   #27
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

If you've been knocked around the wedding business for long enough, you come to understand that bending over backwards for the glimmer of hope for a future booking is usually a waste of time. Hoping to salvage a "relationship" or referral for future business by giving away money is not my idea of a wise use of funds. It would be better to give money to a deserving charity than to unhappy clients.

"If I'm nice I might get a job in the future" is what newbies in the business do. I know, I've done it. We learn that there is SO much business out there you do not have to over-extend yourself for difficult clients. You do the best you can for a fair price and you're pretty much done.

In the end it's better to be fair, rather than to be "nice". And in this case it is not fair to anyone to refund money. I guarantee you the OP will not be giving a refund. To do so would be a sucker move, and Michael may be a nice guy, but he's not stupid.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 10:32 AM   #28
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

I have always been trusting and only asked for a down payment and the balance when complete. After reading this thread I will be making a New Years Resolution.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 10:58 AM   #29
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

I'm sorry that I will probably upset most of you (and I apologize in advance), but in a situation like this I would try to work with the couple. I'd give them a break and not be judgmental about them -- divorce is horrible. I'd definitely try to not lose money when it's all said and done, but I'd try to ease the stress of the situation for them (and ultimately myself).

I've been in and out of the wedding video business for 15 years or so -- I'm definitely not a newbie. I genuinely enjoy helping people.

Of course, I'm fairly safeguarded against these kinds of things happening to me. First of all, I get all my money before the wedding. Secondly, I deliver the finished video within a few weeks -- chances are, they'll still be together at that point.

And if this were a perfectly happy couple who just didn't feel like fulfilling their end of the obligation, I'd be a little tougher about things.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 02:18 PM   #30
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Re: Divorce before video is finished

UPDATE:

Hi all,

First, I want to thank everyone for your replies, comments, suggestions, and opinions. I agree with Jeff Harper that it's refreshing to see the overwhelming majority of replies in complete agreement.

Sorry I wasn't able to post sooner regarding the resolution, but here it is:

I called the BOB (brother of bride) and ended up speaking with the MOB. Needless to say, it wasn't an easy conversation...she, of course, was very distraught about the entire situation and in tears. I apologized for her family's troubles and tried to empathize with her as best anyone can. I explained to her that we are a service provider. Whether we're doing corporate work or weddings...anytime we're on-location or doing a film shoot, we are providing a service and it wasn't going to be feasible to provide a partial refund as the work or service in this case, was already performed. I further explained (delicately) that my service agreement is a legally binding contract that requires me to fulfill my end of the agreement (i.e. film the event and deliver the tangible product). I suggested that I still deliver the discs and that they are free to do with them as they please, such as keep them boxed up for a number of years until the feelings of hurt or anger dissipate with time. I have a feeling at some point in time someone in the family will unbox them and watch it.

Anyway, it was pretty straight forward. The service was performed and there was going to be no refund due to no fault of my own. As stated in my OP, a refund never really crossed my mind, but what made this situation slightly different from the limo driver, baker, floral and other vendors is that their services and/or tangible products had already been delivered, whereas my services had been completed but the tangible portion had not been delivered. Had this happened just a bit later, this would have been a non-issue for me. Now, for a slightly different topic…we have always received payment in full a minimum of two weeks before the wedding day so again, a non-issue for us but for those of you who don't collect the balance until delivery, let this be a potential lesson on how important is to receive full payment BEFORE the wedding day.

It sucks to put in all of the work we did only to find out that it might never be watched...not to mention, out of respect for the family, we will not be using any of the footage for our demo reels or web samples. Too bad really...as it was at one of the nicer venues in the Grand Rapids area. I guess at the end of the day, we still got paid very well for our efforts.

Thanks again to all of you for your replies. Hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Michael
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