St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 8, 2013 – An Arnold, Mo., business that rents portable photo booths for weddings and other special occasions has prompted complaints to Better Business Bureau (BBB) alleging that the company either failed to show up for events or suddenly stopped communicating with customers.
In one case, the operators of Foto Sailor skipped a scheduled July wedding in Eureka, Mo., but never refunded the bride’s $399 fee.
In another case, a woman from Breese, Ill., said a Foto Sailor employee arrived at her niece’s wedding in June, but then disappeared before setting up the booth. She said the company did not refund her $480 payment.
“There was no apology, nothing,” said the woman.
Other consumers complained that they had to hire other photo booth operators after repeated attempts to confirm final arrangements with Foto Sailor failed. They, too, said they were unable to get refunds.
Foto Sailor has an “F” rating with BBB, the lowest possible. Records with the Missouri secretary of state show the business was registered in February. Jamie Forsyth, 1008 Paula Drive in Arnold, is listed as the company’s only owner.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said customers have a right to be disappointed, frustrated and angry. “These are special days in people’s lives, and they are counting on everything to go smoothly,” Corey said.
“When a company cuts off communication with its customers and fails to live up to its agreements, it can cause tremendous stress,” Corey said. “It simply is not good business.”
The company’s website, www.fotosailor.com, says that “our entire crew is committed to providing a memorable experience and a fun atmosphere. Our company is based on the belief that our customers’ needs are of the utmost importance.”
A St. Louis woman said she used a debit card to pay Foto Sailor $479 in February on promises that the business would set up a photo booth at her Oct. 12 wedding. When she had not heard from the company by early September, she began emailing and phoning to finalize plans, but could not reach anyone. She said by the time the company finally responded nearly three weeks later, she already had hired another photo company. Foto Sailor has said it will not refund her money because she missed a 30-day cancellation deadline.
A Brighton, Ill., woman said she paid Foto Sailor a $200 deposit in March for a photo booth at a high school reunion on July 20, but when the event was canceled on June 5 she immediately began trying to contact the business for a refund. She said she tried emails, phone calls, contacts through the company’s Facebook page, “every method available. It has been impossible to reach anybody,” she said. She has been unable to obtain a refund.
A bride-to-be from Arnold said she contracted with Foto Sailor in February to set up at her Oct. 5 wedding. She said she began trying to contact the company two months ahead of the 30-day cancellation deadline to finalize plans, but when she was unable to reach anyone she felt she had no choice than to contract with another photo booth operator. When Foto Sailor finally responded 27 days before the wedding, a company representative said it was too late to cancel and the company would not refund her $424 credit card payment. The woman said she intends to pursue the matter with her credit card company.
BBB has been unable to reach Forsyth through the company’s listed phone number or email addresses. Forsyth has not responded to a written inquiry delivered to the business address on Paula Drive in Arnold.
BBB offers the following tips for consumers hiring businesses for weddings or other special events:
- Do not pay everything in advance. Most companies will charge a deposit to hold a date and then present a final bill at the time of the event.
- Pay with a credit card whenever possible, in the event you need to ask for a refund later.
- Ask for references and contact them.
- Get any agreement in writing and make sure you understand it before signing it.
- Research any company thoroughly. Get a BBB Business Review by going to www.bbb.org or calling 314-645-3300.