I had an experience right around Thanksgiving that absolutely set my teeth on edge.

See back in September, we signed up with a local photographer to do a “mini shoot” at a nearby park. This is a promo that our school does every other year to get their “photo directory” accomplished. Local photogs vie for the job of photographing around 300 families and putting the best in the directory. Families then have the option of purchasing their shots if they like them for a set price.

We did our pics and we looked at the proofs. I was a bit underwhelmed by them (not bad but not great). I was considering purchasing them anyhow (cuz it’s a hassle to get the family together for pics) and life got busy, and I forgot. So fast forward to around Halloween, I realize that I either need to buy them already or do my own shoot. So after some humming and hawing, I decide to bite and I sent the photog an email apologizing for my tardiness and saying we’d like to buy our photos.

I get a fairly curt-sounding 1 line email that reads something like, “You missed the deadline so I have to take them out of the archive. So now it’s $120.”

Honestly, I had no idea there’d been a deadline, and I got a little irritated. But after talking to some pals at the school, I decided to do it anyhow. And I realized that had the email been better worded (maybe something like, “Awesome! I’m so glad you want to purchase your pics. Since you’re outside the stipulated period for the $100 offer, it will now be $120. Here’s a link to your invoice.”), I probably would never have thought twice about just paying it and being done with it.

So I replied that that was fine and waited a few days to receive her digital invoice. Now here’s where things really start to go downhill. She wants CASH or a CHECK to be dropped off at school or her house. This person is utilizing technology for her business (camera, website, online invoicing) yet cannot extend the courtesy of that sort of convenience for her clients. Or she’s trying to be cheap and avoid fees and/or taxes. This was a huge inconvenience for us because we could never get in touch with her and it took us almost a week to get her paid.

Then we wait.

We paid her on a Friday and by Tuesday, I was getting curious about my email with my download code. So I checked my bank account and sure enough, check had been cashed SAME DAY as we paid her. But no download code. So I emailed (did I mention no contact phone number was provided???).

Waited. Friday rolls around, still no code. I emailed again and also bugged a buddy at the PTA for some further info and to report my growing displeasure.

Waited some more. It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving by this point and I want to get Christmas cards, calendars, etc. going. Sent another, rather curter email, tried to call the number PTA friend had given me. Has a man answering voicemail, no info identifying her business. Wrong number? Finally, I track her down on Facebook and tell her to answer my freaking email and get me my code already (I was actually way nicer than that).

She finally responds with “Oh. I don’t check email in November. You should have called me.”

Then my head exploded. Ok, not really, but it felt for a minute like it did.

It was all I could do not to go totally #girlboss on her right then and there. If I had had an actual working contact number for her, I probably would have. The whole thing incensed me on SO. MANY. LEVELS.

  1. I was genuinely annoyed with the poor service I received. I know there is post-processing time, uploading time, etc. but I believe it’s a pretty liberal estimate to say that she spent probably 2 hours max on our shoot (10 min) + photos. That’s $60/hr. I don’t know about you, but that’s not bad bank.
  2. I was thoroughly annoyed that she is giving ladies who are trying to do side-businesses while they stay at home a bad name. I have a few friends who do VERY PROFESSIONAL businesses out of their home and she is making them look bad by association. “I don’t check my email in November.” WTF? Seriously??
  3. I was really mad that she’s giving business women in general a bad name. If you’re not a professional and wish to comport yourself as one, DO NOT TAKE ON AN OBLIGATION LIKE THIS.
  4. And finally, I was incensed as a person who makes her living in marketing at the HUGE OPPORTUNITY that was squandered here. An informal survey of other families at our school revealed that most weren’t much more pleased with her than I was. She had access to 300 families, most of whom make really good money and have friends who make really good money that could have called upon her once or twice a year for photos. She had the opportunity not only to chat with them, but to show them what she could do for them … and potentially get paid to do it!! The last guy who did this gig told us that he estimated that 80% of the families bought their photos!!! It’s really a pretty sweet gig and something most people in services marketing would KILL FOR. And this is what she does with it.

Part of me really wanted to as kindly and gently as possible point this out to her. To try to impart some of my (very incomplete) wisdom on this subject. When we met, she struck me as fairly young and not very educated, and I wondered if I could help her. She also struck me as fairly arrogant, so I decided I was probably wasting my breath. But I would not recommend her and I would not give her a good review and no WAY would I use her again.

I just hope she figures it out on her own.