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Topic: You arrive at the party, and the client tells you to get lost.
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Nov 7, 2008 07:36PM)
You arrive at the party, and the client tells you to get lost.

This is happened to me twice. On one occasion, I got them to pay up. They had hired two entertainers, just in case one of them didn't turn up. We both turned up, and they were forced to pay us both.

The second time, the client simply closed the door in my face and went back to the party. He said he did not book me, even though we spoke on the phone several times and confirmed the event. I don't know why he turned me away at the door, but no show, equals money lost.

Legally, we can get our money. A verbal / written contract was undertaken and British law is firm on this point. We can call Trading standards, Equity and even the police in cases like this. However, would you call these people?

What would you do? and do you know what your legal right is?
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Nov 7, 2008 07:51PM)
I had it happen once at a fund raiser for a church. What it turned out was one of the members had a nephew who was a wannabe magician and he was hired over me and no one had the idea to call me. Being a mean mutha I restrained myself and after the punk screwed up his seven minute show I went into the parking lot across the street and put on my show. I got a call that people were asking why they didn't hire me instead...bummer eh? I didn't pursue the money.
Message: Posted by: Father Photius (Nov 7, 2008 07:59PM)
Why I always used written contracts with deposit if not up front payment. They fail to cancel in accordance with the terms of the contract they pay or get sued.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Nov 7, 2008 08:22PM)
There is no single or absolute solution, but a coordinated approach can minimize this:

1 - Signed contract, when practical, with deposit if practical.

2 - Phone the client a week before the party "just to make sure that we've covered everything." Make 100% sure that they know exactly which magician they're speaking to.

3 - Fine-tune your "idiot client antenna" and be utterly fearless about blowing off a caller who makes your "bad client buzzer" go off. This one suggestion alone, had I been more careful about following it,. would have eliminated 90% of the awful client experiences I had.

4 - Revenge (at least you'll feel better, if you're not caught).
Message: Posted by: Spellbinder (Nov 7, 2008 11:07PM)
Verbal contracts aren't worth the paper they are not written on. Always get a written contract. Even with the door closed in your face, you could have then followed up with a collection letter, a copy of the signed contract with the relevant section highlighted in shocking pink, and a veiled threat to turn the matter over to a collection agency which could possibly end up ruining the former client's credit. I say "former client" because you should add his/her name to the "deadbeat" list, even if you do finally get a payment from the person.
Message: Posted by: Christo (Nov 8, 2008 02:44AM)
As others have said,
I ALWAYS take a 50% deposit, at least this would cover your expenses, i.e. travelling.

I know I should, but I don't bother with a contract, I figure that if it were broken, would I really bother chasing it up in court etc? This applies to small gigs. A school on anything in that arena, I would get something in writing.

Also as mentioned above by rossmacrae, a phone call say 2 to 3 days before the event would be courtious and helpfull.

If you are let down.....just set light to their house :angry:
Only joking...honest!

Chris
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Nov 8, 2008 03:22AM)
On the two examples above, I did speak to the client days before to confirm the events. I usually get 6 cancellations a year, and 4 of them are replaced by another client anyway. So I don't bother with deposits as its simply not worth it, and you lose clients by asking for it. The two cases highlighted above took place over the span of several years. I don't feel it fair to change my entire business plan, or pressure all future clients based on the actions of a few bad people. Deposits have lost me more work than they have helped keep.

Anyway, back to the case at hand. The party is still going on, and you have turned up, only to have the door shut in your face. You have the option of calling the police and filing a civil suit, or simply claiming noise pollution.

The client has ruined your day, lost you money and spat in your face somewhat, by closing the door on you. Do you feel it justified to call the police on them and ruin the party? (to note, I have never done this - I'm just interested in hearing what others would do).
Message: Posted by: kimmo (Nov 8, 2008 03:29AM)
It's happened to me twice in 25 years - I took the rest of the afternoon off and chilled out lol. Life's too short to get wound up about this kind of stuff. Mind you I'm a very bad businessman!!
Message: Posted by: Tony James (Nov 8, 2008 04:44AM)
Your right Stephen. Deposits aren't worth the hassle when compared to the few occasions they would offset a problem.

I always call the client the evening prior to the event and run through things.

On that basis I would have lent on the door bell till somebody came and then asked for my money. After that, it's the small claims court. You will almost certainly get your money, specially if you have confirmed with them less than 24 hours prior. Easy to do - these days it's all on line.

If they don't pay you get the court to issue an enforcement notice and put the bailiffs in. If the amount is say £150 they will tend to seize around £3500 of goods which at a distress auction will only raise about £350/400 which should just about cover your fee and the related court/bailiff costs.

And that will kill their credit rating.
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Nov 8, 2008 05:54AM)
2 very important words in this situation: CONTRACT and DEPOSIT.

Steve
Message: Posted by: Lou Hilario (Nov 8, 2008 06:56AM)
Happened to me once. When I arrived at the party, the husband hurriedly rushed to me and said that he didn't say that he confirmed with me (although he did a month before). I insisted that he pay me the full amount. He offered to give me half. I still insisted.
Then, finally, he told me the truth that his wife without him knowing also hired another magician.
I ended up performing for that party and the other (cheaper) magician just watched my show and also got paid without performing.
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Nov 8, 2008 08:17AM)
Hi Stephen -

The issue of deposits aside, could part of the problem be that you don't use any contracts or confirmation letters whatsoever ([url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/search_post.php?topic=276804&forum=17&post=5787772]as per this post[/url])?

A confirmation letter or a contract spells out everything in writing for your customers. And even if they aren't signing anything, it creates a sense of commitment to have details about your show at their event in writing.

BTW, I can't think of a single time this has ever happened to me. Perhaps it's because I use paperwork.

- Donald

P.S. Like others have mentioned, in addition to using confirmation letters (for birthday shows) or contracts (for other shows), I also give a confirmation call two days before the show.
Message: Posted by: kendavis (Nov 8, 2008 09:50AM)
I always require a deposit and a contract plus I send out two letters of confirmation before the performance (unless it was a late booking). Too often there is more than one person making inquiries for a party or organization. I have never had a sincere client refuse to make a deposit. That's the norm in the business world and most layman understand it. My bank offers a free escrow account so that I can keep funds separate from my personal funds.

There are people who inquire and are embarrassed to tell you that they can't afford to hire you, so all my literature states my minimum price.

If you are working regularly you should also carry liability insurance. You can get one million worth of coverage for about $250 a year! Well worth it!

Believe it or not, good business practices will be appreciated by your clients and make you look like a professional and not a person who does magic as a hobby.
Message: Posted by: todd75 (Nov 8, 2008 10:05AM)
I've said it a million times before and I'll say it again.....

GET A SIGNED CONTRACT!
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Nov 8, 2008 10:19AM)
Something I didn't really say in my post, is that if you choose to run your business without paperwork, that's fine. That's your choice. However, you have to understand that there are some problems you will encounter with that style, and you have to take them in stride because of the choices you've made.

If you want things to be different, then you might have to do some things differently on your end.

- Donald
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Nov 8, 2008 10:47AM)
I think this issue is a matter of personality and how you want to run your business. I know that getting deposits and signed contracts is a sound business principal. But I choose to run my business more informally like ku7uk3.

For the record, I do send out a conformation letter but do not require a signed contract or deposit. I have had people call me and say they had a booking with another magician but he kept insisting on a deposit so they cancelled. Contracts scare some people. Like ku7uk3, I have had so few cancellations that it is not worth if for me to worry about it and feel that a signed contract would not have helped in these few cases.

It seems that ku7uk3 and I are out numbered here but in my humble opinion there is more than one way to successfully and professionally conduct business.

To answer your question directly ku7uk3, I would try to brush if off the best I could and use that extra time wisely. An additional hour of marketing could produce a lot more than what you just lost. Think positive!
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Nov 8, 2008 10:54AM)
You're right, Ken. Each style has it's advantages and disadvantages.

- Donald

P.S. For the most part, I don't request deposits, either.
Message: Posted by: TheAmbitiousCard (Nov 8, 2008 11:01AM)
I ask for a 50% deposit. usually people use credit card. I don't think anyone has decided not to book me because of a deposit.
Message: Posted by: alexa (Nov 8, 2008 12:52PM)
I can tell you that I have EVEN BIRTHDAY MOMS say, "Okay, when will I get the contract?" "Do I pay you before or afterwards?" I think it is expected as part of today's business. I think many people would feel uncomfortable hiring someone without that professional document in place. I now require a non-refundable retainer, and tell them they can pay in full by check or PayPal up to five business days before the event, otherwise I only accept cash on the day of. I have had no resistance to these policies, in fact I think most people like them, but I have had two cancellations before they even sent back the deposit or contract. Nothing you can really do about that, I suppose.

Alexa
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Nov 8, 2008 03:18PM)
Here is my view. If working with a business contracts are important, actually needed, because most businesses like contracts. They also expect you to deliver.

Family functions are different. Most mothers and fathers don't like the contract, it intimidates them in a sense and they feel like they are being hooked in and all it is, after all, a birthday party that may be cancelled due to illness or moved because of weather etc.. Lets be honest, the parents are more concerned about YOU showing up than the likelyhood of sticking it to you existing. You are doing a magic show for a five year old, you really think people want to deal with you sending a contract, they have to respond with a deposit, you then send them a confirmation, they are still thinking you are a flake and won't show up. Worse still some of you have the audacity to send those stupid lists on 'how to have a successful party' things. What makes those people experts? Nothing...that is what. I say set up a site to explain the terms that you give the customer and explain when you expect to get paid etc.. Odds are heavily in your favor that things will go as planned.

Here is my question to you hard core contract guys. Since the customer has a fiscal penalty for cancelling or changing the date do YOU have a fiscal penalty? In your contract does it say "If I don't show up for any reason you get your money back plus $50 for my being a no show"?
Message: Posted by: martin king (Nov 9, 2008 01:04AM)
This exact same situation happened to me once in over twelve years.

It was a booking through a nightmare of an agency who defended me like as if they were a road...anybody client walk over them (but not the acts)!

A similar situation happened when I refused to enter the house and perform at a party.

The story goes like this...One incredibly full day of bookings, (I'd started early that morning and it was now getting on towards night time.), I arrived at the front door of the house for the very last booking that I had that day, contract in hand, and the man of the house answered the door.

He looked me up and down and told me that he'd booked me as a clown. (I was performing as a magical clown and and as a magician at that very early stage of my business.) I immediately showed him the contract that he'd signed proving that he'd booked me as a magician and not as a clown.

He asked me if I would go away, put my make up on and come back as a clown. Well, the performance was due to start in 5-10 minutes time and putting my make up on would take 30 minutes, so I refused.

He said that he would be prepared to let me perform if I would reduce my fee by 50% due to me not being a clown as he'd asked. (You should know that in those early days my full fee was £25, about $37.) I refused. (I remember my intuition telling me at the time, "That's exactly what he's been trying to get since I've arrived at his front door.")

Well needless to say that, as we couldn't come to a mutual agreement, I refused to perform, said goodbye and went home early!

I'm very glad I didn't because I have a feeling, that if I did concede and put my make up on, he'd have found some other way of paying only 50% of my fee...Either way, one of us would have left with a very bad taste in their mouth.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Nov 9, 2008 08:19AM)
[quote]
On 2008-11-08 16:18, MagicSanta wrote:
Worse still some of you have the audacity to send those stupid lists on 'how to have a successful party' things. What makes those people experts? Nothing...that is what.
[/quote]

Magicsanta,

I like your post but I'm having a little trouble understanding the above comment.

I began my list of party tips about 14 years ago by using, by his permission, a highly successful birthday magician's list of tips. He compiled his tips from first hand experience performing at thousand of birthday parties. In the past 14 years I have added and refined many tips from my thousands of birthday parties. I consider myself an expert in this field and I use it as a selling tool. When the customer books me they receive "a comprehensive list of party tips from a 30-year veteran."

Is this what you consider audacious?
Message: Posted by: zimsalabim (Nov 9, 2008 09:44AM)
This is interesting. I never have had it happen to me but as Donald says I use a conf letter and I call not only a day before the show but even when I am on my way to the show from the car. I keep a pretty steady contact with the client. I am somwhat suprised ot see people here that say I called them a month out and everything was fine. HMMMM.

Z
Message: Posted by: rick727 (Nov 9, 2008 10:07AM)
I have a performance agreement that I send to the customer. This is a "protected" MS Word file that acts like an electronic form where they have certain fields that they can type into. At the bottom is a place for them to type their name with a clause that states "By entering your name in this above field you agree to electronically signing this document." This way there is no confusion that they are hiring me and agreeing to the terms. I prefer to use this method instead of faxing. Most people have e-mail, few have faxes.

I personally do not like the idea of suing someone. I understand that those who would do it are perfectly within their rights. However, I feel that if it comes to that point it means that I did not do my part right.
Message: Posted by: Wanlu (Nov 9, 2008 10:20AM)
This happened to me a long time ago...about 18 years ago.

When I got to the party, my agent was at the gate and she told me that I won't be able to perform but no worries because I will still get paid. I asked why, and apparently my pal Lou Hilario will be performing. :)

The dad booked me...the mom bookked Lou :)

I was given a table...had dinner while watching Lou's great act...and I went home with my full talent fee :)
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Nov 9, 2008 01:09PM)
If this is happening to you a lot, then you need to really question why? There will almost certainly be reasons why you seem to get problems like this a lot. On the other hand, if you think these are isolated incidents, my advice is to swallow your pride, behave in a very dignified manner, and simply accept your loss. Certainly in the latter case. BUT - if someone had booked two entertainers, and then turned one away at the door, that's a bit bloody rich! I would want to know which other entertainer they had booked, and I would hope that if it were another professional entertainer, neither of you would perform unless both received their full fees.
If someone's just got to the party day, and realised they just can't afford your fees, or whatever, I think it makes a lot of sense to be magnanimous, and cut your losses. No point in making a big fuss?
Just my opinion.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Nov 9, 2008 03:59PM)
Ken, I assure you I have no knowledge of you or your list and I've not only never checked anyones web site, including yours, I have absolutely no interest in checking to see your site, assuming you have one, which you likely do. My refernce was to people who do magic shows for kids who think they are adding value when they are actually just being a pain in the arse. Very few mothers think anyone knows more than they do about their kids party. They don't care about a list that says "prepare the food ahead", what? Do you think these people are idiots? I should note that since I tend to confuse you that by saying 'you' I am not refering to you specifically but 'you' in general and you should not take this as a personal attack. I'm sure your list has real value and top secret info etc..

I've seen some of the lists produced by 'experts' here and just laugh, but that isn't an insult to them because many lifted their list from party sites.

Secondary note: The contract thing does not apply to agencies which I think, because of the parties involved, should have conditions in writing just to protect the magician who really isn't involved with the party.

Thirdonary note: Paranoid parents double book because so many kids performers are flakes, don't be a flake.

Fourthanitory note: for those in certain states who don't understand my Southern/Western terminology "donzu be insultin' dem mudders by tellin' demz dey don' know $@#$ 'bout dey boithday pahties"
Message: Posted by: Dynamike (Nov 9, 2008 04:48PM)
[quote]
On 2008-11-07 20:51, MagicSanta wrote:
I had it happen once at a fund raiser for a church. What it turned out was one of the members had a nephew who was a wannabe magician and he was hired over me and no one had the idea to call me. Being a mean mutha I restrained myself and after the punk screwed up his seven minute show I went into the parking lot across the street and put on my show. I got a call that people were asking why they didn't hire me instead...bummer eh? I didn't pursue the money.
[/quote]
Just because it was a church does not mean something can go wrong. Always receive something in writing.
Message: Posted by: itsmagic (Nov 10, 2008 12:07PM)
Interesting thread. Funny story Lou and Wanlu!
Message: Posted by: Michael Taggert (Nov 10, 2008 11:16PM)
I have only been stiffed on a show twice. the first was a "producer" who signed the contracts with my self and all of the others at the festival and then promtly made off with the money. The second was a lady who did not read what she had signed and expected me to provide the party favors presents and decorations for half of my usual fee. after thinking about it with her she had actually hired me thinking I was osmeone else. she eventually paid up. In all of my shows I get an electronicaly signed letter of confirmation (for Birthday partie etc.) or a signed detailed contract for platform shows and larger. I get deposits for the contracted shows but not for birthday parties. I do have parents who wish to pay in advance so I take credt cards over th ephone or checks up to 5 days in advance. This has worked for the past 27 years.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (Nov 11, 2008 06:09AM)
[quote]
On 2008-11-09 16:59, MagicSanta wrote:
Ken, I assure you I have no knowledge of you or your list and I've not only never checked anyones web site, including yours, I have absolutely no interest in checking to see your site, assuming you have one, which you likely do. My refernce was to people who do magic shows for kids who think they are adding value when they are actually just being a pain in the arse. Very few mothers think anyone knows more than they do about their kids party. They don't care about a list that says "prepare the food ahead", what? Do you think these people are idiots? I should note that since I tend to confuse you that by saying 'you' I am not refering to you specifically but 'you' in general and you should not take this as a personal attack. I'm sure your list has real value and top secret info etc..

I've seen some of the lists produced by 'experts' here and just laugh, but that isn't an insult to them because many lifted their list from party sites.

Secondary note: The contract thing does not apply to agencies which I think, because of the parties involved, should have conditions in writing just to protect the magician who really isn't involved with the party.

Thirdonary note: Paranoid parents double book because so many kids performers are flakes, don't be a flake.

Fourthanitory note: for those in certain states who don't understand my Southern/Western terminology "donzu be insultin' dem mudders by tellin' demz dey don' know $@#$ 'bout dey boithday pahties"
[/quote]

MagicSanta,

Thank you for responding. I understand your point better now and I agree there are some pretty lame tips out there. My tips have gravitated toward things that make MY show look better. Perhaps this is a bit self-serving, but hey, it’s business—the better I look the more likely others are to hire me.

One of my tips came after the parents served all the kids soda and cheese doodles 5 minutes into my show. Some of my props are still stained orange! And what about this piñata tradition? How many times have you seen piñata accidents on America’s Home Video’s? Is it really a good thing to teach children to beat the heck out of an animal with a stick until its insides burst with sweet things to eat? Where are the animal right people when you need them?

In other words, Mudders donza always knowsa whatsa besta…. but try to tell them in a nice way. :)

ku7uk3, sorry for the diversion in topic.
Message: Posted by: MoonRazor (Nov 11, 2008 08:02AM)
A Contract? So what, are you going to sue them? go to small claims court, get a judgement, then chase them for the $ for the next 24 months. Nope a deposit maybe. but that's just me.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (Nov 11, 2008 10:25AM)
[quote]
On 2008-11-11 09:55, MoonRazor wrote:
A Contract? So what, are you going to sue them? go to small claims court, get a judgement, then chase them for the $ for the next 24 months. Nope a deposit maybe. but that's just me.
[/quote]
You may not be willing or able to pursue a birthday mom or picnic-entertainment-lackey through the court system, but the contract will still do most of its job.

Why?

Because THEY DON'T KNOW THAT.

Also, much of the job a contract does is getting the client to actually pay attention to what you're going to do (they tend to imagine you've promised what they only think they've agreed to) and what you need from them (parking, check before the show, rain policy, etc).
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Nov 11, 2008 11:08AM)
I loves pinatas, but you're right, Ken, they CAN be dangerous. Here are my tips for a safe pinata experience:
A responsible adult should keep the line of kids AT LEAST TEN FEET AWAY from where the pinata will be hanging.
The pinata should be easily lowered and raised, either by a rope over a beam, or by tying it to a broomstick which is held by an adult.
If ANY child crosses the line, apart from the one who's turn it is, the pinata should instantly be lowered, and the game suspended.
TWO pinata sticks are required, so that accidents don't happen in the excitement to transfer the stick to the next child.
Sticks should be held upright at all times, especially when passing them. Holding them horizontally can cause nasty accidents like hitting a kid in the eye (I've seen this happen, OUCH!)
when sweets fall from the pinata, either the kid who made them fall gets them to keep, or I prefer putting them into a big bowl, when the pinata is empty, then the kids can grab their share from the bowl.
All that, and a very alert eye, means you shouldn't have any problems with your pinata.
Kids LOVE this game, so adults just need to be VERY careful.
;)
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Nov 11, 2008 02:31PM)
I'm with you Ken. I am a full-time professional performer and the only contracts I get is for outdoor events that could be canceled due to rain or large fairs/festivals etc. Birthday parties, it would be more paper work and more of a pain in the a - - to cover yourself in the event that parties are canceled at the last minute. Yes, I have been beaten a couple of times and it does make me angry and it is those times I wish I at least had the 50% deposit to keep for my troubles. But in my mind there is a lot more work involved and more bank book-keeping.
Oh yes, the cheese doodles . . . . I stop Moms in their tracks before a bowl of those things are given to the masses in front of me!! lol
Message: Posted by: Donald Dunphy (Nov 11, 2008 03:09PM)
[quote]
On 2008-11-11 07:09, Ken Northridge wrote:
One of my tips came after the parents served all the kids soda and cheese doodles 5 minutes into my show. Some of my props are still stained orange! [/quote]

You need to use the "dirty hands" towel gag, but with orange handprints instead of black ones. LOL!

- Donald
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Nov 11, 2008 04:08PM)
I like that Donald lol.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Nov 11, 2008 08:06PM)
Make rules then not tips. Such as 1. kids must be seated not standing. 2. An adult must be present during all times 3. make sure kids hands are clean as they may be asked to handle props as helpers.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Nov 11, 2008 10:13PM)
I took a show to substitute for a friend. His wife was face painting and he was to do Balloons. He asked me to fill in just for him and work with his wife. I had another gig but could make it 1/2 hour late.(it was a 3 hour event) He said everything was great and the guy agreed. Nothing in writing, doing a favor for pay. I actually got there early, and went to the corner store to buy H20 and snacks. I pulled up, sat in my car 10 minutes and started to unload 10 minutes early. People were leaving and saying "you are late, you missed it!" I said "NO! I am on time. I unloaded and the big man met me drunk and started yelling and was mad. Well, a friend in AA told me you cannot reason with drunks, so I turned around and left without a word. I know I had lots of recourse. As I sat in the car, this event was on the Navel Base, and I think no one showed up and he was mad, or they all did at the beginning, got what was good and left. Because there was still 2 1/2 hours of the event left. But everyone was gone.
I did not care, it was late in the afternoon and I was glad to leave as I was doing parties all day. By the way, I waited another 1/2 hour, and the face painting wife never showed up. She was stuck in traffic.

I just learned not to take that type of gig.

Now, if you are not one of my regulars, it is contract and deposit!

ACE
Message: Posted by: MiketheMagicDude (Nov 11, 2008 11:51PM)
Hmmm...I am a performance agreement and deposti kinda guy. And this situation has never happened to me...but it makes me think.

I have my contract worded that the balance is due immediately following the performance. My wannabe lawyer brain says that this might not hold up, because if they stop me at the door, I never would have performed?

Thoughts?

I would also like to say that I think my clients appreciate the contract because it protects them too. Since I started doing them I have had less people call me the week before, two days before the night of and early that morning to make sure I was coming.
Message: Posted by: MagicSanta (Nov 12, 2008 12:40AM)
I'd say due prior to performance at the event but hey, life is short, don't stress it.
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Nov 12, 2008 12:29PM)
Hey we're all individuals. We all like to do things different. But I would never state that I need payment at the door before the show. That's just me. I tell birthday party clients that a check or cash after the show, and that they are happy with what I've dome is fine. I've never been denied payment after all these years.
Once in awhile a person will call and cancel last minute, usually stating the child is sick. Hey, if their child was really sick, I'm not going to keep the deposit on them anyway. I like to be trusting and yes, once in awhile I get beat with a last minute cancellation but like you say Magic Santa, life is short, don't stress it. I'm doing 350-400 shows each year, if I loose one . . or perhaps two, it's not going to break me.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Nov 13, 2008 05:20PM)
Just got 2 checks in the mail for payments in full for 2 parties, I bet those clients will not tell me to get lost...lol.

I sort of have a strange situation this Saturday...
I got 1/2 the fee for the deposit. But they no longer have their phone connected. And I have not heard back. I know approx. where the party is, a park in a neighborhood.

I will make the effort and show up, if it is not ON, then I will keep the deposit, as I turned down another show.

I am going to bring a printed invoice with me for the balance, and if the party is ON, then I will hand it to them to get paid on the spot.

I'm not stressing any of it, Like TommyJ, I do hundreds of parties a year, this one will not break me. I can go home early and get set for my performance that night at a Wedding. Theme is VooDoo Love.

It is just I have to drive a little out of the way, maybe 30 minutes, but I figure the deposit which was substantial will pay for my time, if they do not do the party.

ACE
Message: Posted by: Potty the Pirate (Nov 14, 2008 04:10AM)
ACE - I usually find that when I have a situation like the one you describe, that the party does go ahead, and there are no problems.
I tried taking deposits for a while, but in the end, decided that it was a lot of extra work, and made no difference at all in the event that someone cancelled. If you have a deposit, your clients will almost certainly claim little Johnny is ill, or whatever - so what will you do? I would refund the deposit - more work, posting a cheque out, etc.
Message: Posted by: TommyJ (Nov 14, 2008 09:30AM)
I'm with you Ace and Potty.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Nov 14, 2008 08:26PM)
I have yet to refund a deposit. When they send the deposit, they usually never cancel. I take them thru paypal. I do have one deposit I am holding for when that Hurricane Gustov messed everything up. I offered to reschedule or refund, but I have not heard back. I will honor it if they ever call.

Now I have had the ones to never send the deposit, if I get no other calls for the same time, I wait and call them close to the show, and almost 100% of the time they say, Oh I am canceling. (I think gee...thanks for telling ME).
These are the ones that will cancel the day before anyway, so the deposit sorts them out.

During the year after Katrina, I was not taking deposits. I told the lady I will call the day before to confirm. We both knew without saying, "in case of a hurricane".
One thing she said touched me and I will never forget. She said "why call?, the baby is still turning 6 no matter what happens!"

And because of this thinking, business has been good.

ACE
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Nov 15, 2008 05:28PM)
I arrived at the party I just mentioned, and they greeted me with open arms, and had the money out before I could get the invoice out, they met me at my car and paid me before I unloaded! Everything went great! Her phone worked, it was the cell phone company she has, I just counld not get my calls through.

So get 1/2 down deposit, and the chances of cancelled shows will be almost zero.

ACE :)
Message: Posted by: Red Shadow (Nov 15, 2008 05:59PM)
I don't bother with any deposit, and the chances of a cancelled show is still almost zero.
Almost is the keyword here, but its like any business. There will always be the odd cancellation, but I don't think a few bad clients should affect your entire business plan and make things harder for all your other clients (or yourself).

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank-you for everyone who has shared their story. Especially those that reflected the original question. Its been interesting reading the various different scenarios.

I will say why this post came about... My book was reviewed by a popular magician. It will be posted here soon, but one of the things in that review was my response to this question. I admit that my response in the book was wrong and will be altered if it ever goes to print. He mentioned a few other things, which will be addressed at some point, but this was the main topic that I have to admit I gave the wrong answer to. But hey, you answer over 500 questions and occasionally one answer gets by which shouldn't. Its good to hear what the magic community has to say on the subject and hopefully now the book can be polished to give the perfect answer.

Steve
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Nov 16, 2008 02:11AM)
In my market every party event planner takes a deposit at the least. Most take full payment in advance. So we have our customers trained. Customers here expect to pay a deposit. They almost always ask the question before I bring it up, what is the deposit? They feel better sending it, knowing I made a commitment. The train rides, pony rides, and the jumping things take deposits. And I make it easy, they send it to paypal, and I buy more magic here! Every agency in town that sends out magicians or other entertainers takes a deposit. I've lost shows by not taking a deposit, because they called someone else who took their deposit so they went with them.
Now there are always exceptions to the rule. Common sense comes into play here.
Repeat customers usually don't have to pay a deposit. None of my Summer Camps pay deposits, but I've been doing them for over 10 years. The key is to work with people and fill their needs.

So for the original question, I've only had that one drunk guy tell me to get lost. and what did I do? Turned around and left! I still laugh about it.

ACE
Message: Posted by: montymagi (Nov 27, 2008 03:20PM)
In fifteen years of entertaining I don't think I have ever thought to myself, man I wish I had made them sign a contract". The only exception would be if I was contracted to do a series of shows. I once did a library show for 10 Louisiana libraries in 10 weeks. I did draw up a contract for that one. Beyond that I have thought of doing contracts with the restaurants where I work, but can't seem to bring myself to do it. I guess I want to hold on to the concept that a handshake should do it.
Message: Posted by: profgizmo (Nov 27, 2008 05:20PM)
I got burned a couple weeks ago. College student girl hired me to do balloons, all through emails. When I arrived she said she had emailed me twice to tell me that she did not need me. I had a bad feeling about the gig anyway, taught me to call the day before to confirm.
Message: Posted by: John C (Nov 27, 2008 06:30PM)
If it only happened once (the first time he got paid!) I would forget about it. How many gigs have you done in a lifetime ... and had this happen ONCE. Not very likely it would happen again. Probably just a mean drunk or anti-social and you can't do anything about either one.

J
Message: Posted by: zimsalabim (Oct 21, 2009 10:54AM)
As this has never happened to me (KNock on wood) I have no idea how I would respond but I do call 2 days prior as well as when I leave for the gig. Maybe that does it at least in my case.

z
Message: Posted by: BIGmagiclV (Oct 21, 2009 04:49PM)
Just out of curiosity, what would you tell the police if you called them? what do you think the outcome would be? Could they legally do anything?
Message: Posted by: Stevethomas (Oct 21, 2009 06:56PM)
I had a guy call about a birthday party long ago. Very prominent guy in his small town. Set it up and he told me he'd call me later with the location. It was about 3 weeks before the show. I tried to call several times, both at his office (law office) and his home. People kept telling me he'd call back, but he didn't. I sold that date and time to another family. While travelling back from that show, wife calls me from home and the guy has called my house wanting (VERY POed) to know why I wasn't there for the show. I called him and told him the situation, and he said I should've known where the show was...

Yeah, right.

Steve
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Oct 21, 2009 08:26PM)
If you tried to get a contract in Ireland you would starve. Its not how we do business. In fifteen years of performing it has happened about twice that I have been stopped before a performance. Once was a woman who had hired two magicians for a wedding. The last time it was a college gig, and they cancelled an hour before the gig - after I had given up other work, and hired baby sitters.
I told them that they would still have to pay me, but they laughed at me and told me we had no contract.
They stopped laughing when the court ordered them to pay my fee in full.
Sueing is not about the money. It is about being treated with respect.
As a bouncy castle operator I have occasionally got prank calls directing me to deliver to places. All prank calls get reported to the police, and I harass the police to make sure they are followed up (they won't be unless you become a pain in the arse). Tony.
Message: Posted by: Police Magician (Oct 21, 2009 09:24PM)
I look at a deposit or a signature like I do a jail bond or signing a citation for a traffic offense. Both are the same. It is your agreement to make a court date when summoned. Failure to do so results in your bond being forfited, a warrant for your arrest and possible revocation of your license.

Getting a deposit is a bond that says they are interested in your services. By canceling the event, they forfit their deposit, just like a bond is forfited if they are a no show. Signing a contract is a written declaration detailing the event and who is responsible for payment as well as who is responsible for the service. Failure on eithers part can result in civil litigation.

For many in my area, who have done business with me over the years, there is no deposit or contract. It use to be in the South that your word was your bond. In some cases this is true, in others, it is not.

Oh, and for those who refuse to sign a citation, which is not an admission of guilt, only stating you will show up for court, they can post a cash bond at jail instead. No deposit, no show for some.

Glenn
Message: Posted by: magicmanfrank (Oct 21, 2009 10:05PM)
1). SIGNED CONTRACT

2). DEPOSIT

ANY QUESTIONS???
Message: Posted by: JimbosMagic (Oct 22, 2009 04:50AM)
I alway send out a confirmation letter for them to sign and send back with their deposit.
In my area as mentionaed before the booker asks the question how much is the deposit?

Sending out a confirmation and also taking a deposit makes you look more professional to bookers and also gives them piece of mind that they have booked you and you will not let them down.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Oct 22, 2009 06:54AM)
[quote]
On 2009-10-21 23:05, magicmanfrank wrote:
1). SIGNED CONTRACT

2). DEPOSIT

ANY QUESTIONS???
[/quote]
You're not listening, Frank. You try that in some markets and you will get no gigs.
Your solution will work in some markets. Nailing their testicles to the gatepost will work in other markets. What the original poster was looking for was a bit more thoughful a response. Tony.
Message: Posted by: Michael Messing (Oct 22, 2009 09:55AM)
I, too, send out a letter of confirmation for birthday parties, scout shows, etc. It's not intimidating but does give the client confidence I'll show up and somewhat binds them. I've never had anyone complain about it and, so far (knock on wood), I've never had anyone tell me no when I get to the party. I've had a few not sign the agreement and then send it back with "we changed our mind" written on it. That's certainly preferable to showing up and being turned away.

Michael
Message: Posted by: A Birthday Magician (Nov 21, 2009 04:56AM)
I have not had that happen in 15 years...it would shock me if I was told to get lost...I always confirm the job the day before via phone...maybe that has helped.
Message: Posted by: Mike Brezler (Nov 21, 2009 06:40PM)
Knock on wood! I have never showed up and been turned away or not paid. I usually go to the home ahead of time and see where the Birthday party is going to be held so I can go over all the details. It might be an extra trip, but I have piece of mind in knowing where the house is located, how big of an area the party is in, and if I need to bring any tables, etc. I do this within a week of the show. I only do this for home shows and not for parties at fire halls, etc.

Mike
Message: Posted by: akolodner (Nov 21, 2009 07:09PM)
Deposits are GREAT for my cash flow and give the client peace of mind that I will show up. I set up a merchant services account with my bank (Bank of America) that lets me take credit cards over the phone and then process them over the phone. The money is in my account the next day. My clients love that they don't have to deal with payment on the party day and usually say put "the balance on my card". Service professionals take deposits in every field. It represents commitment on both ends. I noticed a huge increase in my bottom line since I started taking 50% deposits and credit cards.
Message: Posted by: scaevola (Nov 24, 2009 03:38PM)
I second the motion for an investigative trip prior if at all possible. Sure its time out of your day but the time that I did this it made my show 100% better. Not only was I familar with the space, but I showed the party hosts a short set of some great close up magic. It was a HUGE confidence booster to me to get them laughing in amazement. Of course I did some hard hitting mentalism that was all about "establishing a connection." When I went to the actual party I knew the hosts would be "on my side" before I started performing. Also I learned the names of the kids, even got a bit of info on who would be coming. I am sure it would have been a great party anyway but staking out the place did wonders. I got a big tip tacked onto my bill at the end of the night.

The trip to see them took about half an hour. I did three or four tricks, but mostly scoped out the place and discussed the details of the party.
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Nov 24, 2009 06:34PM)
Showing up a few days beforehand to check out the birthday childs house may work for some of you, but those of us who do this for a living don't have time to waste on such nonsense.

It may be a great confidence booster to entertain the parents with some strong close-up, but I don't need a confidence booster. I know I can entertain any group you put in front of me. And I know I can entertain in any space you place me in - I don't need to walk the space beforehand.

But then I often do ten shows or more a week. Doing shows is what gives you confidence, not casing the joint in advance. I would find it a bit creepy if the magician turned up a few days early to inspect my house.
Message: Posted by: Ryan Price (Nov 24, 2009 07:06PM)
I have to agree with Tony about going to the house prior to the event (unless it is requested from the booker). You are a stranger entering their home so now they have to make sure is immaculate twice. Once for the party and a second time for the magician who wants to come over to visit and snoop around.
If the show was on the other side of the city and the bday mom for some reason wanted me to come over and check the area out I would do my best to talk them out of it. My fee covers me for the bday and not for an hour on Thursday night.
Message: Posted by: manal (Nov 24, 2009 08:14PM)
[ this event was on the Navel Base, [/quote]

That explains everything as it is well known many bellybuttons are heavy drinkers.
Message: Posted by: scaevola (Nov 26, 2009 12:27AM)
This wasn't a bday party. It was a Halloween party the family was putting on for friends and a few local dignitaries. I did about four hours of close up that night (and was appropriately compensated.) I was not inspecting the house, I was meeting my hosts. A big part of my function that evening was greeting the guests, who were arriving, with some magic. My costume and some of the particulars of my act were customized to that event. Meeting the hosts and seeing the place helped greatly with that. Also they were very close by and had contacted me months before the actual gig.

Am I going to do this for my next show? Certainly not. They are getting the basic stage show combined with a little walk around. In and out in about an hour. But I am going to keep the strategy of seeing a place beforehand in my toolbox. It made that one gig easier in too many ways to discard.
Message: Posted by: drosenbe0813 (Nov 26, 2009 12:30AM)
I did not take deposits for shows until I was burned twice in the same year. Now I take deposits for all my birthday party shows. I've never had a mother question it, and most bring it up first ("ok, do you want a credit card deposit".) I also can track who hasn't sent in their deposit, and it has let me book the same time slot, since I've followed up to find that the first client changed their minds.
Message: Posted by: stijnhommes (Nov 26, 2009 04:49AM)
Contracts should contain a lot more than the date and the price of the show. It should list responsibilities of both the client and the performer. If either side doesn't meet the agreement, it should also tell what happened. If the client turns you away, they don't get a refund on their money, unless there is a death in the family, the birthday boy became ill, or bad weather is coming in, etc. If you turn up late you can either agree to perform for a lower fee, or reschedule. Putting all that in writing means all parties know what is expected well in advance.
Message: Posted by: KC Cameron (Dec 2, 2009 08:23AM)
If they say "get lost" then go to a good comedy at the theater. Stewing over spilt milk will only make you feel bad.

DON'T TAKE DEPOSITS - take a non-refundable booking fee. Legally, in the U.S., a deposit can be considered refundable. This way you have a legal right to keep it if canceled.

On another note, if a client cancels on you, chances are they won't book you in the future because they feel guilty for wronging you. They also won't mention it to friends. If you take legal action, they will tell EVERYONE you are a S.O.B. who "cheated" them. - Not exactly good for business. Being gracious is generally the best choice- more chance on later bookings and positive reviews.

Stewing over a lost business opportunity is not fun and no good will come of it.