We all like to feel that we’re getting a good deal when we make a purchase. Our weddings aren’t any different. However, as many of us only marry the once, we’re not always experienced in spotting red flags when it comes to making wedding related purchases.
I’m going to discuss below some red flag warnings when it comes to booking your wedding photographer. These can also apply to other wedding service providers too, but as a photographer I prefer only to speak about areas i’m experienced working in.
They are by no means a foolproof, exhaustive list. And they’re in no way a suggestion that a photographer offering any of these things are out to scam you. However, they do include some methods that have been used by unscrupulous suppliers in the past. So as with any big or investment purchase, do your research, ask questions and do not be afraid to walk away if it all seems too good to be true.
1. They have sales or publicise big discounts.
Photographers are small businesses, not department stores trying to clear old stock. If a photographer is holding a sale or offering big discounts, for me, alarm bells start ringing. Discounts and sales are a good way to get money in fast. If a business is doing well and likely to be around for a long time, there shouldn’t really be any reason why they need are needing money in quickly. It’s a classic scam tactic to get lots of deposits in fast and then they disappear or can’t fulfil the booking.
2. Asking for full payment upfront.
Weddings tend to be booked with photographers anything up to 18 months in advance. Therefore if someone is asking for a big payment upfront, you really need to be asking why. Imagine being offered a months wages upfront, but then having to go and actually do the work more than a year later. It’s a bizarre situation isn’t it? Often “sweetened” by offering a big discount for full payment upfront. Again, if a business is likely to be sticking around, there’s no need to operate in such a way.
3. Only accepting cash.
Cash in hand payments are frowned upon by HMRC. If someone is insisting on a cash payment, what is the likelihood that everything is operating above board? And if things are not operating above board in that sense, what else isn’t? Are card being backed up properly, do they have spare equipment etc? For someone looking to scam you, cash payment makes it much easier to do so. They can literally take the money and run so to speak. No chargebacks, no trace of the transaction, no paypal claims.
4. They have changed their company name or branding several times.
If a business is constantly changing their business name or branding, you need to ask yourself why. Perhaps they are really indecisive and finding their feet and it’s completely innocent. On the other hand, it could be so that they’re harder to find by previous clients. Setting up shop with a new name and identity can provide another opportunity to pull the same tricks time and again.
5. You found them via a discount voucher website / The deal seems too good to be true
The prices on these sites are already ridiculously low and it would be almost impossible to run a sustainable business charging the rock bottom rates on offer. Then consider that the voucher website take 50% commission on the advertised fee. So whilst you think you’re paying £150 for all day photography, the photographer is actually only getting £75 of that. Would you work for a full day on your feet for that? Then considering you’ll need to spend a week afterwards editing the photos. The cost of your travel and all of your business expenses. You’d be making a massive loss. No sustainable business can afford to run in this way. So again, you get a surge of bookings through the door, cash out and then do not fulfil the booking. I have read on SO many wedding groups about people who’ve scammed couples in this way. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Especially if it’s from a small business seller.
To get more advice on avoiding wedding scammers, to search for suppliers or ask questions, join the “Wedding scams, brides & companies to be aware of” group on Facebook
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