Reservation Deposits and Why We Require Them

Posted: Apr 12, 2016 / Updated: April 3, 2024

As a bounce house / inflatable rental company, we require a $25 good faith deposit to make reservations, no matter how much your total is. Our goal was to price it affordable enough for most anyone, but expensive enough to make someone think twice about doing last minute cancellations. When looking at competitors, many places charge more; I've seen some require 50% of the total up front, so we feel $25 is very reasonable.

Why do rental companies require deposits? We've waived the requirement a few times in the past for various reasons, and I'll tell you this the likelihood of someone cancelling when there is no financial obligation is significantly greater. One Saturday in particular we had two different renters and we both told them don't worry about a deposit as they booked within a week or so from the date... I kid you not BOTH cancelled on us the day prior. That's not fair on us or other customers who could have rented the inflatables, had several other people interested, but we turned them away, because it was already booked. Just think about it for a second, if someone cannot commit just $25 to hold a reservation, how much trust would you have that they will go through with a rental and pay the balance? I do realize some folks are put in financial binds and they just don't have the money. We do try to work with customers in financial situations (i.e. provide a temporary reservation hold for a couple days until payday IF it's far enough in advance of the rental date), but we've been burnt enough to no longer trust someone wanting to reserve a unit in advance without a deposit, no deposit = no guarantee. Additional consideration: If we went to a no deposit model what's to stop someone from putting in fake/bogus requests? (pranksters, scammers, etc.), or just customers who change their mind, perhaps even worse then cancelling on us, what if we load it up, drive there and upon arrival oh we changed our mind.

Customer priority and special exceptions to deposits: We're a small company home based business, with one delivery vehicle. If we have one customer that day all attention is on them we shouldn't have any issue with punctuality, however as we get more bookings we have to start juggling drop off, pick up, and travel times to each customer, and we have to weigh the importance of time criticality for each customer. What I mean by time criticality is if someone is doing an event at a park or renting a church hall it's very important we deliver and pickup punctually when the customer needs us to as they cannot just pack up and leave until we get our equipment vs. if its setup at someone's fenced in back yard where it may not be a big deal, and most likely welcome if we leave it there a few extra hours. That said, we plan our schedules around those who book in advance with a deposit, first come first serve - meaning even for those who book with a deposit, if their booking doesn't work in with the existing ones (time/locations) we may have to cancel if special arrangement can't be made (would be notified soon after booking and refunded). As far as no deposit reservations/special circumstances: If we get a last minute call and have availability, we will TRY to SQUEEZE you in, but you get exactly what I just stated, TRY - no guarantee, and SQUEEZE - it will have to work around our other scheduled deliveries (those who booked in advance with a deposit). We do try to make everyone happy, but that's not always possible.

Deposit refunds/rescheduling: For those concerned about deposits, our deposits are refundable* if cancelled with at least 14 days notice of your scheduled delivery, rescheduling is always permitted (subject to availability), and we allow refundable* cancellations for weather related issues (rain/lightning/high winds), as we feel weather issues are out of the customers control and you shouldn't be penalized for it. In summery our deposits aren't big or scary - at least that's the goal. Book early to ensure you get the unit(s) you want on the day you want it. *UPDATE: All the payment processors (e.g. PayPal, Square, Stripe, etc.) stopped reversing transaction fees when refund are issued - meaning if we provide a full refund we have to eat the fee. In light of this for refund requests it'll be less payment processor fees (currently $1.13 per $25 deposit as of me writing this (subject to change)). Rescheduling is always permitted subject to availability.

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