the Herald of the Sun saw screenshots of text messages between Aggarwala and Schembri.
Daniel and Steph Wingsmith, from Brisbane, said they were awaiting a promised $2,000 refund after canceling a videographer for their August 2021 wedding. Herald of the Sun saw messages showing that Schembri accepted the refund, provided a wire transfer for a $500 payout, and the Wingsmiths informed him that the money had not arrived. Daniel Wingsmith said they usually had to contact Schembri several times before responding, which was like “being ghosted”.
In an interview with the Herald of the Sun Schembri last week said it had resolved outstanding work with 20 clients since last April’s article, but acknowledged there were still unresolved cases from before 2021, including one from 2015. It also said there were five new clients from weddings last year who were still waiting for their prints.
He disagreed that he had failed to provide agreed refunds and said he would deliver all outstanding goods. He said the turnaround time was also affected by how long it took for the couples to select their images for the album.
Schembri also claimed that some clients used the threat of media coverage as “a bit of ammunition…to get more money out of me.” He said he was responsive to messages except on weekends when he was filming.
Schembri said future problems should be greatly reduced because all bookings made after last April he only offered digital photos, directing orders for prints directly to other companies.
Schembri also said he focuses on freelance work shooting for other photography studios because it “relieves the pressure of work associated with before and after” a wedding and allows him to concentrate on photography. -same.
“Obviously there was a problem for me delivering prints and scrapbooks for people and there was a blockage on my end, which I had originally taken responsibility for,” Schembri said. “I wanted to get rid of that and get back to what I’m good at, which is with a camera and photography. »
Schembri said he was seeing a counselor for his mental health and felt like he was “taking over.”
the Herald of the Sun saw complaints from about 10 customers about Schembri and thoroughly reviewed evidence from five customers.
Customers who have attempted to take action through NSW Fair Trading or the NSW Civil and Administrative Court have been frustrated.
Pali and Marcelo Delgado wed in November 2019. Their bill says for $8,000 they would receive a pre-wedding photo shoot, Schembri and a second photographer on the wedding day, all images on USB, and a wedding album from 50 pages so they paid $100 a page to upgrade from a standard 30 page album. They say the pre-wedding photoshoot didn’t take place and they never received the album – although they randomly received a lingerie model’s album from someone else. ‘other. They say they got their digital files after months of hunting.
When Schembri failed to deliver the Delgados’ wedding album, the couple contacted NSW Fair Trading unsuccessfully and then attempted to take action in the NSW court.
An April 2021 letter from the court says it “declined to rule on the claim” because the dispute was within federal jurisdiction.
The New South Wales court cannot adjudicate disputes where a party is interstate, unless that party is a corporation, a government agency of New South Wales, a resident of a territory or a resident from overseas.
Schembri’s bills show he bills like Schemry [sic] Trading Trust as photographer Ryan Schembri. A business trust is not a corporation.
The trust was registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in 2016, but public records do not identify the trustee. Schembri said he didn’t know why his business was run by a trust, saying “it’s just the way the accountant set it up – you should ask them”.
While Brendan and Andrea Oxford, the couple featured in the Herald of the Sun article last year, received a refund after winning their case in NSW court, the finding was technically registered against a company called XSiGHT. Schembri at the time represented XSiGHT based in Victoria in New South Wales under a business license, and the Oxfords say XSiGHT provided the reimbursement. the Herald of the Sun does not allege any wrongdoing on the part of XSiGHT.
The court letter noted a verbal agreement between the Delgados and Schembri that Schembri would repay $1,000 a week, and if he managed to complete the wedding album by a certain date, the money would be returned to him.
The Delgados say Schembri paid a few installments and then quit and also missed the deadline. Two years after their marriage, they say they agreed to drop the case if he provided a few more digital photos, which he did.
“We’re really just speaking up to give some kind of warning to other people who are planning their weddings to check references,” Pali Delgado said. “If we had looked on Google, we would have found that he had problems with other people. »
Carmen Hickey, who lives in the NSW area but got married in Sydney in July 2018, has an invoice showing she paid a reduced price of $6,000 for a pre-wedding photo shoot, two photographers present, an album 30-page wedding brochure, a USB drive of all images and a canvas enlargement.
the Herald of the Sun saw texts and emails between Hickey and Schembri from 2018 to 2021 about the quality of the pictures and the absence of his wedding album. She said she only ever received low-res images, which Schembri disputes.
Hickey requested a partial refund and then filed a complaint with NSW Fair Trading.
However, Fair Trading responded in December 2020 saying they were unable to help further after contacting the trader through “all available methods and all attempts to obtain a response”. [had] failed “.
Hickey filed a small claim with the local court and the case is still pending.
Hickey, herself a wedding photographer, says she worked without pay as a second photographer for him at several weddings because he always promised her “a really juicy album” for her own wedding. She feels disappointed because she counted Schembri as a friend and mentor.
“He promised us the world and didn’t deliver on our wedding day,” Hickey said. “It’s embarrassing because I had such high expectations…and what he produced was so bad. »
Email correspondence suggests Schembri placed an order for Hickey’s album with GraphiStudio in March last year, but the regional manager informed Hickey in June that Schembri had not paid.
Schembri said he spoke to Hickey’s husband last week and their case was “being processed”. Hickey said her husband called Schembri, who claimed to have ordered the album in the past few days, but could not provide proof.
Schembri said he was handling two cases in Queensland Civil and Administrative Court where the clients lived in New South Wales. He didn’t know if they had to travel for the hearing. Schembri said the court system was generally good, but he would like more support for the small business owner and more opportunities for mediation.
Consumer Policy Research Center executive director Erin Turner, generally commenting on the legal system rather than the Schembri case, said the system requires individual customers to take action through state courts. to enforce their rights.
“That means repeat offenders and companies with bad practices are too often left behind,” Turner said.
Turner said a regulator such as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or a national department of fair trade should be able to sue companies to seek penalties when a company repeatedly fails to meet warranties. consumers.
The federal government consulted earlier in the year on reforms that would strengthen consumer safeguards, she said.
A spokesperson for NSW Fair Trading said the department receives more than 40,000 complaints each year and between 50 and 150 relate to wedding photographers and videographers.
The spokesperson said Fair Trading was aware of the complaints against Ryan Schembri but they did not exceed the threshold of 10 per month to be added to the agency’s complaints register.
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