Post # 1
Has anyone ever had to change their photographer right before their wedding day? If yes, do you know if there is anyway to get the deposit back?
I recently fired my photog from Iconsphotography (SoCal) due to his total lack of professionalism. He was constantly late to meetings, rescheduled dates without a care for the clients time, did not respond to inquiries in a timely manner and did not deliver the products that were stated on his contract without numerous phone calls from the client.
Unfortunately, a friend of mine used him for her wedding and was sooo dissappointed with her pictures (by this time I had already signed the contract & made my deposit) that she had to re-enact her wedding day and have another photographer retake all her pictures. I didn’t want to have to go through the same ordeal. He claims to be a "photojournalist" but his pictures do not reflect it.
To give him the benefit of the doubt, I spoke to him to see what happened with that particular wedding but he had no explanation. It was basically, this is my work, take it or leave it. For our engagement shoot, we explained to him what we were looking for and our personality so that he could capture who we really are. Yet the pictures that he took was not reflective of who were are and the ackwardness of the poses that he made us do was very apparent.
We finally made our decision to hire someone else but wanted to give him our feedback. Again, he had no response even after we asked if he had any questions or would even like to counter any of our remarks. It was as if he knew this was coming and has happened before. He did not ask if there was anything he could do to retain us or even apologize for the times that he was late. His attitude was basically … I couldn’t care less if I lost your business.
We tried to negotiate a deal to pay him for the services he had already provided (2 engagement shoots, which he normally charges $400 a piece) and to get a portion of our deposit back but had no luck. Our deposit was $2,000. Can he legally keep the ENTIRE deposit even though he has not provided the service? Also, does anyone know if deposit amounts are negotiable (to prevent future loss)?
Any advice the hive has would be greatly appreciated.
**My main goal is to warn other SoCal bees and ask for advice
Post # 3
Deposits are totally negotiable any part of a contract is negotiable actually. Deposits generally range from 10-30% of the total cost. $2000 is a pretty large deposit. There are a couple of things you can do. You should report him to the better business bureau and you can take him to small claims court. I think $2000 is still in the range of small claims. I know a few people whom have taken a vendor to small claims and had success.
We are working with a photographer on payments in thirds. 1/3 as a deposit, 1/3 on the wedding day and the remaining 1/3 when I receive my album and DVD. I want to insure that I am not waiting forever for the final project because they have all their money and don’t care that I am waiting.
Post # 4
- Wedding: May 2008 - United Methodist Cathedral & historic downtown hotel in Cleveland
Generally, a deposit is just that: a deposit which would commit you to that date. If you do not uphold your end of the contract (providing him work for that date) he keeps the deposit. That is why vendors have you pay a deposit in the first place- to keep people from canceling on them at the last minute. It’s also why you don’t pay the entire fee up front. It is alsowhy he is entitled to keep the entire deposit.
Deposit amounts are often negotiable before you pay the deposit, not afterwords. That’s something to keep in mind as you look at booking another photographer.
Post # 5
yeah.. $2000 is a big deposit which i was very hesitant as well to pay a ny photographer $1000 for his. everything is negotiable and in the end, we went with a different photographer whose deposit was only $500 and local. this way, we aren’t throwing that much money out if we do have to cancel. i think now that you signed the contract and everything and want to cancel now, you may not be getting any of it back. he did his job just not as well and that’s really not his fault. you could have done more research on him before settling and that is neither here nor there. i don’t mean to point any fingers. just stating an opinion. anyways.. good luck in getting the money back if you can!
Post # 6
Does it say the words "non-refundable" in front of it in the contract?
Post # 7
spring08bride – i booked Icons Photography as well, but have not worked with him yet. I will send you a PM.
Post # 8
You could take him to small claims court, you don’t need an lawyer for that it’s basically you giving your story and him giving his in front of a judge. Though you are entitled to representation if you wish to provide it for yourself.
But if the contract doesn;t actually say the deposit is non-refundable, then you have a loop hole already that won’t cost you a day in court. Maybe just a lot of arguing and phone calls.
Either way I’d contact BBB and just keep seeing what you can do to get it back!
Post # 9
Small claims court is a great option – generally the court will look really disfavorably on anyone who shows up without having first made any attempt to resolve the issue. So just having him served notice by the court may result in you getting back your deposit in excess of services already rendered. If you do have to go to court, its just a couple of hours of your time. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make enough money that I wouldn’t take a half day off work to try to get over $1000 back.
Honestly, I have been to small claims court and its not difficult or time-consuming, and there is a good chance he’ll realize how bad his story will look and settle before the court date. If you have already tried politely to get your money and he is not cooperating, I would go ahead and file – quite wasting your time. How many hours are you going to spend arguing and just getting more upset? It will take less time to file against him, even if you actually have to go to court.
Post # 10
If it says the deposit is non-refundable, I think you’re out of luck.
Post # 11
Rather than lose your deposit, can you reduce his services to equal $2,000? Will he agree to perform an amount of work equal to your deposit, then you can hire an additional photog for the wedding day? Or can you ask him if you can sell your contract to another bride, so she pays the remainder of the balance and you get a portion of your deposit from her as well?
Post # 12
Don’t give up. Send a written letter via certified mail demanding that he return the balance of the deposit, minus what you owe him for the engagement session. Include in the letter that you are paying him for services rendered, but that you do not believe he has done what he’s supposed to in a timely manner. Detail a list of all of your complaints, including his non-responsiveness to phone calls (state dates and times) and other failings. Say that you are terminating the contract due to his failure to address your complaints. Threaten legal action if he does not return your deposit.
It’s very important to do this in writing. It makes him understand that you are serious about this and that you are willing to pursue this aggressively. It will also provide a written record in case you do need to go to small claims, but if you are diligent about it (and document everything) he will likely prefer to refund your money than fight it out in court.
Post # 13
it also helps to get delivery confirmation or send stuff via certified mail. i had a dispute with my landlord (over him not fixing my roof that caved in) and i moved out – breaking my lease. i basically documented everything, told him that if no resolution is reached, i would take him to small claims court. we settled.
Post # 14
the key is the contract. look over it and see what it says…
Post # 15
I recently had my wedding photos done by Icons Photography, and I was very much satisfied with the service and professionalism. He was recommended to me by a close girl friend as well. I’m not sure why you had such bad service regarding his work. I’m not a person who likes traditional types of wedding photos, and I wanted it to be unique in an artsy fashion. His photos reflected all I was looking for, and I was extremely happy with the outcome. Good luck and hopefully everything works out for you!
Post # 16
To the OP, I’m a full-time photographer and might be able to help.
If your deposit was a huge chunk – say 50% or more – you have a decent chance of getting some back in court even if it does say "non-refundable." Now, you are going to have to show that your photographer didn’t live up to his contract. This might be the difficult part. Simply saying "I’m firing him because he didn’t give me good pictures" can likely come across as you simply changing your mind – it can be seen as too subjective a matter – which won’t really do much in a court of law. But like I said, unless your pricing was around $8,000 or higher, your deposit is quite high. My deposit is a non-refundable $500, and that’s fairly average for the San Diego area. A judge could potentially see it as an unreasonable deposit and grant you some of the deposit back – so long you can provide some good evidence for your case.
Feel free to message me with your details – how much he charged, what you feel he didn’t deliver, your wedding date – if you want my my objective assessment 🙂 Sorry about your troubles… Don’t let it affect the fact that you’re getting married! Congrats!