Snap decisions can be costly

With life’s special occasions you’ll often only get one shot at that perfect picture, so if you’re hiring a professional photographer, it’s pretty important to choose someone who is going to do a good job.

Consumer Protection received 30 complaints about photography service providers between May 2011 and April 2012, 13 of which were about wedding photographers.

The focus of those complaints was on photos and videos not arriving in a reasonable amount of time.

Some not-so-happy couples failed to get their wedding pictures in time for their six or even 12-month anniversary.

Two complainants didn’t receive any photos at all.

Sometimes it’s because photographers try to turn a hobby into a profession and can’t cope with the administration of jobs they’ve taken on.

When it comes to sifting through and editing thousands of images to select the best ones, they just haven’t got the time.

Unsatisfactory photos can also be related to inexperience.

Several complaints to Consumer Protection in the last year were regarding photo quality.

The good news is there are plenty of great photographers out there, but you need to zoom in on the right ones to avoid a negative experience.

Ask people you know and trust for recommendations.

View examples of work (a portfolio) and check out any references provided.

A fl ash-looking website is not always a sign of a professionally run business.

Find out how long the business has been going and see whether it’s registered by logging onto: www.asic.gov.au/business-names.

Get at least two quotes to compare price and value and make sure you ask whether negatives or digital copies and the cost of reprints are included.

Once you’ve decided who to go with, make sure you get the deal in writing.

The contract should state what’s been promised (including a timeframe for delivery) and how much it will cost.

Do not pay a big deposit.

Consumer Protection recommends no more than 10 per cent of the total cost.

Remember you have rights under Australian Consumer Law which mean that if a service isn’t carried out with due care and skill or if a product is not as described, you are entitled to a remedy.

You also have remedies if a service is not delivered in a reasonable time.

Usually a remedy under the Australian Consumer Law is a repair, replacement or refund and, if the fault is classed as major, the consumer chooses which option.

Thing is, with photos it’s a bit tricky.

Your wedding day or baby’s christening won’t be repeated, so there’s no opportunity for the photographer to take new pictures and chances are the ones that exist can’t be “repaired” to make them better.

If you encounter problems after paying for a photography service or have trouble agreeing a remedy with a photographer, Consumer Protection may be able to help.

Call 0899 209800 or 1300 30 40 54, call in to Shop 3, 50-52 Durlacher St, Geraldton, or email danni.bloomfield@commerce.wa.gov.au.

DANNI BLOOMFIELD

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