Photography Company Tricks Customers into Paying $10,000 for Family Photos

Lifestyle Photographers Pty. Ltd. have found themselves in hot water with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC.) Lifestyle Photographers Pty. Ltd. could face up to $1.1 million in fines if the allegations of targeting and tricking Aboriginal consumers into paying up to $10,000 for family photos hold up.

The ACCC alleges that the company from 2012 to 2014 targeted Aboriginal consumers, whose primary language is not English, by using high-pressure sales tactics. Allegedly, the company would lure consumers in through their pop-up stores and kiosks located in shopping centers around Australia by offering free photos of them and their families. After this, the company would then used high pressure tactics in order to have the consumers sign documents, often without explaining what they were signing. These contracts ranged anywhere from $2,800 to $9,900.

The ACCC goes on to state that Lifestyle Photographers knew that some of their customers were vulnerable to these tactics because they were Aboriginal, meaning English is not their primary language and their reading and numerical skills were quite low.

According to NT News, “ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said the conduct of concern allegedly targeted the most vulnerable groups in the Australian community, including customers who were in ‘considerable financial distress’ or had ‘limited capacity to understand commercial contracts.’”

Multiple witnesses have been contacted to talk about the incident. One stated that she was approached while with her daughter and granddaughter at a local shopping center. According to court documents, Lifestyle Photographers offered to take photos of her granddaughter “for free” and then she signed a contact stating, “We (Lifestyle Photographers) will take $179 a fortnight from your account.”

It appears that the case is just beginning as a directions hearing is set for Federal Court on October 8, 2015.

[via NT News]

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20 Comments

Justin Haugen's picture

How many abodiginals do you see modelling?

Scott Mosley's picture

not many, but only because head-shots are so expensive.

Christian Blencke's picture

Not sure what you mean by your comment, but there is at least one, Elaine George

Christian Blencke's picture

Haha Got it.

Justin Haugen's picture

you have no idea how much I love the movie Zoolander and that this couldn't have been a more appropriate time to make an obscure movie quote reference lol

Christian Blencke's picture

cant wait for the sequeal

Felix Wu's picture

What kind of dumb photographers would think they could get away from this? And how do the photographers take others' money if people did not provide their bank account details?

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

You would be surprised. I could name at least 3 other companies here Queensland - Australia straight off my head alone with similar tactics. Just last week I shot a model who had to fork out $3500,- for a 2 hour sitting with a well known studio chain for some head shots, the makeup and styling was abysmal, didn't suit her at all and the quality of the studio work not even worth talking about...prints of course...were not included in the price. She couldn't afford the package outright but she did it anyway because she wanted a portfolio and they offered her a payment plan with a shady financing company under abhorrent conditions. Not exactly illegal, but highly questionable business ethics.
Its a big market to lure in people or parents who see hope for their kids in the glitz and glamour industry and I hope they roast these bastards good.

Prefers Film's picture

Seeing as how Centrelink hands out buckets of money to Aboriginals, it's easy to see why the Australian government would be so pissed. Don't take that as a slight against indigenous Australians. I'm just pointing out that the government would not take kindly to people stealing government handouts.

Benjamin Thomson's picture

What a pile of bullshit.

Prefers Film's picture

Which part? Your ignorance?

Benjamin Thomson's picture

The part where your okay with parading your deep-seeded racism towards indigenous Australians.

Show me these non existent aboriginals living the high life driving new BMWs and living in mansions on the tax dollar.

Indigenous Australians live in more poverty, die sooner and are incarcerated at a higher rate than the average Australian. Its an epidemic.

Indigenous Australians were still classified as Flora and Fauna when the US was having its civil rights movement, because of embarrasing racists like you.

Prefers Film's picture

"Deep-seeded racism"? There was nothing racist about my comment. And I never implied that Aborigines have it easy.

Apparently, you missed this: "Don't take that as a slight against indigenous Australians", even though my comment is a mere three lines long. I was just pointing out that the Australian government will be pursuing this company because they are stealing money from the poor. And it happens to be money which comes directly from their own coffers.

Just because you misunderstood my comment, that does not make me racist. You can apologize, or you can pull your head out, but I doubt you will do either.

Benjamin Thomson's picture

"Seeing as how Centrelink hands out buckets of money to Aboriginals".

You are clearly implying they receive special treatment or have it easy.

Rubbish attempt at a backpedal mate, just stop making Australians look bad.

Prefers Film's picture

Nothing about that implies they have it easy. Did I say they were undeserving of this money? No. Did I imply they were not in need of government handouts? No.

Are you denying that the Australian government hands out a lot of money? My point is that this company is stealing government money from poor people. That's it. Don't go looking for some racist agenda when there is none.

There's a dickhead in every crowd, and I guess it's your turn.

Lee Ramsden's picture

I wouldn't of advised it wise of Fstoppers to post this until the case has closed.
I know it can be common knowledge from different media, but it is still only speculated until proven by the courts. Just so Fstoppers doesn't get into any trouble.

Dominik Schiwy's picture

Why would a photography news outlet get into trouble over reporting about some case somewhere? They're neither of the onvolved parties and have every right to tell the public about things that are of public interest.

Lee Ramsden's picture

Yes agree Fstoppers is not an involved party, but someone one trial or a victim could be here reading this,
to many cases these days are tossed out of court and evidence turned inadmissible due to Facebook and Twitter comments.
With the pack mentality now on social media, our justice system is turning into guilty beyond reasonable tweet.

Simon Dyjas's picture

customers were 'vulnerable' not venerable, big difference