13 investigates complaints about Augusta photographer
AUGUSTA (WGME) - Saying she's all out of options, a central Maine mother contacts 13 On Your Side for help. The Lewiston mom says an Augusta photographer won't give her the pictures of her young daughter she bought and paid for months ago. Our investigation found several other complaints against that same business.
"I wanted to have pictures of my daughter done because it was her birthday, and she wants to be a model," Taylor Belanger said.
The 11-year-old Ryan was all smiles when she found out her mom was making her photo shoot birthday wish come true. A receipt shows Taylor Belanger paid $134.39 to Augusta-based Little Blessings Photography last August. The gift certificate she bought included printed photos, a digital disc, and the copyright release. By the end of the month, Ryan was in front of the camera.
"Every time she would say, 'Oh these are so good; they're going to look so perfect; I can't wait for you to see them,'" Ryan Belanger told us.
"She was really good with Ryan; she took beautiful photos," her mom added.
But the picture perfect present turned into a delivery disappointment. After seeing some proofs, this mother-daughter duo made their picks and placed their order with photographer and owner Renee Jones.
Now, more than eight months later, the Belangers say they still don't have the pictures.
"We were trying to capture a moment in time of our children. Once that moment's gone, it's gone and now we don't have the photos," Belanger said.
We checked out Little Blessings Photography with the Better Business Bureau. We found 11 complaints in just the past year. Most of them are about delivery issues, including one from mom Kristina Colby. She says it took threats and more than three months before she got the pictures of her kids.
"I told her I was calling the police because she took my money and wasn't giving me the things I paid for," Colby said.
"Often times it's very difficult. We're not a law enforcement agency. Therefore, our hands are tied if we can't find them, or if we do find them, and they're not willing to answer or work with the consumer," Paula Fleming with the Better Business Bureau said.
On Church Hill Road in Augusta, the Little Blessings sign is still out front, but we found the inside is empty.
We finally heard back from Jones on Facebook. She explained she's dealing with a personal situation.
"During this difficult time, I have shut down my studio," Jones said.
She went on to say, "To those that are angry, hurt and frustrated by the money owed and photographs missing, you're right to feel this way ... I will not stop until I make right all the wrong being done."
As for the pictures of little Ryan, Jones says she has them and will mail them Wednesday.
We'll let you know if the Belangers get the pictures. As for other options, if you find yourself in a similar situation you can try mediation with the Attorney General's Office. You can also go to small claims court. It costs $50 to file, but you don't need a lawyer.