A.G. Schneiderman Sues Former Troy Photographer For Failing To Deliver Wedding Day Albums
ALBANY - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against Robert J. Mannix, who formerly operated a wedding photography business in Troy under the two names of Mannix Studio and Star Wedding Photography, for failing to deliver wedding albums to customers who had pre-paid in full. The lawsuit, one of several Schneiderman has announced against unscrupulous wedding photographers across the state during National Consumer Protection Week, is seeking restitution, costs and penalties (please see below for tips for consumers who are hiring wedding photographers).
"Mr. Mannix's failure to provide couples with their wedding albums after receiving payment in full, is not only illegal but shameful," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "As we approach what is typically the height of the wedding season, couples who are making plans should be armed with information that will help them recognize and avoid potential consumer fraud."
The defendant, Robert Mannix, operated a wedding photography business under the names Mannix Studio and Star Wedding Photography. He would contract with couples to photograph, and in some cases videotape, their weddings. The Attorney General's investigation revealed that, in many cases, Mannix photographed couples' weddings but later failed to provide them with their wedding albums. Couples generally paid in the $2,000 - $5,000 range for the wedding packages, including albums hand-crafted from Italy, that they never received. When consumers tried to contact Mannix their calls were not returned and the business is no longer in operation.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in Albany County Supreme Court, seeks $42,920 in restitution, $135,500 in penalties, injunctive relief prohibiting Robert Mannix from engaging in fraud, or from operating a professional photography business unless he files a $100,000 performance bond.
As part of National Consumer Protection Week, the New York State Attorney General's office has released a list of the top 10 complaints received in 2010 and tips to help consumers fight fraud.
The following are tips for consumers who are hiring wedding photographers:
- Insist that the company identify the individual who will be photographing your wedding. It is common for photographers to book more than one wedding on a date, and send someone else to shoot the wedding. Make the identity of the photographer part of the contract.
- It's important to check at least three references for weddings that took place within the past three months. Up to date references can offer critical insight on a photographer's recent job performance.
- Do not pre-pay in full. Hold back 25 percent of the total cost until you have the products in hand. This will create a powerful incentive for the photographer to complete the contract. Oftentimes, a photographer who has been paid in full will shoot the wedding and take months to deliver the products.
- Make sure the contract contains certain due dates for each task. For example, the pre-bridal photograph should be taken by a specified date, the proof should be ready by a specified date and the photograph should be ready within seven days after the consumer makes a selection.
- Ask if the photographer belongs to a wedding photographer's association. This could serve as an additional reference.
The case against Mannix Studio and Star Wedding Photography was handled by Assistant Attorney General Amy Schallop.
Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting the Office’s website or calling 1-800-771-7755.