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Careers: Photography/Wedding Photographer Keeping All Deposits Chattanooga Tennessee


I booked a wedding photographer and paid a $500 deposit to secure the date. I paid her in full in June 2010 for a wedding April 30, 2011. I cancelled the wedding for personal reasons and notified her November 15, 2010. I asked in December for a refund of the amount over the deposit which was $2900, well actually I asked for anything to be returned so I could start over...and she said unfortunately I cannot give you any refund because I was not able to rebook your date....which is April 30, 2011
I dont think this is legal considering the deposit secured the date, and I paid upfront for services to be conducted on April 30, 2011, which were never done.
Can you help me out here? I have the contract and invoices.

Hello Brie,

Thank you very much for your questions relating to the difference between the wedding photography booking retainer fee and other money simply applied towards the services and purchase.

Yes, it is ILLEGAL for that photographer to keep any additional money paid beyond the booking retainer fee.  The booking retainer, in this case $500, is a legal instrument designed just for the purpose of compensating the photographer in the event of wedding cancellation.  The other money you paid was paid as AN ORDER in advance for services and/or products that photographer is now not obligated to provide.

Another legal implication concerns sales taxes.  Did that photographer charge you sales tax on the amount of money you paid?  You are certainly entitled to receive a refund of your sales taxes collected by that photographer as well.  If the photographer keeps those sales taxes and doesn't provide it to the state and county, that is sales tax fraud.  But even if the photographer did provide the sales taxes collected, the state and county could investigate why those sales taxes were collected on products and services the photographer did not render to anyone.

Bottom line.  The photographer is only entitled to keep the $500 retainer fee.  That was spelled out in the contract as the photographer's limit of liquidated damages if the wedding were canceled.  A judge will order that photographer to return all other money paid on that contract.

I recommend taking that photographer to court as soon as possible.  Wait until you make it to court to have the judge investigate whether that photographer sent the sales tax collected to the state and county.  You might also have that photographer charged with sales tax fraud.

Hope this helps.

- John

Careers: Photography

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