St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 20, 2010 – Newlyweds who hired Fotos 4 Life Photography
to photograph their weddings say the St. Louis area company failed to deliver their pictures as promised.
One customer told the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that neither owner Jennifer McConnell nor anyone else from Fotos 4 Life Photography ever showed up for her Sept. 5 wedding in Ste. Genevieve, Mo., even though McConnell had assured her earlier that day she would arrive at the ceremony on time. The bride said she has been unable to contact anyone from the business or get a refund of her $250 payment.
Several other customers said that they never received promised photos taken at their weddings, even though they paid McConnell hundreds of dollars in advance.
The BBB advises consumers to use extreme caution if doing business with Fotos 4 Life, which has reported addresses in Laddonia, Mo., and Staunton, Ill. The company has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said Fotos 4 Life is the latest in a string of photography businesses that have come under fire from consumers. In most cases, consumers said the firms failed to deliver on promises.
“Because Fotos 4 Life often shoots pictures of special, once-in-a-lifetime events, the company has a special responsibility to live up to the trust people place in the business," Corey said. "Unfortunately, it has proven to be anything but picture-perfect.”
The business’ website says, “You can count on us to deliver what we promise. Whether you want to capture your family’s precious milestones or get striking images to market a product, you can rely on Fotos 4 Life Photography to make it happen.”
The BBB has tried unsuccessfully to contact McConnell, both by phone and via an e-mail address on the company’s website. She previously had reported an address on Maple Street in Laddonia, Mo., but a customer said she drove to that address and found it vacant. Other websites list an address for her on Three Acre Court in Staunton, Ill.
A woman from Pontoon Beach, Ill., said she and her husband signed a contract with McConnell to take photos of their daughter’s wedding on June 19. In return for $300, McConnell reportedly promised to post the photos on an online site and provide the family with a CD of the photos. The woman said three photographers attended the wedding and “busted their butts,” taking “tons of pictures, way more than we asked for.” But the family has never seen the photos and has been unable to contact the company. “Money is not the issue; we just want the pictures,” she said. “My daughter is really upset.”
A woman from Kirkwood, Mo., said she has received no pictures taken at her wedding in May, despite paying the company $300 in cash two months before the ceremony. Like most of the others, she found the company on Craigslist, an online classified site. She said she and her husband want the photos desperately.
A newlywed from Florissant, Mo., who works in the white-collar fraud unit of the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office called it ironic that she is among those to lose money to the photography business. She paid $500 in cash for photos of her May 29 wedding, but has seen nothing despite a promise that the pictures would be available in four to six weeks. She, too, has been unable to reach McConnell.
The BBB offers the following tips to persons considering hiring a photographer for a wedding or other special occasion:
- Be selective. Ask to see examples of photographs and ask for references. Contact the BBB for a Reliability Report by going to www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
- Ask for a written contract spelling out your financial obligations and specifying what the company will do. A signed contract protects you in the event the business does not live up to its obligations.
- Hold back a portion of your payment until you have received everything that is due you. A good compromise might be to pay 1/3 at the time the contract is signed, 1/3 on the day of the event and the final 1/3 when the product is delivered.
Contacts: Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-645-3300, email@example.com