Wedding Cake Blues

February 10th, 2014
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Until fotoLibra Version 6.0 was launched in December our site didn’t actually say that we sold images — we just assumed that people would know.

It seems not everyone understands. In November we sold usage rights in a photograph of a wedding cake decorative topper  — Personal Use (One-Off) — to a lady in the mid-Western United States.

Here is a photograph of a wedding cake topper. The image rights are avaibale on fotoLibra.

A photograph of a Wedding Cake Topper, ©David Knowles / fotoLibra

Last week we had a querulous email from her. “I ordered and paid for a wedding cake decorative topper last November, and I still haven’t received it.”

We looked at each other in horror (although I could barely suppress a grin). She had bought image usage rights when she thought she was buying an actual item. I was flooded with pity, because I could put myself right in her place. I knew just how she was feeling.

But we’d already paid the photographer for the sale. We could hardly ask him to give the money back. So we tactfully explained the situation to her, that we were a picture library (US = Stock Agency) and not a fancy goods retailer, that it was clearly pointed out on the website, and that she now had the right to get this picture printed out as a huge poster and stuck on her wall. She accepted the situation.

We get regular calls from gentlemen with thick, impenetrable accents who are interested in the derelict petrol stations you can see on fotoLibra. They’re not interested in images of them — they want the actual sites, and they rumble threateningly when we try to explain we only sell pictures of the sites.

The nadir was reached when one man rang up to order some bollards. Once again we patiently tried to explain we sold images of bollards, not actual bollards. The enquirer was an Englishman, with a fluent and rapid command of the language, albeit with an extremely limited vocabulary. He informed us at length (in Neville Shute’s terminology) that we were Fugging Muggers and also, weirdly, Bunts. The invective was foul, sustained, vicious and a total waste of time. God knows what he was planning to do with the bollards once he got hold of them. We had a satisfying, if impractical, suggestion for him.

I’m really very sorry for the Mid-Western US lady and her wedding cake decorative topper. But we shouldn’t have to pay for other people’s mistakes, even a small amount. And after Chris Holifield of the Writer’s Services website pointed out that we didn’t say what we did, we rectified it. Now introduces itself with HOW TO BUY IMAGES | HOW TO SELL IMAGES.

No more confusion then. Thank you, Chris!


Add your comment


17 Responses to “Wedding Cake Blues”

  1. Chris Fagg says:

    The guy was obviously talking bollards. Just back from a great weekend in Wales observing the phenomenon of horizontal rain.

  2. David Davies says:

    Hasn’t Walt Disney asked for a slice of the cake?

  3. Andy Jay says:

    Loved the Story,Gwyn. Made me smile, keep em’ coming… And with reference to Chris’s comments below regarding the Land of the Horizontal rain, I live in Ireland and have to apologise for the Origins of that Phenomenon !!

  4. Ed Zirkle says:

    When you refresh your supply would you please send the wedding cake topper, I collect Mickey Mouse items…


    great story
    will probable need to put in 48 pica type across the main page WE ONLY SELL PICTURES!

  5. Brenda Skinner says:

    Well now, this is quite a shame, as I’ve been holding out secret hope that someone would want to offer several thousand pounds for the shire horse I photographed in Chawton. My dreams dashed yet again…

  6. Paul says:

    So how much were your bollards and how many have you got? I’ll take 50 of them if you can supply them!

    Oh, and what about sandbags? They could be handy right now.

  7. Didn’t know I had so much competition in the photos of derelict petrol stations department! Ho-hum, off to find another niche!

    Having done a fair amount of Web design/development in the past, it never surprises me when I hear that people fail to read the content of Websites. I always used to tell my clients that the textual content of Websites is there (in the main) for search engines to pick up on and is very important in that regard. Potential clients however, generally just want to see a relevant headline, a pretty picture or two and some contact details so that you may take away whatever difficulty they have by the service you offer. If you are lucky, they may just read a sentence or two.

    The few who actually take some time and care reading are most definitely the exception to the rule.

    I feel sorry for the lady who wanted to purchase a cake decoration, but am glad you stuck to your guns. One would think that folk would take a little more care when their cash is at stake? Clearly not! Brings to mind the old (apocryphal) chestnut of the London Bridge sale…

  8. Erik Strodl says:

    Just a quick enquiry…….. how much is a petrol station these days

  9. Wayne Toberman says:

    Muggers!!!…..Fuggers!!….and Bears, Oh My!!!!
    While coming to you from the same linguistically challenged region of this former colony as having brought you such endearing phases as….How’s ’bout dem Bears…or dem Bulls….or the all time favorite of optimists everywhere…dem Cubbies???, aww jus uous wait til nex year!…pass anudder brot n a beer (Chicago-ese at its’ finest!)(something like the early morning pander about an early 1900s Covent Garden…I watched My Fair Lady, too.)…..I wholeheartedly feel the pain and distress that the poor woman must have felt at receiving the news that she would be Minnie and Micky-less for the blessed event! There, that’s the limit of my touchy feely tossin on this one! I received the same calls when I advertised my studio was available to rent to photographers, rates, etc. I got a couple of calls one in particular was from a verbally distressed young lady wanting to rent…left her name and number…called her back to be severely chastised by what turned out to be her husband and nearly turned into an honor thing when he found out we weren’t going to rent them a “studio” apartment by the month but a “Photo” studio by the 1/2 or full day! That really set him off. Gotta love it! They’re everywhere…they’re everywhere!!! Keep smiling! Wayne

  10. Ian Hooker says:

    If you really believed she had made a mistake I feel that you and the photographer should have refunded her (which you could still do – even if only in part), for two reasons:-
    Firstly, you seemed to feel that, following the incident, the site needed modification to make what you sell more obvious. I.e. you accept that there was some room for misinterpretation.
    Secondly, most, if not all, respectable sellers would refund if the product bought fails substantially to match the purchasers expectation.

    Caveat Emptor (the confidence tricksters watch word) applies to us all but I feel your application of it, in this case, was unreasonable.

    Although your article is sympathetic to her as you believe hers was a genuine mistake, it should not have been linked to a couple of other prospective customers who were abusive. Abuse is one issue whilst honest mistakes is another. They should be discussed separately.

    Finally, it is especially sad that a number of the respondents have chosen to laugh at her lack of understanding of photographic terminology – a problem your respondents own mothers are quite likely to have!

  11. roger says:

    lukin nice i like

  12. We own a villa on a tourist development in Portugal, and although our Contact page is headed “This is not the official website of the development, we are just private owners of a villa there” in large red letters, we still get lots of emails from people wanting to write to the management of the resort! How can I put that message in pictures – people just don’t read text.

  13. charles solo says:

    The confusion is rectified, however i think even at that, beside pictures should be price covers this image only.

  14. Roger Taylor says:

    I agree entirely with Ian Hooker’s comments. Of course you should have refunded the lady, whether or not the photographer agreed. It couldn’t have been that large an amount. Having done that your story would carry much more than ridicule.