I received a call today from a representative of a certain Sapphire Studios in central London saying that I have won a ‘VIP Photo Package’, a lucky draw from a list of contacts put forward by a genuine friend of mine. Searching them up on Google produced a list of threads where customers vented out their dissatisfation due to having lured into something they did not ask for and stories from other people who received similar calls as well.
“Hi (my name), how are you today?”
“Darling you have just won a VIP ticket to a photoshoot…”
“Your friend so-and-so have recently had a session with us. Have you not seen any of her pictures on Facebook?”
“Alright, so she’s forwarded a list of friends for a lucky draw for the photoshoot and you got it! Are you excited?”
“…luxurious and professional makeover…”
” You can also bring a friend with you!”
(another fake) Yay!
“… photography… (blah blah blah)….does it make sense to you?”
“Now, if you do work from Monday to Friday, just to let you know we are open 7 days a week.
“Darling, this ticket is valid for three months. Now we just need to generate a tentative date so you don’t miss out on the offer.”
“….professional makeover…So who are you going to bring with you?”
“That’s fantastic! Now, are you sitting in front of a computer? You can go to our website, typie in w-w-w-dot-s-a-p P for Papa, p-h-i-r-e-studios-dot-co-dot-uk. Have you got to the main page?”
“You can go to the gallery section and view the pictures….(blah blah blah)…have you been in a fashion photoshoot before?”
Nope. But I have done film photography for a friend at Ealing Studios..
“Wow! That’s fantastic! Now darling, if you would just give me your details so we could generate your ticket and have it sent directly to your email…(blah blah blah)…. does it makes sense to you?”
“This is a promotional offer, we are trying to gain publicity by offering free photoshoots since we are a relatively new studio…(blah blah blah)….does it makes sense to you?”
Yeah. I was the Publicity Officer for one of the student societies in uni…
“Excellent…(blah blah blah)…we need a deposit of £300 to secure your VIP session…(blah blah blah)…”
Wait. You’re asking for my debit card details?
“…you know how when you’re doing a transaction on the phone they ask for the number behind the card (blah blah blah) but we’re not going to do that…(blah blah blah)…”
Oh, so sorry! My (imaginary) boss is coming. I’ve got to put down the phone.
“Can you confirm the dates with us (blah blah blah)….”
I really, really have to go. Sorry! Bye!
Later I gave a shout out to my friend, and she confirmed it was real. She did go for the photoshoot but didn’t buy any pictures. The person who dealed with them at the end of the day weren’t happy when they said “No” and proceeded to bitch about them to a colleague within earshot. My friend and her companion walked out of the studio after that.
The studio was charging about £46 per photo. On the threads I found, that was the price given for the first piece. Subsequent photos were charged at £95 each.
I would normally reply “Sorry, not interested” with these kind of people, but I simply wanted to know where the conversation was heading (apart from practicing my acting skills haha!). I was curious to know if the contact list was legitimately obtained, or leaked from a database. Had I wanted a pretty picture of myself I could have just called up several friends (who are semi-pros in this sort of thing) and have more fun organising our own photoshoot.
The following are my friend’s testimonial on her experience;
“my friend V got recommended by her friend to go for this free photoshoot thing, which she accepted cos her friend verified it and she paid around 100 for deposit (because apparently they lose money if u dont show up and they need to prepare the photographers and all that) which they assured her is fully refundable.
so she asked me to go as her guest and we went on the same day with another pair of friends. it was fine when they do your make up and hair and all, nice to u, photographer very friendly and made the session fun.
then we were given forms to fill in to recommend others, kononnya for free gifts (apparently its cheap make up products, whatever la) so i just simply put those i thought might enjoy, some of the numbers i put friends dont use anymore. after they collected the forms we went upstairs to look at the pictures. they were..okay la. did not make me look like a goddess.
V and i didnt plan to buy before we went for the photoshoot anyway, 46 pounds for one photo u think our dads print money is it. just went for the experience, thought it sounded fun. then the lady wasnt happy, in fact abit annoyed when she asked what our budget was and we replied that we didnt really have a budget and just wanted to see how it went and then decide. lagi not encouraged to buy la kan?
anyway the price on the website gives 46 per photo, she offered to give us 2 for our deposit (im not sure if the deposite was exactly 100, but somewhere around there), then she said she’d give us 2 each and 1 together for the deposit, a total of 5. still expensive la. so after we told her we didnt want to buy, she was like fine and all, did the deposit refund paperwork and then when we walked out of the room she went into another room. that room’s door was open and we heard her say loudly apa bitch la bla bla she offered 5 already still dont want buy bla bla o.O so that ruined the whole experience la basically.
we walked out straight away telling our pair of friends about it after that didnt even want to claim the free gift or whatever. but the other pair of friends were fine – they didnt experience that. so its real la but only go if u want the experience and ur able to say no firmly and not feel bad hahah then again i cant promise that u wont experience what i did.”
Stay safe people!