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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:07 AM   #1
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Having trouble getting paid -- what should I do?

I shot a wedding in October and was paid on the wedding day (as dictated in my contract). The check bounced. The mother of the bride is the one who paid me. The bride apologized and said it was a family emergency (funds weren't deposited in time as a result). I called and emailed several times and received no response. Fianlly I got ahold of the bride. She apologized and said her mother would contact me. The MOB sent me the following email:
"Please accept our apology. We had an unexpected family emergency following the wedding and funds were taken from our accounts before we even knew it.
We fully intend to pay you for your work. Unfortunately, It looks like January is the earliest that will happen. Below is our correct contact information. I am sorry and embarrassed for the inconvenience to you. Thank you so much."

I emailed her back and said I would work with her but added that I needed some sort of formalized payment plan agreement. She never responded. What should I do? Send a certified letter containing a payment plan that she would sign? Keep trying to contact her?
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:26 AM   #2
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Contact an attorney. You need to get paid for the work you did. Their "emergency " is not your problem. In the future, be wary of checks and taking payment on the day of the event. Checks bounce and people disappear.
Have them pay at least 50% when they sign the contract. This way you have time for that check to clear before you work the event, and you get at least something for working that day. Then you only have to worry about collecting the other half instead of the whole amount. My advice is to re-work your contract and get at least 50% up front when the contract is signed. No offense to the MOB but I bet she's still paying her electric bill, and so on...so at the very least she should pay you monthly til her debt with you is paid off. I'm not a lawyer but she did bounce a check and I know there are penalties for such things.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:29 AM   #3
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Should I add an interest penalty for being 3 months late? Nothing like that is in my contract, but still...
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:39 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Bill Edmunds
Should I add an interest penalty for being 3 months late? Nothing like that is in my contract, but still...
If it wasn't in your contract, no you should not. That's what contracts are for. You can't change it after the fact.

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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:43 AM   #5
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Rework your contract to either be paid a week or so ahead of time, or in a bank check on the day of. If it were me, I would let them know that you will not work on thier wedding anymore unless you are paid in full. That's your choice though. But emergencies what they are do not pay your bills. So learn the lesson, work with her and hopefully it'll work out. But you're already invested in the event, I wouldn't do another mouse stroke till I was paid in full. And make sure you document every contact with her and the outcome of the conversation.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:59 AM   #6
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On a similar note, I have a completed wedding package and can't get the mother or bride to agree to a time to meet and collect their videos... and me collect the remaining balance! The work is done; I just can't seem to get them to take the package! I plan on reworking my contract to state something like "late fees apply after so much time of being completed."

On a note about sending Certified Mail... it might not be a good idea. Why? Because the mail can be refused and sent back (if they were pricks about it) ... which means they never read anything you sent them. A kid, a neighbor, or anyone that doesn't feel like signing for a package at their address can do that. However, Delivery Confirmation might be more effective because the mail man simply drops off the mail and that's the end of it, and you get a notice saying it's been done. The client may still never read what you send them, but you matter-of-factly delivered it to them. Just my two cents.

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Old December 4th, 2006, 12:24 PM   #7
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It might work well in both of these situations to set-up a payment plan with work delivered after the last payment. Maybe they are unable to come-up with the entire amount. Most people spend their whole lives enslaved to Mr. Visa and Mr. Mastercard.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 01:40 PM   #8
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so your suppose to be paid in full before you begin editing?

most contracts i know of, client pays on delevery of product.
and would of already collected about 2/3'rd's of balance by time the wedding comes. (like you said, you got paid the part to shoot the wedding) Once edit is complete, on delevery, the reminder of the balance is paid.

if this sounds honest with you, i would wait till Jan to resolve. call the mob to make the arrangments instead of her waiting to call you. Insteading of emailing, contact by phone... I know being a business person, you can't have feelings about collecting money but if this becomes and a bad situation where you have to file lawsuits, etc.., it could potinitally cost you more in the long run with fee's, time then bad word of mouth press from the bride and family where as if you do work this out, you can get great press from that family cause they went though hardships and you helped them out big time...

Attempt to work it out...

jmo...
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Old December 4th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom McDougal
so you're supposed to be paid in full before you begin editing?
Absolutely.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom McDougal
most contracts i know of, client pays on delevery of product.
I used to do that. I hated it -- I'd finish the video and then it would takes weeks or months for the client to pick up the finished product.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #10
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For a number of years my WEDDING agreement states quite clearly that I recieve 50% at the time of signing and the balance is paid no later than 30 days prior to the event. I've only had 1 person question that and after talking a bit they paid.
This is quite common for vendors in the wedding industry at least in the greater Chicagoland area.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 05:22 PM   #11
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Last week I had a phone call from a Bride, whose wedding I did in May 2004! Yes, that far back! I'd written it off!
She finally had the money to pay me! After family crisis after family crisis. Since that experience, I get paid up front, 2 weeks before the day.
I'm just lucky that the marriage lasted, some are near to blows before they cut the cake.
It was a pleasant surprise, but it taught me a lesson. I'll have the tape edited for them by Christmas, just to make sure the cheque isn't made of rubber!
It may work out for, hope it does.

Mike.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 05:34 PM   #12
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Bill,

If it looks as tho legal action will be required, I'd suggest going the Small Claims Court route. You didn't indicate the amount owed, but, depending on your local jurisdiction, Small Claims will handle disputes at least up to $2,500, and some more than that.

Again, depending on your area, from the time you file until the case is heard might be about a month or so -- which puts you in the Jan. timeframe your client said she'd pay up.

Anyway, I took a dude to SMC a few years back for breach of contract, and it worked for me.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 05:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Bloom
For a number of years my WEDDING agreement states quite clearly that I recieve 50% at the time of signing and the balance is paid no later than 30 days prior to the event. I've only had 1 person question that and after talking a bit they paid.
This is quite common for vendors in the wedding industry at least in the greater Chicagoland area.
Don
Yes but most wedding vendors have fulfilled their contracts/services no later than the day of the wedding. We inturn make them wait up to 6 months for their product.

Not saying 100% payment up front is wrong... just putting it in perspective from a client's view. Some videographers get half as a retainer and the other half on delivery. Some work payments in "thirds".

Whatever works...
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Old December 4th, 2006, 05:51 PM   #14
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I'd wait until you get the final payment before continuing with the production, but in the meantime I'd rework your contract for future clients to get paid in full 1 week before the wedding.
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Old December 4th, 2006, 11:00 PM   #15
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dont edit til u been paid, tell them that work wont begin until u are paid, also, send an updated invoice and include the bounced funds bank fee, u shouldnt pay for that.

as an aside, i always ask for payment 14 to 21days in advance, this way if a cheque bounces, i tell them before the wedding.. and if i am still nto paid, i wont hit recrod until i am paid.
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