Harleybeachbride
Master May 2017

Experience in small claims court?

Harleybeachbride, on September 3, 2017 at 5:43 PM

Posted in Etiquette and Advice 60

Since my wedding in May, I have been working through a very unpleasant experience with one of my wedding vendors. Some of you may recall my dissatisfaction with my wedding photographer (AKA: the CROC hunter) who I am now taking to small claims court because she didn't care to take any accountability...

Since my wedding in May, I have been working through a very unpleasant experience with one of my wedding vendors. Some of you may recall my dissatisfaction with my wedding photographer (AKA: the CROC hunter) who I am now taking to small claims court because she didn't care to take any accountability and was unprofessional when I approached her about it. My court date is in just a few weeks, and I wonder if any of you may have experience in small claims court (be it a wedding vendor or otherwise) or maybe you know someone who has been through it? If so, I would love to hear your experiences (good or bad) and/or any tips you may want to share? This was the last thing that I wanted to be dealing with and worse....to have associated with the best day of my life but on principal alone, I decided that I must see it through. Any advice or words of encouragement would be much appreciated! Smiley smile

60 Comments

  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @lauraloo - no, how she

    would dress was not written specifically in the contract (ie: I shall dress like a professional, meeting the formality of each event I shoot) however, we had that specific discussion during the site visit and should be a reasonable expectation of a professional wedding photographer.....to blend in, dress appropriately and not attract negative attention to yourself. She did the opposite. Also, it was not specified in the contract that she will "produce quality pictures, capturing the ocean

    which was the main attraction at her clients venue and could be seen outside every window from inside both the ceremony reception rooms" but again, was made verbally clear from point of hire. She also saw the venue in person and said how great and beautiful my pics would be. Final product......not ONE pic inside both rooms did she capture the ocean....not ONE! All were bright white outs in every windows looking like we were married in heaven!! My unpaid guests captured the ocean just fine. I'm hoping that this also falls under a reasonable expectation (tho not written verbatim in contract) I guess if those specific details need to be written in each contract then I'm screwed! Smiley sad we'll see what happens. She promised us one thing but produce an entirely different thing. We might as well have gotten married in a bright white room w no windows and saved our self thousands for that ocean view.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    Lauralou - it also wasn't written in the contract that "I shall not smoke weed during or b4 a wedding I shoot" yet my bridal suite smelled like a grateful dead concert the second she entered it! Of course, she denies. I wouldn't expect her to admit it and i certainly can't prove.... but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I realize it'll be a long shot but again, I can't just let it all go for fear of losing...she was horrible and so are my pictures that we can't redo. :/

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @kahlcara- I may email her attorney, as now I'm curious!

    • Reply
  • kahlcara
    Master August 2013
    kahlcara ·
    • Flag

    One other thought--make sure you have hard copies of whatever pictures and other evidence you want to introduce. Most MA courthouses don't allow people to bring their phones/computers in. I'm not sure about yours. You may also want to make a copy for you and a copy for her attorney as sometimes you have to show it to them before giving it to the magistrate. And be aware that whatever documents you give the magistrate will be in the court file, so you may want to redact any sensitive information first (address, etc.) I found this out when I needed a copy of the court documents from my case and realized the court had my married name, maiden name, social security number, current and former addresses and birth date in a publicly available record.

    • Reply
  • FME
    Master March 2018
    FME ·
    • Flag

    @Harley, I remember all your posts and BAM photos, I'm so sorry you're still going through this and I'm rooting for you!

    • Reply
  • Rachel Langerhans
    Rachel Langerhans ·
    • Flag

    Harley!! I've been thinking about you the past couple of weeks. Good luck to you! Small claims is stressful, even if it's a "small" court. I agree with others as far as keeping emotion out of it. I know you have lots of documentation and notes and everything, so present those as facts and try not to let your (rightfully deserved) emotion come into play.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @ Hey Rachel - I was going to email you today....thanks for checking in. I have some info on what we last talked about! Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag

    @kahlcara - yes, I wish could use computer/phone as looks much better with pics but dont think I'll be allowed to bring so have to print and hope they come across as good. @ FME - thank you for rooting for me...I am hoping for a good outcome and then put it all in the rear veiw! Smiley smile

    • Reply
  • S
    Just Said Yes June 2018
    Stephanie ·
    • Flag
    What happened here? I have something very similar I’m just scratching the surface on.
    • Reply
  • J
    Just Said Yes August 2017
    Justine ·
    • Flag
    Hello! Wondering if you settled this? Unfortunately I am going through the exact same situation with my photographers and am now forced to research small claims court and how I can get at least some of my money back.
    • Reply
  • Kay
    Super November 2018
    Kay ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    I am also curious as to what happened with this? I am in a similar situation.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Hi there,

    I saw things through in small claims and was awarded approx 85% of the entire amount we paid (that's rare, but they strongly sided with us based on my evidence) I went prepared with alot of emails, and pictures (you know what they say... pictures don't lie....lol) I would definitely suggest seeing it through if in your heart you know you are right and did not recieve the service you paid for!! What happened with your photographer?
    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Hi there,

    I'm sorry it took me so long to reply (I'm never on this site anymore, I guess after you're married awhile life just takes over!) I'm sorry that you're going through the same thing I did. I just replied to another bride on here. Hopefully that helps....but I would definitely pursue it!! :+)
    • Reply
  • Kay
    Super November 2018
    Kay ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    That is amazing news! For us the majority of our photos are out of focus- and I mean every single ceremony, family portrait, couple portrait photos and then the out of focus stops at the reception, where we then go into bad lighting, weird composition, absolutely no time spent with editing, no cropping out people who are entering the frame but are not the subject. We specified with her our main focus was candids at our wedding, we only have those on the dance floor, which some are OK but you know, nothing to frame or to give to anyone and our wedding wasn't a wedding where the majority of people were dancing- so maybe 1/4 of our guests are in the photos. She had to change her second shooter last minute and I dont think she even got a professional photographer, but I cant prove that, however, you can see the difference between the lighting of their two work, which with editing it should be all very similar but can totally see the difference. So although the second shooter barely took any photos and was mostly walking around or on breaks, she at least got the lighting of our ballroom right- our main photographer made it look like a bright strip mall instead of the romantic candle lit room that it was. It's just crazy. She has also over exposed most of the photos, which could be fixed but we need to get the raw photos from her and then pay for someone else to do it, but after paying over $4k, that does not sit well with me. We used her for engagement photos and also our rehearsal dinner- all those photos are fine but wedding day, total nightmare. She claims its her style--- it's not!!!

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Uugh that totally sucks!

    I say, it doesn't matter how much you spent (could be $2k) but if you weren't provided the service... its not ok!!! I would try to first approach them directly (via email anyways, for paper trail) see if they're willing to provide a partial reimbursement or whatever you feel is fair. If they don't wanna play ball, next stop court! Let me know how it goes....good luck!! :+)
    • Reply
  • Kay
    Super November 2018
    Kay ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    Totally agree, its not really about the money but the memories, it's just that we really don't have the money to pay for the services we already paid for! Our videographer also tragically passed away, so we are now paying an additional $1500 to get the video made/edited by someone else, so our post wedding costs plus life, we are up to the max! She is going to do a video call with us on April 12th and go over things- I wrote this huge letter to her, in response to her indifference and claiming this was her style (it was so awkward because we really liked her as a person) and all she could say was "so you want some black and whites and more cropping?". Lol we need black and whites because you aren't editing the photos (and also yes, its odd not to be given any but we are trying to save what we can from your work) and yes, since you didn't decide to take any candids and just blanket shots of the space, yeah some cropping would be nice so we can salvage some of them! She totally ignores the fact that all the portraits and most of the others are out of focus. Ugh, it's just crazy. It's to the point that it made me feel my husband and I were the crazy ones (and we aren't even that attention to detail kind of people!) but we have shown the photos to two friends who deal with marketing and then high fashion photography and they all agree...I didn't even say anything, lead them in any direction, just asked for their opinion. She made it clear she didn't do refunds and I just don't know artistically how far can you get in small claims. I would be curious to see yours? Our venue and setting were so pretty, at first glance, you think these are gorgeous focus but then you have to blink your eyes a few time and realize its not you its the photos. I mean the photos aren't insanely blurry, they are just out of focus but then she basically refuses to bring down the extreme "white washing"/over exposure. Then the photos we are lacking, of our guests, that just sucks, as well you just can't get what she doesn't have! It's like what were they doing during that time?!!? It's just not what you would expect from a professional and for the most momentous day of our lives...and they are so overly exposed, they look weird to print. I just dont get why when she went home, saw she allowed too much light in, made things out of focus, etc, why she didn't do as much as she could to save these- yes you cant fix the focus afterwards but you could have made some editing efforts, especially after we kindly asked you. Sorry, as you can see I still feel highly passionate and hurt from it all! We had the most perfect wedding day, and to get the memories of it has just been one hurdle after the next. Another issue is we live in Atlanta and she lives in Charleston, so not even sure we can take her to small claims without the cost of getting there and taking time off work.

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    Hi Kay,

    I totally get the way you feel....il remember like it was yesterday! If If you might want to share your email I can send you few examples of pics I used in court etc. I'd love to see some pics from your photog? One big thing that sealed the deal for us as we had guest pics from cell phones that clearly showed the beautiful ocean outside all of the windows and the photographer we PAID couldn't get the same shot with her equipment.... totally NOT OK!!! Plus, there were many other issues we dealt with which is why we were awarded so heavily in our favor....in the end, pictures don't lie!!
    • Reply
  • Kay
    Super November 2018
    Kay ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment

    Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to me about this...have sent you a private message on here with my email!

    • Reply
  • Harleybeachbride
    Master May 2017
    Harleybeachbride ·
    • Flag
    View Quoted Comment
    I sent couple private emails... hoping you got them? :+)
    • Reply
  • Tara
    Master May 2020
    Tara ·
    • Flag
    Make sure you come prepared and have your documents in order for evidence.
    • Reply

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