I'm an independent videographer and I was hired by a real estate company to get footage of one of their properties. Upon completion, I had sent them the footage. They emailed me back saying that the they weren't satisfied with the footage taken and it didn't pass their quality control, and that they would like for me to do a reshoot. Reluctantly, I agreed and we were in motions to set up a reshoot until I've received an email stating that they would no longer like to use my services.
I didn't get paid for the video shoot. And they aren't willing to pay me. Also, I had went out and purchased needed equipment for the video shoot. They've had me sign a contract and in it there's something that says, "payment shall be calculated at our discretion". Does this mean they don't have to pay me?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Whether or not the real estate company will be liable to pay you for work that you performed will be dependent, in part, on the terms of the written contract. So, it will be necessary to review the written contract to be certain about your rights.
Generally, when a contract allows the receiving party to exercise its subjective discretion over whether to accept performance by the other party, that provision can be viewed as a right to reject the work performed. However, contract law usually will not permit one party to benefit from the other party without some form of compensation. Again, the terms of the written contract will determinate the result. If the company knew that this was a special order which required you to purchase unique equipment, then that could limit the right of the company to reject the final product.
This should not be construed as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney in your area, who can review all of the relevant facts and documents which affect your particular situation. Feel free to contact me, if you have further questions regarding your matter.
A direct response to your inquiry will require advance review of your written contract, which I don't have.
Based solely on your description of your contract and the events, I would interpret the term "payment shall be calculated at our discretion" as referring to the amount of payment and - perhaps - when payment should be made. This clause alone should not give the real estate company the discretion to avoid paying you altogether. Unfortunately, the contract may have other clauses enabling them to avoid payment, but the clause you cite should not, by itself, achieve that purpose. I would need to review the contract to make any such determination.
This is not legal advice. You should consult with an attorney to determine your best course of action. You may contact me if you have the need for any actual legal assistance.
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