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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The little darlings » » You arrive at the party, and the client tells you to get lost. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Red Shadow
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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?
MagicSanta
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Northern Nevada
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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.
Father Photius
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Grammar Host
El Paso, TX (Formerly Amarillo)
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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.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
rossmacrae
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Arlington, Virginia
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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).
Spellbinder
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The Holy City of East Orange, NJ
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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.
Professor Spellbinder

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Christo
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Cyprus
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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 Smile
Only joking...honest!

Chris
"Humpty was pushed!!"
Red Shadow
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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).
kimmo
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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!!
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Tony James
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Cheshire UK
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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.
Tony James

Still A Child At Heart
Stevethomas
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2 very important words in this situation: CONTRACT and DEPOSIT.

Steve
Lou Hilario
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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.
Magic, Illusions, Juggling, Puppet & Parrot Show ^0^
http://www.louhilario.net
Donald Dunphy
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Hi Stephen -

The issue of deposits aside, could part of the problem be that you don't use any contracts or confirmation letters whatsoever (as per this post)?

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.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
kendavis
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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.
todd75
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I've said it a million times before and I'll say it again.....

GET A SIGNED CONTRACT!
Donald Dunphy
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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
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Ken Northridge
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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!
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Donald Dunphy
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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.
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
TheAmbitiousCard
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Eternal Order
Northern California
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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.
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alexa
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NJ
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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
MagicSanta
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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"?
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