Can you be TOO good to your clients?

September 02, 2012  •  3 Comments

I am a firm believer in nurturing every single client with the same attention and care. I do my absolute best to deliver over and above their expectations.

But what happens when my professionalism actually gets taken advantage of? 

Here's a story that I'd love to hear your comments on, and what would YOU have done in the same situation. 

So here's the story.

 

I was booked for a recent shoot, to shoot both photos and video for a large Olympic themed event in Central London a few weeks ago. I was booked from 5pm to 11pm. I was also paid BEFORE the event which was amazing. 

The shoot day came, and I was there as I usually am a decent time earlier than the call time (4.30pm) and I went about exploring the venue and working out my routes and possible images for the day. 

Several hours later, my end time was approaching.. the clock was ticking away. I always tell my clients that I don't work like a taxi on a meter.. I will NEVER leave a shoot unless I'm completely satisfied the client is happy and I have all the images/footage I need from the night. I have worked in events long enough to know that sometimes things overrun, people may not be in the right place at the right time and so on. I consider myself to be one of the more flexible photographers out there in terms of staying later than the allotted time. 

I dont want to be in the situation where my client sees the images and feels that there's a lack of imagery. 

So back to the event.

It was clear that the 'clubby' part of the evening hadn't really kicked into gear yet - and this was a major feature of the night, so obviously it would look really odd if there were no photos or video of this part. I had a chat with my client and they agreed I would need to stay to get the party in full flow. I told them that I had absolutely no problem with staying 15/20 min past 11pm but I had to leave to get transport home. 

At this point my client put their arms around me (perhaps drunkenly?) and begged me to stay for as long as I could  - they would not only pay for me to get a cab home but also remunerate me for my extra time. I reiterated again that I didn't mind staying even for 30mins because I have worked with them in the past and so on - but they pleaded with me to stay longer to ensure the event was covered in full. 

At 1.50am I was getting into a cab (paid for by the client) and went home. 

I went to bed at 4am, and still delivered ALL the images the next day, by noon,  and the following day the complete - approved video. I also liaised with various generally clueless PR people about where they want the video sending and what formats they wanted it in.

So the job was complete. I sent an email to my client about a week later about the additional charges. 

I was told 'there was no more money' to pay me for the added time. I then sent another email expressing my disappointment at working 3 hours overtime and after all the promises would not be paid. 

A few days later- I received a Facebook message from my client informing me it was all sorted - and approved. 

I was then told a day later again there was no money left to pay me. 

Since then I've sent a couple of mails to get the details of someone more senior to explain the situation to but so far no response. 

Needless to say I am really disappointed- not only with myself- but also with the fact that a client (who I also considered an industry 'friend') has essentially  lied to me. I also work at their venue quite a lot, so perhaps this is all a little awkward now. 

I've spoken to respected photographers and also the BIPP (British Institute of Professional Photography) and had a few bits of advice.. such as removing the images that were shot post 11pm from the gallery, and also cutting video clips that were shot post 11pm from the promo. 

Others have said I should have had a more formal contract etc. but this isn't how I usually work. I trust my clients and they trust me. I dont want to burden them with paperwork- because 99% of the time the system works smoothly. 

Had my good nature actually worked against me?

So over to you.. please comment as you feel and how would you have handled this differently (if at all). 

 


Comments

Neil Alexander(non-registered)
Rick, I'm kinda inclined to go along with Andi really. Other than asking for cash up front the extra, there's not a whole lot you could have done at the time. If they're a valued client, there's no point upsetting them - easily done once a few sherbets have been consumed.
I firmly believe in what goes around, comes around, so I'm sure it'll all come out in the wash...
Coffee? Certainly. Let me know where and when.
Neil
satureyes photography
I agree, I just have to put it down to bad luck and hope that Karma works!
Andi(non-registered)
I don't know if I can really comment because things are done so differently here, most of the time. I also hate having my clients sign contracts, I know it's stupid, but it makes me feel like they think I don't trust them. Having said that, a couple of times people haven't paid for work done for them, but luckily these were not huge amounts. I don't know how much you charge per hour, but if you can afford to, sometimes it's just better to cut your losses and remain "friends" with the client, especially if this will get you repeat business, just make sure to add something in the contract about charging for extra hours next time. Think of it as a lesson.
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