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Old November 6th, 2013, 06:52 PM   #1
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Contracts and down deposit

Hello all. As of now when I have a client fill out the contract it states $100 non-return deposit to set their date. 1/2 due at 1 month before wedding and the remaining balance is due when I hand them their dvds and usb flash drive. Do you guys collect more up front? and if so, is it non refundable if they change their minds down the road? Thanks in advance.
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Old November 6th, 2013, 07:13 PM   #2
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

Yes, more up front. For weddings, I structure it so that there are three or four equal payments at 1) booking; 2) December 1st; 3) February 15th; 4) at the event. I don't personally do any at delivery, though there is a penalty if I'm late.

The idea is, that as the date loses value, as we get closer and it's less likely someone else would book that date, they pay more. If they cancel 9 months out, I only have 25%. If they cancel 30 days out, I already have 75%. I chose dates of December and February because that coincides with the end of booking seasons for the next year. If they book on, say January 1st, then I only do three payments and adjust accordingly.
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Old November 6th, 2013, 07:16 PM   #3
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

Hi Jeff

$100.00 is a small enough amount to make them cancel in they change their mind later and not worry about a tiny loss!!

I ask for 1/3rd of the contract price within 7 days of contract signing, then a second 1/3rd 2 weeks before the wedding and the final 1/3rd when the product is ready for delivery ... With me it's no pay no delivery either ..the money has to be in the bank before I deliver/hand over. If they do mess around or cancel just before the big day 2/3rd's of the contract price has already been paid too!

Chris
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Old November 6th, 2013, 08:16 PM   #4
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

While I'm not a lawyer over the years in this industry I have spent a lot of money with lawyers to draw up and legal-ise my paperwork so here's my take.
FIRST-----Don't call it a "contract". Why? Contracts can be easily broken. I use a "Service Agreement". The client is agreeing to pay a certain price for my services on a certain date in the future. This had come to me from 3 different attorneys over the years and YES, it has been challenged by a couple of wedding clients. They lost!
SECOND----if I gave you or anyone $100.00 as a "deposit" well, frankly I've gone out to dinner and a show and spent more than that. Plus the food wasn't that good and I fell asleep during the show. Meaning $100.00 to 99% of people today isn't worth arguing about and they'll walk away from it and not even care. Get the most you can UP FRONT. Make them think about the loss they will suffer if they cancel. For me, I get 50% up front and the balance is due no later than 30 days prior to the date of the event. If they want to make small payments to me in the meantime, fine. I have it in my T&C a refund schedule if they cancel for ANY reason and it's been tested. they lost. BTW my up front money is NOT a DEPOSIT as DEPOSITS are associated with CONTRACTS and since I don't use a CONTRACT but a SERVICE AGREEMENT the money is considered to be a RETAINER since the client is RETAINING my SERVICES for a certain date and a particular event. Over my many years my paperwork has been test perhaps a half a dozen times maybe as many as 8 and I have never lost. BTW any refund that MIGHT be returned to the client is on a case by case basis and entirely up to ME.
Sound mean and tough? Perhaps but I run a business that has allowed me to feed, shelter & clothe my family. Take some really nice vacations have decent material things and live a nice life. Now as I wind down I look back and ask myself how did I manage to do that as a self taught still photographer back in the early 1970s and a self taught videographer starting back in 1983? I've never been the best cameraman or editor or producer but I do know how to run a business.
Dump the $100, tighten up your paperwork and go forth and make great video!
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Old November 6th, 2013, 10:03 PM   #5
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

Thanks alot. I will be making changes tonight to my Agreement. I figured $100 dollars was pretty low.
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Old November 6th, 2013, 10:27 PM   #6
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

Hi Jeff

Take it from people who have already tried the low deposit route and suffered. My thinking is that if a bride is serious she will not have an issue at all with a sizeable first payment. The only difference amongst us is that some insist that everything is paid prior to the wedding. I try to be a little fairer and make it 2/3rd's ..I have yet to be burned as it I had a situation where the bride never paid the final 1/3rd I still have 2/3rds and it's unlikely she will lose all that money and get nothing at all!

Make sure your "contract" or "service agreement" covers you adequately especially on liability!!

If you want a copy of mine to check, just email me

Chris
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Old November 6th, 2013, 11:56 PM   #7
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

50% up front to reserve the date, balance due the day of the event. Signed contract and non refundable retainer fee. I have been doing it this way for 13 years and it is rarely questioned. I also recommend taking credit cards, it really simplifies the payment process, gets you your money in hand right away and will give security to couples.

Over time you will have cancellations for various reasons, illness, change of mind, he cheated on me and I am taking him to court (yes that actually happened to me once). Anyway, chances of you rebooking a date are normally not always good so get that big deposit up front so you can feel a little better about not working a Saturday that you turned down other jobs for because you thought you were already booked!
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Old November 7th, 2013, 01:58 AM   #8
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

I guess its maybe different if you have 30+ weddings per year, but for me, doing it as a side business with only 15 a year, I just don't like the thought of having lots of money in my account for things I havn't yet done!

You have to look at it both ways. There could be an unforeseen circumstance that means YOU have to pull out. So you just can't guarantee that money is yours until you pull up at the venue with your cameras and start making your money (some of which you have already taken!)

If, (heaven forbid) I have a nervous breakdown, I'd rather be tasked with giving 100 deposits back to my couples than larger amounts.

I do in fairness ask for the full remainder to be paid on the day.

The way i tell them is - it would hardly do my business name any good if I fail to edit and provide DVDs at this point, so I ask them to trust me. And most do. Whats the chances of a guy filming your day for 12 hours and then refusing to provide the product if he's planning to stay in business.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 03:11 AM   #9
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

One third of the package cost as a non-returnable retainer fee (like Don I don't call it a deposit - as far as I'm concerned they are paying for me to keep keep the date and my services open and as such I wouldn't handle any enquiries for the same date).

My retainer invoice PDF has my service agreement and states clearly that by paying the retainer they agree to the agreement etc.

Then they can pay the remaining balance any time up to the day itself. I've only ever had one bride cancel - and that was a few days before - I was already charging my batteries! In those days I had 100 deposit and swiftly changed it - on the advice of the good people on this forum.

I don't take cash any more after an issue with fake notes! and try and get people to transfer money online - makes accounting easier as well. I don't like interim payments as my business account charges me per transaction.

Pete
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Old November 7th, 2013, 03:55 AM   #10
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

250 deposit on booking, 250, 90 days before the event, 30 days before date, full balance payable. Been there done the cancellation thing two days before when I could have booked someone else. No sign contract no videoooooo, no me.
Past month waited the 4 weeks for deposit of a client,no money has shown, someone else rang today and booked me, full deposit!! Other client, well you could have waited for me!! Yes I have love for 4 weeks, no money tough.
Don't get sentimental these days, its all about good work from me and earn money.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 04:18 AM   #11
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Rush View Post
One third of the package cost as a non-returnable retainer fee (like Don I don't call it a deposit - as far as I'm concerned they are paying for me to keep keep the date and my services open and as such I wouldn't handle any enquiries for the same date).

My retainer invoice PDF has my service agreement and states clearly that by paying the retainer they agree to the agreement etc.
ditto. I then have full payment 30 days before the date.
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Old November 7th, 2013, 08:28 AM   #12
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Re: Contracts and down deposit

I don't call it a deposit OR retainer. I call them 'non-refundable payments.' IF they pay early and then cancel, payments are refundable up until the date they are due.

I do allow that my 'act of god' clause covers the client, too, though my rule of thumb is, if they're going to be there, so am I (blizzards are an issue here).

If you don't take large deposits so you can cancel on them... what are you doing covering singular events like weddings? Good heavens... Here is my relevant clause for that, though its from my DJ contract:

No substitution may be made for Robert Benda, except in extreme emergency, such as severe illness, injury, suffer catastrophic equipment loss, a death of a parent, spouse, sibling, or child, or other extraordinary act of God, nature, or fate. In the case of such an emergency, Robert Benda agrees to take prudent actions to provide the CLIENT either an alternative DJ choice approved by the CLIENT, or, the CLIENT may accept a refund of all payments paid.
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