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Being made to pay a deposit back

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  • Being made to pay a deposit back

    Hi everyone; got a bit of a frustrating situation I was hoping some kind folks could help with. I'll try to be brief:

    Im a freelancer and took on a project for a food brand this time last year which involved a website and a product photo shoot. They paid a 25% deposit and I did an initial product shoot which matched reference images included in the contract. The stakeholder I was working directly with who had been my sole contact and who signed the contract said she loved the initial photos and even used some in marketing without me knowing. However a few days later I was contacted by the head honcho of the company (her father) who told me he didn't like the direction and wanted to change the entire plan to contain super high end photography (they are a frozen food company and he wanted a style i'd need specialist facilities and equipment for) and also gave me ambiguous feedback like 'it's not angelic enough'.

    So I wrote back saying my original project lead's vision (which was also in the brief) is different to what you're saying and different to the brief/contract and I'm unable to do what you're asking, and sought to seek a solution. They never replied and went MIA on me. I had assumed they'd given up internally.

    Then only a couple of weeks ago they got in contact, saying they'd been busy which is why they hadn't replied to me, and wanted to meet with me. I replied that i would do so but only if all stakeholders were present so we could work out a single agreed plan moving forward, and they agreed to this (my google calendar invitation also has this stipulation). I turned up to the meeting and they weren't there, just one member of staff who couldn't help me as she hasn't been involved, but she gave me a used scrap piece of paper torn from a desk pad that had some one word bullet points scrawled on the back that make no sense to me without context and don't seem to address any of the issues. (just things like 'brands' ... 'new flavours'...) I came back to the car and had a message from her which was sent 15 mins after the meeting started saying her kid was ill and she won't be able to make it but the staff member inside could 'take the meeting' and had the info I needed.

    I then followed this up with an email stating that if they want to meet properly again in the future to let me know and I'll see if I'm in a position to take on the website (my way of saying i don't want to be involved). They wrote back saying they can't afford to wait, and if I can't do the project then I need to pay them back their deposit.

    I don't feel I should do this as I have done a considerable amount of work already (the initial shoot which included hiring another photographer, plus invested in various ingredients/props which they were going to reimburse) plus i cleared a slot of work for them and had various consultations. My rates now have also risen and I've become busy and after they went MIA it's not fair that I have to drop what I'm doing when it best suit them.

    Unfortunately though my contract is missing most of its usual terms and conditions which state that all payments are non refundable and other key agreements. Frustrating i know (i've been really kicking myself) but my honest excuse is that at the time I had a premature baby and my head must have been in the shed because all that is there are three paragraphs two of which are repeated *♂️

    So Im trying to work out what folks would do here and if they think I could be made to pay the money back. It's just a little over 2k.

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  • #2
    You have obviously done some of the work, and are entitled to be paid for this. How does it work out as a proportion of the likely work for the whole job?

    You can point this out, and that it is not as if they changed minds before you did anything.

    NB this is about commercial contracts, not employment law.
    Lawyer (solicitor) - retired from practice, now in academia. I do not advise by private message.

    Litigants in Person should download and read this: https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/..._in_Person.pdf


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