Wedding photographer refuses to refund deposit after bride dies

Her death was from a car accident, not COVID, and the photographer has been in trouble in the past for not delivering pictures and refusing to pay employees.

I hope this guy goes out of business ASAP, and maybe to jail as well.

Okay, what you wrote in the thread title and OP wasn’t enough to spark my outrage. At first I thought the wedding had taken place, the photographer had been there and taken pictures, and then, when the bride later died, the family decided they didn’t want the pictures and wanted their money back.

Then I read the article.

:eek: Oh. My. God.

Jeezus! That is a serious Class Act, there. I would guess this guy’s life in the public sector is over.

I’m not seeing the outrage about the basic underlying issue of the refund.

Obviously if the peripheral stuff claiming he’s “mocking” the family is true that’s deplorable, that’s a separate matter. But if the original terms stated that it was a nonrefundable deposit that was already paid, it’s not at all clear to me why it should be paid back. It’s a small business that’s the photographer’s livelihood, and he may have turned away other potential bookings.

Nobody is being asked to pay a dead girl’s debts, it’s money that the couple already paid out on the clear understanding that they couldn’t get it back. If it’s all about the tragedy of the poor girl’s death, why does the family place so much importance on getting their hands on money that they are not really entitled to? It seems to me that they are just as much focused on money as the photographer, and using emotional blackmail to get it.

I’m not seeing from the OP’s article any evidence of any particular “outrage” on the part of the finance/family about the refund specifically.

What the article says happened is that the bereaved bridegroom left a negative review of the wedding videography company on the wedding website TheKnot.com. In the review he expressed the opinion that the videography company should have refunded the money, and that it was insensitive of them to offer instead to “extend his service to his next wedding”. :eek: :eek: :smack:

Then the videography company went absolutely splodyhead about the negative review:

ISTM that what happened here is that a customer expressed in an online review a perfectly reasonable disappointment with the company’s treatment of him. You can disagree with Montney’s view on whether the company should have made an exception to its nonrefundable deposit policy on account of the tragic circumstances of the cancellation, but there was nothing wrong with his saying in an online review that he thought they ought to. It was also reasonable of him to complain about the company’s proposal to allow him the deposit amount on his “next wedding”, which was an incredibly callous and stupid thing for them to say.

And AFAICT that’s where the whole matter would have rested if the company hadn’t threatened to literally sue Montney for leaving a negative review. I find it hard to blame the guy for wanting to get some public shaming involved on that behavior. And it appears that the company’s subsequent actions have entirely justified his critique of them after the fact. I have seldom seen such downright assholish behavior on the part of a company with so little legitimate provocation.

Your description of the situation here doesn’t seem to square with the facts. You seem to have bought the company’s story that Montney (the only “family” member involved in this situation, AFAICT) is trying to “shake [them] down” for a refund. Based on the rest of their behavior, they don’t seem to me like people whose word you can trust. The more plausible explanation seems to be that although Montney did think that in the circumstances he should have been given a refund, he wouldn’t have made a big deal of it if the company hadn’t responded so abominably.

Also from the same article, a photographer who worked for the company wasn’t paid for nearly three months. More significantly, the apparent owner “was sued by the Massachusetts Attorney General in 2013 for taking the money of 90 couples and never delivering on their wedding videography.”

The guy who owns the operation is apparently a callous unmitigated asshole and a crook. The TV station reporters acting on Montney’s behalf certainly seem to feel that there’s quite a lot to be outraged about. In my view, the “non-refundable” clause is intended to cover ordinary circumstances like the couple having a fight and calling off the wedding, not an extraordinary tragedy like this which the asshole was happy to mock.

The nonrefundable clause, speaking as a former caterer, is to cover not being able to get another booking for that future date, as those dates have long since filled up. It has nothing to do with how sad the reason may be for the cancelation.

Yep. The whole point of a deposit is to cover the risk that the full job might not happen, and represent a lost opportunity, regardless of the reason. Refunding the deposit because the job doesn’t happen negates the purpose of having a deposit policy in the first place.

Shouldn’t be a problem for this asshole, because as I noted above he was sued by the state of Massachusetts for failing to show up to 90 different weddings after collecting advance payments. And the amount in question was $1,800, which doesn’t sound like a deposit, but more like full payment in advance, considering that this is almost exactly the average full cost of a wedding videographer in the US. And none of it excuses the asshole’s abhorrent subsequent behavior towards the bereaved fiancé.

Retaining a non-refundable deposit makes a certain kind of sense from a hard-nosed business perspective at least inasmuch as it’s legal, but this asshole appears to be fine with having kept the full payment while having done no work whatsoever, and then harassed the victim’s fiancé. I’m reminded of a phrase from a local major paper’s editorial code of ethics: “… some measure of compassion should govern our judgment.” Businesses function on the basis of contracts, yes, but ultimately neither business nor social relationships can function without some degree of honesty, good faith, and compassion. I can think of lots of examples where even hard-nosed businesses like big banks have made exceptions to normally ironclad policies based on extenuating circumstances.

I believe Acsenray was simply talking about deposits in general. In this particular case, and throughout wedding season in general, it’s not unusual to have nonrefundable everything, because there’s no way to get a replacement booking for that day. Same holds true for the venue, the caterer, etc. Whether or not it would have been a kindness is a separate issue.

Yeah, and legally, there are issues with calling it a “deposit,” so in my (still) photography contract the legal language (at least for my contracts) say “reservation fee” and explain the reason for it, which is that I (as a sole proprietor) am reserving that date for the couple and am not taking other assignments/passing up on work, and that is the reason for the reservation fee. It can also be called a “retainer,” but, I am not a lawyer, but apparently there is no such thing as a “non-refundable deposit.”

At any rate, this video company are a bunch of assholes for their response and complete lack of empathy. And given their legal problems in the past, this does seem like a shady outfit. In this position, I’m not sure what I would do. I’ve had couples break up before the wedding; most won’t try to get their retainer back. I’ve had a few try, and I’ve stood my ground, but in a very professional manner, explaining why, etc., and nobody’s ever left a bad review because I wouldn’t give back their retainer. In a case like this – while running a business you should stay fairly unemotional – I think my empathy would either refund the money or find some solution. I can’t fault a business too much for holding steady on something like this, but that response is just so over-the-top that it’s hard for me to sympathize with the video company.

And that’s why I put it in the Pit.

The business owner is a long-time con artist. See the comments on these photography sites.

It seems reasonable for the groom to ask for a refund in the circumstances, and reasonable for the photographer to deny the refund as per the terms of the contract, and reasonable for the groom to be unhappy about that (especially the “next wedding” crack) and leave a bad review detailing his experience.

Nothing else the photographer has done is in the realm of reasonable. The guy is inhuman.

Given the bride-to-be died almost three months before the wedding, I can’t believe the photog couldn’t have filled that slot in that time. Maybe he should have offered a partial refund.
As it is, he’ll probably lose more business than the retained payment was worth.

Three months is awfully short to be booking a videographer or photographer out for a wedding. I very rarely get requests for still photography less than 3 months out. It’s very very rare for me, and I’ve been in the business since 2006. Out of about 350 or so weddings, maybe 5 booked three months or less out. Typically it’s six months to a year out, although it’s gone as far as a year and a half or maybe even two out.

I stand corrected.

I do not at all agree at all with thoze saying it’s okay to not refund the deposit. Yes, deposits exist to allay unforeseen circumstances, but death is a special case. In every situation I’ve heard about with a tragic death being the reason, the deposits gets refunded as an act of compassion and good will. It is an expectation.

If this weren’t the case, then talking about how they didn’t do it would not have gotten people upset. The company wouldn’t have felt attacked if everyone thought they did the right thing.

I’d get it if this was some independent photographer depending on the money who said they couldn’t afford to give it back but would do what they could. The thing is, you’d better make some gesture, and not show utter callousness to the tragedy.

Even without the additional callousness of the response, finding out a company treated a death like just a business interaction would result in me not using that company. I remember various deaths in the family, and people.always cut deals.

He (the jackass) also acquired a website in the name of the groom, and used that website for further abuse. Wedding Videographer Denies Refund and Mocks Man Whose Fiancée Died | PetaPixel

No question that the photo company owner is unhinged.