Photographer says woman requested refund on wedding photos after 4 years of marriage: ‘I’m now divorced’
A photographer has gone viral for sharing an unusual refund request he apparently received from a former client who’s now divorced and doesn’t want her wedding photos anymore.
Lance Romeo posted screenshots of the reported text correspondence he had with the woman he photographed in 2019.
“I swear my life is a movie…you can’t make this stuff up,” Romeo captioned the screenshots, which he uploaded last month to Facebook where they’ve been shared by thousands of social media users. The former bride, whose identity hasn’t been revealed, reminded Romeo that he was hired for a wedding day photoshoot in Durban, a coastal city in eastern South Africa, which is a six-and-a-half-hour drive from her home in Johannesburg.
“Well I’m now divorced and those pictures I and my ex husband don’t need them anymore,” the former client reportedly wrote, according to the screenshot Romeo shared.
“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,” the message continued.
Romeo asked his client if her request was a joke and he eventually explained that his photography services were non-refundable.
“I’ve already delivered to you the service and the pictures,” Romeo wrote back, according to the screenshots he shared. “I can’t refund you because I can’t take the pictures. Take care now.”
The former client argued that Romeo’s contract didn’t state that he had a no-refund policy, so she should be entitled to a refund.
Romeo disagreed with her stance and informed the divorcée that he would not honor her request for a refund.
“I would like to remain professional with you and just assure you that YOU WILL NOT be getting a refund,” he wrote back. “It’s bad enough you want a refund 4 years later, it’s unfortunate embarrassing on your part.”
The former bride claimed she forwarded the conversation to her lawyer.
Romeo replied that he still thought he was being subjected to a prank.
“Look I really sympathize with on the divorce, I can imagine what you went through, but this is not the way to deal with it. Other than that, there’s really nothing more I can do for you,” wrote Romeo, according to his uploaded screenshots.
The former client replied a day later that she’d “let our lawyers deal with it,” but she would like at least 70% of her money refunded so she “can move on and heal from everything.”
She suggested Romeo meet her in Johannesburg to discuss the matter in person.
Romeo declines her request once more, this time with a Bugs Bunny meme that says: “NO.”
“Tell your lawyer to call me,” Romeo replied.
Fox News Digital reached out to Romeo for comment.
Romeo’s former client did not receive much sympathy on social media and many users suggested the behavior she’s displaying is likely the cause for her divorce – despite the text interaction being brief.
“Tell her you’ll refund her when her ex-husband refunds her for those wasted years,” one Facebook commenter wrote.
“She should try [to] get a refund from the ppl who made her wedding cake,” another Facebook user quipped. “Let’s see how that turns out for her.”
“I wonder if she asked for a refund for her dress, cake, venue, catering and all the other services rendered for her wedding as well,” another user pondered.
One Facebook commenter joked that the client should ask the DJ to grant a refund and “unplay the songs” that were played during the wedding.
“Will she be going to the marriage officer and ask him to take back the vows he led them in too?” another Facebook user questioned.
“She must return the gifts to her guests,” one commenter wrote.
Many commenters offered mock suggestions to solve Romeo’s unusual refund inquiry.
“Tell her you can offer her extended services and photoshop the husband out of the pictures for an extra fee,” one commenter wrote.
“Can’t you just give/sell those pictures to another happy couple, who might just be newlyweds or happily married but were just [too] unfortunate to afford a good photographer? Are they not transferable?” a Facebook user jokingly questioned.
One social media user joked that she’ll request a refund for vacation photos she had professionally taken in South Africa.
“Well, the trip is over, and I’m going on a different trip now, so I need a refund,” she joked.
On Twitter, social media users repeatedly asked if a lawyer actually reached out to Romeo and whether he’ll be updating his photography contract.
Romeo replied to the inquiries claiming a lawyer had called him, but the legal representative didn’t seem to be serious about the case and laughed when they discussed the details.
“Now I’m adjusting my contract to say no refunds. Because wow.” Romeo tweeted on April 11.
The photographer added that he’s received an apology from his client’s ex-husband after the story circulated on South African news platforms.
Romeo uploaded screenshots of the conversation he had with the supposed ex-husband three days later.
“I read the articles,” the message from the ex-groom says. “I apologize on behalf of Embarrassing.”
Refunds on wedding photos: What do lawyers think?
While it appears that hardly anyone has publicly supported the former bride’s refund request, some might wonder if the mystery woman had a point when she pointed out that the original contract she signed didn’t have a no-refund clause.
Gigio Ninan, a New York City-based lawyer and co-founder of the Shankar Ninan & Co. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), told Fox News Digital that most photographers should be protected if they had an engagement agreement with their customers.
Ninan noted that the terms outlined in the agreement should include dispute resolution. Breach of contract claims usually has a statute of limitations ranges that are generally somewhere between four and six years, he went on.
“[The] the general rule is that in a service-based agreement where the basis for the same is delivery of services or a product, that the customer or client needs to either accept or reject the service or product in a reasonable time,” Ninan said. “Here, four years is not reasonable, let alone the fact that she no longer wants the photos due to a divorce.”
“Putting a clear and conspicuous refund policy or acceptance of a policy in an agreement will be helpful – and most certainly legal – for the avoidance of doubt because the claim on its face lacks merit,” Ninan continued.
Ninan said if the case was happening in the United States, a photographer could claim laches as a defense during a lawsuit, which is an equitable defense where the defendant argues that the claimants waited too long to assert their rights.
Claudia Cobreiro, a lawyer who founded the Cobreiro Law practice in South Florida, told Fox News Digital that Romeo’s former client wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if the case were happening in The Sunshine State.
“The photographer could potentially have a claim for unjust enrichment against a bride that paid for a service he rendered and if she afterward received a refund for the cost of the services,” Cobreiro said. “This is common when dealing with credit card payments, specifically when a client requests a chargeback.”
Cobreiro noted that given the timeframe of the refund request, it’s likely that Romeo’s former client “received the benefit of the bargain under the terms that she bargained for in the agreement.”
“The photographer performed his services,” Cobreiro said.
Cobreiro told Fox News Digital that photographers can certainly modify future versions of their contract, but they cannot unilaterally change the terms of an existing, fully-executed contract.
“All parties involved in the original contract would need to sign an addendum to the original agreement for any changes to take effect and be enforceable,” she explained.