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Old March 14th, 2007, 05:36 AM   #1
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Contracts with client protection

I'm organizing a wedding - mine ! As I'm reading through the vendor contracts, I'm becoming attuned to just how much vendor protection is written into these contracts. There are many lines about late fees, retainer fees, cancellation fees, bad check fees, excerpts for bad weather, and full payment before the event but absolutely nothing about refunds should, say, the vendor not show up, show up late or generally mess up the job. I've noticed just how touchy this subject has been on this forum, but I'd like to know if anyone has written such client protection into their contracts. Some of the contracts are reasonable, but most are just downright nasty, written with that iron-wielding, bumbling, fake legalese that real estate management companies use on their rental increase notices.

Has anyone here ever signed a contract from a wedding client ?
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Old March 14th, 2007, 07:05 AM   #2
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First Congrats on your wedding...I know a couple of pretty good video guys ;-)

Anyway, you're 100% correct most contracts are written to protect the vendor and after going thru a few of the above mentioned circuses myself (bounced checks-getting caught in a hurricane type rain storm that not only prevented me from getting there on time but the entire bridal party as well--the list goes on) HOWEVER over the years I have changed my own service agreement to show in writing much more protection for the people signing the agreement-which frankly I never had in writing until about 5 or so years ago. I now state quite clearly under what conditions a refund would be issued AND what the percentage of the funds paid in would be refunded. One policy that has not changed is payment in full prior to the event-I have been burned in the past and I live by a rule; 'Fool me once shame on you-fool me twice shame on me'-I get paid upfront-this has been talked about ad infinitum in other threads.
I have an 'Act of God' clause in my agreement-IE weather, traffic-things that are just absolutely unavoidable but I also have those conditions covered in my refund policy-and thanks to a hardheaded lawyer (mine) I would never be responsible for a 100% refund UNLESS I don't show to do the job.
Long story short-as you know you want to pick the vendors, any vendors, based on their reputation as well as their workmanship.
Good luck
Don
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Old March 14th, 2007, 07:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gints Klimanis View Post
I'm organizing a wedding - mine ! As I'm reading through the vendor contracts, I'm becoming attuned to just how much vendor protection is written into these contracts. There are many lines about late fees, retainer fees, cancellation fees, bad check fees, excerpts for bad weather, and full payment before the event but absolutely nothing about refunds should, say, the vendor not show up, show up late or generally mess up the job. I've noticed just how touchy this subject has been on this forum, but I'd like to know if anyone has written such client protection into their contracts. Some of the contracts are reasonable, but most are just downright nasty, written with that iron-wielding, bumbling, fake legalese that real estate management companies use on their rental increase notices.

Has anyone here ever signed a contract from a wedding client ?
Gints, congrats on your wedding.

I believe what you see in people's contracts is a response to industry. Since typically you turn down work etc when you book a date, the protection for the vendor is lopsided. You have a client and a vendor. If the vendor cancels on the client, the client would have a higher chance of finding another vendor, but if the client cancels on the vendor, then I would imagine the likely hood of finding a client within a week is lower. I would imagine that this is the reason most contract heavily favor the vendor. We don't sell cars with a high amount of traffic, we sell our time for a specific date.

I agree with what Don says, that there should be some protection for the client as well.

I think your reputation and track record as a vendor can alleviate some concerns a client might have about stipulations in your contract.

So my point is, read the contracts and then ask for recommendations from others.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:22 AM   #4
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I may be way off, but I think most videography companies in the mid to high end will do what it takes to make the couple more than happy. Contract or not, the couples satisfaction is usually number one. I can't see many videographers charging $2500-6000 saying 'Gee I would love to help you, but it says here in the contract that I don't have to, so see-ya!'

On top of that, if the couple isn't happy, the last thing on my mind is the compensation involved with their video. Whats $2500-6500 worth compared to a bad reputation or review?

I personally believe that there is a lot of trust involved in having such a personal event covered, and I think you could drive yourself crazy trying to cover everything in a contract. I would make sure I am comfortable and trust the vendor as my number one priority. Any disputes are usually handled through talking rather than the contract, so I find that relationship to be much more valuable than the contract. I do have a contract, but it is fairly short and very straightforward- thats just how I prefer to work with couples.

If your concerned somebody might not show up or will do a bad job, I would move on and keep looking.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 12:26 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Patrick Moreau View Post
I personally believe that there is a lot of trust involved in having such a personal event covered,
Were that the case, we'd all be buying our homes and cars on a handshake and a gazillion lawyers would be washing dishes.

I wouldn't sign 95% of the videographer's contracts I've seen and the poster has a valid point. I wouldn't hesitate to attach an addendum or ryder to mine if I had a client that felt that way.

But you're right, there's a lot of trust involved from the client's end of things. (certainly not ours).
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Old March 14th, 2007, 02:05 PM   #6
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I thought this exchange would be much more heated. Instead, I'm impressed by the intelligent and reasonable responses.

After asking my latest contractee, a musician, about replacements, she had no trouble telling me that would arrange for a nearly equivalent replacement in case she fell ill or for some reason couldn't make it. Also, after asking her, she said that I'm entitled to a full refund for a no show. Such important issues should be in her contract. Although she was the best musician of the lot, I almost was on the verge of booking with another due to her heavy-handed contract.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 03:40 PM   #7
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Vendor contracts should never be "one sided" imo. The contract should shed protection for both the client and vendor.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #8
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Hi Gints -
You should always see if the vendor can provide a backup - my gear is triple redundant, and I have some options for a backup camera operator, at least locally. Unless I happened to be DEAD, I'd show up myself... that's what they are expecting.

AS for the issues for vendors, they are in business, they've all probably been burned a few times for being nice, and the contract serves to lay out the expectations for both sides at a time when there's less stress (pre wedding), so you know what to expect, and the vendor knows what to deliver.

I'd point out that the vendor would have to replace your business hould you flake, be engaged to the runaway bride, whatever... but on the flip side, restaging the whole wedding if a critical vendor fails to show is a bit problematic... so make sure both sides are addressed.

I also believe there is such a thing as "event insurance" or so I've heard... so you can have a policy to cover the unexpected. If it's a high dollar event (and is there a wedding that ISN'T?), it may be worth looking into.

DB>)
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Old March 14th, 2007, 07:56 PM   #9
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contracts..
hm..
well i guess it all depends on what the contract covers.. to give you an idea my contract is 4 pages long.. this is the info i provide to clients..
the other part is 2 pages long and its the info the client provides me.. ie direction
and the other part is the invoice

i am as fair as i possibly can be consideirng logisitic, environmental variables, requirements, assurances, backups, delays, setbacks, uincontrollable situations etc etc

I do have a refund policy however its VERY strict on the conditions for refund. Im too pedantic to let mistakes and errors occur, however some people are blase about this, to which i say each to the their own.

The fact remains, that as my clients pay me alot of money before the wedding, they really have no means AFTER the wedding to appease their peace of mind in regard to their investment.
The only protection they have is teh contract, which is why its written in a way where first and foremost, the business interests are protected, and secondly the clients interests are protected.
Why is the business first?
Becuase if i go bust becuase of one issue with one clie, ALL my client will be affected, therefore, the global nature of the service (ie more than one customer) is far more important than that one customer.

Its a hard but true fact, that the world does not revolve around one clients needs, despite what they may think or assume. My owrld revovles around ALL my clients needs as a whole, and what one client does or does not do, may affect all my other clients.
I cannot allow that to happen. For 2 years it did and this wasbecasue i was following the reguialtions of sale from our state wacthdog, but after discussions with them, ive now worked a new system which entirely segregates each client from the next.
I cant go into it publicly due to legalities, but put it this way, the days of "the customer is always right" are over.
Its a 2way street, and if a client doesnt want to follow those guidelines, then theyre responsible

Drop me an email and ill send u the contract
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:05 PM   #10
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I'll let you in on a little secret. Even though the contract is made to protect the contractor, unless you're dealing with a large company and the videographer is just a hired gun, you should be able to negotiate the terms of the contract to make it more friendly. If a videographer really wants your business, he/she will work with you to hash out a workable contract rather than walk away from a few thousand dollars.
You have to know your strengths. You hold the money.
Allen W
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Old March 14th, 2007, 11:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Williams View Post
I'll let you in on a little secret. Even though the contract is made to protect the contractor, unless you're dealing with a large company and the videographer is just a hired gun, you should be able to negotiate the terms of the contract to make it more friendly. If a videographer really wants your business, he/she will work with you to hash out a workable contract rather than walk away from a few thousand dollars.
You have to know your strengths. You hold the money.
Allen W

This is not always true....if you are a vendor in high demand, and a prospective client wants to change this or that in a contract, the vendor may walk and not want to deal with someone wanting to change his or her contract. When you have enough business coming in.....it puts one in a position to be picky with certain innquiries, its that simple. I am not saying it is right or wrong...I dont care either way....but the fact is....the "client/customer" is not always right. I know this is not the case for the poster who originally started this thread but is in many circumstances.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 01:31 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Joe Allen Rosenberger View Post
This is not always true....if you are a vendor in high demand, and a prospective client wants to change this or that in a contract, the vendor may walk and not want to deal with someone wanting to change his or her contract. When you have enough business coming in.....it puts one in a position to be picky with certain innquiries, its that simple. I am not saying it is right or wrong...I dont care either way....but the fact is....the "client/customer" is not always right. I know this is not the case for the poster who originally started this thread but is in many circumstances.
Can you always negotiate a contract?
Of course not.
In case it was missed, I'll requote part of my post. "If a videographer really wants your business...."

I hope this is self explainatory,
Allen W
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Old March 15th, 2007, 01:42 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Allen Williams View Post
Can you always negotiate a contract?
Of course not.
In case it was missed, I'll requote part of my post. "If a videographer really wants your business...."

I hope this is self explainatory,
Allen W

I concur....and wasn't arguing the fact, just stating another side to it....of course if someone wants business bad enough......they will do just about anything to obtain it, yep.
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Old March 15th, 2007, 01:54 AM   #14
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[QUOTE=Gints Klimanis;641420]I'm organizing a wedding - mine ! As I'm reading through the vendor contracts, I'm becoming attuned to just how much vendor protection is written into these contracts. There are many lines about late fees, retainer fees, cancellation fees, bad check fees, excerpts for bad weather, and full payment before the event but absolutely nothing about refunds should, say, the vendor not show up, show up late or generally mess up the job. I've noticed just how touchy this subject has been on this forum, but I'd like to know if anyone has written such client protection into their contracts. Some of the contracts are reasonable, but most are just downright nasty, written with that iron-wielding, bumbling, fake legalese that real estate management companies use on their rental increase notices.






"Has anyone here ever signed a contract from a wedding client ?"

I have not.....but I had a "lawyer" client want to ammend my 4 page contract into a 13 page contract.

I think you should exhaust your efforts in trying to find a videographer and other wedding vendors who are "recommended" by other brides, grooms....other folks who have used a particular vendors service. This is not a guarentee that the vendor will be the one for you but atleast you go into the process with some knowledge of their services. I am not a fan of cold calling any business, especially service type businesses....I want to hear about user reviews if possible and not some jibber jabber testimonials they put on their own websites. Call their past clients of possible, often times vendors will supply folks with past clients numbers or email addresses.....I do, and I have a long list of past clients who offer to do this for me when prospectives want to research a little deeper.
I would NOT hire any vendor who does NOT have a clause that states that if they do not show up or complete your job, that either all monies paid or partial monies paid will be refunded. NO WAY JOSE!!!!!
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Old March 15th, 2007, 09:57 AM   #15
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It is a mistake for any vendor to present a contract that does not explicitly deal with the issue of non-performance.

It is a bedrock principle of the law of contract that any ambiguity in a contract will be intrepreted against the party who drew up the contract.
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