A South African wedding photographer this week received what he called the craziest request he had heard in his career. A woman whose wedding he shot four years ago in 2019 is demanding a full refund for the wedding photography because she got divorced and “doesn’t need the photos anymore.”
Johannesburg-based photographer Lance Romeo tells MapPixel that the client was a friend of a friend he met shortly before the wedding.
“I was doing a photo shoot at her friend’s birthday party,” Romeo says. “Then the friend told me that she has a friend who’s getting married and needs a photographer. Then I told her ‘You can give her my number.’ That same night when I got home, that lady contacted me and told me she needs a photographer. She told me the wedding is in Durban, her husband’s hometown.
Romeo says he quoted his standard rate of 15,000 South African Rand (~$815), the couple negotiated it down to 12,000 Rand (~$650), an agreement was reached, and the photographer shot the wedding.
“After the wedding, I came back home and sent the pictures to them and I moved on,” Romeo says. “Happy client, they loved the pictures, and that was that. Or so I thought.”
Fast forward four years, and Romeo receives an unexpected message on Monday from the woman on the instant messaging app WhatsApp. Romeo initially thought she would ask to hire him again for another shoot of some sort, but he was taken aback when the woman explained that she had since gotten divorced and was now requesting a refund since she no longer needed the photos.
“Well I’m now divorced and those pictures I and my ex husband don’t need them anymore,” she wrote. “You did a wonderful job on them but they went to waste as we are now divorced, I will need a refund of the amount we paid you because we don’t need them anymore.”
After confirming she was actually serious with the request, Romeo explained that photographers don’t offer such refunds.
“I’m very sorry to hear that you and your husband are divorced, but as I’m sure you can figure out that’s not going to happen,” she wrote back. “Photography is a none [sic] refundable service once I’ve already delivered to you the service and the pictures. I can’t refund you because I can’t take the picture.”
The woman then escalates the demand by threatening to get lawyers involved.
“That is something you must have in your contract that no refunds!” the woman writes. “But you didn’t so I’m entitled to demand a refund as I’m no longer in need of your pictures. I understand it’s not your fault but you are a business and as such you must be able to grant refunds.”
“Initially I thought I was being pranked,” Romeo says. “I thought she was joking and that she would tell me why she was contacting me and she was just trying to be funny. So I responded the way I responded thinking there’s no way she’s this crazy and would tell me it’s a joke. But I responded that way in case she’s serious, and it turns out she IS serious.
“I’ve come across some crazy clients, but don’t like this. She takes the cake. […] She has threatened to sue me for character defamation. She can’t [because she was never identified publicly] but maybe she thought I’d be intimidated.
“It’s been hilarious, I don’t want to lie. The lady still has not let on. She’s adamant that she needs to get her money back, she’s really serious, and she still wants to meet up with me. I don’t even know what to say anymore because this is the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in this line of work.”