Read on and find out…
I have recently been involved in a county court case. In my 13 years of business this was a first. A new one for me.
So how did I manage to end up in court? I asked someone to conduct a photo shoot of our family.
Some of the images were to be used in one of my books, plus used on social media on the run up to its publication.
After approaching a photographer I asked them to deal with my wife, aka my PA.
My wife exchanged some emails with them. My wife asked for digital prints only and that they invoice her with the cost.
An invoice for £437 was emailed to her. My wife opened the invoice attachment and paid the total immediately.
The email body text was never read, acknowledged or responded to – nor a response ever sought by the photographer.
A few weeks later the photoshoot took place. Two hi-res images were sent across to me ahead of the others as my book needed to go to print and an image was needed for the book. 1 image was selected by the photographer and 1 other by me when we viewed some low res versions.
When over one hundred low res versions were sent over, we selected another twenty three images and asked for the hi-res versions.
These were sent across – quickly followed by another invoice for £1675!
It transpired that my wife had missed an additional price point from the photographer who had included that all hi-res digital images would be charged at an additional £67 per image. This was included once in the email the photographer sent to my wife when the 1st invoice was sent over.
This email was never read as my wife, who, having asked for the cost to be invoiced over to her, believed the invoice completed the transaction. And let me be quite clear. I would never have hired any photographer on this basis.
I’m not Wayne Rooney.
You can imagine how happy I was when hit with this invoice. It’s a good job I didn’t say I wanted all 100 photos. As soon as we realised the error, we informed the photographer we didn’t want the additional images @ 23 x £67. Do the math.
(Images in this case being digital files. i.e. a dropbox with them in).
We did, however, agree to pay for the two hi-res images previously sent over, including the 1 selected by the photographer that we have never used, for the fee of £67 each. They sent an invoice for £134, this was again paid immediately.
Total = £437 + £134 = £571 PAID
I was fuming with by the additional £1675 invoice and asked a friend via email for their advice – admittedly calling the photographer a name.
In my haste, I accidentally hit reply instead of forward and it was sent to my friend and them instead
We’ve all been there!
This was my only mistake in the whole drama
The photographer asked my wife to delete the other twenty three images and confirm in writing she had done so. We complied with both these wishes – again immediately.
End of story. Or so I thought.
A few months later a court claim notice arrived addressed to me personally. I was being sued for the full cost of all the hi-res images we’d been asked to delete and the two hi-res images we’d already paid for, plus interest. We had received no Letter before Action notice, which is apparently standard procedure before such claims being submitted, so the arrival of the court claim took us aback. We took legal advice and on the advice of the solicitor spent months trying to negotiate and settle this. These attempts were knocked back or not responded to at all.
I agreed to mediation, but when the date arrived it was one I couldn’t do. As you know, you’ve seen my schedule, I’m a busy guy.
The court was informed, they acknowledged our request to rearrange but couldn’t and so I heard no more about mediation taking place.
We also informed the court that the proceedings were going ahead against the wrong person and that if anyone should be being pursued it should be the company, Brad Burton LTD – from which the previous invoices had been paid.
The court wrote to the claimant giving them the opportunity to amend their claim ahead of the court date.
They declined. They did amend the total they were attempting to claim for to remove costs for the two we’d already purchased, however.
I had to make a trip to the dry cleaners on the run up to court day to retrieve my one and only suit. On the day of the court case, I repped myself and had five points of defence.
Point 1) Why am I here?
Me, Brad Burton. I have had absolutely no dealings whatsoever beyond the initial enquiry.
Point 2) What’s the difference between a £3 High res digital print, and a £67 high res digital print?
At which point I then presented to the judge a piece of paper. It was an advert printed directly from the photographer’s website that had been handed to me. See below.
At this point, the judge appeared taken back and asked. So “if I have a photo of me in the woods with my dog it’s £3 but if you use the same camera to take a photo of me working behind my desk it’s £67?”.
The judge said, “is there any additional work for the two different environments? “The photographer said no. At which point the judge dismissed the case. Around 6 minutes after I began speaking, case halfway through point 2.
The judge said to us both that it could have been dismissed on point one, but she wanted to give the case the benefit of the doubt and a fair hearing. Our defence was based on 5 points. I never got beyond 2.
The judge took issue with the fact that they were trying to charge us £67 per high res image whilst advertising £3 per high res image photo on their site. And also why we were being pursued for images that we’d been asked by the photographer to delete so no longer owned and that the claimant had never offered to return if we paid the amounts they wanted. Blah blah blah.
So in summary – My wife, on behalf of my company Brad Burton Ltd paid the photographer a total of £571 . This was in return for a 90 min shoot and just 2 hi-res images. Only one of which has ever been used.
I have worked with some of the best commercial photographers over the last ten years and never paid more than £500 for a full day rate, to include all hi-res digital images.
Now. I have been made aware of a thread/video on Facebook recently regarding this case and claim. I have seen the inference (without actually naming me but dropping heavy hints towards my identity i.e ‘founder of a business network’) that I’m a “bully”, I don’t pay my bills and the other jibes at my reputation and business. I could have, of course responded in the same manner online, I could try to rip apart another’s hard won reputation or damage their business they have worked hard to build up and protect or invite others to do the same by starting a public thread.
That’s not my style.
Maybe a decade ago yeah. But not now. I stand by the facts stated above regarding the case and I have the evidence to prove the payments made in return for all products and services received from the claimant. The truth is when the case was dismissed I could have easily gone for costs which are pretty hefty when you take into account the solicitors time plus my own. But I chose not to. Despite the vitriol spat publicly against me, I am still happy with that decision. Yikes. I really have grown up.
So why this blog post? I felt pushed into having to defend my character after being informed of some of the un-factual comments being made against me. I have been advised to published the facts of my defence of the claim in order to answer any unwarranted and unjust criticism – so here it is. Of course I could have named the photograher concerned in this post – the information above is all correct after all, I’m choosing not to. I’m aware that I have a fairly large social media reach in certain circles and what I say can be spread far and wide. This could be damaging for a small business. So that’s why we have the radio silence.
So what life and business lessons from all this?
Well no matter how experienced, clued up or in my case, well intentioned in life and business you can still slip on a banana skin thrown your way.
A family forest walk I failed to see the warning minefield sign at entrance.
Some things are worth fighting for. Most things aren’t. My reputation is my business. As much as your business is your reputation. Work on positively building both.
When you base your life and business on trust you will occasionally get stung. Don’t change – the benefits outweigh the costs.
Your reputation is always worth fighting for
Sometimes small print achieves its purpose, that doesn’t make it right
I’ll leave you to choose which of these 4 #Braddisms (my quotes) taken from my books best signs off this blog…
“Revenge is a dish, best not served. Move on.”
“Experience is what you win when you lose.”
“Your success or failure will be defined by your decisions, good and bad. Want more success? Make better decisions”
“All problems have a worst before date.”
This may explain the new more mature version of me
Check out my books here
So what’s the difference between a £67 digital photo and a £3 digital photo?
6 months of legal too’ing and fro’ing and a dismissed case?
I can continue to sleep soundly in the knowledge that In my 13 years of business I have paid for every single thing I have ever ordered and that I can continue to live my life and business in the manner in which it should be lived. Honest.
This is a selfie photo of me and the co-defendant (aka my wife) taken by me on holiday using my iphone 7. Pretty good hey!
Help Many. Hurt Few. Live Life.
P.S. Got to go now, I am getting ready to drive to Wolvehampton for The Business Networking Show on Friday. Over 1400 people registered, woot! I’m excited, and mc-ing the whole event. I may even be wearing a suit for the second time in a week. Hopefully see you there!
P.P.S. Even this blog has been back and forth with our solicitor to ensure that it is factually correct, to avoid any further case being brought against us. Rest assured, every word has been checked and signed off by legals.