Floating around the internet are comments and questions about this, and clients not entirely sure what the purpose is.
Sometimes also referred to as a “Deposit” or “Booking Fee”, the correct term is actually retainer fee, and it refers to an agreed sum of money paid to secure the services of a professional for an agreed upon time-frame.
The difference in these terms legally means that a retainer fee is non-refundable. Deposits or booking fees can be challenged as refundable although you would most likely be spending much more in court costs and lawyer fees to retrieve it. Don’t be that person.
In most instances of unforeseen circumstances retainer fees are refunded - or should be for the sake of humanity & kindness. So DO be that person who is kind and compassionate.
The retainer fee encompasses a few entities:
When a vendor books you for a date and time that means they cannot book another client for that date and time. If you cancel or no show we have lost business that could have been filled. No matter the amount I discovered early on that if someone pays a retainer fee they will hold their appointment.
The retainer fee is also paying for the time of your photographer. Regardless of if you pay for your session or images we have still come to our job and would like to be paid for that time.
I hope this helps explain it simply. If anyone has anything else to add leave a comment!