Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Every retailer knows that Price is King. People will always choose the cheapest option, and that’s perfectly understandable when it’s the same product.

If I see a litre of Famous Grouse for £20 in the Coöp, Sainsbury’s or Waitrose and there’s a litre of the Grouse for £15 in my local Londis, I’ll buy it there, thank you very much.

Of course there are exceptions. Louis Vuitton brand their luggage with a particularly plebeian design which is enthusiastically copied around the world. I imagine that less than 1% of the Louis Vuitton luggage you see is the real deal, unsurprisingly when the real bags are north of £5,000 and you can get a serviceable replica for £50. As my friend Jennifer says, Why pay less?

I have a friend who is so embarrassed by the big fat gold Rolex his wife bought him that he carries around the Watches of Switzerland receipt to prove to disbelieving friends that it’s real. We now have fun casting doubts on the authenticity of his receipt.

But images are different. You rarely see an image on fotoLibra which you can also see on Getty, Magnum, Corbis, Alamy etc., so comparing prices is much harder.

We’ll match or beat any price from any of the big picture libraries for the same usage and a similar deal. If you’re buying a photo from Getty Images for £10 it’s because you’ve agreed to buy 999 other images from them at the same price. We’ll happily match that. And you only need to commit to 99 images.

2017 has started well for fotoLibra. We’ve made a few big sales. But trickling on and on are the small purchases, people buying here and there for the same — always the same — reason: Editorial> Personal Use> One-Off.

The reason is that this is the cheapest easily discoverable price on fotoLibra. If you’re going to advertise your fizzy drink around the world, then you’d expect to pay big bucks to use one of our photographs. If you just want to print it off and stick it on your wall, then we’ve created a price just for you: Editorial> Personal Use> One-Off.

The snag is that some people will always choose the cheapest option they can find, even if it means not exactly telling the whole truth. So when they come across this bargain basement price they jump at it.

A year or so ago we saw a nice little earner. A lady had fallen in love with some of our photographs of English rivers. So much so that she bought 86 of them for herself; Editorial> Personal Use> One-Off. She put her address down as Interior Decorations Manager, Grande Hotel Splendide, Salford and paid with a corporate credit card. The Grande Hotel Splendide was just about to open an 86 bed hotel in Salford and we were struck by the coincidence.

We got in touch, and gently explained the situation, and to their credit the Grande Hotel Splendide forked out the correct price (which on a quantity deal wasn’t such a big difference).

The problem is that if we’re selling images online, we have to trust the buyer. Regular customers are no problem — they can download whatever they like and they account to us at the end of the month. But anyone can come along, register as a buyer, search the site for the cheapest price then buy a picture and walk away. It’s human nature, after all.

This doesn’t happen often enough to become a worry. But we’re aware of it, and we haven’t a clue how to police it. When it’s blatantly obvious then of course we’ll do some heavy chasing, but when M Zuckerberg of Dullsville, NE buys an image for $35 how do we know it’s NOT going to appear as a promotion for Facebook?

Any suggestions?

Oh — and a Happy New Year to you all!

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9 Responses to “Pricing and Human Nature”

  1. Percy says:

    There should be a written contract of usage signed by individuals users against any commercial use.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      It’s in our Terms & Conditions, but these are only deployed when we go to court — if we go to court. We have gone to law on our members’ behalf for the misappropriation of watermarked Preview images, but we have never (so far) had to act on unauthorised license usage.

  2. Mark Patterson says:

    Maybe if you run tin-eye or image-raider on all the potentially suspicious ones?

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      We do, and I’m glad to say (if a trifle disappointed!) that we have not yet found any significant breaches of contract. But that won’t catch an hotel chain putting up framed prints in their rooms.

  3. David says:

    In the days of film cameras, I went into a camera shop on Broadway in Manhattan to look at a little compact camera.

    I haggled and the price came down and down. I said, as politely as I could frame my thoughts, that at the price we had now reached I wondered whether the camera was indeed made by Olympus or whether it was a copy.

    The shop owner looked at me, shrugged, and then threw the camera down the length of the shop.

    So I never got to buy the camera.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      WOW!
      My experience is far less impressive, but it opened my eyes because in my naïvité I had no idea that a salesman would want to go laboriously out of his way to be as offensive as possible to a customer.

      It was 1978, in a camera shop on 42nd Street. I’d gone in to buy a credit-card sized calculator, and I found the counter with all the Casios some way from the entrance door. I had a budget of $30. I pointed at one and asked “How much is that one?” The salesman unlocked the cabinet and drew out a tray as if we were in Tiffany’s.

      “No, no,” I protested, “I just wanted to know how much it is.” He ignored me and began his patter.

      “This one has multi-function sine and cosine features …”

      “Thank you, but how much is it?”

      “It can add and subtract, and …”

      “Thank you, but how much is it?”

      “It’s $50. Now if you want a calculator that …”

      “Well, it’s more than I can afford, I’m afraid. I’ve only got $30.” (I didn’t even have a credit card in those days).

      “I can let you have it at $45.”

      “I’m sorry, I’ve only got $30. But thank you very much for showing it to me.”

      He put the tray back in silence.

      “Er … thank you,” I said. “Oh, and goodbye.” I walked to the door.

      As I reached the door, the salesman said, just loud enough for me to hear, “You can have it for $30.”

      I walked, beaming, the length of the shop. The tray was back out. As I neared the counter the salesman rapidly slipped the tray back in the cabinet.

      “I ain’t gonna sell it to you,” he said, and turned away.

      I really had no idea what to do. I’ve never been so embarrassed. So I walked back out the length of the shop, flushed bright red, with all the salesman staring at me as if I was a criminal.

      Noo Yorkers. Don’cha just love ’em?

      • Judith Martin says:

        Only just read this, several weeks late – but it strikes me the salesman is probably now high up in the Trump team.

  4. Mark Goodwin LRPS says:

    I was in conversation with a group on FB recently about the late great Prof. James Blades OBE. A really lovely gentleman I had the pleasure of meeting and photographing. During the FB conversation the subject turned to gongs. And it was mentioned that James Blades played the gong behind the J Arthur Rank opening to their films which featured Bombardier Bill Wells striking this huge gong – which was in fact made of cardboard – the gong that James used was a much smaller one. However, to illustrate the conversation the Admin of this particular group used a photo of James Blade and a 5′ gong, that I had taken many moons ago. When I asked where the pic was obtained I was told that the Admin, had just done a search on Google found the pic and downloaded it!
    And this is not the first time. even with Tin-Eye I have never found any of my shots, but by coincidence I have found 6 over the years, all nicked with so much as a by-your-leave!
    HNY to all

    Mark

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      She didn’t care much for the brave and the strong
      Nor yet for the burning kiss
      But she sat in the cinema all day long
      Hoping the gentleman beating the gong
      Would miss.