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SoCalPro
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I think this may have been covered a couple of weeks ago but I think this situation is a bit different.

A client booked me in August to do 2 separate dates in December (Friday nights). The total fee was $1000.000 for the 2 dates. I have a signed performance agreement and a $50.00 deposit. She calls me tonight and tells me that she has changed her parties to the Saturday's (after the Friday's that she booked me). I tell her that this puts me in a bit of a pickle since I booked her on those dates and I have turned down shows since then. Not only that but the dates she wants to move her parties to, I am totally booked up on. She tells me that if I am not available, she'll have to cancel my performances.

It took her 4 months to decide that she wanted to change the dates????

Here is my game plan.

1. Offer to come later in the night (which I know she won't go for).

2. Let her know that my performance agreement says "pay or play" and she did sign it.

3. Offer a resolution of 50% of the total amount due.

and the very last option......

4. We'll let the court decide this. I REALLY don't wanna have to do this as I am generally a nice guy.

I know what a couple of you think... "no, don't take her to court, you'll burn bridges that way... play nice".

Forget that!!!! She had 4 months to change her mind but she called me at almost the last minute. If she would have called me right away, I would have probably had no problem changing dates. Playing nice at this point is not an option. This is not fair to me, I just lost $1000.00 in a 1 minute phone conversation.

How would YOU guys handle this?

JIM
keithmagic
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Hey Jim -

First off...

What's with the $50 deposit? Do you really think that has any pull in a situation like this? It doesn't - it's too easy to walk away from. So why get a deposit in the first place? Either go 50 to 100% (yes you can ask for pay full in advance you know!), or go with none. I actually prefer none. I tend to treat my contracts as cash (ok more like a post-dated check, but you catch my drift). I have only had one negative experience with contract issues, and believe it or not - it was with someone who had SUGGESTED they give me a deposit. No joke!

If you have a firm contract, and you need to enforce it, just politely ask her to honor it. If you wanted to be nice - maybe you could ask the reason she needs to change (death? illness? something you will feel bad about if you come down on her and find out later?). If there isn't a legit reason, go small claims or a collection agency to recover, and write the deal off as a loss in your mind. You're probably not going to collect, even if you get a judgment against her. But there is a chance you WILL collect, so if it works out (and since you have already decided it's a loss - just a bad part of doing biz), it will be a fun little bonus check for you (minus of course legal and recovery fees - but that stuff won't cost as much as you may think - many who have NEVER BEEN IN THAT situation may go oh with all the fees blah blah it's not worth it - but don't believe them until you look into it and crunch the numbers yourself - most people are just scared of lawyers and litigation).

Hope that helps. I have been there and done that outside of the magic world. It's not as bad as it seems. Hang in there buddy.

Keith
Author of "The Festival Entertainer" The Professional Entertainer's Guide to Booking and Working Outdoor Fairs, Festivals, and Events.
Available at http://www.howtobookfestivals.com
Bill Nuvo
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I agree with Keith. The 50 dollar deposit/retainer thing was the first mistake.
Jim Snack
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You really don't have a lot of leverage, which is why you should always get a 50% deposit. Explain your situation and try to salvage what you can. Offer to take half your fee for the cancellation instead of the full amount. You could even offer to come later and only do strolling magic for that. That would give them something for their money and possibly save her from looking bad to her boss. Good luck.

Jim
Jim Snack

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Lyndel
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I think you are on the right track with the options that you have come up with... If she is at first unwilling to re-schedule the date to later in the evening (or even a later date for a different event), then and only then would I explain to her your predicament about holding those dates open for her and gently point out the pay or play clause in your contract.

Depending on her response, you can then either go the route of re-scheduling her to another date or threatening her with legal action.

I once had a client a week out call me and said she had decided to cancel the show. As it turned out, she had found another magician who had agreed to do the same gig for less money than I was charging.)

I told her "OK, that's fine, but that since we do have a signed contract that I would still need to be paid 100% of my fee." Then she claimed to have lost the contract and couldn't confirm that the pay or play clause was indeed in the contract. I was more than happy to fax her a copy of mine (signed by her) with the pay or play clause circled...

Long story short, there were TWO magicians at the gig that day and I was paid in full and apparently, so was the other guy... She ( and the rest of her group)was then able to compare our two different shows A-B and then understood why I was so much more expensive than my competitor.

Some people sign stuff and don't bother to read what they're signing. In my opinion, this will be a nice little thousand dollar lesson for her to always read the fine print!


Lyndel
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Bob Sanders
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These are great reasons for having an agent.

Yes, people do change their plans. Agents do a great job of identifying these folks right up front. Word gets around quickly among agents. Agents avoid them for you. They want their commissions. They earn it!

Of course, you try to work with the date changers when reasonable. But your business is performing! Don't change your career to facilitate the indecisive. Be a nice guy and be gone! Think of the lesson as an investment in your career. Work on your career. You know your decision.

While I'm on my soap box, don't commit your prime dates (weekends) to sub prime people. If your capacity to perform is limited so should the access to those assets be limited. (This is the same advice I gave mortgage companies but then mortgage companies that do sub prime mortgages don't understand professional financial advice. There are no financial professionals on board there.)

Full speed ahead! Good luck to you.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
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Donald Dunphy
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Hi Jim -

Does your contract have a cancellation policy, and does it mention about how many days notice you require?

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
TheDean
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Mine does, as well as a 50% retainer, date holding fee at he time of contract signing... no fee, no date held, as well as a PAID IN FULL, long before I ever show up! (30 to 90 days depending.) Never had a single one even raise an eyebrow.

I agree will the gang here… enforce the agreement IN FULL and then see where you can help either later that night or at some future date. (But with a $50.00 deposit, it may require legal assistance.) – For $950.00, I’d say there is a VALUABLE lesson learned.

Fill that dates… NEXT!
Dean Hankey, *M.D. - The Dean of Success Solutions!
Serving & Supporting YOU and Your Success!
"Book More Shows... Make More Money... SERVE MORE PEOPLE! - Not Necessarily In That Order…"

(*Marketing Doctor) Smile
jay leslie
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Pay or play has worked for me in the past No explanation is necessary. If you are willing and able then she is obligated. The only factor that would mitigate her position is if someone hired you on the same day for the same amount, then you would not be permitted to be paid twice.

My story. I showed up and there was another magi. I was told they didn't need me because the other person was doing it for free. They ended up paying me when I went outside, made a picket sign and started to walk across the driveway.

I have also enforced the pay or play clause on one more occasion. And finally, when a husband canceled , because he said it was going to rain (on a sunny day) 10 minutes before the show I got in the car and drove there anyway and started to set up. When he confronted me I told him I would tell everyone how cheap he was if he didn't let me perform and that I wanted paid right then. He paid, I did the show and his wife congradulated me on standing up to her cheap husband. The end.
Mikael Eriksson
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SoCalPro, you are too upset with her to perform for her now even if you can agree on something. Besides that, she has already paid a $50.00 deposit, so she should be able to unbook anyway she wants too.

I would handle it this way:

Tell her it's impossible to move the party to the saturday because you have other customers that decided on that date, but that she's welcome to decide on another date. If she can't, tell her that you're sorry, but then you'll have to cancel your performance.

I would also raise my deposit. 50 dollars seems very low if you charge 1000 for the performance. If you raise it, it wount be that big punch in the face when situations like this occur.
SoCalPro
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As always, you guys give a wealth of information and I thank you. Ok, let me see if I can address some of the issues at hand.

1. $50.00 "retainer fee" is just what I usually charge. I agree that I should either bump it up for larger paying gigs or just ask for half up front. Great idea.

2. Bob, I only committed to this client because it was on a Friday and it was (IMO) a fair performance fee. Plus she booked me on the spot for 2 separate dates so as far as I was concerned, it was a good deal.

3. Donald, currently my performance agreement does NOT have a cancellation clause. Maybe I need one? I need to revamp my agreement, I took it from Joel's book many years ago. Maybe you can point me in the right direction.

4. Mikael, I would have no problem at this point in doing what Jim suggested. I would be happy to just do strolling and take a pay cut. All parties would win in that case. Also, she flat out told me that if I was unavailable, she would have to cancel. That's the easy way out for her. I'm not about to let her off that easy.

I can see if this was just for a small kids show for $250 and I don't know any of your financial situations, but to me $1000 is a big chunk of change.


Jim

Posted: Nov 26, 2007 3:02pm
Just got off the phone with the clients husband. Sounds to me that at least HE is willing to negotiate on the times and services. He's gonna talk to her and see what she thinks.

I'll keep you posted.

Jim

Posted: Nov 29, 2007 4:09pm
UPDATE:

Just spoke to the client. I was told that the dates and time aren’t going to work out. I then reminded them that his wife did sign a legal and binding contract and when she signed the agreement, I stopped taking bookings for those dates. He was understanding and told me that he would do whatever I needed him to do. I then told him that even though they were responsible for the full amount, I understand that it was a mistake and I feel that half of the remaining amount due would be fair. He immediately agreed to pay that amount.

I am not a greedy or vindictive person, I wasn’t out for blood. I just wanted what was fair for me. I’m glad I just didn’t roll over and let them walk all over me on this.

JIM
gsidhe
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Well done!
Thank you for maintaining a monetary value for our arts.
Gwyd
magicofCurtis
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SoCalPro,

I ran into the similar situation couple weeks ago, but the client canceled the event and want the deposit back...

HMM needless to say after I pointed out the fact that contract was non-cancelable and would be glad to change the date.
I had to jump through hoops with the lawyer of the company and the CEO....
I ended up getting $500 less then the contracted amount and I two days later booked the date at full rate... so that date looks GREAT....

Glad to hear you stuck up and got your cash!
JamesinLA
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Jim,
What was the gig supposed to be anyway? Was it strolling or stand up or a bit of both? Thanks.

My feelings on this are: I would agree that the way to go would be to offer to perform for them the two dates at a later date of thier choosing and that they could pick those dates, but that they would have to pay the agreed upon fee at this time, which you would hold against those future bookings. OR in lue of that solution, pay you half of the fee to just forget it, so you get half your money without flicking a finger.

This has been very instructive. I think I will have to put a clause in my contracts to address the pay or play aspect. And also do an upfront payment in full or 1/2 retainer. Great advice everyone! Thank you.

Jim
Oh, my friend we're older but no wiser, for in our hearts the dreams are still the same...
BIGmagiclV
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How about this solution in the future? Tell them they are responsible for full pay, but it allows them to book you at a future date whithin one year? It works for the airlines!
SoCalPro
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Quote:
On 2007-11-29 20:13, magicofCurtis wrote:
SoCalPro,

I ran into the similar situation couple weeks ago, but the client canceled the event and want the deposit back...

HMM needless to say after I pointed out the fact that contract was non-cancelable and would be glad to change the date.
I had to jump through hoops with the lawyer of the company and the CEO....
I ended up getting $500 less then the contracted amount and I two days later booked the date at full rate... so that date looks GREAT....

Glad to hear you stuck up and got your cash!


Curtis,
Sounds like everything worked out. Smile


JIM
SoCalPro
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Quote:
On 2007-11-29 20:52, JamesinLA wrote:
Jim,
What was the gig supposed to be anyway? Was it strolling or stand up or a bit of both? Thanks.

My feelings on this are: I would agree that the way to go would be to offer to perform for them the two dates at a later date of thier choosing and that they could pick those dates, but that they would have to pay the agreed upon fee at this time, which you would hold against those future bookings. OR in lue of that solution, pay you half of the fee to just forget it, so you get half your money without flicking a finger.

This has been very instructive. I think I will have to put a clause in my contracts to address the pay or play aspect. And also do an upfront payment in full or 1/2 retainer. Great advice everyone! Thank you.

Jim


James,

I was TOTALLY booked up on both dates that she wanted. I told them that I would be happy to come later that night and just do strolling for one hour for $375 (the contract was for 1 hr. strolling and a 40 min stand up show for $500).

This didn't work out within their time budget so I told them that %50 of the fee would be fair and they agreed.

I booked a gig for another performer last year where they canceled and paid in full (with the option of actually getting a show later) and they ended up calling us back 6 months later wanting a show. What are the odds? Smile Needless to say, we honored the agreement and they got their show. Smile

JIM
SoCalPro
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Quote:
On 2007-11-29 22:51, BIGmagiclV wrote:
How about this solution in the future? Tell them they are responsible for full pay, but it allows them to book you at a future date whithin one year? It works for the airlines!


The only problem with this is that you may not be available for their show.

Posted: Nov 30, 2007 12:31am
I thank you all for your support and advice. The education one can get on the Café is PRICELESS!!
disneywld
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I agree - what a great resource!
The Magic of Christopher Manos
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Countage
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Have you tried to offer credit for another event in the future: comapany picnic, next years holiday party, or any event? That might create a win win situation for both parties. If you get what you want and keep your client happy that is good for business.

I get the show fee upfront unless the client does not feel comfortable. Then I try to negotiate a deposit they feel comfortable with. That usually occurs one out of every hundred times. However I let them know in my contract no money will be refunded. If the show is canceled a show may be offered for a future event that both parties can agree to. If you get them to agree to that upfront you will experience very little problems. I also like to get the fee upfront because that is one less object I have to keep up with at the show. In my phone sales presentation I tell the client "We'll handle all of the business upfront so the day of the show all we have to worry about is having fun." and they usuall respond with "Sounds good".
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