UPDATE: 12/01/11 One of his customers, in the same boat as me, emailed me to ask what I did to get my photo back.
He has never returned the photo to me. He refused to send back the wedding photo of a grieving widow. I thought that maybe he would just go through his files and send it back. It is no use to him. It is the world to me. But he won’t give it back. To me, any decent human being would return it.

He wanted me to send a letter saying I wouldn’t sue him, but there would be no basis for a lawsuit if I had my photo back. If he sent it delivery confirmation it would be his defense against a possible lawsuit. As an attorney I would never file a false complaint. The court would have my hide. All I wanted was my photo back, but I wasn’t sending a letter saying I would NEVER sue him. Suppose my photo came back damaged? I put, in writing, to the BBB that all I wanted was my photo back and still he refused to send it. To me, that is just spite. Pure evil spite.

To me, any man who would purposely and spitefully keep the wedding photo of a grieving widow is the lowest of the low. Besides, he was PAID for a project and never gave a product nor gave me my original back. I’ve never gotten anything for the $175 he was already paid AND I lost my photo.

After hearing her story today (she saw my review on Yelp!), it is obvious he is still doing the same thing to people. MY ADVICE: Stay away, far away, from this guy.

Two years ago I had a photo restoration expert restore a photo of my brother. I was very happy with his suggestions and gave him carte blanche to do the restoration as he saw fit.

After Michael died, I received a photo from one of my son’s in-laws taken at his wedding. It was a picture of Michael and I dancing and it reminded me of our wedding photo. We had our photos originally done at a brand new shop that managed to ruin most of our wedding and honeymoon photos. It was one of the only good ones I had and it was the only 5 x 7 there was of the wedding.

I sent the two photos to the restoration expert and he said to me “I have some special ideas…” I wanted the two photos in the same frame but in each corner to show how the look in his eyes never changed in 12 years. He asked for the original and kept rushing me off the phone saying he had special ideas. It was obvious he was driving and on his cell phone. But still, I trusted him based on his previous work.

Many weeks later, after I kept bugging him, he sent a proof that I thought was horrible. In law school they talk about this sort of thing. That the person who contracts the work has the right to reject it.

I said this is not special. This is not what you discussed with me. He said instead of complaining, I should let him know what I wanted. He said all I did was complain. (in my mind, this is NOT how you treat a customer…what a surly girly he turned out to be!)

I said I wanted something special and this wasn’t it. I expected that he would, as he did the first time, discuss possibilities with me. I didn’t know what I wanted. I had hoped he would do what he did the first time—look at the photos and float ideas by me. I liked his ideas for my brother’s photos and paid hundreds of dollars for different sizes and then ordered reprints. So I never balked at his prices though I though they were high. I was satisfied with the only photo I had of my brother.

Here, he did no such thing. He didn’t talk about “ideas” as he promised on the phone. He didn’t do anything “special” and he labeled me a complainer when I said this isn’t special. He said tell me what you want…at that point I really didn’t want to continue with this. I just wanted it to end.

Instead he sent a second proof with this horrific background and the same photos and it was, to me, terrible. I had paid $175 with a balance due of $125. As far as I was concerned, I had not seen $175 worth of work. I said I didn’t want him to continue with this. I asked him to just keep the $175 and give me back my photo. He kept the money but refused to return the photo saying he wanted to work with me until he got it right. I was too upset with his carelessness over something that meant so much to me and did not want him working with my photo anymore. He refuses to return the only wedding photo I have.

I told him it was very low to keep the only wedding photo of a widow who is not happy with the proofs because she will not pay the remaining $125 when she hasn’t gotten anything for the $175 she has paid. He said he wants to finish the job. I do not want him to and as an attorney, I know that he is wrong. As I come up on the first anniversary of Michael’s death and our mother of pearl frame that once held our wedding photo is empty, I am very distraught.

He has accused me of “drama” and “being mean.” First of all, neither of that has a place in the law or business. I can be as mean as I like and still be legally right. And I am. And anyone who knows me knows that I would not want this “drama” if given a choice. I simply want the photo of the love of my life back. Why can’t he be decent enough to do that? Who would deny a widow her wedding photo? Especially someone who has been paid and produced NOTHING.

I sent this last week and he still refuses to send it. I suggest that everyone stay away from this person. If you search the internet you will find similar stories to mine. I sent him a copy of the Complaint I will file in court and never heard from him. I want to warn everyone about my experience. See his email below for his version. He doesn’t get that I don’t want him working with this and all I want is my photo back. He is holding it hostage for $125 that I do not feel he deserves. Beware.

I sent him this email. His last email to me is below.

1) You did a restoration 2 years ago for me and you took out noise, headphones and background garbage without any direction from me. You looked at the photo, told me what you could do, I agreed to it and you did it. You did a wonderful job and restored the only picture we have of my brother who passed away 20 years ago. I was grateful and ordered more copies.
2) I sent the 2nd job with full faith in you and your ability to talk to me before you started and tell me what your ideas were as you did the first time. When we were on the phone you said you had some great ideas and could make it “special.” Based on the work you did previously (prior performance), I trusted you and thought I would be more than satisfied with the work.
3) You never called me with ideas. Instead, after weeks and weeks, you sent me a proof that was, in my mind, terrible.
4) I thought to myself, “Where are Mark’s ‘great ideas’?” I was very disappointed. If not for your previous work I would have not given you full reign. I honestly trusted you to come up with “something special.” Tell me that you honestly believe that your first proof was “special.” Anyone, including me, could have done it.
5) I said this is NOT what I wanted and that you told me it would be special. The second proof was worse than the first. I halted the job at that point. I had no faith left that you were doing anything and that what you had given me was NOT worth the $175 I had paid until that point.
6) I proposed to call it even. You keep the $175 and you give me back my original photo.
7) Though I have no finished product and don’t WANT ONE, you still want to be paid. That is absolutely contrary to every kind of performance contract in the world.
8 ) I will NOT speak to you via phone. If you have a position, other than calling me dramatic and mean and complaining, then state it but name-calling is NOT recognized under the law.
9) Tell me what your cognizable claim is under the law. Not what you WILL do for me, not what you CAN do for me, but what you have done that entitles you to keep my photo.
10) There is none.
11) I will be filing for claims of breach of contract, conversion, fraud and other claims. I suggest you contact your attorney.
12) If I do not hear from you by noon tomorrow I will forward a copy of the complaint that I will be filing in New York by close of business.

Sent: Tuesday, July 06, 2010 12:32 PM
To: sj_elliott@optonline.net
Subject: restoration


Visit our web site at http://www.chamberlainrestoration.com
E-mail us at chamberlainphoto@aol.com

I asked you before the project started if you had any input on what you wanted you said NO.
Then when you sent your first mad email I AGAIN asked, then after the second email I AGAIN asked what would you like changed. You never gave any input all you keep doing is complaining. I want you to like the image I make for you & I know by your mean comments you do not like either versions but you need to give me some idea of what you want & stop all the drama. You want a image you love & I want to create one for you. Give me some very specific ideas & examples of what you want, scan some magazine images & send them to me if you want but your going to need to be very specific on what you want. I am not going to continue wasting my time on things I like & you hate without you giving me any input on what you want.
Mark Chamberlain
Studio Owner