Question :
I am a Wedding Designer & Planner, and I have a client who was set to have her wedding in New Zealand in July, but was traveling from Australia for it.She had paid a deposit and we have already conducted a site visit which was a 600+ km (round trip) out of town, put together a custom storyboard for her, and a custom quote… However, she has unfortunately come to the inevitable conclusion that her wedding will not take place this year. Which is completely understandable.She has approved, and signed off earlier this year, February 2020, that her deposit is non-refundable after 7-days… BUT under the circumstances, what do you think I should do should she ask for a refund?I am set to speak with her executive assistant tomorrow about the deposit and her wedding not taking place any time soon, and would really appreciate some feedback on how to troubleshoot this situation. Ideally, I do not want to give her a refund, but I am willing to compromise due to the current climate. I would still love to keep her as a customer, but should the conversation be about her wanting a refund, how should I proceed?Hope to hear from you soon!

Question submitted 08/04/20 @ 05:07am
Industry: Creative Services
  • Hi Teuila, a tricky situation indeed. Empathy is key in the situation, from all parties. Ideally, you will be able to retain the deposit and let her know it can be held for when the wedding does occur, hopefully in 2021. I am not sure on the contract you have in place and can’t advise on the consumer laws, imagine it will be different if the borders are open and she chooses not to come vs the borders being closed to foreign visitors. Perhaps, try to work through a compromise, and if they are insistent on a refund, suggest you have that conversation in a couple of months when it is more clear on the border restrictions both in Australia and NZ. Or, suggest a 50 / 50 split, that you keep half of the deposit (depending on the amount) given the work you did in scouting the site, storyboard development, etc. Might need a legal expert for the legalities on no refund, but right now it’s probably best to work through a compromise.

    It sounds like your contract is clear that there is no refund in this situation. You can seek to insist on that, but may not wish to do that commercially. Many in the travel industry are simply providing credit rather than a full refund. Is that an option here? At worst, you should at least be reimbursed for your costs to date.

    Hi Teuila, I’d suggest refunding the deposit less a fair fee for your time and costs to date. This is a stressful time for all and this would be the best approach in my view from the perspective of your relationship with the client and your general reputation. I’d discourage even offering a credit – who knows when NZ’s borders will open again? And from a legal perspective, it is possible that your client would have the right to terminate the contract, under the common law concept of “frustration” – this occurs when circumstances have arisen, by no fault of either party, that make the performance of the contract: (a) impossible; (b) illegal; or (c) something radically different from that originally envisioned by the parties.

    Hi there
    As per Averill above I would suggest a refund minus reasonable costs for the work thus far. I am presuming the deposit was to go towards the actual event.If you want to retain her as a customer and she asks for refund, then you need to meet her. The usual, non-refundable deposit, contracts don’t apply in these, unprecedented, circumstances.

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