A Friend of a Friend = a Discount?

Dear Stefanie Shutters,

I gave a discounted maternity and newborn session package set to a good friend’s friend. They loved their maternity session, and I had 39 images to show in their gallery. The maternity session package comes with 15-20 images.  The client chose 23 images and when I told her it was $25 for each additional image above the 20 she freaked out at me and said that they would cancel the newborn session with me unless I send her the extra three for free too.  Her logic was that “it’s not too expensive to just send them the extras” and they shouldn’t have to pay because they’re not printed.

My husband says to just give them what they want. It’s a tiny thing on our end to make them happy and willing to come back for the newborn session. We need the money. What do I do?

~ Floored

Dear Floored,

Just when I think entitlement-itis can’t get any worse, I see stuff like this.  I think a lot of it comes down to getting the public educated about the value of digital images and the value of  people’s TIME  (PPA are you listening? This is a PSA that needs to happen at the level of Superbowl commercials!) and some of it is that some people are just plain VIPs in their own mind.

Extortion plays by clients are icky. Just plain messy. And mean. And nasty. And that’s what this is.

For the future, I’d stop having a package come with a range of images: picking 15-20 makes no sense. No one will pick 15 when they could have 20 for the same price. So change your package to come with 15 images and have it clearly listed that their gallery will contain more than 15 images; additional images are available for $x each.  This is much firmer and less confusing.

Not that your client is confused – she clearly knows she gets 20 images, wants more, and demands that she gets it. Why? Because you’ve managed to get a client that likes to push her boundaries. You already gave her a substantial discount ($100 off the maternity and $175 off the newborn) FOR NO GOOD REASON so they see your prices as fluid. So why wouldn’t they expect you to just cease to value yourself altogether and start giving them more freebies?

Entitlement-itis is deadly to your bottom line.

So here’s where I’d give the choices to the client:   She can…

  1. recognize that she can pick only 20 images and not pay one more cent and still get to save that $100 on the session and come back for the newborn session that she also gets a big discount on
  2. pay $75 for those three images, which not only gets her 3 images, she still comes out ahead $25 on your regular price
  3. pick her 20 images, throw a snit fit, canel the newborn session and then go pay more elsewhere for the same quality work because you sure aren’t going to rebook them later on at the discount rate.

Then I’d consider yelling at the friend that referred them… but really, it’s not her fault. If you’d booked them at full price I bet none of this would be happening. They’d have either respected you as a business or they’d have not booked at all and saved you the drama.  And if they’d booked you at full price you’d have that money that you need.

BUT… since you say you really need the money (and btw, I swear this type of client can smell desperation)….  How badly do you need that future $250 for the newborn session?

Because since they didn’t pay for the newborn package at the booking of the maternity to lock in that deal, they may, once you cave in and give them their extra images STILL decide to not come back to you for the newborn session and go take advantage of another photographer.  Or they might demand another $50 discount on top of the $175 in order to come back.   With no money down, there’s no commitment on their end to follow through.

How desperate are you?  Only you can answer that.


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