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Old May 21st, 2013, 04:27 AM   #16
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Steve, when you have a document open in Open Office simple go to File > Export As PDF

Adjust the options if you wish. I have JPEG Compression set to 90%, then under the General section of the General Tab tick Create PDF form (Submit Format PDF). Thats it, save it to an appropriate location.

I do this with lots of documents so that they can be viewed on my smartphone (galaxy S3) and Ipad 3 as well as being usable to clients.

Pete
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Old May 21st, 2013, 11:20 AM   #17
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Thanks Pete
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Old May 21st, 2013, 12:00 PM   #18
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Re: Getting contracts signed

I would advise everyone to use a contract. Forget what you call it, your clients aren't stupid they know what it is.

The other part is that it makes no sense to use a contract that's not legally binding or will not hold up in court anyway.

Peter your contract is way too long and probably wouldn't hold up in court for that reason alone. I've bought houses with less paperwork.

A contract also has to be of mutual benefit to both parties. you can not have a contract that favors you alone.

I had a client that signed the contract and didn't make their final payment on time which w is 2 weeks before the wedding. The bride called me the day before the wedding and assured me she would have the balance shortly after the wedding. About 6 weeks later she made the final payment. What that meant to her was that her wedding would be delivered in six weeks since we had in the contract a 12 week delivery schedule. I informed her she would be put back into the rotation starting on the date she made the last payment. Got a threatening call from the husband who proceeded to play Philadelphia lawyer with me. That didn't work.so I got a letter from a real lawyer. In the interim I get a call from the producers of the "Judge Judy " Tv show. The couple had made arrangements to play their case out on TV. I called their lawyer and asked if this is really what they want to do. I assured him that my contract was fair and iron clad. And he replied what contract? He said his clients told him there was no contract. I emailed him a copy of the signed contract. Case closed.
The bride was actually a sweetheart. Her husband was a jerk. I finished the wedding on my schedule and everybody was happy again.

I no longer do weddings but if I could find an old copy of the contract i will post it.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 04:02 PM   #19
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Gardner View Post
I would advise everyone to use a contract. Forget what you call it, your clients aren't stupid they know what it is.

The other part is that it makes no sense to use a contract that's not legally binding or will not hold up in court anyway.

Peter your contract is way too long and probably wouldn't hold up in court for that reason alone. I've bought houses with less paperwork.

A contract also has to be of mutual benefit to both parties. you can not have a contract that favors you alone.

I had a client that signed the contract and didn't make their final payment on time which w is 2 weeks before the wedding. The bride called me the day before the wedding and assured me she would have the balance shortly after the wedding. About 6 weeks later she made the final payment. What that meant to her was that her wedding would be delivered in six weeks since we had in the contract a 12 week delivery schedule. I informed her she would be put back into the rotation starting on the date she made the last payment. Got a threatening call from the husband who proceeded to play Philadelphia lawyer with me. That didn't work.so I got a letter from a real lawyer. In the interim I get a call from the producers of the "Judge Judy " Tv show. The couple had made arrangements to play their case out on TV. I called their lawyer and asked if this is really what they want to do. I assured him that my contract was fair and iron clad. And he replied what contract? He said his clients told him there was no contract. I emailed him a copy of the signed contract. Case closed.
The bride was actually a sweetheart. Her husband was a jerk. I finished the wedding on my schedule and everybody was happy again.

I no longer do weddings but if I could find an old copy of the contract i will post it.
Wow ... sounds like an absolute horror story.

I understand where your coming from ... but re-wording it during communications may make the difference of getting a booking and not getting a booking ... that's what we are discussing here.

i.e. saying can you sign a mutual agreement form just so both of us know what we expect of each other.

Rather than saying I need you to sign a contract.

The latter just sounds better and less threatening.

No body likes contracts ... be it the gym, or mobile phones!
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Old May 21st, 2013, 04:06 PM   #20
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Re: Getting contracts signed

contract is way too long and probably wouldn't hold up in court for that reason alone

That is based on what exactly Al ??? Which clauses would you leave out and prefer to take a chance on? A contract CANNOT be too long, it can only be "guilty" of being obtuse in a deliberate attempt to gain an advantage over one party. Since my contract is always online and it is perfectly clear to the clients that a contract is required they have all the time and opportunity in the world to raise queries before committing themselves. And they get a countersigned copy - which I now supply by PDF attached to an email so they cannot lose it. And a cooling off period.

In the UK minor commercial business to consumer disputes are dealt with by the small claims court. That has a more common sense approach than the confrontational nature of higher court proceedings. In effect an adjudicator listens to both sides, asks questions, and rules. Both parties are obliged to accept the ruling.

The idea expressed by some members that they don't like the idea of a contract because it is a contract is worrisome. Bite the bullet before you get taken to the cleaners - there are some evil people out there. Peter T's recent post about a client trying to get a full refund after she had had delivery and the opportunity to copy the disc (which she had already said she liked) is a surprisingly common scenario as reported on private photo forums.

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Old May 21st, 2013, 05:23 PM   #21
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Re: Getting contracts signed

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Originally Posted by Peter Riding View Post
Which clauses would you leave out and prefer to take a chance on? A contract CANNOT be too long,
It's far too long Peter... and too legal. Would certainly put me off.

ie: You have put....

"Any alterations to orders must be notified either by phone or email and confirmed in writing (sent by
Royal Mail special delivery) within three working days of the order being placed. The photographer(s)
videographer(s) will not be held liable for any costs incurred due to alterations to the order made by the
client after this time."

I put....

"It is the client’s sole responsibility to inform the producer of any specific needs or changes in events."

And you've included stuff like....

"Peter Riding / Ashton Lamont may store your data on a private internal database. This data
will not be made available to outside companies or individuals. Should you wish to have your data
removed from the database, please advise in writing and retain your confirmation."

I mean, what bride is even worried about that? She's trying to choose between pink flowers and red flowers, not read through a law assignment.

My contract is 1/2 page, covers all the basic points in plain english - no lingo. Works for me.

But if your one is working for you, all good. At least you are covered. But your competition may appear 'less complicated' and therefore easier to book with.
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Old May 21st, 2013, 07:43 PM   #22
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Manford View Post
Wow ... sounds like an absolute horror story.

I understand where your coming from ... but re-wording it during communications may make the difference of getting a booking and not getting a booking ... that's what we are discussing here.

i.e. saying can you sign a mutual agreement form just so both of us know what we expect of each other.

Rather than saying I need you to sign a contract.

The latter just sounds better and less threatening.

No body likes contracts ... be it the gym, or mobile phones!
James,
I understand what you mean about the tone of the word. But let me make it clear, I never in 15 years of doing weddings had a client that barked at a contract. As a matter of fact they expected one. A good honest, clear and concise contract makes things better for both parties. I'm shocked that you guy s could even imagine losing a booking over signing a contract.
Al
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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:25 PM   #23
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Re: Getting contracts signed

This is an older one I found from 2002. If I find a later version I will upload it. There were 2 modifications made to this document in later versions and one of them regarding turnaround time saved my butt.

In the edit section I had added a 12 week turnaround time.

And at the very bottom I had replaced the Client has read etc .. line with : Do not sign unless all of your questions have been answered and you fully understand this document

My lawyer advised me to use the term Performance fee.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Contract doc.pdf (170.5 KB, 103 views)
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Old May 21st, 2013, 08:32 PM   #24
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Hi Guys

I too have never had a bride question a contract but, like John, mine is a simple one and uses the terminology "terms and conditions" rather than "contract" .. the only thing I did change quite a few years back was a simple clause giving me full editorial control otherwise "changes" can go on for ever. I simply specify payment conditions, non refundable deposits and my limitation of liability. In practice it is well spaced so takes up 3/4 page but the text itself could easily take up less than 1/2 page ... the bride simply signs the bottom and dates it agreeing to my terms and conditions.

I don't think I have ever had anyone question a clause ... I just go thru the clauses and ask them to sign and they do. It probably could easily be torn to pieces by a smart lawyer with lots of legal mumbo jumbo but it's highly unlikely that legal companies would even take on a case where the bride has refused to pay her final $300 on time ...it just isn't worth their while and for pretty amounts I doubt whether the bride or hubby would bother either ... it must be fairly good as I did a B&G a few years ago where he was an already practicing lawyer and she was training to be one ..they had a quick skim thru the wording and signed it!!

Chris
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 01:57 AM   #25
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Come on chaps do you really think that clients choose you based on your contract (unless of course you have silly stuff in it blatantly disadvantaging them).

The paperwork is the last thing they look at. What really matters is your website, your samples, what you offer, your price, your meeting (if applicable). Once they are satisfied they do the chore of completing the paperwork.

I too have had very many lawyers, accountants, management consultants etc over the years and none has ever queried my contract. Although that may be because they think they can circumvent it should they need arise I do doubt that; it is based on the recommendations of UK trade bodies and modified to take in the real world experience of colleagues who have had litigious clients.

John K, e.g. in the UK you have to put in the stuff about data, there is no choice. You are also wide open to clients coming back at any time in the future - even years later - demanding changes or re-edits. If you like to live dangerously thats your choice :- )

10+ years of high volume and nil queries means contracts are not the stumbling block many on here imagine them to be.

Pete
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 02:57 AM   #26
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Re: Getting contracts signed

If i may butt into the conversation, here where i am in Liverpool they laugh at me when i say have you signed the terms, contract whatever you call it!! Only a few sign. What do i do? do i cancel them? no, i make sure i get paid 30 days before and then i ring them twice before the event and tell them excactly whats happening and fine tune all details... Yes im leaving myself open but touch wood not many complaints and if they come back with anything i try fix it. If they try it on i offer them a freebie, if they really try it on i tell them my terms and conditions are on line, they then back down.
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 06:35 AM   #27
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Gardner View Post
This is an older one I found from 2002. If I find a later version I will upload it. There were 2 modifications made to this document in later versions and one of them regarding turnaround time saved my butt.

In the edit section I had added a 12 week turnaround time.

And at the very bottom I had replaced the Client has read etc .. line with : Do not sign unless all of your questions have been answered and you fully understand this document

My lawyer advised me to use the term Performance fee.
Interesting Al - What do you call 'Performance Fee'? A nice, short (and not scary) contract though

Pete
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 06:41 AM   #28
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Re: Getting contracts signed

The USA is far different from England, AUS, NZ Canada, Europe and any other county when it comes to legalities.
Far be it from me to say that doing any work without a contract (I HATE that word-I call mine a Service Agreement but that's me on advice from counsel) is a mind bending No-No but around HERE it is. People not only expect it in many cases they demand it. I have NEVER had a B&G question WHY I'm using an SA. They might question something written in it but never the fact that I am using it. Why? It protects both of us. Sure it protects me more BUT it spells out what they are paying for, what they should expect to get, when they should expect to get it, what will and won't be re-edited, what the charge would be for that, how I have the right to pack it in should I feel I am in danger, what happens in case of an act of God (see: Moore OK this week as an example) everything that could possibly go wrong and a contingency for that is covered in my T&C. I spent many hours over a number of years and a bunch of money with my lawyer fine lining my Service Agreement so SHOULD someone want to try to sue me, well their chances are slim and none and Slim is leaving town. I run a business, and for 30 years I have provided a service and product and just like I have never bought a house or a car without paperwork I wouldn't do a job without it either.
My SA for weddings is 4 pages. Page 1 has the information about the B&G. Page 2 has the information about the ceremony and reception like addresses, times etc, things that over the years I feel are important to me to know. Page 3 is additional information, like who the photog is, the DJ (band) and any other specialty information I feel I need to know to make my job a little easier and Page 4 is the T&C. They initial all pages and sign the last and I have never been questioned about it the length of it nor the use.
Perhaps in other parts of the world or even this country one can do business with a handshake but I learned a long time ago, while you're shaking one hand the client is probably reaching around to stab you in the back with the other hand.
I just can't bring myself to not protect myself and the client by not using the proper paperwork.
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 07:43 AM   #29
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Re: Getting contracts signed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
This has been discussed before but I'd like to know what folks are currently doing regarding getting your contracts signed - currently I'm sending out 2 signed copies and a pre-paid envelope so one can be returned to me - not expensive or much hassle but an electronic version of this would be more elegant but docusign @ $15/month seems a little pricey for maybe only 30-40 contracts/year

Pete
https://www.echosign.adobe.com

Echosign allows 5 contracts per month at no cost, 10 if you integrate a twitter account. This sounds like it might work for you as an alternative to docusign.
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Old May 22nd, 2013, 09:02 AM   #30
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Re: Getting contracts signed

I use shootq - it includes a facility for an electronic contract. It's a complete client management system - from initial inquiry to final payment - I couldn't do without it. In the US it includes payment via paypal and other online systems - no good to me but I've worked out a way around that.
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