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Thread: Advice - deposit check bounced, then client cancelled same day

  1. #1
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    Advice - deposit check bounced, then client cancelled same day

    Hey everyone! It's been a long time since my last post. 2018 festivities will be kicking off soon and I am already finding myself in an unfamiliar bind.

    Something about this whole transaction seemed off from the beginning - I am now looking for advice on how to proceed with it. While I realize I am likely signing up for some lectures on sunken costs and improvement needed in communication - I'd like to hear what should be done in your professional opinions.

    Cliffnote version: After a long and drawn out process of getting a contract + check back, I mistakenly waited a couple weeks to go to the bank, the check bounced then the client cancelled. My contract states all deposits are non-refundable. Detils below.

    Last August I attended a bridal show where I spoke with a bride. She emailed me in October for more information. We had a phone call shortly after and at the end of October a contract was sent to her once I had received all of her information.

    Ten days after the contract was sent she reached out stating she had lost it/forgot to mail it but assured me it was coming.

    I followed up with her a few times around the holidays as I had still not seen the contract. She assured me it was coming.

    The day after Christmas she wrote because she couldn't remember who to make the check out to.

    After New Years, she told me it was coming again and told me the post office was "out of stamps" which was the newest delay.

    I actually received the contract (and the check) shortly after (so early-mid January). She promptly followed up to ensure I received it.

    Now- SHE signed the contract; however, I am guessing the check was from her Fiance, as it had his last name on it.

    I let her know she would begin receiving emails from my system when everything was processed (during the slow season I typically run and deposit everything at once at the beginning or end of month depending on what has come in).

    The check was deposited to my business account early February (I believe 2/4 or 2/5 - so yes, I learned a lesson not to delay these things any longer).

    On 2/7 I received a very apologetic email from her that she had to cancel. No prob - (I thought to myself my contract states deposits are non-refundable - so no issues here) so I asked if she would like to change her package and/or date; she replied with "no" because there was "some confusion with a family member". I told her I will be sending out a cancellation notice she will need to fill out, sign and mail back to me. I drafted something and mailed it out with a self adressed, stamped envelope because I did not want to drag this out. I had been travelling throughout Feb and March but from what I saw this cancellation notice was returned within a week of me sending it. In the cancellation notice, it explicitally states something along the lines of "I understand all the terms and conditions in my initial contract as well as my obligations". It does not specifically state anything about the dposit etc. as this is covered in the "fine print" along with bounced check fees.

    Upon returning from out of town, I had a notice from the bank regarding a bounced check fee. I looked back and the check that came in with her contract had been reversed the same day she sent me an email cancelling. Upon further research a 'stop payment' had been put on it.

    So... in summary...per my contract...
    20% Deposit $300
    Check bounce fee $50
    Statement/Collection Fee $20
    So...she owes $370+?

    Now, no services were rendered, however between the sales process, following up on the contract, doing administrative stuff, sending the cancellation and now researching this with the bank she now has taken about 4 hours of my time. Additionally, photobooth media for this event was included in the summer count.

    I brought her contract to the bank, and while the bank manager is not an attorney he told me it looks like a pretty clear-cut case for small claims.

    I am still fact finding on this - I called the hall who informed me the wedding is still scheduled this summer and that account is still in good standing. I would feel bad enough pursuing collection through the courts, let alone feel worse if this is a family illness etc. Based on my findings so far this appears more like a mistake or act of dishonesty. If she reached out and asked me to work with her I probably would've given her half back (keeping some to cover the photobooth media + my time), however, I found it shady that I was not warned about cashing the check.

    Normally, when this type of stuff has happened in the past it was referral based and I have worked with the person. I do not really know this couple, however, my wife judges I am too easy on people, and if I want to take my business seriously and others to as well, I should make an example out of them (as well as learn the process for the future). I am afraid of some of the bad PR this may ensue, as I have been lax about collecting reviews etc. for the past fifteen years which is now hurting me as I try to scale. On the flip side, business is slow this summer (I'll expand in another post) and even this small amount of money will help out immensely with some of my current overhead expenses as I have switched up some things this year (Again, I'll expand later). Thoughts?

    In retrospect, from this experience I learned:
    -Communicate, communicate, communicate
    -Perhaps detail a little more in plain English deposits are non-refundable rather than leave it for the fine-print (set expectations)
    -Deposit all retainers IMMEDIATELY rather than wait until all this month's contracts are in or I have a large check from an event

  2. #2
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    If you don't have an actual deposited check, it's unlikely you have a "deposit", so no deposit to NOT give back, IMO.
    Steve Montambault, Copper Sound
    Audio - Rane MP25, A&H ZED12FX, Denon MC6000mk2, Denon DN-HC4500, JBL PRX612m, RCF EVOX 8

  3. #3
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    Wouldn't this be against basic contract law however as well as state law to pay for something and not honor it? I have two signed documents that also state they are responsible for bounced checks.

    The reality is they wrote a check they did not honor.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camarofleet View Post
    Wouldn't this be against basic contract law however as well as state law to pay for something and not honor it? I have two signed documents that also state they are responsible for bounced checks.

    The reality is they wrote a check they did not honor.
    Just saying the check is probably NOT considered a deposit if it isn't valid. I think you're probably at the same point if they never sent in the check in the first place. However your contract would cover that situation and whether it's worth it to pursue collection if it can be .. that would be up to you and your lawyer.
    Steve Montambault, Copper Sound
    Audio - Rane MP25, A&H ZED12FX, Denon MC6000mk2, Denon DN-HC4500, JBL PRX612m, RCF EVOX 8

  5. #5
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    Thanks - I've been meaning to get all the contracts updated etc. anyway. Definitely see your point in the fact that it could be debatable whether or not the contract was ever in force without that clearing. I'll check with attorney when I'm there.

  6. #6
    Under contract law the check is not a deposit - it's the actual funds that constitute legal consideration. By waiting two weeks to deposit the check you effectively extended their right of rescission.

    Your contract has to be perfected before it's terms can be applied and that didn't happen. Your returned check terms just like all your other contract terms are contingent on the required consideration.

    If your contract didn't require a deposit then perhaps they would be liable for something. However, you'd still be in a very weak position because you would be making a claim for unsubstantiated damages. The burden would be on you to demonstrate actual business losses or damage as a result of the returned check.

  7. #7
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    I have to agree with Steve & Pro, because you unfortunately waited to deposit the check... and since it never went through (couldn't you check this online sooner?), the contract was technically never bound. So I don't think that even allows you to receive the bounced check fee. If you deposited the check right away and it cleared... this would be a whole different story.

    However, there is one exception to this. She also signed a cancellation notice which implies she knew she was under contract. That could make things enforceable. She also followed up after sending the deposit to make sure you received it, which means she had the intention of booking you. If she didn't sign that, and acted like a contract was never executed fully, then the above would apply.

    You're in a tricky situation, where technically you could win your $370, and possibly nothing at all. The only loss I personally see is the $70.

    You could send an email explaining that apparantly there was a stop payment on the check which you never received notice of ahead of time until you received a notification today from your bank. Then state that while you technically should be owed the $300 for having the date retained from, the date of receiving the signed contract and check, until the notice of cancellation, you are only asking to collect the stop payment fees and collection fees of $70 that you incurred in the process. This much was agreed upon in the cancellation notice that she signed recently.

    I wouldn't follow up on this if she doesn't reply and would just take it as a lesson learned type of thing.

  8. #8
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    Three Letter: S O L!

    Here's you new uniforn shirt:

    Rocky 'djrox' Bourg
    Father/Husband/Son/Brother/American

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by djrox View Post
    Three Letter: S O L!

    Here's you new uniforn shirt:

    Is LUCK better than COMPTON?
    Steve Montambault, Copper Sound
    Audio - Rane MP25, A&H ZED12FX, Denon MC6000mk2, Denon DN-HC4500, JBL PRX612m, RCF EVOX 8

  10. #10
    Consider it a "teachable moment" and move on.

    Best case scenario you get $370 for very little work related to your business, but a bunch of work going to small claims or pursueing. Worst case scenario she goes to the local news station, tells her whole side of the story to their consumer advocate reporter, and now your business is all over the local news for demanding $370 from the bride who had to cancel their plans because of the reason they spin to make you look like the evil business man.

  11. #11
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    You may want to blame this all on your roots... But I would show up in boots and ruin her black-tie affair. You may not be the last one to know, just be the last one to show. You would be the last one she thought she'd see there.

    This is one of those areas where I have to way the reward. Even if you could easily win in small claims, you are talking about an amount too small to warrant the hours of your time it would take to file, prepare and show up in court. Furthermore, collection isn't guaranteed.

    You may or may not have a legal leg to stand on for the $300 but chances are she is no legal scholar either. Therefore, I suggest you send a nicely worded letter stating that she technically owes you the $370 but you will settle for just the $70 and call it a day. You have a chance of seeing that. If she ignores your request or refuses to pay it, you can suggest in a follow up that it is a lot less to pay the $70 than to fight a small claims case for $370 plus fees.
    The No-Hype DJ:
    When you can't afford the best...
    I'm one of the rest.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by reverett View Post
    Worst case scenario she goes to the local news station, tells her whole side of the story to their consumer advocate reporter, and now your business is all over the local news for demanding $370 from the bride who had to cancel their plans because of the reason they spin to make you look like the evil business man.
    OMG, you are so right, she might even undertake a social media blitz to cast other despicable untruths into the ignornet. Imagine the insurmountable damage that can be done by a douchebag spreading more complete BS into the endless universe of complete and utter BS that is the ignornet.

    RUN...HIDE...COWER...HAVE YOUR SPINE REMOVED AS WELL!!!



    Despite that I agree this pursuit is a COLOSSAL waste of energy & time, unfounded and foolish fear of wholly false and libelous accusations may be the weakest, flimsiest, and most pathetically pathetic reasoning so far to do nothing to bring this “breacher” to justice.

    Quote Originally Posted by sawdust123 View Post
    You may want to blame this all on your roots... But I would show up in boots and ruin her black-tie affair. You may not be the last one to know, just be the last one to show. You would be the last one she thought she'd see there.
    See reverett's response/post for the "fear in his eyes"...(I crack myself up)

    Quote Originally Posted by sawdust123 View Post
    This is one of those areas where I have to way the reward. Even if you could easily win in small claims, you are talking about an amount too small to warrant the hours of your time it would take to file, prepare and show up in court. Furthermore, collection isn't guaranteed.
    ...and very unlikely without even more effort, energy and expense barring, of course, some epiphany of yet unseen conscience on this deadbeat's part.

    Would you care to make wager on that epiphany?


    Quote Originally Posted by sawdust123 View Post
    You may or may not have a legal leg to stand on for the $300 but chances are she is no legal scholar either. Therefore, I suggest you send a nicely worded letter stating that she technically owes you the $370 but you will settle for just the $70 and call it a day. You have a chance of seeing that. If she ignores your request or refuses to pay it, you can suggest in a follow up that it is a lot less to pay the $70 than to fight a small claims case for $370 plus fees.
    If you can get your $70, you have done yeoman's work and should be grateful.

    Drafting the recommended demand letter should not take too much time and expense.

    Beyond that, how much of your time are you willing to waste...I mean expend for $70 and such a thin victory?

    Rocky 'djrox' Bourg
    Father/Husband/Son/Brother/American

  13. #13
    Don't send a letter. Just let it go.

    She sent you a deposit - and you did nothing with it for 2 weeks.
    She followed up to see if you received it - and it still took you 2 weeks.
    She cancelled because you did not demonstrate significant urgency with respect to her event; leaving the status of her contract hanging.

    That last statement may seem unfair but, it is what this story looks like and if you start chasing her about a check you previously didn't care about for 2 weeks you are going to turn a civil dispute for $70 into a criminal complaint for harassment.

  14. #14
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    if you start chasing her about a check you previously didn't care about for 2 weeks you are going to turn a civil dispute for $70 into a criminal complaint for harassment.
    Unless you reside in some retarded universe, or California, seeking recompense for a NSF check doesn't even approach harrassment and to suggest otherwise is asinine.
    Rocky 'djrox' Bourg
    Father/Husband/Son/Brother/American

  15. #15
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    It happens

    First off, **** happens. I have had a few brides delay payment and when I push they say they decided to cancel or some other lame story instead of just telling the truth, "I found someone else." I had one bimbo that contacted me and got a pretty good deal (it was a new venue and I wanted to try it) and I had actually pre-worked quite a bit and gave her lots of advice and tips. While I was waiting for the deposit I got contacted via a Wedding wire where she was looking to beat my price. I contacted her and told her that part of the deal is "trust" and building a relationship, she said she was just looking to see if it was cheaper to have multiple vendors (one for lights, one for DJ, one for MC...) I wished her luck and ran! Sounds like she found you!

    I would go ahead and mentally write it off BUT, I would drop her a note and say that the venue contacted you with some questions about placement (or something like that) and if she was canceling you but not the wedding, you needed for her to pay the contractual amount due ($370) but if the wedding was actually cancelled she need to pay our current expenses.... $175 bucks? Just to see what happens. Not to be playing games but a low investment of resources at a chance to get some money back.
    Last edited by vbchaz; 03-31-2018 at 07:57 AM. Reason: grammer

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by djrox View Post
    Unless you reside in some retarded universe, or California, seeking recompense for a NSF check doesn't even approach harrassment and to suggest otherwise is asinine.
    She never received consideration for that check because he failed to deposit it with due diligence. She had a perfect right to stop payment on a check that still remained outstanding half a month later. (The OP says two weeks - though I suspect it could also have been longer.) If he wasn't depositing the check it's reasonable to assume he was non-responsive in other ways as well, which prompted the cancellation.

    When you spend $120 in small claims court to collect a $35 NSF check fee against a contract that was cancelled - it's called harassment and the judge might even slap him with a fine for doing it.

    Our courts have better things to do than feed your ego.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by vbchaz View Post
    First off, **** happens. I have had a few brides delay payment and when I push they say they decided to cancel or some other lame story instead of just telling the truth, "I found someone else." I had one bimbo that contacted me and got a pretty good deal (it was a new venue and I wanted to try it) and I had actually pre-worked quite a bit and gave her lots of advice and tips. While I was waiting for the deposit I got contacted via a Wedding wire where she was looking to beat my price. I contacted her and told her that part of the deal is "trust" and building a relationship, she said she was just looking to see if it was cheaper to have multiple vendors (one for lights, one for DJ, one for MC...) I wished her luck and ran! Sounds like she found you!
    Your notion of "trust" is bullsh*t. Every customer has the right to look after their own interests and continue to do so throughout a transaction. They are not in any way bound to take you at your word. If your deal turns out to be a sour one they can make whatever changes they see fit.

    I've seen occasions where someone booked with a DJ at a substantially high price - only to later find someone they liked better. They saved money despite forfeit of their deposit to the first guy. That's just good business on the part of the customer.

    I would go ahead and mentally write it off BUT, I would drop her a note and say that the venue contacted you with some questions about placement (or something like that) and if she was canceling you but not the wedding, you needed for her to pay the contractual amount due ($370) but if the wedding was actually cancelled she need to pay our current expenses.... $175 bucks? Just to see what happens. Not to be playing games but a low investment of resources at a chance to get some money back.

    Gown-ups don't behave like this. A true business person would just move on to the next prospect rather than behave like a spoiled child. It's shameful how many DJs are hell bent on screwing with people for their own ego.

    The OP never had a sealed contract with her and when he had the chance to perfect one he delayed it by half a month. He does not appear to have wanted the job, and that is the narrative that he is going to be stuck with.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Proformance View Post
    She never received consideration for that check because he failed to deposit it with due diligence. She had a perfect right to stop payment on a check that still remained outstanding half a month later...If he wasn't depositing the check it's reasonable to assume he was non-responsive in other ways as well, which prompted the cancellation.
    Wrong.


    Quote Originally Posted by Proformance View Post
    When you spend $120 in small claims court to collect a $35 NSF check fee against a contract that was cancelled - it's called harassment and the judge might even slap him with a fine for doing it.
    Wrong, ill-informed, and irresponsibly ignorant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Proformance View Post
    Our courts have better things to do than feed your ego.
    ...or deem normal collection activity as harrassment.
    Rocky 'djrox' Bourg
    Father/Husband/Son/Brother/American

  19. #19
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    Never thought I be doing this but. Why do some people have to be such a d!ck. I use to come here once a week but I quit coming to this site so often because 3/4's of the comments had nothing to do with topic and people were rude (vs respecting each other.) It's a CHAT, we talk about our experiences and ask for opinions and others experience. That is why so many people have left or don't post, who wants to put yourself out there to insulted, if you don't agree just say that, don't throw disparaging comments in the mix... Another thing I don't understand is how these "experts" have the time to spend so hours on this site commenting (and knocking down) everyone. If you look at just about any post, it's the same couple guys trying to one up each other on their BS, why do they have so much time?

    That being said, I appreciate Steve, Taso, and a few others who were always professional, on topic, and helpful (even reverting to direct contact at times to help while avoiding the others.)

    And BTW, I disagree with the poster who said Trust was bullsh!t. I want my clients to trust me, to feel that they will get my best and that I am honest and fair. I want to be able to trust my client, that they are truthful and fair. I am not selling cars: I am selling my service, my experience, my expertise and I do feel there is a place for trust especially when we are dealing with people on one of their most special but often stressful events of their lives. We do contracts and spell everything out so there is a clear understanding of what is expected by both parties and then we TRUST each other to honor those commitments. And I wasn't trying to screw anybody by calling them back (I was trying to find a way to start the conversation, if you actually had expenses (bounced check fee) you should take at least a shot at covering those costs (within reason.)

    Best of luck to all those who try to make this a great spot and for you others.... please stay here, don't go messing up the other sites that are trying to help.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by vbchaz View Post
    Never thought I be doing this but.
    2585233-stripes_lighten_up_francis.jpg


    Quote Originally Posted by vbchaz View Post
    Why do some people have to be such a d!ck.
    Who knows?

    Why do some people get personally offended at every comment that is not in lock step with their opinion?

    Why do self procalimed experienced professionals seem to ask such amateur, level 100 questions?

    Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?

    Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by?

    Just like me, they long to be, Close to you!

    (Feel better) LOL
    Rocky 'djrox' Bourg
    Father/Husband/Son/Brother/American

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