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This Speaker Is Canceled

, , , , | Legal | July 24, 2020

I run a writing group which organises talks, workshops, and other writing-related events for its members. Most events go off smoothly and the speakers and workshop leaders are a delight to work with. However, there have been a few that were less pleasant to work with.

A few days before a scheduled talk, the speaker calls and cancels, saying that something has come up. This is less than ideal since this gives us no time to organise a replacement, but I thank him for letting us know and then frantically try to notify members and organise something else.

Thankfully, we end up having a free-writing session and everyone rallies together to bring snacks and drinks and we have a wonderful evening.

A few days later, the speaker calls me.

Speaker: “I don’t seem to have been paid.”

Me: “Paid?”

Speaker: “Yeah, you agreed to pay me.”

Me: *Long pause* “You cancelled and never actually did the talk, so we didn’t pay you.”

Speaker: “Well, the contract says if the talk was cancelled with less than forty-eight hours’ notice I would be paid anyway.”

Me: “Yes… if we have to cancel the meeting with less than forty-eight hours’ notice. If you cancel, you don’t get paid, regardless of how much notice you give.”

Speaker: “Why should that make a difference? The talk was cancelled at the last minute, so I want the money.”

Me: “We’re not going to pay you for a talk you never gave that we didn’t cancel.”

Speaker: “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to sue you, then, aren’t I?”

Me: “You’re welcome to take legal advice if you want, but our contract is clear. You aren’t owed any money.”

After a few choice words, the speaker hangs up. A few weeks go by and he calls again.

Speaker: “I spoke to a solicitor and he says you have to pay me.”

Me: “We haven’t received any kind of correspondence from your solicitor.”

Speaker: “Well, he said you have to pay me, so I want my money.”

Me: “You cancelled your talk with less than forty-eight hours’ notice even though the contract asks for five days. The contract very specifically says you will only be paid for last-minute cancellations we make. You cancelled. That means you have no legal claim.”

Speaker: “Well, that’s not what my solicitor says.”

Me: “I suggest you get your solicitor to send us a letter.”

Speaker: “And then you’ll pay me?”

Me: “No. But then you can take it to court where a judge will throw it out because you have no case and are being ridiculous.”

Speaker: “How dare you?! This is so unprofessional!”

Me: “So is cancelling with less than forty-eight hours’ notice and expecting to be paid.”

The speaker shouted some profanities at me and hung up. Thankfully, I have not heard from him since.

This story is part of our July 2020 Roundup – the best stories of the month!

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