Wedding Photographer To Reimburse Jilted Clients
Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with a Brooklyn-based wedding photographer who missed appointments, failed to deliver commissioned photographs, performed poor quality work and ignored consumer complaints.
"There's no more anticipated occasion than a wedding," Spitzer said. "People expect and deserve quality service, and when they don't receive it, they will be understandably upset and disappointed. This settlement will ensure that the affected couples will receive their photographs and obtain some financial relief. In addition, the action should send a message to others in this business that they need to be reliable and professional."
Under the settlement, Leah Flanagin, doing business as Leah Flanigan Photography, will reimburse consumers who paid for services she failed to provide. In addition, Flanagin will turn over any and all negatives, proofs and photographs to those who filed complaints against her.
Between January and March of 2004, the Attorney General's Office received 20 complaints regarding this photographer. Allegations included: failure to deliver completed albums, photographs, negatives and online viewing services; poor quality photographs; failure to refund deposits to consumers to whom she never delivered services, and failure to respond to repeated calls and e-mails from dissatisfied consumers. In one egregious case, Flanagin accepted a large deposit for a wedding and failed to attend.
Pursuant to a consent order and judgment, Flanagin was ordered to pay restitution and damages of $13,357. She must also pay civil fines and penalties for violations of state law, and must post a $10,000 bond before continuing business in New York State.
Individuals wishing to file a complaint against Flanagin are urged to do so within 100 days of September 15, 2004 by calling the New York State Attorney General's Consumer Helpline at (800) 777-7755 or visiting web site at www.ag.ny.gov.
This investigation was conducted by Lois Booker-Williams, Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Brooklyn Regional Office.
Before you hire a photographer:
Don't rush into making a decision. Talk to several photographers before hiring one that best suits your needs.
Check credentials. Ask the Better Business Bureau. Ask if the photographer is affiliated or registered as a member with any professional photography organization, and check the internet for any consumer sites regarding the photographer.
Get a written contract and read it carefully.
Resist high pressure sales tactics. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Use care when giving out personal information such as bank account or Social Security numbers; never give out that information to people you don't know.
Get written estimates.
Request that your deposit be placed in an escrow account.
Ask about refund policies and warranties before you buy. Never pay all fees up-front in cash; make payments in periodic installments based on the delivery of goods and services.
Prepare a list of questions in advance, including prices and arrangements for additional prints.