Deposits, Payments and Cancellation Fees!
By Francisco Scaramanga, written 1430069685.
I decided to write this article having heard many horror stories when things go wrong about people paying deposits, up front travel costs, Model studio days and workshops etc. When shoots are booked the main purpose is for them to be fun, enjoyable and productive but a minority seem to be spoiling it for the majority and some seem to be repeat offenders. Paying deposits, up front travel and agreeing to cancellation fees is a contentious issue and ideally should not be paid for in advance unless you can trust them 100%.
Where do the issues come from?
The issues all seem to arise from how payments are made and the recipient of the payment failing to furnish the payer with their details. People who are receiving payment for services are operating as a business and as such need to trade within the law and that means their customers being offered payment methods that don’t erode their rights and protection. The fact that someone has good references is no guarantee that you will receive a refund. Even if it’s a hobbyist then the person must still act appropriately and within the law when accepting payments up front. A one off can be dealt with informally provided the situation is made good but repeat offenders need to be addressed.
Think about it for a moment, if you don’t know someone, who they are or have a genuine address why hand money over to them without knowing you can get it back if something goes wrong that’s not your fault? Many people consider organising foreign trips with Models which can run to several thousand pounds, if this went wrong how would you recover the money wasted?
One method that is regularly requested is PayPal but with the caveat of “Friends & Family” option be used. This option does not provide the purchaser with any protection at all. Think about it for a moment, are they your friend or family? If you have not met and are not your family then the answer is “no”.
Having spoken to PayPal about this their advice was EXACTLY the same and stated that the “Goods & Services” option should be used when paying for anything from people who are not your friends or family hence the description. They also stated that in their experience some businesses do request the payment be made via “Friends & Family” option as it saves them costs (currently 3.4% + 20p per transaction) and ultimately absolves them of any PayPal conditions that PayPal set out which can be read here :- https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/ua/useragreement-full#3 11 (seller protection) & 13 (buyer protection)
This means that if you did pay a deposit/full payment and should the Model fail to attend the shoot, paid for travel up front and didn’t arrive or arrive not fit to shoot, the workshop is cancelled or not delivered as described, the studio was closed then using the “Goods & Services” option would allow you to dispute and obtain a refund. If you used the “Friends & Family” option then PayPal would not entertain a dispute and you would be left out of pocket whatever happened and may struggle for help from anyone else.
If you decide to pay by direct bank transfer then you will have to rely solely on the written communications agreed and the Small Claims Court. If you believe that there may have been an intention not to honour the agreement and a refund is not forthcoming then the Police may be able to help if they think it might be fraud or fraud by false representation. Perpetrators should be aware that Fraud Act offences do not require an intent permanently to deprive as they do for theft and the excuse of “I was going to pay it back” may well not be enough of a defence. If they have previous for this and its on record then it will be easier for them to deal with, particularly if its currently ongoing.
What if it all breaks down?
If the person refuses to allow you to pay by PayPal Goods & Services option then ask them why not. If they don’t use PayPal and you really want to book something then have a comprehensive agreement detailing what you are paying for and the return of the money should something go wrong or not be delivered as described.
If you are not happy then walk away as it’s probably the best thing to do. Too many people rush into booking shoots and paying money without thinking it through and it can go pear shaped and left feeling helpless and embarrassed that they have been conned. These things rely mostly on the victim failing to carry out due diligence prior and after failing to take action due to embarrassment. It can often be accompanied by the offer of repeat bookings, dates offered and none suitable, further bookings cancelled and a merry go round for the victim which they hope will give up and go away.
Sending prepaid travel tickets is also not a good option because if they fail to attend and cant/won’t return the unused tickets then you cannot obtain a refund from the travel company.
If they insist on a cancellation policy then it’s up to you to decide if you agree with that and continue with a booking. If you have costs then consider making that reciprocal if you still wish to shoot, if they insist on it then it’s only fair if they cancel they should do what they expect of others. Remember, if you are not happy, then don’t make the booking.
Keep the communications on PP or the site where you contacted them and keep a copy
Do proper reference checks and contact the referees
Ask for name and address of the person you are paying
If you have external communications regarding the payment then copy this back through PP or the site where you contacted them
Use the PayPal “Goods & Services” option where possible
Ask for confirmation they have received the funds and request a receipt
Clear communications to what is being agreed to and what happens if it goes wrong and how money will be returned if needed
Leave negative references where appropriate to warn others
If appropriate report to the Police and keep the Admin Teams in the loop as to any action being taken
If you had a no show at a location then obtain evidence that you were there
Keep communications clear and concise
If you are not happy then don’t make a booking
I hope this will help people to avoid some of the pit falls that cause so much unnecessary upset and inconvenience by a select few, whose intention isn’t to provide an honest and reliable service but to take payments and fail to act honestly and within the law. None of the above should be necessary if everyone was honest and did the right thing but not everyone does or respects others.
The PayPal Goods & Services option can also be used to pay for goods provided they are not custom made unless claiming they were not received.
*** IMPORTANT ***
Please note that PurplePort do not encourage nor endorse any form of upfront payment, deposits or cancellation fees. Any disputes that arise from these CAN NOT be resolved by PurplePort admin.