Bad photo prop companies are out there just like bad photographers who don’t legitimately run a legal business. It’s incredibly unfortunate that it’s possible to be scammed by someone you trust with your money and even potentially your family. The thought, in itself, is pretty unsettling. We have been in business for nearly 7 years and we have come across a few bad eggs in the photo prop world. There is nothing we hate more than watching unsuspecting people get ripped off by others because of greed. We are going to give you our personal experiences along with ways that you can help prevent being taken advantage of.
Aliexpress is a cheaper way to get newborn props but often those images are stolen from photographers in the USA. We have had a lot of issues with companies in China who take our photo of our handmade newborn pants (handmade in our shop in Buffalo, NY) and list it on their website for sale. They clearly do not have this product and you can often see by their reviews that the customers are disappointed that they received a completely different product than what was pictured. I have spoken to several backdrop companies who have had their prints stolen and are being offered on that site with cheap paper. The image is poor because it was stolen and not properly downloaded and the quality is cheap.
There is a prop company that stole images of CPP products and listed them in their shop for sale knowing that they are not their products and that they are ours. We’ve confirmed this by contacting the photographers who have allowed us to use the images of our products. They all stated that they purchased the product from us and that they did not give permission to the other prop company to use the images. (As a vendor you need to ALWAYS get permission for using a photo from a customer whether it’s posted online publicly or not.) Mind you, that the product that Custom Photo Props was selling was very distinguishable from their product. Anyone who sells a handmade product or photographs a subject knows their work from another. We confronted them, they denied it. We showed the seller an email from the photographers who confirmed that they never purchased from that company and it was sold to them from CPP.
In 2015 we had approximately $9,000 in loss because of stolen credit cards! What thief purchases newborn photo props with stolen credit cards; thousands of dollars worth? A photographer (or potentially a person reselling them to photographers). Now, that’s scary! Here you are trusting this person with the ones you love most and this person is accepting stolen credit cards and purchasing photography equipment with someones money. Many people do not know this but the credit card company takes those funds back from the vendor. Our $9,000 loss turned into much more because we were out of $9,000, product cost, shipping, and bank fees. We have additionally prevented another $3,000 in loss during that year.
Is the photography prop company that you are purchasing one reputable?
First and foremost, look for reviews on their website. My rule of thumb is, if they don’t have public access to reviews, they are hiding something! There is no reason not to have reviews unless a customer has something bad to say about their company. Of course, some websites may allow them to log in and adjust reviews so I’d recommend looking up reviews on social media, too. Our website, which is hosted by Volusion, allows customers to leave reviews and we are not able to edit them. If access the review and edit it, the customer gets an alert to their email address. We do have the ability to delete the review; however, we believe it’s important to learn from others’ experiences, good and bad. You can see that our website is abundant with positive reviews for each product which allows our customers to feel safe with purchasing.
Social media. Check out their company fan page. Do they have a large following? Do not be fooled by this. Having 20,000+ fans means little. There are websites that allow you to buy Facebook likes to make your page appear larger and more trusted than it could be.
Page interaction with customers is great but should be taken lightly. With the algorithm changes on FB most businesses do not reach their fan base unless they pay for ads. An example is our Custom Photo Props fan page has 38,000 fans and our posts typically reach 200 fans unless we pay to promote. That means those 37,800 fans aren’t interacting with our page and telling us how they feel.
Do they have Reviews on their Facebook page? All business pages have the option to have their reviews made public. Keep in mind that for personal reasons that company may not want them visible on Facebook or other social media. Note, ANYONE can leave a review on FB and it does not mean they actually know who they are leaving a review for, so this also has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Perform and online search about the company you want to do business with and see if they have reviews on other platforms such as Etsy. As a seller on Etsy, I know that you have no control over what feedback is given to you. However, a customer must have made a purchase with you in order to leave feedback, unlike Facebook.
Companies that scam others might also be placing ads on social media or search engines. This does not imply that they are doing good business and have happy customers. Feedback is a powerful tool and you need to hear from real customers on their experience.
A totally awesome resource for finding prop companies, with negative reviews and bad customer experiences, is Buyer Beware. As of today, there are 3,883 potential customers or clients in there that may have personal knowledge on an experience with a company that you are thinking of using. They can also refer you to some great companies that they have done business with. It is a private group which mean you must request access by an administrator.
Google the company name with keywords such as: complaint, bad, upset, unhappy, scam, stolen, warning and see if anything comes up. Typing in Photo Prop Company Bad Reviews, Bad Photo Prop Companies result in a couple coming up. Do not not solely rely on this method for research. Also, remember that everything you read isn’t necessarily true and it’s one side to the story. Trust your gut instinct.
Use Paypal or a credit card to pay for your merchandise. If you receive a bad product or don’t receive anything at all, you can submit a claim and likely get your money back. Paypal allows up to 180 days to submit. Don’t let that time pass by or you will have lost your chance at getting a refund. If a vendor is stalling to get that product to you they may be waiting for that time to expire so you can’t do a claim. Credit card companies (Visa, American Express, Mastercard) may vary, which means you have to do some research based on the companies you have accounts with.
There are hundreds to thousands of photography prop companies out there that are honest and provide an array of amazing products. This post is an informative post, based on my own opinion, on ways to prevent doing business with the wrong company.