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Old September 4th, 2013, 03:25 AM   #1
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Importance of a signed contract

Hi All - for many years I have used a service agreement which is part of my retainer invoice - the actual wording is from a contract I got when I was a member of the IOV many moons ago (I've amended it slightly over the years) but rather than going through the whole signing process - On the invoice it clearly states

"Please note that by paying this retainer you accept the terms of the service agreement below"

Does anyone else work in a similar way or is a signed contract the absolute way to go?

Thanks

Pete
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Old September 4th, 2013, 03:43 AM   #2
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

I did think about a similar service agreement to yours, but I did consider that in the event of a dispute, could you prove that the client had ever received the agreement if they deny it? At least with a contract that both parties have signed, you have a copy in your hands in the event of a dispute, it then comes down to making sure that the clauses cover just about everything.

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Old September 4th, 2013, 04:08 AM   #3
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Hi Roger - the reason I went down this route is that I thought a 'signing of the contract' might scare some clients off - especially in the early days when I took on a lot of more lower paid basic 'registry office' type weddings where I was often dealing with people maybe not used to signing contracts (tying hard not to be politically incorrect here!)

Also I felt it's a little like installing software or buying a DVD "By ticking this box you agree....." or "By opening this seal you agree....."

I figured if it's good enough for the big software companies and media providers it would be good enough for me.

Pete

Also I send my BACS details so the client could not pay the retainer without receiving the invoice :)

Last edited by Peter Rush; September 4th, 2013 at 04:49 AM.
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Old September 4th, 2013, 04:50 AM   #4
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Hi Pete, as you say, if they receive your bacs details and make payment then there is your proof of agreement :-)

Personally, I have never had a problem with clients signing my contract as it seems to reassure them that their booking is secure having both signatures on a piece of paper. I always get them to send the signed contract rather than signing in my presence, which would seem to me to be a bit heavy handed. Perhaps my way works better for me and my clients, as no money exchanges are made until completion, so it is peace of mind for both sides.

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Old September 4th, 2013, 05:52 AM   #5
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

recently i've had a few cancellations after i sent a service agreement, perhaps the prospect of actually paying for a service scared them off!
ive had three this year, who had more than expressed an interest but had actively said that they wanted to avail of my service, but on receipt of the service agreement eventually backed out.
So at the end of the day, they were only 'tyre kickers' so i suppose in that respect it weeds out the people who wont/cant actually go with you.
I do think the signing of an agreement is important as it protects both parties in the event of a dispute.
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Old September 4th, 2013, 06:37 AM   #6
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Signed contract is absolutely the way to go. It spells out responsibilities and resolutions for any issues. I won't work without one. It protects both me and the client.

Where and when do we have to be filming (Oh, I thought I told you to meet us here!?), When do we get paid, who is in charge of what (the edit, for example); our obligation to deliver the finished videos within a certain amount of time; who owns the videos after (we give them personal rights, but retain commercial rights).

Plus, I feel it sets *some* expectation of professionalism.
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Old September 4th, 2013, 06:41 AM   #7
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

I really like your idea Peter ...

I've put of a few people with contracts. But your method is a good one. Basically have it attached to the invoice in the same document. If you pay the retainer, you agree to the terms of service.
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Old September 4th, 2013, 06:44 AM   #8
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

In regards to signed ... i've always had to chase people to 'digitally' type in their name on their PC and email back a document. I rarely meet people until the actual wedding.

I prefer Peter's idea. I'm sure it will still cover you as well ? ultimately how often will some one go to court ... unless you seriously made a mess out of their wedding video!
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Old September 4th, 2013, 06:59 AM   #9
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Cantwell View Post
recently i've had a few cancellations after i sent a service agreement, perhaps the prospect of actually paying for a service scared them off!
ive had three this year, who had more than expressed an interest but had actively said that they wanted to avail of my service, but on receipt of the service agreement eventually backed out.
So at the end of the day, they were only 'tyre kickers' so i suppose in that respect it weeds out the people who wont/cant actually go with you.
I do think the signing of an agreement is important as it protects both parties in the event of a dispute.
Same here Rob, this year sent out four contracts for 2014 and waited and waited but they will not sign, on my contracts if they dont pay the balance within 30 days before the wedding day or they cancel before the day, they have to pay a certain amount. Liverpool are clever weary people and if they feel they would have to pay because of cancellation they wont sign a contract.
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Old September 4th, 2013, 07:12 AM   #10
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

I've preached for years that if you work without a sign service agreement or contract you are setting yourself up to get bent over! Plain and simple. You don't buy a house or a car without signing papers (contract since it's a product you are buying OR selling) why would you put out your services without protecting yourself.
I don't want to sound nasty or mean but anyone that doesn't use a service agreement or contract deserves everything they get. BTW, in the USA should you get audited by the friendly local Internal Revenue Service, you'd better have signed paperwork to backup what you put on your tax forms. They like to see PROOF you did what you said you did and should you EVER get taken to court, the old gentleman's agreement has about as much credence as having Captain Kangaroo as your lawyer.
Just sayin'!
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Old September 4th, 2013, 07:23 AM   #11
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

I should clarify here that I include my full service agreement as part of my invoice (Invoice details on page one and service agreement terms on pages 2 and 3 - my agreement covers 'Delivery of Product/Permissions and Consents/Restrictions and Filming/Requests for Changes/Cancellation Policy' etc etc - pretty much what everyone else's on this forum covers - I'm merely asking for opinions on the way the service agreement is 'agreed'

I think my method has as much validity as if you tick a box to agree the terms when installing Photoshop compared to a signed contract. Seems to be good enough for Adobe

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Old September 4th, 2013, 08:08 AM   #12
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Hi Pete

I have a two sheet contract and the first is purely bride details, venue details and financial details. (I like to let them have the full specs just in case they argue that I was supposed to be at the bride's house at 11pm and the spec sheet will tell them it was in fact 1pm. My second and most important is my terms and conditions which of course lists payment dates and liability and such and that's where they sign to say they agree to abide by the terms and conditions plus details of the wedding.

I try to make it non threatening without leaving myself open to all sorts of issues and it certainly has worked for me for over 20 years!! Whether they like it or not it's absolutely essential to cover yourself and can be clearly seen on the post on this page where the groom is threatening to sue for $20K

We have to look after ourselves too!!

Chris
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Old September 4th, 2013, 01:10 PM   #13
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
I should clarify here that I include my full service agreement as part of my invoice (Invoice details on page one and service agreement terms on pages 2 and 3 - my agreement covers 'Delivery of Product/Permissions and Consents/Restrictions and Filming/Requests for Changes/Cancellation Policy' etc etc - pretty much what everyone else's on this forum covers - I'm merely asking for opinions on the way the service agreement is 'agreed'
This is exactly they way that we work too. I know another videographer pal of mine who does the same. The "service agreement", "terms & conditions" or whatever you want to call it has all the salient points (agaian it's a cut down version of the IOV model contract). I like to keep an email audit trail so everything is clear (dates, places, times, what is promised, what is to be delivered etc). The fact that there is no signed piece of paper doesn't matter. It''s just as valid a contract as if it were signed.
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Old September 5th, 2013, 12:19 PM   #14
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Re: Importance of a signed contract

I've used contracts for 13 years. My contract page has 23 bulleted "terms and conditions" at about 6 pt font so they all fit on one page.

Never had any issues with anyone not wanting to sign it.
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