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Mike Watson October 11th, 2012 01:43 PM

Cancellation Fee
I am finally clarifying a section in the contract that deals with cancellation fees. I currently have no hard-and-fast policy on canceling shoots.

In the past, I have been quite flexible with re-scheduling. Recently, I feel that this flexibility is being taken advantage of.

I am thinking of charging 10% if cancelled more than 7 days out, 50% if canceled more than 48 hours out, and 100% if canceled within 48 hours.

You can "soft hold" a date indefinitely, but if I get another booking for that date, you must book (or get off the pot, as they say) within 24 hours.

What is everybody else doing?

Allan Black October 11th, 2012 03:33 PM

Re: Cancellation Fee
Yep, give some people an inch and they'll take a mile.

You have to incorporate those cancellation charges with your policy on deposits, progress and final payments, acts of god and other unavoidable delays.

Compose a full list and only include the ones relevent to a particular project. As your list of 'regulars' grows and the longer you're in business,
the more your policies will become refined.

How's your level of competition? try and get a handle on what they're doing. HTH.


Don Bloom October 11th, 2012 05:40 PM

Re: Cancellation Fee
Mike, are you talking about the wedding industry or corporate type stuff like seminars, training videos etc?
Makes a difference.
If the wedding biz, well, here's a real life example that just happened to me.
Had a wedding booked for tomorrow (Friday) for about 8 months. Paid in full! 50% up front, balance was paid 40 days ago. Groom canceled the wedding last night at the wedding rehearsal. I got the call this morning! My service agreement states clearly that if canceled after the retainer is paid but more than 60 days from the dat of the event there is a 50% refund of the retainer. If the event is canceled anytime within 60 days of the event there is no refund. PERIOD! I do this to protect myself so that people that get cold feet about hiring me when they realize they don't have anymore money don't cancel. Now I'm not an SOB about this every situation is handled on an individual basis and thankfully it's only happened a very few times in my experience. the bride that called me todays even said to me, "I know there is no refund but I don't care, I'll get it all back from HIM". I'm glad I'm not HIM!

As for corporate work, it depends on the type of work it is. For instance 2 weels ago I had an AV gig booked with a hotel for one of their clients. Good hourly no hassle job. The day before I got a call that the client had canceled because they had their own guy, No cancellation fee on that one.
Last year I had a written agreement with a company to do some training videos for them. Money exchanged hands everything was set to go until 2 dayds before we were to start shooting. They called and canceled the job completely. The preisdent of the company decided they didn't need the work. My agreement stated clearly that if the job were to be canceled for anyreason within 7 business days of the scheduled shooting date, they forfieted the retainer. It ws 25% of the total which wsn't hugh but enough to let them know that 1) they had hired me and 2) I wasn't playing games. Again each instance is looked at individually. In this case I knew the company was shakey to begin with so I kept my end of the bargain...(I kept the money)
It all depends. Sometimes you're better off giving it back, sometimes you're not.

Mike Watson October 12th, 2012 02:04 AM

Re: Cancellation Fee
100% corporate work.

If I get the "shady" vibe about a client, I get 50% up front. Most of my clients are good to me. But one in particular, while nice folks, work better when they are constrained by concrete paramaters. I just want to put some concrete parameters in place without being punitive.

Thanks for the advice from all, so far.

Roger Van Duyn October 15th, 2012 06:46 AM

Re: Cancellation Fee
You could state in your estimate that you "require" a non-refundable retainer to book and then you can waive or give a discount for the retainer (or other line items) at your discretion. It's just another line on your estimate that you send.

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