Photographers Need to Make Careful Business Decisions
As Photographers most of us are small business owners, and we have to make business decisions. Sometimes we have to make decisions on who to work with, and we have to trust the people we work with because we make our businesses vulnerable to them. Unfortunately that opens up the potential to get screwed over, and for one photographer, November 2013 has been the worst month for him.
One Photographers Nightmare
Mike Johnston set up a webpage for print sales called “topprintsandbooks.com” and he did everything through a service called Volusion. Volusion Inc. is based in Austin Texas and he found them online. Volusion helped Mike set up domain registration, shopping card, credit card processing, and everything else he needed to do in order to get his website running. He did everything they told him to do. But then something strange happened, Volusion decided Mike Johnston was no longer trustworthy.
Johnston’s Account Of The Story
At that point—AFTER THE SALE WAS OVER—Volusion decided they didn’t like my business model. They decided I was untrustworthy. They said I was a risk to them. And they informed me they weren’t going to hand over the money.
That is, they refused to turn any of the credit card payments they had collected from TOP’s customers over to me.
The next question (after I recovered from my shock) seemed obvious: If they weren’t going to give the money to me, what were they going to do with it?
They said they were going to return the money to our customers.
At first they wouldn’t say. When pressed, they finally said the funds would be returned within five to ten days.
And then they kept the money.
And kept it.
And kept it.
Ten days passed. Nothing.
Meanwhile, I was trying to arrange alternate methods of payment with our credit card customers (which I’m still working on—if you haven’t had a second email from me yet, you will very soon). But, quite naturally, people wanted to wait until they got their first payment back before they sent a second payment.
The bottom line is that now, finally, some of our customers have gotten their money back from Volusion.
But not all.
Volusion took the last credit card payment from OUR customer on OUR behalf on November 4th. It is now November 25th and as of this morning, not all of our customers have their money back. Volusion is still keeping it. In one specific case, a payment made on the morning 10/31/13 has not yet been returned. What am I supposed to tell that customer? He trusted me. And I’ve let him down. He’s looking to me for customer service that I cannot provide.
I pressed Volusion again about it this morning. Still, their representative refused, repeatedly, to give me a solid answer.” – Mike Johnston
Be careful out there. Make careful business decisions and know exactly who you’re working with. Unfortunately Mike Johnston was completely blindsided by this, and is dealing with something completely undeserved. Has anything similar happened to you? Let us know in the comments, and spread the word so we can help other photographers avoid getting scammed.
“I’m not quite sure I understand why all this is happening, but I do know one thing: it isn’t Volusion’s money. They have no right to keep it. It is either my money, and they should turn it over to me, or it is our customers’ money, and they should return it to our customers. It doesn’t belong to Volusion. They don’t have the right to keep it. That’s the one thing that seems clear.” -Mike Jonston