Here at Workin For the Man, we cover a wide variety of photography topics. However, it was recently brought to our attention that we don’t address the business side of the art often enough.
Here is a letter we received from a reader. Since many of you might be in the same boat, we thought we’d share it with you.
Dear Workin’ For the Man Editors,
I would like some advice. Since you seem to be the experts on wedding photography (and much more), I was wondering if you could help.
First of all, my question isn’t related to the actual photo taking process. It has to do with the business side of things.
I have been fortunate enough to earn a decent salary as a wedding photographer. While I have plenty of prospects and clients, I’m still trying to get the hang of various business aspects.
I recently shot an outdoor wedding. I thought everything was going great. The bride and groom were easy to work with. Plus, I got some great shots.
After the bride saw the proofs, however, she changed her tune. Who would have thought I’d encounter a bridezilla after the ceremony!
Now, because there are a few things she is unhappy with, she is threatening a chargeback. I had to go online to research chargebacks—I didn’t even know what they were!
Is it true? Can she file a chargeback? And if she does, is there anything I can do to fight it?
Financially Inept Photographer
Dear Financially Inept Photographer,
For us creative types, dealing with bills, contracts, and other aspects of business is definitely a bummer.
First, let’s make sure you really do understand what chargebacks are. Chargebacks are basically a credit card refund. If the cardholder has an issue with the original transaction, he or she can petition the bank to have it reversed.
Monica Eaton-Cardone explained chargebacks in her Executive Spotlight on Payments Journal. Eaton-Cardone said: Chargebacks are a remedy for credit card transactions when cardholders are unjustly charged because of either merchant or criminal fraud.
Chargebacks most commonly occur with online business (or other forms of card-not-present transactions). That’s because cardholders don’t sign for the transaction. Therefore, it is easy for them to engage in chargeback fraud (here’s an explanation). Chargeback fraud is more difficult with card-present transactions—but not impossible.
Since the bride signed the credit card receipt, she can’t say the transaction was unauthorized (the leading chargeback fraud technique). She can, however, claim the services rendered weren’t sufficient.
To avoid chargebacks in the future, you’ll want to do a couple of things:
- Make sure you have an air-tight policy regarding payments. Have your customers sign this policy before proceeding.
- Double check to make sure everyone’s expectations are the same. Does the bride want candid shots while she is getting ready? If so, does she know there will be an additional charge for that?
- Provide excellent customer service. Work with the customers to ensure satisfaction at every step of the process. If you can head off a problem before it becomes a major issue, you have a better chance of preventing chargebacks filed out of resentment.
- Conduct important conversations in writing. The only way to fight a chargeback is with written documentation. If there is a change to the original contract, draw up a new one. Get signatures on the updated copy.
- Keep all correspondences. Even the shortest, most insignificant email might be valuable down the road.
We’re sorry you are in this financial turmoil. Hopefully, everything will work out ok and you can prevent the chargeback from happening. Once you get through this drama, work to ensure chargebacks don’t happen in the future!
The Workin’ For the Man team