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Cheap groom pushes photographer too far and he threatens to delete his wedding photos. UPDATED

Cheap groom pushes photographer too far and he threatens to delete his wedding photos. UPDATED

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"Choosing beggar groom pushes me too far and I threaten to delete his wedding photos."

I run a company where we hire out wedding and event service providers with our main focus being photography and videography. Other services include DJs, drone pilots, hair and makeup artists etc. (not relevant at all).

So a few months back, I get an instant chat from a bride via our website. She informs me that they are coming down to South Africa in December and they need a wedding photographer and videographer; I send our packages to her and she says her fiance wants to call me. I say that's fine and I give her my number.

A few hours pass and I'd almost forgotten about them but my phone finally rings. The fiance, speaking in a very heavy German accent, starts sweet-talking me mentioning how people rave about our fantastic work and service. I'm calling BS on every word he says, but I'm also infamous for my inability to say "no".

He ends up offering us about a 3rd of what the packages charge, offering to make the hours less, removing any physical copies etc. He also adds that he'll give us an R500 tip on the night, I ask him why I can't just add that as part of the quote to which he just replies "gentleman's agreement".

Anyway, somehow I accept his insane offer...if I was a drinker, I'd be saying that I really should stop drinking at work. NB: I had emphasized that they will get no overtime; if my people stay 1-minute longer than agreed upon, I'm gonna charge, he said this was fine.

So what they required us for was 2-hours for the Friday and 3-hours for the Saturday. Nothing too hectic, hence why I agreed, but it did require me redoing the entire shift list for that weekend as to free two, qualified, people up to go cover their events.

The Friday event I did the photos myself and took one of my videographers with me, and I will add, they were insanely nice, especially the groom. The time did drag a bit because there really wasn't much to shoot, just a group of people sitting around a table, but whatever. After an hour and a half, the groom told us we could leave. Awesome.

I wasn't able to do the second evening myself (I had made them aware of this from the start) but sent a different photographer (one much more talented than me, if I'm being honest) and the same videographer from the night before. They were bookedfrom 18:15 to 21:15, I had told them to stay until 21:45 to make up the 30-minutes we had skipped the night before.

So, how we work is that none of my people own their own gear and everything belongs to me, therefore after each shift the shooters have to return the gear to me. The wedding they were shooting was about a 25-minute drive from my place and the one I was shooting was an hour drive. I was also booking until 22:00.

I got home after 23:00 and saw that they hadn't returned yet, all my others teams started arriving shortly after me and returned their gear, but no sign of those two. This had me worried as they were working the closest and were supposed to finish before anyone else. I tried calling but no answer from either of them.

Just before 12:00, I got in my car and went out to look for them, I had driven for about 10-minutes when I saw them passing me from the opposite direction.

I turned my car around and drove home.

I asked them what had happened, they explained that they had stayed until 21:45 as ordered, but as they were about to start packing up, the bride had sent her maid-of-honour to request another hour. They had explicitly said they will talk to me about it afterward and I can just add it to their invoice. They were also making my videographer do things that were only reserved for our biggest package.

More importantly though, apparently, the couple had gone full Entitled People at this second event, yelling at my photographer and just being completely rude. I have a very low tolerance for rude people.

The next afternoon (Sunday), I see I have a missed call from the groom and then a voice note, thanking me for my team and then adding that they are leaving the country in 7 days, so they will appreciate it if I can have their wedding photos and videos done before then, they also want all their raw materials on a harddrive. He made no mention of the overtime.

I stared at this message kinda dumbstruck as our contract clearly stipulates that the waiting period for photos is 4-weeks and 8-weeks for video. His quotation also clearly said "no physical copies".

I texted him back, the next morning, saying that there was no way I was going to have everything done before January. I did offer to give them the raws before they leave, but a harddrive would have to be added to the invoice, along with the overtime bill.

To this he replied that he would like to call me to discuss our "situation". I knew exactly what was coming and I was dreading that phone call. The phone call happened later that afternoon. This story has already gone on waaay too long, so I'm gonna skip most of it and just cut to the parts that made my blood boil.

Groom: "So you say you cannot have it done before we leave."

Me: "Unfortunately not."

Groom: "Oh, that disappoints me, because all our guests are asking how much longer the photos are gonna take, but we understand."

Me: "Great, I'm glad you understand. I can give the raws to you if you wish. But you'll have to pay for an external, I have some in stock."

Groom: "I don't want to pay for a harddrive, you can just WeTransfer me all the raws?"

Me: "No I can't."

Groom: "Oh, why?"

Me: "Because it's over a 100 gigs of materials and this is South Africa; with our internet speed it'll take about 2-years."

Groom: "Oh. Do you think we need the raw materials?"

Me: "No, I don't."

Groom: "Okay." Long, awkward, pause.

Groom: "I don't understand why there's an overtime bill".

Me: "Because you asked my people to stay an extra hour".

Groom: "No, they only stayed 10-minutes longer and you owed us 30-minutes from the night before."

Me: "I took the 30-minutes into account and they still stayed an hour after that."

Groom: "No, that's not true."

Me: "I have the timestamps on the photos when the first and last ones were taken, you want me to send that to you?"

Groom: "No, I don't."

Me: "Awesome."

Groom: "But we hired you and got someone else."

Me: "You hired the company, not me. And on Friday you even said that I must enjoy my wedding on Saturday. You always knew you weren't getting me."

Groom: "But we were not happy with who you sent."

Me: "Really? Why's that?"

Groom: "I just don't think we should be charged extra for them."

Me: "Unfortunately, that's what we agreed upon."

Groom: "But you offer me a better price on the overtime?"

Me: "I am offering you a better price on overtime."

Groom: "Oh, but this is the best you can do?"

Me: "If you take into account the tip we never got, then this is actually almost nothing."

Groom: "What tip?"

Me: "The gentleman's agreement we made."

Groom: "I don't know what you mean."

Me: "That's the surprise of the century."

Groom: "So, when do we get the photos?"

Me: "In January, but you need to pay the rest of your invoice first, including the overtime."

Groom: "Yes, you send us everything and then we pay."

Me: "No, the contract you signed stipulates that you will receive nothing until all invoices have been settled. That is our policy."

Groom: "Yes, but then we don't know you ever send photos."

Me: "I thought you had heard so many people tell you about how great our service is?"

Groom: "Ja, but I'm not happy with this, you send us everything and we decide if we want to pay."

Me: "Yeah, that's not happening."

Groom: "But you cannot ask me to trust you like this?"

Me: "You're right, we cannot trust each other. I think the simplest solution is that I refund your deposit, delete your wedding and we can be done with each other because I've heard enough."

Groom: "I feel I have offended you."

Me: "You have not, but you are wasting my time. And I'm done doing favours for you. The only difference between you and our other clients is that they all paid full price."

Groom: "Okay."

Me: "Great, I'll wait for the money to show up in my account and then I'll start the editing process."

Groom: "And you cannot offer me a better price on the overtime?"

Me: "Have a good Xmas."

And I hung up the phone.

The next morning the bride sent me a text that they just paid the outstanding balance and now want their photos, because "January is a long time to wait" (January was 8-days away). It has now been 3-days and the money has yet to show in my account...

TL/DR: Cheap groom offers us a 3rd of our package price and then tries to get out of paying, I threaten to delete his wedding photos.

Commenters weighed in. Here are some of the top comments:

said:

Even if they decide to not pay, I wouldn't refund the deposit, you and your team have already done work for them, that should put them past the point of a deposit refund

said:

So if they could afford to fly to SA from Germany for a wedding, they should have the money to pay for the work your company did for them. My buddy does contracting work. One of his specialities is working with stone.

He does all sorts of stuff with granite and marble, and has done some jobs for some wealthy clients. He says it's more of a hassle to collect money from his wealthy clients than from the middle class ones.

said:

Why do people like this insist on being difficult? For a discount? If you can't afford the service, don't get it.

Five weeks after his original post, the photographer shared this update:

First, something I forgot to mention in the original post: while I was busy at my wedding, about an hour before my photographer was meant to be at theirs. The bride texted me a list of the family photos they needed, I forwarded it to my photographer, just as she was getting into her car to leave. At the wedding, the bride had started yelling at her for not having a print-out of the list.

UPDATE: I finally have an update to this story. The a$$holes did actually end up paying, my surprise was as big as yours. However, turns out they did zero research before hiring us and had no idea what our editing style was. I completed their entire album, sent them a few previews and all I heard back was "lighter, we want lighter". I obliged and made all the images lighter, this was no quick task.

I sent the lighter images and again got a response that they want it even lighter. If I was to do that, the pictures would be overexposed. They then sent me some grotesquely edited images from their previous wedding (oh right, did I ever mention that this was their second?) and said they wanted it to look just like that.

One difference though, the photos they sent were taken mid-day on a beach with harsh light and clear skies, the pics we took were taken late afternoon, on a cloudy day. I tried explaining to them that there was no way these pictures were ever gonna look the same.

They accused me of lying that the weather was different and then forwarded me a pic of their ceremony area...completely empty and obviously taken hours before my team even got there.

I eventually edited some pics in four different styles, two of which I will admit were really gross, but hey, they wanted the pics to look the same as their mid-day beach photos. They ghosted me for about 10-days after that before finally picking one of the choices. And if you think that was the end of it...then you obviously haven't been paying attention.

They are now complaining that they don't like their fucking facial expressions during the ceremony and somehow expect me to fix this, telling me that they won't accept the pictures with them looking stupid and fixing that is my responsibility.

I have not yet replied to that absurd request, but am currently planning on re-editing everything next week in the style they decided on, to do absolutely nothing about their facial expressions, because seriously WTF, and then just blocking them on everything. I'll take a bad Facebook review above having to suffer through another conversation with these people.

Sources: Reddit
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