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What's a fair cancellation policy these days?

15 Dec 2015 2:37PM
I'm new on here and would welcome some advice please as I am in the early stages of branching out in to wedding photography.

Obviously non-refundable deposits / retainers are the norm but I see that a lot of togs also include additional cancellation fees in their contracts. Having done a quick scan of a few sites, these terms seem to vary hugely. I want to add something along these lines but want to know what's fair to protect me and my future income but isn't going to completely put off future clients! Some folk have a policy whereby they charge 100% of the balance if the B&G cancels between 1-3 months before the big day and others seem to have a stepped fee arrangement from 12-18 months beforehand (eg 25% if cancelled within 18 months, 50% within 12, 75% within 9 and 100% within 6).

Any advice?


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15 Dec 2015 4:41PM
that sounds pretty fair as long as your contact lets them know clearly what they are expecting and you are expecting, if they know exactly what they are getting then it should not put them off, perhaps you could add a delay clause in it too?
mikeweeks 14 977 3 England
13 Jan 2016 12:18PM
Question is what are you giving them? What will happen if you can not attend? as the the idea of retaining 100% if cancelled within 6 months that would probably be seen as unfair

Do not just look at how you lose but look at it from their side as well, it should be a balnace.

thewilliam 10 6.1k
13 Jan 2016 12:29PM
When the matter goes to Court, the photographer is only entitled to compensation for what he/she has lost.

That means that we can't charge for the materials that would have been used for albums etc. Also, the plaintiff might want to know about the lead time and evidence that other work had been turned down so that cancellation 6 months before the wedding had indeed caused a loss for the photographer. Keep good records of enquiries, prospect meetings etc.

When the contract is with a consumer, it must be "fair" or the Court will just throw it out.

The best advice would come from a professional association.
mikehit 9 8.0k 13 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2016 1:17PM
There have been court cases where the cancellation fees are consdiered unreasonable, with the ruling being along the lines that the cancellation fee is to cover lost profit (not lost earnings). So as an example your calculated profit for a job is 200 with 100 on materials bought in advance.
So some contractors would have a deposit of 300 that is totally non-refundable if they cancel a month before the event because it is unreasonable that you find replacement work in that short time. And work a sliding scale backwards from there.
A court may well find that forfeiting a full deposit 18 months before the event is unfair because it is quite reasonable that you could find replacement work in that time.

Unfortunately a lot of these cases, the 'right or wrong' is only really answered in court. The rest is down to your personal business ethics.
I know one guy who has a sliding scale in his contract and applies the forfeiture, but if he finds replacement work will refund the couple in full whether they ask for it or not because the reason for the deposit has been nullified. He has built a lot of goodwill on that.

As has been said, clarity in the contract is key.

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