If angry brides in Miami were to suddenly sprout fangs and stomp north like a mob of fuming Sasquatches, there's one business that just might scream and run.
In the past two years, Fort Lauderdale-based Total Focus Professional Photography and Video -- which banks on wedding DVDs -- has provoked more newlywed outrage than any other South Florida business of its kind, according to Complaintsboard.com. On the consumer watchdog website and similar online forums, more than 25 ladies and gents have posted complaints saying the company is guilty of everything from hiring pervy photographers to breaking contracts. Witness a sample:
Laura: "I would NOT recommend them to Satan."
Shana: "Scam artists! I felt like I was a contestant on Let's Make a Deal."
Ashley: "Are they kidding?!"
Asked by Riptide about the business, Michael Handler, a teacher from Plantation, says, "It's a joke. Whatever contract you sign means nothing." He explains that the same interview with his dad appeared twice back-to-back on a wedding video, which cost more than $1,700.
Total Focus -- which is located on West Oakland Park Boulevard -- was originally named Photovideo Network, state records show. Thirteen complaints in the past three years have been filed against the firm with Better Business Bureau. There are no lawsuits listed in Miami-Dade or Broward County civil courts.
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Manager Jim Peters contends Total Focus has satisfied thousands of customers. Employees do their best to make customers happy. "In some cases, we have six-month relationships with clients. It's possible they have forgotten what's in the original contract."
Crista Stefanick is a slender, pretty 29-year-old who sounds more like a breezy kindergarten teacher than an angry bride. Still, the Miami Shores native claims the firm recently tossed aside her contract and held her wedding memories hostage. Last March, she and her fiancé had a church wedding. They had booked a horse and carriage, chartered a boat, and found Total Focus online. The couple agreed to pay about $1,600 for a video package, but then heard nothing from the videographer until 15 minutes before the ceremony.
Then, three weeks ago, Crista went to pick up the video. A Total Focus representative told her if she wanted more than one copy of her wedding DVD, she'd have to fork over $199 for another one. It had been specially treated to prohibit duplication. And by the way, some simple editing would run an extra $2,000.
And when she finally viewed the costly video, it was blurry and amateurish. "I was like, really?" she remembers. "I don't want other people to get screwed like this."