Amanda Valentina :: Bookings & Deposits :: Part 2
I am clearly a consumer of sorts myself. I've made appointments and/or bookings for services where I make an upfront deposit payment (often a full payment) as soon as the particulars have been agreed upon. I have a banking app on my personal phone so EFT is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Photographers, beauty appointments, flights. Accommodation, business management costs, etc., etc. The list is endless. I accept that if I cancel a service, it is at the sole discretion of the service provider to impose whatever penalties they elect to do so. I am extremely grateful when a credit is offered, because mostly I'm penalised. That's life, however.
Suck it up, Amanda.
There was once a period (up until recently) where I would give clients the opportunity to credit their deposit towards a new booking if they were to cancel their original one. Even though I had (or could have) been financially disadvantaged by the cancellation, I was still mindful of circumstances (or perhaps gullible with believing the excuses that were offered), and was generous enough to offer an open-ended credit without penalty.
*In some circumstances I would stipulate that the balance of the booking fee was required before making a second booking.*
I saw this 'open-ended' business practice as being fair and reasonable until I sat down to assess the financial loss that I was incurring as a result. More importantly, I found the conduct of one particular (disgruntled) depositor quite unsavoury, to say the least.
It had me rethink my leniency, and cavalier approach toward those who cancelled; subsequently inconveniencing my time and me. I'm running a business, right? A business which has relatively high overheads.? Yes, that's right, I am. Amanda Valentina - a sole trader, and the single only person paying my bills.
The Disgruntled Depositor: A Real Life Story by Amanda Valentina
The depositor made a booking enquiry, offering 2 dates he would be available. The depositor was offered a time, date and duration to his liking, of which he later confirmed all were agreeable to him. That being, 3 months from the date of his initial enquiry.
It should be noted that I made it clear (via SMS) to said depositor, that I would book my interstate flights and accommodation ON THE PROVISO that he book a minimum of 2 hours service. The depositor then advised that he had to check his work schedule and get back to me.
An agreement was subsequently reached between the depositor and myself prior to the actual deposit being paid. Once the deposit was received, I booked my flights and accommodation for this interstate visit.
I honoured my commitments as per our agreement. I adhered to our agreed terms and conditions. We have, in my view, a legally binding agreement.
Approximately one month later the depositor cancelled the booking and to my surprise, requested a full refund of his deposit. I politely and professionally advised the depositor that I was unable to refund his deposit, however, would happily offer an open-ended credit.
I even offered to travel to his home state at a time convenient to him so that he could use this open-ended credit. Incidentally, and for transparency purposes, the monetary value of this credit was $400.
The depositor was rude in his reply and asserted that he was being "ripped off". I was rather shocked and upset by this allegation, however, managed during the course of every subsequent message thereafter, to reiterate my offer of an open-ended credit.
The disgruntled depositor continued to site irrelevant and/or outdated legislations. The disgruntled depositor continued to be accusatory and rude. The disgruntled depositor then took to a forum based platform in an attempt to tarnish my unblemished reputation. The disgruntled depositor was on a warpath over a $400 open-ended credit.
The disgruntled depositor conveniently failed to explain the entirety of what had actually transpired. I had considered that one day someone may have something unfavourable to say about me (you can't please everyone), but I never expected my business practices to be called into question. Not ever.
I was absolutely dismayed at this man's lack of integrity. It affected my evening, my next booking, and for days afterwards, I felt deflated and disheartened. He was spreading his half-truths like wildfire and there was nothing I could do about it. At least I thought not at the time.
Whilst I am of the view that his attempts to tarnish my reputation have been gravely unsuccessful, it did lead me to further investigate my legal position with the ACCC. I certainly didn't want to leave myself litigiously vulnerable. I also embarked on a quest to better educate myself on consumer law.
They say everything happens for a reason, right? Yes - it certainly does.
I initiated an enquiry with the ACCC and found after speaking with their customer service representative - that I had not contravened any laws. This enquiry has been subsequently registered for future reference. The disgruntled depositor has not a legal leg to stand on. I learnt that I was completely within my rights to act in the capacity of which I did, and that a "change of mind" of the consumer didn't warrant a refund at all. His change of mind was not my problem.
Although this experience was an unpleasant one, it gifted me the opportunity to educate myself on certain aspects of consumer law; ones that are applicable to my business as a sole trader. An education of sorts.
Upon reflection (time is the best clarifying agent), I am thankful to the disgruntled depositor for behaving like a, well, a disgruntled depositor. I now reflect upon what was an unpleasant experience and thank him.
Every life experience is character building; even if you’re too emotionally anguished to see it at the time. Thank goodness for my strong constitution and ability to move forward relatively quickly – the beauty of age and life experience.
I have also decided, effective immediately, that deposits are now NON-REFUNDABLE, and that no open-ended credit will be offered ever again.
In closing, I wish to take the opportunity to thank each and every former/existing/non client for providing logical and supportive responses on my Punter Planet general news thread. I cannot express enough just how your supportive comments and replies assisted me during what was a very unpleasant experience at the time.
I also wish to thank each and every one of you that have cancelled previously, who were appreciative of my crediting their deposit amount to their next booking.
You are all greatly appreciated.
Keep smiling, and stay sexy.
Non- Refundable Deposit Requirements:
GFE/BEE: $200 per hour
PSE: $300 per hour
Dinner Date Booking: $800
Overnight Booking: $1,500