In the Name of "Good Customer Relations," Should I ...

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by astrostu, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    Brief Background: I shot my first solo wedding, for free (as a wedding present), for a college friend, back in September. It was a Hindu (Bengali?) ceremony, I had no clue what was going on, bride's family was uncooperative, and over the course of 14 hours I shot over 2100 photos. I got the proofs all done just before my 2-month self-imposed deadline, posted them online and send the URL to the two families, and mailed off a CD of higher-res (8x12" @ 72 ppi) shots to the still-happy couple.

    Mother of Bride Rush Orders: On Tuesday, December 8, I got an e-mail from the MOB asking me to send her prints of approx. 250 photographs and digital copies of another 200. I explained to her that digi. copies would be given to the B&G when they ordered, but I would not release them to others. Oh, and she was leaving for India on the following Tuesday morning and would need the photographs in-hand by Monday, Dec. 14.

    I asked the bride if she could explain to her mother that I had two conference abstracts due in by Thursday at 5PM and would work my butt off to finish the photos so I could ship them to her mother in time, but I could not guarantee it. I explained that "proof" ≠ "finished" and that there was still A LOT of work to do on the photos. She did tell her mother this, though I didn't find that out until Thursday.

    Job Gets Done: I got my abstracts in early Thursday and spent the next 10 hours going through all the prints she wanted, fine-tuning color, getting rid of odd elbows and glares, etc. I upload them and send them off to be printed, picking them up Friday. Oh, and the prints included 3 panoramas that I took of the reception hall before people arrived and of the "rehearsal dinner" hall.

    When I got the prints, I noticed the color looked a little off. It looked a teensy bit green/yellow, lower contrast, and the colors were a little unsaturated. But I had no time to actually have them re-print or investigate the issue further because of the "BY MONDAY" deadline.

    I stood in line at the post office for a half hour that Friday, December 11, the day before the busiest mailing day of the year. I wrapped the 4"x6" prints, and I placed a piece of heavy cardboard-like paper on both sides of the panoramas. I put the panoramas first in the box, then the prints, and then "wrapped" the panoramas over the top of the prints so that I could still use a relatively small box even though the panoramas were 12" long. Mailed it off, next-day delivery, $25.

    Post Office Problems: Due to post office problems, she didn't get them Saturday and yelled at me (via e-mail) that I made her stay at home all day waiting to sign for the box that didn't come. Long story short, the bride went bridezilla on the post office and I got my money back and the MOB got her prints on Monday in time for the Tuesday flight.

    Fast-Forward to My Query: Yesterday afternoon, I got an instant message from the bride mentioning that she still had to pay me for her mother's order and that she'd "been bad about it." I told her no worries, it was okay she was late (by 6 weeks). Then she told me her mom said she never got the panoramas. She said she saw the prints and she liked them, but the panoramas didn't arrive. And then I mentioned that I had thought the prints looked a little faded and I was going to try to figure out why for future ones, since she said that there would be some more people soon (MOG, women in bridal party) placing orders. She said that yes, she had noticed the faded look, too. As for the panoramas, I think her mother just threw them away, not realizing that they had been "wrapped over" the other prints. She's supposed to be asking her mother and getting back to me about that.

    Since then, I figured out that the issue had been I wasn't using the print shop's latest printer profiles. Tonight I did 4 test shots with different profiles on the same photo and kept a "control" of the original I'd sent in. I looked at the prints and picked out the one I thought was worst color-wise, and then looked at the file name on the back and saw it was the control. So, yeah, I figured that issue out now.

    So, here's my question -- I figure it will cost me about $30 to re-print all the photos and mail them (NOT OVERNIGHT THIS TIME). In the idea of doing something nice for a friend, acting professional about it, and spreading "customer" good-will, do you folks think I should go ahead and just swallow the money and re-print them and send 'em free of charge on their part? Note that I charged only 50% above cost to begin with (and haven't been paid), though I'm not sure if that should actually factor into the decision.

    Sorry to make a long story long and not short, but, I'd appreciate thoughts on this!
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2010
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Man, what a saga,eh??? How does that ad on TV for free credit reportdotcom go? Efff to the you, to the see, to the kay, to the eye,to the tea to the em to the ayyy to the n??? This type of scenario is so,so typical of the behavior of people today; you do somebody a HUGE favor, out of the goodness of your heart. The parties involved sit on their thumb,which is up their posterior until three,or four days before they suddenly decide that they "NEED" the finished product--even though they have been sitting on their thumb for days and weeks....and then they pi$$ and moan about the quality of the rushed work, and in general make life miserable for somebody else...

    I would decipher the lyrics, and then simply mail off a CD with the requisite panorama files and a copyright release notice, and call it good.
     
  3. C.Lloyd

    C.Lloyd TPF Noob!

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    So let me get this straight...

    You spent 14 hours shooting 1200 pics. For free.

    You spent 2 months editing said pics. For free.

    You had the pics printed, boxed and shipped. For free.

    And now you want to know if you should charge Bridezilla's mom $30 to RE-print pics.

    I'd say wait for payment for STEP A through D, before proceeding with STEP E.
     
  4. ChasK

    ChasK TPF Noob!

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    It's funny how when people pay full price they are usually so easy to get along with, when people get something for nothing they are a royal pain in the a**. I don't have a lot of rules but no, abstively, posilutely, no prints leave my place until they are paid for. For friends I charge full price, but usually give some free upgrades. A little nicer album, a 16X20 instead of a 11X14, etc. If they don't understand that my time is all I have to sell, and there are only so many weekend a year to work, then they really aren't my friends and are just using me. Remember "No act or kindness goes unpunished." If you think about before you do something stupid again. But enough of this rant and back to your question. I in MHO think you should get out of this as quickly as possible, before they think of something else they want for free.
     
  5. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    So fooooooooooking true!
     
  6. erichards

    erichards TPF Noob!

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    Get out as quick as possible. This option includes you getting paid for work done.
    Personally I never ever give anything prints proofs etc. to anyone until they pay me. It usually goes something like i'll meet you to exchange $$ for your pictures.
    Tell the bride and groom (the people that you worked for I'm assuming this). That when they pay you you can give them a release and reccomend a place to print thier pictures (remind them you still own the copy right though this can be an issue) and wash your hands of everything after that.

    Good Luck!
     
  7. astrostu

    astrostu I shoot for the stars

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    Just wanted to clarify for folks in case there was a misunderstanding -- I did the wedding for free as a gift to my friends. The only thing I'm charging for is prints for people, and that's about 50% above cost. I only clarify this because my reading of some of the replies seemed to indicate people are thinking they haven't paid me at all for the wedding - which they weren't supposed to - rather than just for the MOB's prints.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Just to clarify, I recall your post from some time ago, about the upcoming wedding, and in this post, I definitely read the "gift" part of it, understanding full well that this was done in the spirt of giving. I think C. Lloyd's perspective is a good one, as is ChasK's. I mean, this was a gift of services and product, and you've been berated via e-mail, hassled, and in general you've given,given, given, given and on their end it has been a wine and cheese fest, with all w(h)ine and no cheese on their end, as in "cheese=cash" a la Urbandictionary.com.

    "Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile." "Never look a gift horse in the mouth." "Give it away for free,and they won't respect you in the morning."
    The MOB is looking the gift horse in the mouth (I know it's an old-time expression, but it has meaning even today).

    Again stu, just as a point of clarification, I've been associated with this type of deal only a few times before, and I learned the lesson that if there is not some type of monetary transfer up front, these types of scenarios have an uncanny experience of turning out to be draining and stressful, so my answer was to just say e-ff it,man, here's your CD, good luck to ya.
     

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