This is a Rant!
We covered a wedding last year which we really regret doing now. Just like we will regret writing this blog, but this has to be said out loud. Someone has to. Yesterday we received a call from the family and it was very obvious they had no intentions of paying the balance that they are liable to pay. Of course money is a big concern and the amount pending is a good sum for us, but more than that it was bullying attitude which we really regret we had to go through.
We are creatives. In early 30s. Running from one deadline to another. Trying to be awesome. Managing a team. Still trying to understand the business part of what we do. Improve at it. Trying to make the experience our clients have with us their best. And a thousand other things... When the only thing we look forward to doing is making good photographs & films. That's the only thing that really matters to us. Getting the opportunity & being creative with every assignment is what is expected of us and that's the only thing we challenge ourselves with. As a creative we really don't have the tact/talent or energy required for payment followups. And we would rather spend that amount of energy on things we love doing.
So here is a case study for both creatives and clients to learn from. And I hope this will help us and others resolve future conflict situations.
We covered this wedding for the family last year. And we had already covered a wedding for this particular family previously. So we thought we knew them. We went to all lengths to deliver best possible results from our end, doing a great deal extra because this was the second wedding for the family we were doing. We have a strict policy on not delivering the final data before we get the payments sorted, but after cajoling from the family, we went against our rules because we thought highly of them at that point in time. After the HDD was delivered everything changed... from the tone in meetings to acknowledgement of the final pending amount. Although we have all the quotes, mails, chat histories and contract with us but they just don't want to pay their due... because they can do that and get away with that as they have all the leverage. When we received the call yesterday, what bothered us more was not that we made our minds up to write that amount off as bad debt but the condescending tone of the person on the other end. And that's when we thought we needed to put this out here so that others can learn the lesson that we learned the hard way and clients know where we are coming from when we talk tough.
Take Aways For Creatives ~
1. Please have a proper contract & get it signed. It's of no use most of the times in India, but do that so that you put everything in black and white.
2. Invest in online photo galleries/vimeo so that you can deliver photographs/films for viewing without transferring the original files to them. (use watermarked files otherwise).
3. Don't deliver the data even if you are 100% sure of clients because Murphy's Law.
4. The payment schedule we follow is - 50% at the time of the booking. 25% one week after the wedding & the rest 25% on the delivery of final data. (we get all the photographs/films approved before hand via online galleries)
5. If you can, get a small association going with leading teams/creatives of the city so that the clients who default can be identified and other creatives can be informed about the experience you have had.
Take Aways For Clients ~
1. Please understand that we are not business people. We really don't have the skill or energy to do followups. Negotiate all you want before you book a creative but once the deal is sealed, please uphold your end of the bargain.
2. If a creative is talking tough don't take it personally. Understand that we all have gone through bad experiences at some point in time & it's better for both the parties involved to act professionally.
3. Ask your creative for a contract and read it thoroughly before you sign it.
4. Have empathy. Most of the times creatives who experience this are on starting phases of their journey. They are under tremendous pressure in this extremely competitive space and so they go the extra mile and do things which they later regret. Don't take advantage of that.
The Way Forward -
After we received the call yesterday, we were in rage. Heart broken. We wanted to put all the messages, texts, mails in the blog for everyone to see. But the amount of love/support we received from friends & followers was absolutely overwhelming. After reading responses from "You guys are doing so awesome, just forget about this" to "Run an instagram campaign with the photos and #ThisIsNotBeingPaidFor watermark" we decided to just put this much here in this blog and let karma do the rest. In the coming week we would be removing/deleting all their photos/films/data from our online & offline resources and forget that we worked on this assignment. But remember the lessons learnt.
Thank You for reading this.
Puja & Rahul.