To Refund or Not to Refund?

Regarding my last write up on the fiancée that was requesting a refund of money deposited, please understand that it actually didn’t happen to me: it was just a scenario I played in my mind. The real scenario that happened to a photographer was posted on my facebook page on March 5th and read thus:

A client pays 50k advance payment for a wedding she was charged 200k for photography. She calls a month b4 the wedding to say her mum already got anoda photographer so ur services will not be needed again. She’s asking for a refund of her 50k deposit. What will you do if you were the photographer

The following are the responses I got from a mixed-emotioned audience. 1. Refund her money of course

2. Depends on the terms of the contract, if it is a non-refundable deposit…
3. That’s not a good reason, ask her d major cause of changing her first decision, if d cause is from you apologize…
4. You build a good brand and trust worthiness if you make a refund of the money. Except otherwise stated in the company’s terms of payment. In some developed countries 100 percent refund is allowed. This may be challenging here but that simple act of refund will add feather (honour, trust) to your profile and such client can freely refer you to others or come back another day for bizz deals.
5. She might eventually change her mind, if not refund her. But still keep d relationship…
6. umm… did you give her a reciept? do you guys have a signed agreement? but being my self i’d refund her 40% of her payment but i’ll let her know she made me tick my calendar also, she made me loose another job. but on another hand, i will not refund. i might just charge her abit lesser than our initial arrangement (150k) just 2 keep the link strong. but if she do strong head, she aint gettin nothing!
8. I believe you should refund since the business has not been carried out by you. This has happened in my business in time past: we had to refund to maintain our name. Remember that You loose some sometimes to win most of the times.
9. I think it is safer to always have a signed agreement when money is involved….it might be peaceful to refund though but it is a serious loss on the service provider when appointments like that are cancelled @such critical hrs-u must have cleared your table/turn down other things to accommodate the day….
10. The thing is, she has told people about the charges & got negative response dat its 2high. She didn’t want 2use d word “HIGH” that’s why she’s using her mom as an excuse, cos if dey can afford it then d family is “RICH” she dnt have 2call 4a refund & who says u have 5photographers in ur wedding takin all d moves?
11. Some customers sef… Refund if you hav not used the money to set up for your plans as per giving her d best for the job. Its impt to set up a terms of service document. People need to really make up their minds before contacting vendors. I feel bad if it happened to you Mr Akisanmi knowing that you have a deadline to meet for the purchase of your “new bride.” (Winks)
12. Every business has agreement terms e.g. no refund after payment or 50% refund after payment. If there is such, then there is a ground to stand on. If not then there is need for improvement for future occurrences. If i were the photograher here and i didnt have such agreement, i will have to refund the deposit 100% for integrity purpose.
13. no refund, cos its in bad taste. ordinarly u should refund but in this case tell her u will still do do job for 150 or 120 but no refund. my mind tells me its no refund.
14. Customer is always right, try †̥O̅ get her closer A̶̲̥̅̊₪d̶̲̥̅̊ reduce d former prize.but •̸Ϟ•̸№ refunding
15. Pay. That is your tuition fee in learning how to state things explicitly in matters of business, love and money.
16. If you signed a contract already, you shouldn’t return all of it depending on what is stated in it. You probably crossed out that day on your schedule for the year & rejected other offers, so let her understand the implications of her cancellation.
17. Well… Its all depend on u, I’m writing from xpres… Wen de guy called mi and ask me if can refund I said no for de moment and I xplaind why and he asked me to forget de cash… Dats why I said it depend on u and de client… I pray ur is well to do… De person get cash well. astral
18. Don’t give it back cos it’s a non-refundable fee for the contract. Don’t forget that it’s going towards the downpayment of the BMW lol!!
19. Although its earier said than done…I will suggest u give her a timeline as to when the funds will be return (installmentally)….then make effort to update your refund policy to have a good ground next time
20. ok almost forgot , lookin @ it from a lawyer’s pespective, she has to pay damages n compensation for the logistics already put in place, for occupying a date that could hav been used for other business dealings etcetera d list is long
21. Last word in – GOOGLE HAS D ANS

22. There ought to be a retention fee of 10% of total sum charged that is nonrefundable. Thus 10% of 500k is to be deducted from the 50K.So in this case the client forfeit the deposit. Of course, this would have to be signed in an agreement form that ought to be registered in the law court to prevent pecuniary damages that might occur to the photographer in case of failure on the part of the client for whatever reason, including post-phoning of date, to live up to the term of contract.This will be a reasonable thing to do in the estimation of ‘right thinking person’ as the law would posit
23. If d client gets 20k out of 50k,He/She shld count Him/Herselve Lucky.Wht if I’v dropped other client cos of dat date?Wht abt my mindset n Logistics 2wds d date.That is Y We shouldn’t be allowed 2 be played upon.It has happened 2me b4 n dt’s exactly wht I did.

24. If there is a legally binding agreement that permits one to retain a fraction or all of the deposit then you are good keep it but there are no legally binding documents then it is only expedient that u pay. We are all talking about our nation moving forward until we as individuals hold ourselves accountable in regards to doing what is right no matter how painful or d “emotional logic” attached to it we will never achieve our goal as a nation.

25. blow her head off!!

26. Hmmmmm. If my contract with her states 70% upfront and 30% non refundable. I will just calculate d 30% frm the 50k n return d remaining kobo and frm this variables, d 50k is not even up to d 30% so she gets nothing.
27. It all depends on the agreement before she paid…if no agreement on ground I would payback her 50k without complain.
28. Let’s be serious here and distinguish between an advance or a deposit payment. The former is part payment, while the later is hold the money for me and when I need it back I will collect in full.(As in bank deposit). If the contract (if any) says advance within a time period you can with hold say 20-30%. But no case in the later. We need to know what the law says and get your contract signed. Truthfully, outside of what I said above you should at least with hold like 20k…..dats why you either collect 80% advance or full payment. Outside of dat is unacceptable.
29. The principle as I implement it, is that, a part payment ties you down on that date. That means you are obligated to turn down other offers that clash with that date. If she cancels within a few days of payment, or at least a month before the event, she gets her money back minus administrative charges which may be almost negligible. If she cancels a few weeks before the event or more than 3 weeks after signing the contract, her deposit is non refundable. The KEY thing is spelling it all out before signing any contracts!! Once it is spelt out no problem.
30. Well sincerity is key & integrity should be our watch word! If i will be frank i think if no clear agreement was made… Calculate ur running expenses on the job, such as calls etc… And give her the balance. And another way around it to charge her inconvenience fees… Let’s assume Ɣ☺u called off a job for her’s. And should go as good as 30%… Depending on ђã† the other job would have fetched. Just my opinion anyways…
31. This is why you need iron-clad contracts before you take on weddings. If you both signed a proper contract, she wouldn’t even have the gall to ask for a refund. That said, there are courts in the US that may still insist you refund her because you did not provide a service, and the burden of proof will be on you to show that you incurred opportunity costs.
Also, you might want to make some allowance (not all, some) for a client who could make your professional life miserable, or one that could really bring you lots of business in the future. Or a client who would visit you in jail 😛
32. Tell her to give you her mothers number, This next part is Critical, Find the oldest person in your family and have them call her mother and ask what did you do to offend her that she wants to take food out of your mouth. That it is not about the money, and she should please forgive you and let you complete your work. It helps if the person is over 80. I find that We respond well
33. Many times, it’s not about you. The mother doesn’t know you. She calls in someone she knows and/or trusts. Someone who probably covered HER wedding back in the day. Man, I know that when my bride clients are mothers of brides, I would expect them to choose me again o! I expect them to choose me over some younger generation photographer out there, using devices as small as a pencil, to create larger, clearer images than I’m doing with my DSLR!
34. I think that is the importance of agreement. For me if she’s coming back to me because som1 else want2 do it for 5k, 10k or for whatever reason she’s going to forfeit some part of the money. You’ll be Godly to keep 20k for inconvenience and give her back 30k.

35. I think its more of 100% business ethics to state all your terms and conditions in the agreement between you and your clientele,if that is sorted even the client wont have the gut to mention the above statement

36. Incidents like this make for businesses to have clear cut policies. Like some have said, if there was no agreement, it gets sticky. Personally, if I were in your shoes, I’d give the money back. There was no agreement and my names is worth more than 50K. Also, I typically don’t make any expenditure on deposits. It’s a principle I learnt doing business with many Naija folk. Now with that said, make sure you have terms of payment and what is covered in all your dealings. Make things official. If someone give you a deposit, give a receipt and let the terms be reiterated in the receipt as well. When your name is known for good work and trustworthiness, there is no need for clients to be fearful of making a commitment. Besides, clients that are serious have to deposit to concretize their interest and gain your commitment. You can have a non-refund policy or a partial one which the client signs. This gives you latitude and all parties are in agreement. If you have to lose business, lose business. Not all business is good business. If you have a good product delivered well, your clients will find you out. for daily photography-related tips and articles, visit

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.