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Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...


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Old June 19th, 2006, 12:42 PM   #1
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How to handle the negative.....

I have been in the business 2 years and have had only praise so far but knew that wouldn't last forever. I had a wedding this year and beforehand I had a feeling it was going to be difficult because the only response I could get out of the bride when I asked her questions was "I don't know." I was persistant that I was informed of all details yet she seemed more clueless about the wedding then I did. Finally the day arrived and I had to resort to asking everyone else to get responses and the biggest was from the priest who told me the 2 places where I could put cameras and that was it. This is where it really started rolling down hill...... To fast foward the bride recieved her video and I told her to let me know within 2 weeks of anything she was unhappy with as I would still have it on my computer and could easily fix. Over a month later is when she finally responds back to me and says "I love most of the video BUT......." To sum it all up, she was very upset about the camera angles at the ceremony. I explained she signed in the contract she had permission for me to video when she never asked so I had to follow the priest's orders. Then she kept asking why I couldn't have tilted the camera differently to get different angles. (ie, straight on of the bride looking at the groom, straight on of the groom looking at the bride, straight on of the priest looking at the guests, straight on of the flower girls looking up at the priest... all with 2 cameras) Then she said I never got a shot of her "great aunt" anywhere in the video and I never went outside where the guests where all smoking and I should have known to do that since most of them where out there the whole time. None of this was specified to me when I had her fill out the question sheet of what to get/what not to get. Now, she says she wants a refund or she is going to tell everyone she knows not to hire me because I miss things. I'm not upset that I won't be booking any of her friends because I don't want to deal with that, but it's a hard pill to swallow when you know you are getting a bad rep over things you have no control over. I'm not giving a refund because she was happy with everything else and honestly I sort of wonder if this is just a plot to get a free video. So, now that I'm done ranting.... anyone else have situations like this where the client isn't happy (no matter whose fault it is) and if so, how do you deal? Do you do re-edit's, refunds, etc? I mean after the shoot is over, what can you do with what you have?
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Old June 19th, 2006, 12:58 PM   #2
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Welcome to the sometimes deceptive world of happy customers Jennifer.
Same thing happened to me the second or third wedding video I did when I started.
Now my contract clearly specifies that I'm not responsible for restrictions placed on me by the locales (church, hall, etc.), nor people who do not want their faces shown. Oh yes, that also happens.
To avoid any other malcontents, I make sure that anyone and everyone whether with the party or crashing is shown at least once in the video especially older people and children.
When the B/G do not cooperate then you should use as alternates the parents, siblings or whomever appears to be chatty such as aunt Matilda or uncle Cecil.
Refund money?... Sorry kid, you signed a contract, people were not available etc. Check your raw footage and see if someone else was taping a little and perhaps you can ask to check that video for the missing persons. Chances are in your favor then. You can then add the missing and yet keep fairly good relations with your customer so even if there is bad talk it should be followed with how helpful you were in the end.
Bottom line is no matter what the job is "Get Everything". It is easier to discard than to try and re-create something.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 01:03 PM   #3
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I'm going back through to make sure I didn't miss anything... I'm trying to help and work with her as much as possible..
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Old June 19th, 2006, 01:39 PM   #4
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jennifer,

i had a client once give my partner and i a checklist at the rehearsal...basically a shotlist of what she wanted and most of the shots we tend to get anyway....but we do not work by checklists...ever, and we tell clients this. we shoot in a organic way....not to mention what we all do here is "live action" as it happens. you cant guarentee specific shots.

it sounds like your client is a type person that is impossible to make happy, fortunately we have had only one like this and they are a real pain.

i would not give her a refund.....that is unreasonable for her to ask for such.

hvae you talked with her via phone and try to work things out?

if she has "threatened" you with the ol'.....i'll tell everyone not to use you, i would discard her imediately just for that threat alone.

when i meet with clients....i do my best then to feel them out, if they come accross like a problem client, i will get our of shooting their wedding prior to any contracts signed. ie. i would make up some creative excuse why we cant shoot hers......thats better than dealing with a problematic client later on in my opinion......dont need the money bad enough to deal with that.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 02:26 PM   #5
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Seems to me she dubbed your video and wants to take further advantage of you. I wouldn't take her too seriously. You did what you said you were going to do in your conract.

I realized pretty quickly not to bend over backwards for clients. With you being female as well, she probably thinks she can get over on you. I found it's best to leave my empathy at the door and become more pragmatic. Why offer to re-edit when you don't have to? That's something I won't do, unless I made an error spelling someone's name. The more detailed information clients offer, the more I can get them the video they want. If they offer nothing after several attempts to get info, pics, or music, I can't do anything after the video is edited.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 03:08 PM   #6
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A full refund isn't in order -- you put in the time and, under given circumstances, provided a good product. The bride even said herself, "I love most of the video."

You've just run into what all of us worry about the most: The client who can't be pleased. I've had my share of them. I listen to what they have to say and learn from the experience -- and if I know I did the best I could, that lesson is to simply shrug it off and move on.

Do what you can to satisfy her demands. And if she demands more than what was possible given her reluctance to work with you from day one, then there's not much choice but to let her know exactly what the situation is: You did what you could, you did the best you could. And if she had provided you what you asked for at the start, this misunderstanding wouldn't exist.

If the rest of your clients like what you do for them, then you know you're on the right path. Just keep heading that way. Do the best you can, and don't let the impossibly difficult ones get you down.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 04:17 PM   #7
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Thanks!

Thank you so much for the responses. I think the hardest part of this is getting the confidence back up. It's funny how you can do so many videos and one person can just make you feel like you're doing it all wrong. I'm going to be on a better watch of clients now because when I think back, all the red flags where up telling me this was not going to go well. Even the photographer approached me the morning of the wedding and said "this is going to be a loooooooooong day."
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Old June 19th, 2006, 04:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Allen Rosenberger
jennifer,

when i meet with clients....i do my best then to feel them out, if they come accross like a problem client, i will get our of shooting their wedding prior to any contracts signed. ie. i would make up some creative excuse why we cant shoot hers......thats better than dealing with a problematic client later on in my opinion......dont need the money bad enough to deal with that.
Joe

How about if a non-suspecting bad client..well at least not knowing until you meet them in person and they decide to book on the spot? How would you make an excuse?

Now im starting to wonder if I should just give price quotes in person rather than placing my prices online. At least if I meet a negative client, I can give her a very expensive quote. Then she'll be forced not to book with me.


Jennifer:

If you don't mind telling us..how much did this bride pay for your services? Is this one of those cheap ass brides? Perhaps they secretly made a copy of your video and wants a full refund.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 04:59 PM   #9
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Bill,

there's multiple ways to handle that but I prefer open communication and honesty...well, as much as one can handle without flippin' their lid so to speak.
i may just let them know that i feel we may not be the best match for each other and it may be better for them to look into some other companies.....believe me, I know this would suck having to do something like this but it sure in heck beats having to deal with BIGGER problems later on after you have taking on the client.
either way, it takes some creativity and well spoken words to tell any client who wants your services but you do not want to work with them.....that would be a tight spot for anyone but it could save you a lot of heartache later.

even if you are to deny a client of services due to a gut feeling that they will be a serious prolem later on.....you must be very sensitive and professional about it.
the client will most likely be upset so matter how well your words are spoken.....its a dirty job, but it must be done unless one wants much biiger problems later on.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Mallari
Joe

How about if a non-suspecting bad client..well at least not knowing until you meet them in person and they decide to book on the spot? How would you make an excuse?

Now im starting to wonder if I should just give price quotes in person rather than placing my prices online. At least if I meet a negative client, I can give her a very expensive quote. Then she'll be forced not to book with me.


Jennifer:

If you don't mind telling us..how much did this bride pay for your services? Is this one of those cheap ass brides? Perhaps they secretly made a copy of your video and wants a full refund.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 06:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Mallari
Joe

Jennifer:

If you don't mind telling us..how much did this bride pay for your services? Is this one of those cheap ass brides? Perhaps they secretly made a copy of your video and wants a full refund.
Yes, they got the cheapest package I offered and still said they didn't get their money's worth.....
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Old June 19th, 2006, 07:34 PM   #11
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Jen, dont let the turkeys get you down..

in addition to what everyone has written, dont forget WHY you are hired..
you are an archiver of an event. Smoking is not an event, especially while a ceremony is taking place. You didnt miss anything.

IMO, brides like this should be shot in the head.. u see by the time they get the video theyre over it. and to them, the money is more important then teh actual video once theyve seen it.. not that the video is crap, it may not be, but to them, theyve relived it and now they think it wasnt worth their while, so theyre tryin for a refund.

Ive had clients do this, then i throw the contract in their faces. As for co-operative clients, most are good, however sometimes you'll get some people who dont know WTF is going on let alone know WTF they actaully want..
more money than sense..

As an example, i have a client who ive waited 9 months to send me their music selection. Instead, they sent me a cd of MP3's at 96kbps with about 150 tracks on there. they didnt tell me which songs they wanted and since december now, im yet to hear back from them even though i email them at least once a week and clal tehm once a month asking them which songs they want to use. In addition to this my contract states that their info is a conditional requirement of teh agreement and if they do not meet these conditions of information and material, then editing wont begin.
I have a business to run and i dont care if they dont have their shit together. I wont stop my work for one client, thats just not fair on those who DO know whats going on...
thats just one example, but dont ever be surprised when shit like this happens.
Another example was a greedy bride who paid 8k for her photos, but paid about 2k for her video. Huge euro wedding.. wanted my typical movie style production so i gave it to her.. then she saw another clients work which was al flashy and cheesy effects (as requests and paid for as this is what they specifically asked for) so she came back to me and said she wanted it like "that" it was redone out of duress only becuase at the time i had afew health issues.. needless to say, she recieved her video and not a word was said, not even a "yes we got the dvd's" on the flipside, her expensive phtographer didnt even get a portrait of teh 2 of tehm together...
go figure...

with all this, all i can say is not to let the turkeys get u down. Theres far more important things in life than a picky bride who is indiffernt to whats going on around her.
Most of teh clients are good, but you WILL come across afew who think they know more than u do.

In your case, i would write out a list of events which occured and everythign which has influenced the production, from the church rules, to the lack of communiation from them.
Cover your ass BEFORE the wedding and you wont have a problem

email me if u want to check out the contract i have writen up. Ive never had a problem with any client since i started using this. Ive had afew who havent read it but still signed it, but then i jsut throw it in their face if they give me attitude..
I like my clients, but its only when they think they can score from u do they turn on u.

Here in aus this practice is rampant, as the industry itself is treated as substandard. but stick to ur guns and u wont have a problem.

To be honest, i wouldnt waste any more energy on this hoe. dont go over the footage and dont do anything else. Youve done enough and for the package they got, they really shouldnt be given the right to go over an preliminary copy. I give prelims to my higher end clients and only for technicals and maybe some stylisations, but thats about it. They hire me as an editor, and if they want to sit in the studio with me, i charge them per hour.
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Old June 19th, 2006, 07:54 PM   #12
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speaing of teh devil, i spoke to a client who got married 7 months ago..
turns out shes due to give birth..

now out of nowhere they been umming and arring about their video...
again as my contract states work doesnt start until they get their shit sorted..

anyways, good ol groom calls up and says that "hes coming up to sort it out" and if he doesnt get his video by X day, hes getting a refund. Im like, yeah right, 2 cameras al day non stop, i'll still have to charge you for filming and travel, which willned up more than what u already paid...
IN addition to the time ive waited on YOU to tell me what friggin music you want.. and NOW you want a refund when ive been waiting for YOU..

now, theyve never mentioend refunds or anythg liek that in teh past, but its clear that as shes about to pop and the wedding was less than 9 months ago, she was preggers at teh wedding.. thats not my problem though.

see one thing abotu this game is that youll be delaing with a whole lload of differnt kettles of fish. for THIS couple, she'll be out of work for a while, so money is important. to them now the money means more, however i shoudl mention that to pacify them early on (while i waited for them to make a choice on tunage) i gave them the raw footage..
so in the end, they still have SOMETHING to watch, so a refund is a way they can get the best of both worlds.

when this happens, sticking to ur guns and holding onto your airtight contract is all u can do.

you will come across so many good clients as well as those you thoguht were ok who then turn on u..

Ive had one client in july last year who totally did a backflip when things went downhill for her and all her other services (apart from video) BUT she thought that as everythign else had gone wrong (not to mention her grnadmother passing away) that she could try to be a bitch with me.. and she was.. she stuffed up my schedule demanding her edit be done immediately yadda yadda and to shut her up, i did.. this wasnt fair on everyone else, but i did what needed to be done. But the point her eis htat i did the wrong thing. To satisfy one persons bad persona during a difficult time, i delayed other peoples work.
I now know not to do that again, as whats happeneing in THEIR lives is not my issue. Sure my clients wellbeing is important, but the client needs to understand that their not the only ones i deal with.
Recently i had a cleints in laws come from NZ, and she wanted her dvd. No.. but ill get u raw footage coz i dont have time to stop these 3 weddings to get urs out because u wnat to keep mum in law hapy.. sorry...
then, the client expected me to deliver the discs to her..
no.. sorry i have a shoot on that day
can u drop them off beforehand..
i turned and said, would u like me to have done the same for another client when i was shooting YOUR wedding??
she shut up after that..

ive become a real bastard to some of tehse clients as theyre demands after teh actual weddin become more and more intense and selfish. They seem to believe that theyre the only clients and that could be partly my fault as i go into so much detail with them. I also am quite personal and personable with them, so they feel that "as a friend" they can get away with talkin to me like shit and asking fro the world..

but no.. not anymore.. i dont do anyone anymore favours unless its my fault, or unless there is $$ involved...
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