A bride called to say her photographer had asked her for immediate payment to be made through an app though the wedding was several weeks away. She wanted to know if it was okay to make payment as requested. No, it was not. Here’s why.
The bride had signed a contract with the photographer. The contract included specifications on how payment was to be made and when, as well as information about the deliverables after the wedding and other details. The only way the terms of a written contract can be changed is by amending the contract in writing. Had the bride sent payment as requested, the contract would be broken and all terms in it would be null and void. It then becomes a verbal agreement and chaos can occur when each side thinks differently. The photographer could say he was not going to deliver the number of photos agreed upon, shoot for the length of time requested, or change another previously agreed upon term. The bride could say she had agreed to receive 500 fully edited photos and 6 digital copies of the proofs. Who would be right? If the issue ended up in small claims court, things could get ugly. And all because the merchant didn’t understand his/her responsibilities under the law, nor did the bride, who depended on the merchant to know what he was doing.
Idaho law sets the standards for contracts executed in Idaho. It is important to be aware of not only the basics of contract law but to also understand the merchant’s obligations under Idaho’s consumer protection laws. Among other things, contracts must contain a cancellation clause indicating how payment will be handled if the event is cancelled, the merchant is unable to perform the service, or another issue occurs. In Idaho we can set our own cancellation terms as long as they are communicated to the client in writing, either through a contract or by including them on an invoice or bid form. A merchant might keep a portion of the deposit and return the balance; the deposit might be non-refundable or cancellations handled in another way.
An attorney should create, or at least review, a merchant’s contract to be certain it conforms with Idaho law as it relates to the service being offered. If you are new to the business world and need clarification on your responsibilities as a business owner, you may want to check idahobizhelp.idaho.gov where you will find information about registering your business, taxes, licenses and permits and much more.