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January 18, 2013

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Big photo bill case taken to court

AN expat was asked to pay 280,000 yuan (US$45,004) by Shanghai Really Photo Studio for albums and other photo-related products after she went in with her daughter for a 3,000 yuan package in early November.

"At first, we thought the 3,000 yuan package included all the pictures," said the expat, who did not want to be identified.

When they returned to pick out photos on November 11, the studio staff told her the total price was 280,000 yuan. She thought, "it is impossible."

The expat agreed to pay 53,000 yuan after the studio suggested she sign an agreement allowing them to use their portraits in an exchange for the lower price.

The expat said she didn't realize she could have been overcharged until she told local people. "My Chinese friends were so shocked. They said this is the biggest scam they've heard," she said.

She called the studio immediately to tell them to stop making albums and went to their office. The studio refused to reply.

The two sides negotiated unsuccessfully under the mediation of the Hongkou District Consumers' Association. The expat has took the case to Hongkou District People's Court, which held pre-hearing mediation yesterday.

"I want to have justice and fairness," the expat said.

The expat demanded the studio return 53,000 yuan and cancel the portrait use agreement, pointing out the studio had concealed the price of albums on purpose.

She said when they went in after the shoot, the studio staff convinced them to pick as much as 187 photos by repeatedly saying the studio would give them promotional prices and complimentary products.

She said she had agreed to the 53,000 yuan price because she wasn't aware of market prices and they were exhausted after five hours of photo selection.

The studio refused the demand and said all the photo products were finished. The defendant also gave the judge a list of 17 products, including a so-called "Hermes" album priced at 38,000 yuan.

"The Hermes album is customized and is a luxury product," the defendant said when the judge asked about the price. The list gave no details on the album or its composition.

A hearing on the case has not yet been scheduled.


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