To whom it may concern,

I visited your studio in Farringdon today as I had allegedly won a prize & for the most part had a good day…. This was of course until the horrific experience that was meant to be a photo viewing!
Before I begin, I’d like to bring up a few issues that I had BEFORE the session.

I was told that the deposit would be £60, but £99.98 was debited.

I was told that the deposit would be refunded within 2-3 working days. When I received confirmation via email, I noticed that it said 2-3 weeks. I called up to try & get confirmation & was simply told that it was 2-3 weeks as standard & the lady then apologised for her colleague misinforming me. The lady who took my deposit assured me that my call was being recorded. I would like a copy of that call.

Back to today; my viewing was at 1345, a lady called ‘Natalie’ (if that was even her name) greeted me like an overexcited Labrador – hugging & touching me unnecessarily (one of my pet peeves).

We went into an office where she explained that she would take me through the photos as a slide-show & then I could pick out the ones that I liked. She then proceeded to ask me if I was of Caribbean descent, to which I replied ‘yes’ I was then told that her ‘boyfriend’ was Jamaican (even though I didn’t ask). You may at this point be wondering why I’m bringing this up, well it’s because less than 5 minutes later, when “Natalie” asked me if I was single and I replied in the affirmative, she accidentally let out a “me too!” At this point I’m uncomfortable because this woman was giving me the impression that she was a compulsive liar…. Either that or she thought that I was an idiot?

I digress, we then went on to discuss various packages, all of which seemed pricey to me, so when “Natalie” asked how much I’d be looking to spend, I told her straight up – Nothing! Not because I was being difficult, but we are in the midst of a credit crunch & I showed her the price of the package that I would have liked to purchase IF I had the income available & told her that that was the same price as the holiday that I’m planning for my birthday next year & explained that I couldn’t afford them both.

I thought that that would be the end of it but “Natalie” had other ideas…. She thanked me for my honesty & said that she was sure that there would be ‘something we could do’. She asked me to choose 10 prints & then tried to tell me how much I’d be ‘saving’. I told her I liked the photos, but simply couldn’t afford it. “Natalie” Then went through a series of scenarios & payment plans. I borrowed her calculator & started with my monthly income, subtracted all my outgoing expenses & showed “Natalie” What I would be left with. The response? “Oh that’s all right”

How very dare she sit there & tell me how much money I need & how much I will or won’t miss. That is just RUDE, but unfortunately it isn’t the worst part.

As I didn’t think that “Natalie” was getting it, I decided to simplify things. I told her – yes – I could afford monthly instalments, but that it would mean that I wouldn’t have money for food. Still adamant that I needed these photos, she dropped prices, changed combination’s etc, & I must admit she ALMOST had me, however – the issues that I mentioned in the beginning, coupled with “Natalie’s” attitude made me say no. I was firm and said I didn’t want any photos.

This was met with a tantrum the likes of which I have only seen by spoiled brats of about 5 in Waitrose… I was half expecting her to start stomping her feet & throw herself on the floor. “What?” She says, huffing & puffing “Why did you make me waste my time?” She whines, clearly forgetting the bit right at the beginning when I told her that I could not afford to spend a month’s wages on a few photos & when SHE thanked me for my honesty!!! She starts ruffling bits of paper around & refuses to look & me, but raises her voice to tell me, “I’m going to get the photographer & you can tell him what you just told me!”, before she stormed out of the room.

Really? Is that how you expect your staff to treat people who have ‘won’ a prize is it?
I think her behaviour was totally and utterly unacceptable, unprofessional and disrespectful!
“Natalie” was shouting down the hallway about how she had jut “wasted 30 minutes” which somehow turned into “about an hour” on the walk back to the room that she’d left me in. For clarity, my viewing started at 1345 & I was en route to Oxford Street at 1415, so in the 1st instance, it was neither, and in the 2nd she was fully aware that I could hear her, so what was she trying to achieve? I’d made it clear from the start that I couldn’t afford it, so being insolent was going to do what exactly?

I’d like to know what if anything you intend to do about this “bullying” as I imagine that people with more fragile dispositions than mine, would have walked out of there signed up to something that they neither wanted, nor were able to afford.

I will wait to hear from you before deciding whether or not to send these details on to Consumer Direct/Trading Standards, although if today’s events are your ‘normal’ business practice then I would guess that you are probably already on their radar.


N Gumbs