A.G. Schneiderman Sues Western NY Wedding Business For Cheating Customers Out Of Precious Wedding Day Photos
Schneiderman: Because of Unscrupulous Business Practices, Memories Are the Only Snapshots Couples Have of Their Special Day
As Part of National Consumer Week, A.G. Also Offers Tips to Couples Hiring Wedding Photographers
BUFFALO - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against JMK Photography, in Lackawana, for failing to deliver the wedding photos to customers who had pre-paid in full. The lawsuit, one of several Schneiderman has filed against unscrupulous wedding photographers across the state as part of National Consumer Protection week, is seeking restitution, fines, and penalties.
"Newlyweds paid JMK Photography to document the most important day of their lives, but instead couples were left empty handed," 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."
Jillian M. Karalunas and Victoria A. Vega operated JMK Photography which, primarily, photographed weddings in Buffalo and throughout Erie County. They required complete payment for their services prior to the wedding. In November 2010, JMK sent a letter to consumers stating that the company was downsizing but that consumers would receive all the pre-paid photos and products within ten days. To date, JMK has not made good on that promise.
Frustrated newlyweds contacted the Attorney General's office after numerous attempts to contact the company were unsuccessful. At least 19 customers, who spent an average of $2,000, have not received their products. As part of the lawsuit, the Attorney General's office is seeking to get the proofs and digital images to allow consumers to get them developed elsewhere. And it is asking to require the company to post a $100,000 bond to protect consumers in the future.
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. Find out if the photographer does this and know who will be shooting your 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, the 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 will be taken by a specified date, the proof will be ready by a specified date and the photograph will 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 JMK Photography was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey and Senior Consumer Fraud Representative Karen Davis under the supervision of Acting Attorney General for the Buffalo Regional office Michael Russo.
Consumers are encouraged to file complaints by visiting the Office’s website: Click Here or calling 1-800-771-7755.