Like most event vendors out there, we have it written in our contract that a client must pay a minimum $250 retainer for us to hold their date.

You've probably noticed that some companies refer to it as a "deposit" and some call it a "retainer". So which is it? Will I get in trouble if I use the incorrect term? Unfortunately, these words are used interchangeably. But it isn't as simple as saying, you say "to-mah-to" and I say "to-may-toe".

So here's some thoughts about these two "legally" binding words for you to consider. We request a retainer from our clients when they sign their contracts, This is basically a fee that they pay in advance in order for us to hold their date.

While some might say that a deposit also allows clients to reserve a date, deposits are usually "returnable". A retainer is by default non-refundable. These fees, almost always paid upfront, only ensure the commitment of the receiver (you). In addition, retainer fees usually do not represent the total final cost of the services provided.

If you (photo booth company) do not plan on returning the fee that not only secures you doing work, but you want to also apply it to the total owed, this is a retainer. This is not a deposit.

So what's the big deal anyway? Aren't they the same? If you want the money your client pays you up front (retainer) to be nonrefundable, I wouldn't refer to it as a deposit. If you want to be able to refund this should circumstances be unavoidable, maybe you can have a "refund" policy.

Below is a small excerpt from our contract terms that we send to our clients after they accept a quote. I suggest you take a look at your own contract terms and decide which term to use.

By the way, I am not a lawyer nor do I say that I know every single little nugget of law there is out there. I have however, spoken with an attorney and they've reviewed my contract terms. When in doubt, seek the legal advice of an attorney and be on the safe side.

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