Client Keeps Forgetting to Pay

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Here’s a situation involving payment plans: the client buys a ‘package’ of sessions but can break the payment out into two parts to make it more affordable.

Package sessions are great for the client, as the package is usually cheaper than buying each session individually. They’re also great for the photographer, so has some guaranteed sessions coming in, which equals guaranteed income.

But sometimes things don’t quite go as planned, and its not apparent until after the package deal has been purchased.

I am having trouble with a client who has purchased a first year package.

She has been very difficult so far. I did not one, not two, but 3 reshoots with her because her two year old was out of control.

Then it was pulling teeth to get payment. The contract states that1/2 must be paid at the time of newborn session and the other half must be paid at the 3 month session. I was given a check for the 1st half.

Then she scheduled her three month, the day of asked if she could reschedule because they needed a day to cuddle. I told her unfortunately I did not have any openings for the next couple weeks. So she decided to stick with it. She then forgot her check book so I told her I would invoice her. Weeks pass and it didn’t get paid.

She then emailed me and asked if she could make a payment unexpected bills came up. I said fine you can pay part now and I will invoice you next month. So she waited another week and a half and paid a portion.

On the first of the month, I invoiced her for the balance.  It is now mid-month and while I have sent her reminders throughout she has not paid.  I message and she won’t return my messages.

Then tonight she messaged me saying she wasn’t sure what this invoice was for, if I could remind her why I am sending this…

I am to the point where she needs to be dropped as a client. I know they are well off and have no reason to be so difficult about paying. She is just being completely irresponsible. I’m trying to think of a polite thing to say…”no I will not book anymore sessions till you are paid up.”

She has paid enough in to basically cover the sessions she has (newborn and 3 months) plus $50.00 if they weren’t discounted as a package deal. My contract doesn’t really go into terminating first year packages, but I will be adding that in.

 ~Annoyed Photographer

 

Dear Annoyed,

I can understand why you are frustrated – you’ve done the work several times over with reshoots, but getting paid for the work has been an ordeal.

However, you teach your clients how to treat you. She’s learned from experience that you cave in to her and let her delay payment. So she delays payment. Because all those fancy status symbols of good money that you’re basing your label of her as “well off” have to be paid too. There is a priority list and you’re at the bottom.   It’s time to get to the top.

So now, when she calls to schedule the 6 mo session you can’t put the session down on the calendar until she’s paid the balance of her package.   If she will play by the rules (because you enforce them) then she’ll respect you/your business and be keepable… and if she can’t do so she fires herself because you have grown a business backbone and can’t schedule a new session until you’ve been paid.

Let this be a business lesson to you about why you have your policies – sometimes the best lessons we learn in business are the ones we learn the hard way.  Oh, and while you’re evaluating your policies, take a look at your reshoot policies and decide how you want to handle multiple reshoots of situations that are outside of the photographer’s control and what your cancellation policy for non emergency situations is.  I think half of your frustration in this situation involves the multiple reshoots and the cancellation attempt ‘to cuddle’.

 

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