Whether you’ve booked for Photography, Appraisal Appointments, Pick Up for sold items through Texas Twins Treasures or another event service, our schedules aren’t set up to accommodate late clients, buyers or Barterers.
Setting appointments is how we manage to accommodate a wide and diverse array of clients from Texas Prison Weddings, Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures and The Pawning Planners.
Years ago, I created an inventory to loan clients as a courtesy. On more than one occasion, people have wanted to keep this or that but, I also sell custom floral designs and if you want to keep something, you can buy it like everyone else.
Loaned bouquets are not meant to be “tossed.” The reason for this is two part. First, the person catching the bouquet wants to keep it. Secondly, throwing my floral designs in the air damages them.
Clients from Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners borrow tiaras, furs, floral designs, champagne flutes, ice buckets and more. These items weren’t given to me. There isn’t an “inventory fairy.” Because of this, if you aren’t a booked client, you aren’t going to borrow my inventory.
Loaned items are not gifts to clients. I created an inventory as a courtesy and at my own expense.
All Wendy Wortham websites outline that loaned items are for booked clients only.
Photography for Texas Department Of Criminal Justice Clients is complimentary. Why? Because Unit photos aren’t free and often my clients don’t love their photos. Let’s face it, guards aren’t professional photographers and regardless of where the wedding took place, I believe my clients should enjoy their day. TDCJ Photo shoots are fun and relaxed. Giving my clients an opportunity to have fun and celebrate is my gift to them. I bring a wide array of photo booth props and bouquets for my TDCJ clients.
Usually, Cindy or Leigh Ann and occasionally my grandnieces ride with me across Texas. We find out of the way thrift and antique stores for them to shop at while I’m inside a Texas Prison. Road trips are fun for Cindy and I.
My youngest grandniece, Madyson often jumps into photos with clients and it’s not uncommon for most clients to feel like they know us since we follow one another on social media.
Pawning Planners Clients also benefit from complimentary photography but for a different reason. What is it? They can’t afford photography in most cases and because of this, we provide complimentary photos when needed or desired by clients using the barter option.
If you are booking Photography through either Texas Twins Events or with my son and daughter in law or niece, your fees are charged by the hour. There aren’t any volunteer photographers on my staff.
Unlike TDCJ Photo Shoots or Pawning Planners Photo Shoots, Cindy or I aren’t behind the camera. My son and niece don’t volunteer to provide photography because that’s how they get paid. Leigh Ann and Robert are also wedding Officiants and handle jail bookings when I’m unavailable. I’m the only TDCJ Approved Officiant on our staff.
I have lists of rules regarding client behavior at Texas Prisons that address tardiness, attire, behavior and payment issues that correlate with a contract specifically for prison weddings. The reason a separate contract exists aside from Texas Twins Events or The Pawning Planners is because Prison Weddings are structured. There are many rules and procedures in place that must be followed at all times. There aren’t any cakes, flowers, guests, rings or other items that “traditional weddings have.” There aren’t any cell phones either. Because of this, a specific TDCJ contract as well as a contract for Texas Twins Events MUST BE SIGNED by any Texas Prison Wedding client.
Tardiness continues to be an issue. Your event may be cancelled or you will be charged an additional fee for tardiness. I’m never late. My staff is never late. We operate on strict timelines.
Today’s blog will once again revisit why deposits are a requirement and why payment in full must be made one week prior to your event, service or purchase as well as late fees, photo releases and other pertinent facts about booking with either me, my twin sister or our staff.
For years now, trying to collect fees became such a problem on the day of the event that I no longer make exceptions for any reason. I also no longer accept checks within two weeks of the event date. If you are writing me a check, it must be 21 days prior to the event. No exceptions.
As any vendor will tell you, a bouncing check leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I’ve had more than one bouncing check over the years and to alleviate the issue, made a list of timelines and deadlines to overcome rubber checks.
A few weeks ago, my niece had booked a photography session at 11AM. At 11:37AM, the client finally showed up. The problem? Leigh Ann had a wedding at 1PM and needed to be on site at 12:30PM. The location was nearly 40 minutes away.
Because her 11AM was late and didn’t pay in advance, (a requirement for me) Leigh Ann felt rushed and nervous taking a check but, things would get worse a few days later. Why? Because no good deed goes unpunished.
Taking a check on the day of an event and not enforcing late fees that I had suggested would quickly teach my niece, Leigh Ann why I’m firm about policies, payments and contracts.
Arriving at the wedding after drChristmas bing like a lunatic to arrive early without a moment to get anything to eat, Leigh Ann was running around trying to get photos of the wedding and most likely, exhausted by 3PM.
Asking who was paying her on location was so frustrating to Leigh Ann that she now fully understood why she should have been paid long before showing up but, after an exhausting day, she was determined to get paid and again it was by check. I never take checks at an event because they always bounce.
Two days prior to the wedding, the client had asked Leigh Ann to attend the rehearsal “to meet everyone.” Of course, Leigh Ann didn’t realize that she would be taking photos for two hours after driving nearly an hour to the venue.
Leigh Ann is learning the hard way why Cindy and I don’t make exceptions. Leigh Ann now knows why we require contracts and payments up front and also why a rehearsal is a separate fee.
Wedding rehearsals aren’t a “package deal.” If you’ve hired me to coordinate or Officiate or someone on my staff to handle photography for your wedding, a rehearsal incurs a separate fee.
Let’s go over why. First, we must travel to the location and spend at least an hour on location. Secondly, a wedding ceremony is a single event. Had the client booked directly through me rather than Leigh Ann, I would have asked about a rehearsal ahead of time and discussed a separate fee.
I’ve learned to ask a lot of questions. But, a weekend of events and checks would quickly open my nieces eyes. Leigh Ann now knows why I never make exceptions. Leigh Ann now knows why I require payment in advance.
Monday while having lunch together, a text from the Tardy party 11AM bride upset my niece. The problem? An apparent “fraudulent transaction.”
The client claimed that “there shouldn’t be an issue with the check written to Leigh Ann but, there might be.” My exhausted niece NOW had to worry about a check bouncing? She had waited on the client who was late? She had lost sleep editing photos and now she had to worry about a rubber check? Check, check, check.
But, hang on things get even worse. If I sound like I have an attitude with Divas and Dipshits it’s because I do. The people who are always late are always a problem. Trust me. I’ve had years of experience. I’ve officiated over 2k weddings, baptisms, coordinated birthday parties, estate sales and more. I’ve dealt with just about every type of client there is.
The “fraudulent check scenario” escalated and quickly. Luckily, Leigh Ann had taken a contract to the 11AM booking and another to the wedding. I don’t work without a contract and had strongly suggested that Leigh Ann begin using them. Luckily, Leigh Ann listened to me and took two contracts to both events.
Leigh Ann called her bank and neither check had cleared. Worried about both checks now, my niece was a bundle of nerves. Her mother and I assured Leigh Ann that if the checks bounced we would cover them. I also advised her that I would take the bounced checks to the DA. I don’t mess around when it comes to theft. Stealing services is a crime. Writing hot checks is also a crime.
I reminded my niece that unlike officiating a wedding, the clients didn’t have their photos an would (most likely) make good on the checks. I’ve filed marriage licenses whether I’ve been paid or not over and over again. But, I no longer work on broken promises. I’ve learned that if a client gets what they want, they are far less inclined to pay you too. Hence, my “rigid rules.”
Teaching my niece, my son and my daughter in law that photography and prints are two separate bookings and services isn’t easy. Vendors are paid prior to the event. Not on the day of the event.
Booking a photographer doesn’t include photos in most circumstances. Ask a photographer. You are hiring them to shoot photos not provide them.
You don’t hire a photographer for an event and pay by the hour to get “bonus photos for free.”
Because my niece, son and daughter in law have spent years working with me, they often throw in photos for their hourly fee.
This is RARE as any photographer realizes. The timeline for turnaround on our photos is generally one week. Leigh Ann creates galleries as a courtesy and emails them to clients.
Let’s get back to those checks. By Tuesday, the 11AM was texting my niece about the photos. The check still hadn’t cleared and it had been less than a week for Leigh Ann to edit photos from several events.
By Wednesday, the 11AM Clients mother was sending texts to my niece. Accusing her of fraud? After her daughter had alerted Leigh Ann that her check might bounce? The mother was lit that her daughter hadn’t received her photos? I was lit reading screenshots and advised Leigh Ann that’s why she had a contract outlying the timelines. Contracts are essential to vendors. Without them, your client might assume they make all of the rules. They don’t. Editing photos is time consuming.
I’ve seen clients that hired another photographer (obviously not associated with my staff) wait for months on their photos. MONTHS. In fact, most of these clients use our complimentary photos because we post them immediately.
If you’ve hired a photographer and expect photos in 2-3 days, you’re either wildly uneducated or crazy. If you’ve written a hot check and are making demands to someone who doesn’t even know if your check will bounce, you are a Dipshit. No, I’m not apologizing for being honest.
Now you are catching on. I advised my niece to send a copy of the contract to the mother who obviously was unaware of the check issue and although my niece didn’t know if she would be compensated for her time or trouble, offered to pay her myself to publish the photos and mail the gallery. If that check bounced though, I was going to educate this mother about fraud by alerting the DA about the hot check. See how that works?
I wasn’t going to let Leigh Ann work for free or be bullied. I wanted her to understand why although my rules seem rigid there’s a reason I follow them to the letter. Someone writing a hot check and showing up late then enlists her mom to threaten my niece? What the? There was fraud alright and it involved someone knowingly writing a bad check.
I don’t make exceptions because exceptions have cost me money time and time again. Broken promises don’t pay my bills. Bouncing checks don’t either. While my son and my niece may think I’m “hardcore,” it should be noted that getting paid hasn’t been a problem in years for me because I’ve learned the hard way.
“Sad luck stories don’t pay the bills. Throw that book in the trash.”
By the time Leigh Ann published the wedding photos approximately five days after the wedding, the bride commented “I finally got my wedding photos.” The bride then sent a text to Leigh Ann regarding the reception that she had told Leigh Ann not to photograph because she didn’t want to pay an additional two hours for. I advised Leigh Ann to raise her prices. Why? Because she was working with people who had no idea what a professional photographer charges. Leigh Ann was working for $75 an hour and having to fight to get paid on location.
No good deed goes unpunished. Leigh Ann had a helluva time getting paid at the wedding. Bouncing from person to person, Leigh Ann remembers me telling her “get paid in full one week prior to the event. If they don’t pay you, don’t show up. Getting paid on location is a cluster. Nobody wants to worry about paying you.” Leigh Ann realized that I was right.
Leigh Ann also had to worry about not one but two checks bouncing from two events on the same day and Leigh Ann learned that I have rules for a reason. No one at the wedding wanted to pay my niece. Finally, someone borrowed a check to compensate her. Why? Because Leigh Ann wasn’t leaving without getting paid.
Years ago, I had a bride write me a bad check for her deposit. Alarmed, I had called her about incurring bounced check fees and insisted she cover the additional fees.
What I should have done was advise this Diva that I wasn’t showing up to Officiate her wedding until she resolved her bouncing deposit check but, I’ve learned my lessons the hard way.
Looking back, I had assumed that this Diva would be embarrassed enough to address the fees at her wedding but, I was mistaken.
Rather than addressing the elephant in the room, I arrived at the wedding to yet another check. You guessed it, it bounced too. Not being one to be taken advantage of, I turned both checks in to the DA. My Bride was surprised but, I was sick of her games and bouncing check fees at my bank. I have no grey areas. It’s black or white. It’s right or wrong.
Several years ago, I sold a large floral design for an event. The buyer wrote a check. The check bounced. Back then, I had no idea that I could report a bad check but, I’ve learned. I lost over $400 on the floral design and bounced check fee to my bank. Experience is a great teacher. If you don’t know how much money is in your account, you shouldn’t be writing a check. It’s not rocket science kids its reality.
Last weekend, we had a client who had won a free giveaway for Mother’s Day on Leigh Ann’s site. The “deal” was a fifteen minute mini session and five digital photos. Yes, it was months ago and yes, it was freezing on the day of the photo shoot. Also, the client was nearly an hour late. But, I’m just getting started here.
First, there wasn’t a contract. Second, there wasn’t a fee so adding a late fee was impossible. Also, we were on site for three hours and not fifteen minutes. Waiting for the client put Leigh Ann in a precarious position of being late to her next event. To cover this, I used another camera to take additional photos myself. I also became ill from being outside three hours in 30 degree weather. In fact, I’m still sick after a visit to urgent care Friday.
Yesterday afternoon, I read a text regarding a TDCJ Wedding at a Unit. The text gave a date and time assigned by the Unit. The problem? This “client” had not paid a deposit or signed a contract.
This client “wasn’t actually a client.” I advised her to pay a deposit immediately or I would contact the Unit and cancel the wedding. Yes, I can do this and yes, I have. I’m not driving three hours or more one way without being compensated. No one else would either.
Putting my name on an I60 to obtain a date for a wedding without hiring me is a continuing problem. Because of this, I advise anyone contacting me about a date that if they don’t pay me and sign a contract that I will call the Unit and cancel. Without me there is no wedding. I am not a volunteer. I work for compensation.
Driving to Prison Units puts wear and tear on my vehicle and takes me away from other clients and paying gigs. I spend hours driving to and from Texas Prisons and I don’t do it for free.
If a Unit contacts me regarding a wedding and you aren’t on my books, I will cancel the wedding and advise the Unit as to the actual circumstances. Compensation is what constitutes a client relationship. If you haven’t paid me you aren’t a client. Period.
By evening, Leigh Ann had published the photos from the Tardy party giveaway. The problem? The winner didn’t want her photos published.
Photographers advertise by using photos. Because of this and the fact that Leigh Ann wasn’t paid for her efforts, naturally, my niece was more than upset.
After a lengthy discussion with my niece, I’ve had her add an additional fee if someone doesn’t want their photos published and won’t sign a photo release. No more giveaways either. Nice guys finish last.
I’ve also had Leigh Ann now require payment in full one week prior to the event date. No more checks. No more problems trying to get paid after you went to the time and trouble to show up and work.
Occasionally, my staff think I’m rigid. I’m seasonned. I’ve learned the hard way that people don’t always do the right thing. I’ve also learned that I’m not a volunteer.
I don’t drive 6-8 hours a day to a Prison because I love driving. I drive to Prisons to marry Clients who have signed a contract and paid me to perform a service.
I drive easily 3k miles a month across Texas and I don’t leave my home in the dark to put miles on my car “hoping to get paid.” That’s not how this works.
If you have come to me for a service, you will be either paying for the service or bartering something in exchange.
My niece has learned that my “rigid rules” keep me from being taken advantage of. My niece has also learned that for some people “too much is never enough.” She spent far more time on location than was agreed on.
Leigh Ann also waited nearly an hour on a client benefiting from a free giveaway photo shoot that wouldn’t allow publication of photos. See how that works? All for nothing.
I’ve learned that unless someone sacrificing for something, they don’t have any skin in the game. They haven’t put anything up so they don’t appreciate anything. It’s a fact. Over the years, my soft heart has cost me money.
Over the years, my twin sister had told me time and time again “we could be doing something else and here we are doing this for them and they aren’t doing anything for us. I’m sick of this. We need a way to screen everyone saying they don’t have any money.” Cindy was right and we did.
By creating The Pawning Planners we never again worked for free. We went into your house and found items of value if you claimed to have no money. We effectively forced you to put some skin in the game. There weren’t any more freebies on our part.
People wonder why the barter option exists but, it exists specifically to weed out anyone claiming they want services but can’t afford to pay for them. That’s right. We had so many people “asking for an apple and expecting a pie” that we had to find a way to get paid and stop being volunteers.
My twin sister actually is rigid although everyone thinks she’s hilarious. Because there are folks who really don’t have any money or anything of value to trade, we put Cindy’s saucy quotes to work.
Pawning Planners Apparel funds families and is sold worldwide because Cindy has something to say about everything.
Pawning Planners Apparel often funds funerals but occasionally also birthday parties and other Dream Event requests. Finding ways to address any and every situation wasn’t easy. It took planning and it took experience but at the end of the day, learning things the hard way taught my entire team that while Cindy and I may seem rigid but, with age comes wisdom…