A Perth newborn photographer, Melissa Sheed, has appeared in court facing six charges of breaking consumer law, after she allegedly failed to supply photos to her clients.
Sheed’s ‘devastated’ clients claim to have each been duped out of upwards of $1500, with the total figure amounting to almost $12,000. The clients claim they paid a deposit, had the photos captured at Sheed’s newborn studio, and after providing the full payment they never received their photography packages and were unable to contact the photographer.
Consumer Protection prosecutors also had trouble contacting Sheed, and after numerous failed attempts to issue a court summons, an arrest warrant was eventually filed and the photographer was arrested.
WA Consumer Protection published a public warning in May 2019, following nine complaints that claimed to have not received a photo package within the promised three month period.
‘Like weddings, photos of newborn babies can’t be replicated and there is a huge emotional investment in this type of purchase as well as a financial one,’ said commissioner for Consumer Protection, Lanie Chopping, last year. ‘A refund alone is unlikely to completely satisfy the consumers in this case, so we are working to get the outstanding photos supplied as soon as possible.’
In last year’s Consumer Protection warning, Chopping highlights that other complaints against Sheed were resolved ‘through conciliation’, and suggests consumers only ever pay a small deposit and provide the full balance when goods and services are delivered. ‘This reduces the risk of loss and also gives the consumer some bargaining power with the trader if there is a delay in delivery.’ And, of course, clients should always seek recommendations from friends and family, or verify a photographer’s claims by asking to view previous work and speak with past clients.
While Sheed has deleted her website and social media accounts, her photos are still indexed in Google Images – they’re classic cutesy posed newborn photos, and certainly not the work of an absolute amateur.
According to 7News, Sheed claims all clients received their photos and she has evidence to prove it. She also headbutted a 7News camera while being pursued by the crew.
Sheed hasn’t entered a plea, and will reappear on January 27, 2021.