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Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?

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Max FancherDo you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 25, 2015 at 9:52:23 pm

Hi There,

I did a quick search but couldn't find this question asked before…

Question: What kind of warranty do you include in your contracts?

Toward the end of my contracts I generally include a simple "Warranty" paragraph that says that we will deliver a completed video that "meets or exceeds industry standards". A client whom we're about to start working with has changed my very simple paragraph into a very long/complex one. Their version basically says that they will have the ability to reject the final video and if we aren't able to have it meet their needs that they can cancel the Agreement and require us to give them every penny back.

The shoot/video is a series of interviews on a conference floor. They're supplying the interviewees, the audio will be tough, the lighting tricky, etc. All of which I've explained to them but just so you know that this is a video where a lot of the variables won't be completely in our control.

So, I have a specific need to figure out how to respond to this client but generally my question is whether there is an industry standard or a norm that should be followed with respect to including a warranty in contracts. Generally I'm looking to hear from this community what you feel is a reasonable way of providing a client with assurance that you're going to to an amazing job without leaving yourself exposed if the client turns out to be unreasonable at the end.

Would love your thoughts.

Thank you!

max


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Ned MillerRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 26, 2015 at 1:16:39 am

Wow Max, this is a problem client from the get-go. First, there’s no “industry standard”. In my Letter of Agreement (contracts are useless on small gigs) I write: “final half payment due upon completion to client’s satisfaction”. Sometimes I write that…That gives them a feeling of control. If they couldn’t trust that I would do a great job, why would they hire me?

I do trade show shooting all the time, just did the US’s largest auto show. Audio is easy: close miking. You have no control over what you can’t control, we have an expression, “It is what it is.” If there is a booth that is blaring music we move. I often will pass the headphones to my client for a CYA. If I were you, I’d get half up front and then you don’t remove the watermark of VERSION # on the screen until you get the second half.

There has to be a certain amount of trust for a relationship between client and vendor. For the auto show two day gig we gave an out of town agency 30 days net. On this forum we have discussed the subject of contracts. I find them useless. Been to small claims court a few times but I can not afford to hire a lawyer for a job that’s below around $15K. Usually the client is too big to sue and I’m to small to sue.

So in sum, if it smells like a problem client don’t do the job. My two cents.

Ned Miller
Chicago Videographer
http://www.nedmiller.com
www,bizvideo.com


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Mads Nybo JørgensenRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 26, 2015 at 9:50:08 am

Hey Max,

[Max Fancher] "A client whom we're about to start working with has changed my very simple paragraph into a very long/complex one. Their version basically says that they will have the ability to reject the final video and if we aren't able to have it meet their needs that they can cancel the Agreement and require us to give them every penny back."

Run, and run as fast as you can!!! This is setting you up for the fall big time.

However, there are a coupe of very simple tools that you can use to change the perception of this:
1) Add to their text: If they demand all the money back, all copyright and all usage of rushes and edited footage reverts back to your firm, and you will be able to use it as you see fit...
2) I have full production insurance and my insurance broker (Matt at Chesterfield Group, London) every year gives me a signed pdf letter of "Public Liability Policy" and "Equipment Hire - including all props and set etc". This I use to show the client that they are covered for costs if anything goes wrong.

As Ned says, there is a third option which includes indemnifying you against any decisions that your client makes at pre-production, on location and in the edit. You could include that in the contract. Make sure that you have a trail of every decision made by the client, either by email or recorded on camera - you may want to budget $1,000 for this extra work. And don't hand over final master until the money is in your account.

Good Luck - do remember that when you say no politely, the client will have a lot more respect for you.

All the Best
Mads

@madsvid, London, UK
Check out my other hangouts:
Twitter: @madsvid
http://mads-thinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk


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Nick GriffinRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:22:59 pm

[Mads Nybo Jørgensen] "Run, and run as fast as you can!!!"

I fully agree with this sentiment. Unless you are starving and have absolutely nothing else to do, politely decline their changes to your contract. The only way I'd proceed on something like this (if I was starving and had absolutely nothing else to do) would be to split the job into two parts: the shoot and post and get paid up front for the shoot with no contingency for a claw back of monies already received.

These days I wouldn't say that they can't find SOMEBODY who will take the gig given their conditions, but they won't be anyone good.


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Mike SmithRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:44:07 pm

Yes, run ...


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Mark SuszkoRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 27, 2015 at 2:54:27 pm

I would use language something like this in any "warranty":

The final product for broadcast is certified free from errors of fact or technical errors regarding quality of the video and audio. Client supplies the facts for the production, is responsible for verification of all such material, and will review and approve all factual information and graphics before delivery. If a spelling or factual error is found after delivery, and the error was attributable to editing staff, it will be repaired and distribution copies will be re-made at no charge to the client. If the client is found to have submitted a misspelling, and the error is found after completion, repairs will be charged to the client at the hourly rate. The product is warranted to be within FCC broadcast standards in terms of video and audio levels and technical signal compliance. No other representation as to the ultimate suitability or acceptance of the product is otherwise implied or inferred.




The overly-open-ended version your client is asking for gives them license to string you along for unpaid services, basically forever. Don't ever agree to such terms. Limit the matter to: does it meet verifiable, objective broadcast specs, and, did you screw up any titles or similar graphics, and if you did, of course, you should eat the cost of that, unless that's exactly how they spelled whatever it was, when THEY gave it to you.


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Max FancherRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Feb 28, 2015 at 6:34:09 pm

Thanks so much Ned, Mads, Nick, Mike and Mark!

This is exactly what I was hoping to hear and definitely gives me confidence going into my next (or possibly final) conversation with the would-be client.

Can't thank you enough for taking the time to help me out.

Yours truly,

max


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John BaumchenRe: Do you provide a "Warranty" in your contracts?
by on Apr 7, 2015 at 12:59:03 pm

How did it turn out?


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