St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 14, 2010 – An Affton, Mo., wedding photographer who promised her customers “absolutely perfect memories” left many of them with only broken promises and frustration, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Clients of Erin Evans-Ford and her company, Absolute Photography, told the BBB that they paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars for photographs of weddings and other events that they never received. Most said they waited months for photo albums and other services the company never delivered. Now, they say, the business’ phone number has been disconnected and the office at 8204A Gravois Dr. appears to be shut down.
A Godfrey, Ill., woman described her family’s experiences with Evans-Ford and Absolute Photography as “horrible, absolutely horrible.” She said she paid more than $3,200 for three photo albums, a proof book with 450 images and a disc of all the photos taken at her daughter’s wedding in July. She has received none of those items.
Absolute Photography is the target of 18 complaints to the BBB in the past 12 months, all of them alleging poor service and communication and/or lengthy delays in delivering the photos. The company has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible.
Michelle Corey, president and CEO of the BBB, said that Absolute Photography “appears to be far from the picture perfect company represented in its marketing materials. For whatever reason, this company has failed to honor good faith agreements with families who counted on it to record once-in-a-lifetime events.”
Absolute Photography registered with the Missouri Secretary of State’s office in February, 2004. Records list Erin Kotini as sole owner of the business, then on Pardella Avenue. It later moved to the Gravois address. Erin Kotini also has used the name Erin Evans and recently has begun using forms of her married name, Erin Jean Evans-Ford, Erin Evans-Ford or Erin Ford.
The Web site for Absolute Photography, absolutephotographystl.net, read, “When Love and Talent Work Together Expect a Masterpiece.” The site also promises: “We are dedicated to preserving absolutely perfect memories of the people who matter most.”
Evans-Ford recently became involved in another business, All American Poker, which operates a Web site at allamericanpoker.net. The site lists contacts as “Tom & Erin Ford” and describes the business as a poker league “that plays at different venues around town.” The site includes a schedule of upcoming poker events at area bars and restaurants.
Missouri Secretary of State records show that All American Poker was registered in February, 2009. Owners are listed as Thomas M. Ford and Erin Jean Evans-Ford, both of 8204 Gravois Rd. Each has 50 percent ownership.
The Godfrey, Ill., mother said that she first met Evans-Ford at a bridal show in St. Louis County in the summer of 2008. “She was so nice and willing to work with us,” the mother said. “We were very impressed.” She paid Evans-Ford $3,200. Six months after the wedding, she still had not received most of the materials promised. “I would never recommend anyone do business with them.”
A woman from St. Louis who said she first met Evans-Ford at one of her company’s poker events, said she paid more than $1,300 for her photos and other services. She said the wedding was July 18, 2009 and it took until Thanksgiving to receive the disc with the wedding photos. “It was like pulling teeth,” she said. She still has not received a photo album and other materials that were promised. She said trying to communicate with Evans-Ford and Absolute Photography became so stressful that she finally turned the matter over to her husband.
A St. Louis man who was married on June 20, 2009, told the BBB he paid nearly $2,000 for photos and services, most of which have not been delivered. He said he has been unable to speak with anyone at the business since October. “This was our wedding,” he said. “It’s not like we get to do it again.”
Several attempts by the BBB to reach Evans-Ford or a representative of Absolute Photography were unsuccessful. To date, the business has failed to respond to most of the complaints filed against it.
The BBB recommends the following tips for choosing a professional photographer for weddings or other special events:
- Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. Ask for recent references and contact them. Make sure you know exactly what you will be getting for your money.
- If possible, withhold full payment until you have received everything you have ordered. By paying everything upfront, you have little leverage with the business in the event it does not follow through with its promises.
- Check out reliability reports by contacting the BBB at bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
Contacts: Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-3300, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-645-3300, email@example.com
About the BBB
The BBB is a non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free business Reliability Reports, charity wise-giving reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information.