General Question

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Is this client asking too much?

Asked by ItalianPrincess1217 (11973points) June 5th, 2018

A client booked me to be their wedding photographer last year and paid their initial deposit. Their wedding is at the end of July and I’ve been trying to set up the final meeting to go over the details. They can also choose to pay their remaining balance at this meeting or wait until a week before the wedding to pay it off according to the contract. We had a date set up twice already but they cancelled last minute both times, claiming they’re busy people. Again today they’ve contacted me and asked to set up another day but this time they’ve asked for it to be at 8:30pm on a weekday and it’s a 45 minute drive for me each way. With everything we need to go over, I’m looking at getting home well past 10:00pm. To me, this isn’t something a photographer would normally do for a client. Am I correct? This is well outside of my normal business hours listed on my site. Of course weddings go much later but as far as meeting times, I have never met anyone so late before. Would it be considered rude of me to turn down this meeting request? If I do turn it down, how should I word it?

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21 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

No, it’s not rude and they are being unprofessional by breaking two previous appointments.

I would tell them I’m available during business hours (or whatever yours are) and happy to accomodate them during that time frame. No further cancellations without charge either.

*Put that cancellation fee without 24 hour notice in your contracts!

chyna's avatar

No it’s not rude of you. It is rude of them to ask. Tell them it is well beyond your normal work hours and you are unable to do it that late because you have kids you need to get ready for bed. Ask them to choose another time that is within your working hours. It’s their wedding, you would think they would make time for something as important as pictures. I bet the bride would not get away with that in scheduling fittings for the dress. I also would tell them that you must start charging them your hourly rate after the 3rd cancellation as they are taking away time you could be consulting with other clients.

Strauss's avatar

I agree with @chyna…but I would not necessarily feel I have to explain why, except that it’s outside of my normal work hours. I also agree with @KNOWITALL that you should charge them a penalty for any further cancelled appointments without adequate notice. At this point, I think a 24 hour cancellation notice is even too short. Maybe 36 hours, or maybe even 3 business days!

LadyMarissa's avatar

My previous doctor & my current dentist both have a rule that you MUST give them a cancellation notice a minimum of 24 hours or they will charge you for the visit. Your contract should say that all required scheduled appointments are included in your fee; however, any calcellations within 48 hours of the appointed time, that there will be a charge of whatever rate you choose. Then, IF you feel the client has a legitimate reason to cancel in less time, you can waive the fee on a case by case basis. In this case, I would have probably waived the fee on the first cancellation but charged them on the 2nd & all subsequent ones.

My gut is telling me that these people have gone way overboard on their budget & they don’t have the funds to pay you; so, they cancel to keep from telling you that they can’t pay right now while they are possibly looking for somebody cheaper (like a friend for free). You might consider asking them straight out IF they are having a cash flow problem as maybe you can work with them to take off some of the pressure. They might become highly insulted at first; but, they might also tell you honestly that they are having money problems. Maybe you could split that last half payment in half but ONLY IF they pay it in the next 36 hours & then pay the final payment just before their wedding day. Your contract should set up specific hours that you are willing to meet within. Once again, you can adjust those hours on a case by case basis. Remember though that once you make a special adjustment for anyone, they may expect the same adjustment over & over; so you should make it clear that the first time is a ONE time adjustment!!!

I know you don’t want to lose a client; but, I think I wouldn’t cry IF they choose to go elsewhere!!! They are getting close enough to their wedding day that they probably won’t be able to hire a different photographer on such short notice especially IF they are having money problems!!!

Sadly, being your own advocate is part of the problem of being a photographer. People will push you as far YOU ALLOW THEM TO; so speak up for yourself!!!

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@LadyMarissa At this meeting they aren’t obligated to pay me the remaining balance yet. If they want to pay me half now and the other half a week before their wedding, they can choose to do that. Or if they need to break it up in weekly installments, that’s also an option. If they want to wait and pay the entire balance off the week before, that’s up to them. I’m very flexible with payments. This meeting is just for the purpose of going over all the details to include arrival times, specific shots they want, what locations they want additional photos done, if they want pre-ceremony photos, etc. None of this has been discussed yet. There’s lots to still talk about and they don’t seem to be prioritizing it. So I’m struggling to understand the reason behind them having such difficulty picking a date to meet.

@Strauss I definitely agree that I don’t think much detail needs to go into why I can’t make that appointment time, especially because my website says my work hours and I’ve already e-mailed them my available days and times.

Darth_Algar's avatar

No, it would not be rude to not accept that appointment. Your business hours are clearly stated. You do not need a reason to reject any request that falls outside of those hours. In fact, I’d consider it more professional to not accept it if it falls outside your standard business hours.

(*Obviously something like the wedding may, but routine meetings should not. You are not a servant answering to their beck and call, but a professional offering a quality service on your terms, not theirs.)

kritiper's avatar

Explain that what they ask doesn’t conform to the company policy of your business. Anything above and beyond what is normal must pass your approval and will be subject to additional costs.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

The biggest joy of self-employment = not dealing with rude, difficult, or annoying clients.

I’ve learned, from running my own business for over 10 years, that 5% of clients cause 95% of the stress and headaches. The fees may seem worth it at face value, but I actually lose money by accommodating problematic business rather than working on other contracts.

The sooner you jettison such people, the better off you’ll be.

LornaLove's avatar

I agree with what the others here have said. Tell them you are also a busy person and have a life!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Remind them the deposit is non-refundable !

stanleybmanly's avatar

Agree to accommodate their meeting time, but have them drive to you.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@stanleybmanly I actually considered that option but it turns out she’s not getting out of work until 8:30pm. So by the time she would drive from her town to to me, it’d be at least 9:15. There’s nothing in my small town open that late. We couldn’t meet at a coffee shop (my usual meeting place). And I can’t have them at my house because all my kids will be sleeping and my husband will be here. I don’t feel it’s professional to do that.

JLeslie's avatar

I didn’t read above answers. I would just tell them the meeting will take 2 hours (or whatever it is) so you would like to start no later than 6:30 (or whatever your time is) and give them a few dates that are best for you. Or, I would offer to meet on a weekend if that is their days off.

Weddings happen late at night, on weekends, all sorts of times, so I would assume wedding photographers have flexibility to some extent.

At least now the sun stays out late and you can get home in daylight, even if the meeting ends late.

They need to compromise. If they have to, maybe they leave work early, or take a long lunch hour (2 hours) to meet you at a reasonable time. My meeting with my photographer wasn’t long at all, I left it up to him pretty much.

I would consider doing a lot via email and then utilize Skype, or FaceTime to meet virtually. Then if you still think you need an in person meeting, maybe it will only last an hour.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

Update: I emailed them back and let them know I wouldn’t be able to attend a meeting that late in the evening. I also listed what days and hours I’m available (again). There hasn’t been a response yet.

kruger_d's avatar

Don’t offer a reason you can’t meet so late. It implies that you need one. You don’t. You could in the future offer an option to meet past business hours with the understanding that you bill for overtime and drive time.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

I will consider if this is only a one-time occurrence and the amount of payment I will get from them if I were in your situation. If there’s already another prospective client that offer better payment then I will drop this client (or at least won’t give them special treatment). For the most part, they are your client and should be made comfortable in making a business with you. I won’t say that customer is the king but sometimes you need to go extra for certain people, but certainly not all the time. I hope these clients are more understanding after you refused the meeting. Most customers have the mindset that if you can’t do it then there are still many other people who can.

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Unofficial_Member I would think they should be quite understanding of the fact that I’ve allowed 2 last minute cancellations already with no penalty. I set aside two days now to have a meeting that never ended up happening which means I lost money from other customers. And as far as them having the mindset that if I can’t do it, someone else can…I’m not sure they really think that but I’d wish them the best of luck finding a reputable photographer less than 2 months before their wedding.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Perhaps their problem is the stresses and pratfalls that accompany planning an elaborate wedding, but you should gird yourself to be ready for this sort of crisis. When it comes to elaborate events, some people are competent at planning this sort of thing. Most aren’t, and most of those either don’t realize it or refuse to accept it. Either way, they may drag you through that trip through hell and fault you (and others) for the miseries encountered. You will (you must) develop an eye for spotting such looming disaters until your reputation is well established and you are the go-to for people who plan these things for a living. This scheduling difficulty with this couple is probably not the single boondoggle around this affair, and you should consider (if there is still time) just how crucial this particular job is to your business.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@ItalianPrincess1217 As an aside do they have a wedding planner or are they winging that too ?

ItalianPrincess1217's avatar

@Tropical_Willie They do not have a wedding planner.

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