Cancellation - What would you do? at
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Old August 24th, 2010, 10:10 AM   #1
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Cancellation - What would you do?

I'd be interested to know how others would deal with this sort of cancellation.

A long standing booking since November last year for 4th September this year (the end of next week). I have just received an email cancelling the booking due to a change in circumstances. I contacted them for further details and they say that the bride is now pregnant and they are having to cut back on their wedding and guess what, the DVD is the first thing to go. Now my terms do state that they are liable for the full payment if they cancel at such short notice, unless I am able to re-book the date. They said that they will be unable to find the money to pay, if they could they wouldn't cancel. I understand that but I have passed two bookings away to other videographers for that date and turned some enquiries away (one as recently as two weeks ago - I have re contacted them but they have booked someone). This on top of the worst year for bookings, lowest number I've had.
Would you add to their troubles by enforcing the contract, possibly through the courts, or just take it on the chin as the nature of the business.

I do know what I'll do but just interested in how you would play this.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 10:39 AM   #2
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It's sad that people don't even try to be honest. If the wedding is "reduced" because of the pregnancy they must have knew about that way earlier. They also know the terms of contract - did you ask them if they realize what a cancellation means for them? I'm thinking they are playing double game and maybe found someone cheaper to do the job.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 11:19 AM   #3
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I feel your pain. It's happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to anyone who has been around more than a few years. If it hasn't it will.

As far as what I would do, first, I get my final payment 30 days prior to the wedding and my service agreement clearly states that there is no refund of any moneys if they cancel with in the last 30 days. My chances of filling that date by that time about zero. If they don't pay within the specified time, then I call and email them and then I have my lawyer send them a letter and my service agreement states quite clearly that if the money is not received that I have no further legal obligation to appear at the wedding and the agreement is considered to be null and void. It's happened once or twice over the years and while I hate to be a hard guy about it, business is business.

A wonderful invention called the telephone can solve a lot of problems.

In this particular case what can you do. If they don't have the money, well you can't get blood from a turnip. (old saying) so I guess you take what they gave you and it appears you get the day off. I know it sucks but if you were to take legal action it would probably cost you more than they owe you and if they cried "no money" to the court I'd be willing o bet the court would side with them. You'd think the client would of and could have called you sooner but human nature is a funny thing.

Sorry this happened, it sucks, but what can you do.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 11:21 AM   #4
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That's rough.

Part of me says enforce it. regardless of their situation. A contract is a contract. No matter how they feel about you, they are the ones in the wrong and any possible negative feedback is bound to be negated because of that fact. They are adults, I trust they understood what they were getting into.

I would maybe try to rebook if you can. Assuming you can't in time, I would tell them they are paying for the service, so they might as well get it recorded. Perhaps offer to withhold the payment until the DVD is ready. And deliver it upon final payment.

Or you can be the nice guy and not add to their woes.
That's your call.
It's harsh, but nice doesn't pay the bills.

Don beat me to the punch. and I like his 30days payment rule better.

PS- the conspirator in me wonders if they are in fact pregnant or just trying to cut back in general. (but i have trust issues :P)
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Old August 24th, 2010, 11:41 AM   #5
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Hi Don.
No it's not the first time it's happened, but I think that it is at such short notice - less than two weeks. It's just the first time since I've been using this forum and it's a great forum for getting others perspective on these things. I have considered taking the final balance before the date, but as the number of times this has happened are so few that I've not thought it a worry and to be honest the though of having been paid and then doing all the work afterwards would seem like working for nothing for me. Psychological I know but it's often only the though of getting paid that gets me through the editing.

I have a couple of times in the past been able to re-book cancelled dates but at less than two weeks I'll be lucky. I have also done as you've suggested with a couple in the past, that is shoot it and leave it until they can afford to have it completed. I'm still waiting and that was August 2006.

I am also a bit cynical as it did happen to me some time ago with a similar cancellation, though with much more notice, it turned out that a friend of theirs who is a photographer on the local paper offered to do it for free as he wanted to get into weddings. I only discovered that later when talking with him at a function he asked me about referring any surplus wedding to him and he mentioned their wedding, not realising that they had cancelled with me with some spurious reason.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 11:55 AM   #6
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George, if you let them off:

firstly, you're not going to get any referrals except for being a pushover, because they didn't buy anything;

secondly, it'll cost you 30 odd to file in the Small Claims Court; how much are you owed?

thirdly, if contacted by the press, make it clear that you've been caught by dishonest brides before and you're struggling just like them (even if you're not!);

fourthly, all this assumes you have a legal, ie legally checked contract not an IOV draft you've played around with unless that's been checked by your lawyer - if you don't, drop it.

fifthly, although I don't take the final payment until they've approved the edit, I do take a stage payment of 50% of the total, not the total outstanding, at 4 weeks before - and that's fixed. That ought to cover your costs if not some of your profit after you take away the savings for not doing the job.

Cheer up. It could be worse, you might not have got the job in the first place!
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Old August 24th, 2010, 12:43 PM   #7
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Hi Philip. Thanks for your considered words.
Just to make it clear I'm not feeling down about it, as I said to Don I'm fairly new to this forum and I'm finding it most interesting to read how others conduct business and deal with these things that occur. I've been at it too long to let it get to me. The only thing I'm annoyed at is that they left it until almost the last minute to let me know and I've passed on two referrals that have been booked by the videographers I passed them to.

I do acknowledge your comments I'd just point out in case I hadn't made it clear that the two cancellations are not connected, the one with the press tog was a while ago and as they gave me notice I was able to re-book the date, this current one I believe is a genuine case of them running up against a budget they can't reach and as the easiest thing to go is that which hasn't been paid for yet I'm their fall guy. But like you I've been here long enough to accept that it goes with the territory - c'est la vie. I know I could take it through the scc but I also know there'd be little likelihood of getting paid and as I know the set they move in I think that I'd end up being the bad guy - "heartless videographer screwed us for our last penny" I think that that would travel faster and stick longer than me being a pushover.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 01:05 PM   #8
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I usually ask for a 25 % retainer fee ( non-refundable). So if they cancel last minute I have $ 600 in my pocket and a weekend to enjoy.

I have to agree with Don, you can't squeeze blood out of stone. The time you will spend trying to get the money is not worth it.

My 2 cents
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Old August 24th, 2010, 01:10 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=George Kilroy;1562217]

the though of having been paid and then doing all the work afterwards would seem like working for nothing for me. Psychological I know but it's often only the though of getting paid that gets me through the editing.


How about depositing the money into a separate account and then not allow yourself to touch it until the project is delivered?

This way you know the funds are safe and that you will be paid when the job is complete. Of course this only works if you have the self discipline to leave the money alone where it is.... kind of a self regulated escrow if you may.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 01:15 PM   #10
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Did you get any deposit for holding that date? how much?

I ask for a 30% to reserve a date and its non refundable in that case if that would happen to me at leat I get 30% paid and not have to work...better than nothing. I will never turn down a client if my reservation date has't been paid case I get that I will call the first client to let them know they either pay or I give it away.

I also take another 30% before the wedding and the final 40% on delivery.

so far so good.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 01:22 PM   #11
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How strange this thread started today because I was going to start an almost identical one. And guess what? The wedding day is 4th September!

I took a booking last year from a couple. They wanted the 4th September and paid the 150 booking fee as a deposit.

Now the date has been getting close so, under my contract, payment must be made 30 days before the wedding. because I have been so busy I let the day slip a bit, but on the 10th August sent them an email asking for the questionnaire back and the balance. Forgot about it for a week. Then thought, very strange to not hear anything. Another email sent and a message left on their answer machine. Nothing.

Now with the wedding n saturday alarm bells are ringing loud in my ears. This morning I phoned their home number. BT message. " This number is not taking incoming calls". So I rang the mobile number. Dead. Now I am thinking the worst. So I call the venue. They inform me that this couple cancelled with them. In May. They never had the courtesy to contact me. Or the photographer. Or the registrar.They just told the venue and that was that.

I have turned down three bookings on this date because I was booked, and now I am going to be sitting here without a job. ON a holiday weekend.

Feel like taking the couple to the small claims court just out of lack of resect towards me for failure to notify. Not sure where I would stand though.
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Old August 24th, 2010, 03:30 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by George Kilroy View Post
I'd be interested to know how others would deal with this sort of cancellation.

I do know what I'll do but just interested in how you would play this.
Hi George,

Sorry to hear this. And there have been many useful comments.

But like any offer of services you as the service provider and the client enter into a contract. How you define and manage that contract is down to what is called the terms of the contract - what were the intentions of both parties at the time of agreement. And what are the written terms as agreed at the time.

This is what the judge will decide even in a small claims court in the UK.

What were your written terms and conditions, or the terms of the contract?

If you say you want a 50% deposit at the time of written confirmation of your enagement and they pay you 50% deposit, in the full knowledge (for example) that their deposit is non-returnable should they cancel - and/or if they cancel within a specified period of the engagement (which by virtue of them making the deposit payment, thereby agreeing to the terms), then they are breaking the agreement/contract and you can sue under UK law for breach of contract.

The problem with many people, is that they think they can say "yes we agree to that" only to think they can say "no, we didn't mean that" at a later time when it suits them. This sounds very much the case here.

Spell out the terms and conditions of the agreement - and this does not have to be written and signed in blood or in script font on parchment. Simply, a mutual agreement between persons agreeing by written agreement (or it could be verbal in some cases) to purchase the services or delivery of a product of one for a defined payment from another. The spirit of the agreement is generally defined as the intention both had at the time. Even more simply, I'll do this for you if you pay me that - yes okay. Deal done.


1. Present your terms and conditions of service and product delivery.
2. Include a cancellation clause.
3. Ask for a deposit.
4. State that by paying the deposit they have read and understood the terms and conditions
5. Offer a cooling off period.
6. Confirm the agreement - we look forward to being of service - see you at the wedding.


** I am not a lawyer but make comments based upon experience. You should seek qualified professional advice concerning the law and the law of contract. If you wish to email me I will be pleased to refer this issue to my son-in-law who IS a qualified lawyer and based in the Midlands if it helps**
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Old August 24th, 2010, 05:15 PM   #13
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I think the arrangement was doomed from the start. As the couple told you, if they don't have the money to pay you as planned, they won't have the money to pay you after a battle over the contract. I believe the best idea is to let this one go and alter your policy for future weddings.

The simple solution for me was to assume that every wedding would be cancelled at literally the last minute (on the day of the wedding just before hitting the record button), and then decide on the amount of money that I would need from each of those cancelled weddings to (1) pay my assistant shooters their full rate for the day and (2) pay myself something for the work that I had to give up, had I been available to book another job. This amount became my non-refundable retainer fee, which I apply toward the total package. Every couple pays this same amount, and though I would much rather shoot a wedding than have it cancelled, the retainer I settled on is enough that I am perfectly comfortable with cancellations. The bottom line is that there are no hard feelings and no contract battles to worry about, ever.

Alec Moreno
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Old August 24th, 2010, 07:08 PM   #14
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Hi George

I just had a cancellation last week from a bride who booked a year ago and her wedding was supposed to be this brides pay me 1/3rd on booking, 1/3rd 2 weeks before the wedding and the final 1/3rd on delivery. She was really sorry about it (her finance and her broke up!!) Legally she will lose her booking deposit BUT if I can book the day at the same value I'm quite happy to refund her booking fee.

I told her this and she is quite happy about the arrangement!!! Best to keep friends than make enemies even if it's not your fault. She has already referred me to a bunch of her friends due to my attitude!!!

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Old August 25th, 2010, 01:19 AM   #15
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Duplicated post

Last edited by George Kilroy; August 25th, 2010 at 03:02 AM.
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