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Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service

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Kang Luke
Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:08:46 pm
Last Edited By Kang Luke on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:25:11 pm

Hi, All,

I'm in the wedding videography business. Need some suggestion on how to deal with this case:

1. Bride+Groom booked our 'Simple' package, the only deliverable is a short 5 min highlight. - We delivered in a month.
2. After we delivered the file. They came back and asked for more. They said it was a misunderstanding and they thought the 5-min video was an add on to a 'typical package that any other videography company would offer'. They asked for 1) 10-15 min long edit. 2)entire day documentary creative edit (2-3 hrs), 3) 3 DVDs 4) don't want tax (we told them if they want tangible goods (DVDs), they'll have to pay tax). And kept saying 'this is what other videography companies would give in their most popular package', and kept trying to make it sound like misunderstanding was our fault.
3. We explained and showed the contract they signed, and clarify that this entire time we were only talking about a 5-min video, this 'documentary' thing and extra DVD was never in the conversation.

I tried to be nice in the beginning and try to accommodate by giving them a very low extra cost to get the documentary edit and DVD, but they just kept pushing for more.
**Personally I think they understand that it's their mistake, but is trying to squeeze as much as they can, while they can, from us.

What would you guys do?
1) treat them nicely still and try to accommodate their (unreasonable) request, free of charge? or, Be firm and just tell them "NO"?
2) Keep in mind that bride and groom are both lawyers...I have to be very careful of what I say and how I deal with them. And I also don't want to get any negative reviews on my business page.

Help!!! Thanks!

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Nick Griffin
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:29:44 pm
Last Edited By Nick Griffin on Jun 30, 2014 at 7:31:19 pm

Tough one. In my experience people like this try to push the limits on the assumption that they'll get more than if they're reasonable, even if they don't get as much as they claim they are owed. Unfortunately it frequently works out that they do get more and this just reinforces the bad behavior.

I'm sorry to say that your best defense again two lawyers is to bring in your own. Have him or her repeat and stress your very generous discounted offer, have him or her refer them to the specifics in the contract they signed and, if your lawyer agrees, lastly make it plain that they will be held responsible for any negative postings that come from them.

All in all this sounds like a money loser for you. Sorry.

BTW - you might ask around quietly to see if they're pulling any similar sh*t with the florist, catering company, etc. If so perhaps you'll have strength in numbers.

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Tom Sefton
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jun 30, 2014 at 8:20:15 pm

Getting a bad name with people in wedding business would be a major boob I would imagine....Stress that this is their mistake and that you need them to cough up an extra amount to cover your costs to deliver the project - extra RAID storage, physical media, postage, editing time for your employees, light and heat, rent etc. Get them to pay something extra (even half a day of your time) and then deliver it, on the proviso that they give you a glowing review that you can film in front of a beautiful building/coastline/forest/ with them both smiling and happy and stick on your website/Vimeo channel. Do a great job and turn these pain in the arse customers into some great feedback for your site and a lesson in stating your basic terms and getting them to sign a boilerplate contract before starting work.

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Tom Sefton
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jun 30, 2014 at 9:05:57 pm

Sorry I missed the fact that they have already signed a contract.

I'd still recommend leaving a happy customer, but it depends if you can get them to pay a little extra for it to make it worth your time and effort.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 12:03:32 am

Ah, you've met THESE people:

Stand firm by the contract. Offer to give them all their raw footage for a "discounted" price, which they can take elsewhere. I don't think you're going to get anywhere with them, and it's best to cut the cord.

Back in my wedding video days, the guy I worked for had me go out to a client's home to try and clear up their misunderstanding that we charged an hourly rate and since the final tape had a running time of two hours, she was only going to pay for two hours at our hourly rate. It took quite a while to get them to understand that it was about 4 hours of shooting on two cameras and several full days of editing, to boil the day down to that two hours. I wasn't getting any traction until I asked them how long they thought it took to make a 2- hour Hollywood movie they rented from Blockbuster.

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Mads Nybo Jørgensen
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 9:06:41 am

Hey Kang,

Married to a vicar I know that you'll rarely be able to satisfy the bride and the smallest things can easily ruin the whole day for her. After all it is the biggest day of her life.

Unless they've been married before, I'm not sure that they would even be able to explain what most other wedding video companies does, which is a moot point, as you have already delivered what you promised to deliver. Since they want more, this must be a sign of your high quality of delivery.

Tell them that you've been booked to do other work, as I expect you have, and offer them to extend the package at your normal price (if you have the footage to do that). DO NOT offer discounts; as lawyers they should be able to afford the expense, and I suspect that they don't give discounts to any of their clients who doesn't understand the concept of "5 minutes only".

I'm sure that any judge and court will agree that a "Simple Package" is a clear description of what they got. Do not worry about that, yet.

Remember: you have something that your clients really want, and you have the only copy of it - so you can all afford to play nice. Or if that doesn't work, just walk away and wait for them to realize that your time and equipment is worth money too.

my 5p

All the Best

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid

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Roger Van Duyn
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 12:32:35 pm
Last Edited By Roger Van Duyn on Jul 1, 2014 at 4:10:26 pm

I'm pretty sure that lawyers understand contracts. They can't fake ignorance. They are purely and simply bullying you. You probably need to talk to your lawyer, and there are procedures for dealing with lawyers that abuse their membership in the bar association. Find out how to file a complaints, then let them know that you know how to file the complaint.

If they've let on to you that they can make your life difficult because they are lawyers, that in itself might justify a formal complaint.

Of course, now that I think about it, they might not have read your contract before they signed, and genuinely misunderstood what you were offering. But that could be a stretch with them being lawyers. It's hard to imagine two lawyers, neither one reading a contract, and not striking sections or asking for parts to be changed to their liking before signing.

I do a few weddings myself, and the most recent one the five minute highlight I added for free to my main package. So if there was a genuine misunderstanding, the customers may just be a little panicky due to the emotional involvement they have as newlyweds. Even lawyers have feelings. So I can see the point they raised about only getting 5 minutes, but only if they didn't read the contract.

Because of this, you might want to reexamine what you are offering your clients, because misunderstandings are bound to occur since so few videographers offer a five minute wedding video package. I know it's probably not your only package, but, some clients are bound to be confused.

Short is the norm for corporate, but not for weddings, at least as the only offering. It's a completely different mind set for me doing my corporate gigs versus doing my occasional weddings.

A lot of us choose either corporate or weddings, but not both. I know of corporate videographers who avoid doing weddings like the plague because it's so different dealing with the clients and their expectations. Many wedding videographers would hate dealing with Net 30, Net 60 etc. payment schemes.

Most of the brides from the few weddings I do, and also the mothers of the brides, want to see "everything", as much as possible anyway. All the relatives and friends...

So there are legal, moral, and practical issues to consider. It's a real mess. Your comment about them not wanting to pay the tax on video productions delivered on physical disks could be viewed as a strategy to coerce you to evade sales and use tax here in Florida.

Since I do both corporate work and wedding work, your lawyer couple seems to have given you some of the worst problems I've brushed up against from both types of gigs. Fortunately, my worst problems have been a rare clients slow to pay up.

Man, what a long post I've written. Not sure if anything I wrote can really help. Just try to reach a solution you can live with and try to avoid similar misunderstandings in the future.


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Todd Terry
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 2:46:22 pm

Scroll back up and re-read Mads' advice. It's right on the money.

Although I would be a little surprised that if you went into the job with the couple wanting the super-simple-n-cheap package that you would have shot enough to later create the blockbuster-extravaganza version. I know I personally don't really overshoot... I shoot what I need for a job, and that's about it (but I shoot scripts, not events). Maybe you did.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Bob Cole
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 5:26:30 pm

Sad situation. If we can take Kang's description of the situation at face value, I agree with Mads.

[Mads Nybo Jørgensen] "DO NOT offer discounts"

I agree 100% with this, but Kang already did offer a discount, which the clients may have interpreted as a signal that he thought he was in the wrong. So often this is the case: we try to "make nice," which is interpreted as weakness and tends to normalize bad behavior. In this case, the best response would have been incredulity. "You want me to give you the Deluxe Package for the Economy price????"

Bob C

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Ned Miller
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 6:20:45 pm
Last Edited By Ned Miller on Jul 1, 2014 at 6:28:40 pm

This is exactly why I do not deal with consumers. They don't understand video, even for their own wedding. I have heard many stories like this from associates who do weddings and consumer events. Even if they mean nothing malicious they are Video Virgins.

However, since you are in the biz of dealing with consumers, I think you need to do everything you can to keep your Yelp, etc. posts 100% positive, even if it costs you. Besides, unless you have a close family member or friend who is an attorney you can't afford to go up against them. Even if you're in the right. As a small biz owner you have to ask yourself in moments like these "What the Best/Worst that can happen here?" Let's forget best at the moment. The Worst thing that can happen to you, due to this damn interweb thingy Al Gore invented, is that you get a bad Yelp post. Kiss of Death to vendor services to the public. At this point forget about your time and profit, protect your online rep.

So put on a fake smile, meet with them, hold their hand and make them happy. Real happy...

Then start transitioning into my end of the pool where you don't have to deal with clients like these. Plus you get to have your weekends back!

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer

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Neal Petrosky
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 1, 2014 at 7:49:22 pm

I'm thinking that your lawyer clients had a friend/family member get it in their ear that they "should have gotten" all of the additional deliverables. Tough. You've offered a discounted rate. Talk to a lawyer if they get threatening but move on. Don't offer anything else other than full price based on the footage that you have.
I am mostly a corporate video and tv commercial producer, but I've shot enough weddings for a friends company to know the basic packages. The lowest/basic is the 5 min trailer plus the ceremony...
My point is that the 5 minutes only is pretty standard. What they are asking for is insane and the premiere package.
I disagree with the people saying you need to make sure they're happy. I'm sorry but they are lawyers, there's a signed contract, I'm sure it was discussed what was being delivered. If they post something on Yelp, you can argue it... Allowing these people to get what they want hurts your reputation and just makes them think they are better/above you (which they probably already do...because lawyers).

Depending on the nature of the correspondence, referring them to your lawyer now may be your best bet.

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Joe Mole
Re: Need suggestion: Customer misunderstood our package and now asking for free service
on Jul 2, 2014 at 2:51:50 pm
Last Edited By Joe Mole on Jul 2, 2014 at 2:55:16 pm

With all due respect, it sounds to me like you're a Newbie to business. There is no room for conversation in this matter. Your first mistake was giving them anything. Unless you made some sort of mistake you haven't mentioned you made a clean transaction with them and then gave them more when they complained.

It doesn't matter if they are lawyers, the best they can do is sue you in a small claims court for ~$5k which they would lose in. For all those talking about getting a "bad reputation" it's BS. Good business brings good clients. These are bad clients. Let them bad mouth you all they want. They are a small fish in a big pond.

Give them a simple offering of what they want with the prices of what it costs WITH NO DISCOUNTS. And let them choose. Leave no room for talking or negotiating. Keep your emotions out of it and ignore theirs. Do not respond to their questions ect. Just keep referring them to the original contract for any issues they raise and then offer to solve their problem with your other package at full cost.

Also ignore what other people are saying about bringing a lawyer ect. into it. That will just unnecessarily escalate things. Just simply refer them to the existing contract and your current prices. Ignore anything else they have to say and be firm and short. Don't escalate it by bringing a lawyer into it when you don't need one. If everything you've said is true then you're fine.

Don't be bullied into doing free work.

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