I deleted the retouched digital files. I still retain the unretouched files, but if he wants his photos now, he will have to now pay me DOUBLE—
the charges I have already paid out of pocket, and the same fees to retouch his photos all over again.
WOW!! Your answer was pretty heavy stuff, but incredibly judicious and professional. I am in awe of both your legal acumen AND Just Ask. You guys are a blessing in my life and my business, I mean it :-)
One question, socrateaser. Does the fact that I gave this customer a multitude of chances to make good on his bill before deleting his images
have any relevance in a court of law? Before I destroyed his photos, I gave him a 48-hour ultimatum to either pay or face the consequences...
Storage space, of course, is not the issue. My retoucher breathing down my neck for timely payment definitely is! I've been trying to get payment from this guy for well over a month, and my working relationship with my retouching artist means more to me that anything else, so I was forced to pay her out of my own pocket. "Being nice" to this character wasn't working, so I had to resort to giving him dated, final demand to be paid. That didn't work either. Now he wants his photos, and I told him to go fish... I paid you bill and now we're done.
I understand your annoyance. If he wants the retouched photos and he sues to try to recover, this is what will happen in small claims:J: [to you, defendant- D] Do you have the photos?D: No, I destroyed them?J: Why?D: Because the customer didn't pay for them.J: [to customer, plaintiff-P] Why didn't you pay for the photos?P: Because D never showed them to me.J: D, did you show the photos to P?D: I sent him some low res thumbnails. If I sent him the hi res finished copies, I would have no way of enforcing payment.J: Okay, P claims that he contracted for photos, and D admits that he had them but destroyed them because no one paid for them. If I rule right now, I'm going to hold you both liable in "pari delicto," which means that you both did a wrongful thing, so neither one of you gets anything. However, if D agrees to get another copy of the digital photos, and P agrees to pay for them, then I will continue this case until next month, and if one of you fails to follow your consent agreement, then I will find in favor of the other and award damages in the amount of the value of cost of the retouched photos.So, do you both agree, or is it impossible to produce the photos?END SCENEThat's what's gonna happen if you go to court. So, if you can get another copy of the files, then you can get your money back. Otherwise, not. Seems to me that having the files sitting around waiting is good insurance and it's worth money if you're actually sued. But, that's your choice. Hope this helps.
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Always great service...
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