http://halifax.mediacoop.ca/blog/samanthabhadra/5330 It is My Image- I Paid for It, I signed It, I put My Full Name on It. It is My Property. An F Rating: Photo Studio in Walmart
My name is Vidyasvari. I have been living in Halifax for 3 years now.
I have never been a customer of Walmart before- except for a snack I bought there one day this year.
However, on September 30, 2010- in response to my question on how to get a pair of citizenship pictures done- an acquaintance (Mervyn Kumar-Misir) took me to a photo studio in Walmart (Bayers Lake).
We were early and waited until the studio opened.
A lady (Sandi) asked us to sit down and asked me to fill out a form (name, e-mail address, home address, and phone number)- which I immediately did.
Sandi did not properly greet us, she was busy serving customers who were queuing behind us.
A pair of citizenship photos were requested.
The photographer (Sandi) assured us that she was familiar with the specifications and refused to look at the paper from Immigration Canada.
Mervyn tried to read her the specifications. Sandi snapped at Mervyn.
Mervyn looked at me and said that everything is computerized, nothing can go wrong.
Sandi took my picture and asked me to pay for it. I asked to first look at the result but Sandi said that the pair is still wet.
I paid, got my receipt and since someone has just invited Kumar out for a brunch: we took the pair without properly inspecting it.
At home, I realized that Sandi had stamped the back of the pictures the way a pair of passport pictures is supposed to be stamped.
I took the bus back to the studio, spoke to a customer service agent who dismissively said that “the photo studio is not part of Walmart”.
I walked to the photo studio and politely asked Sandy to erase the stamp and to re-stamp the back.
She refused. I said: “I do not usually look good in still pictures. I have been very relieved I looked good in the one you took. I am very grateful of it.”
She again refused to gently erase the slanted longer stamp and replace it with a shorter version. The one that would resemble what is on the specification paper from Immigration Canada.
I said: “According to Immigration Canada (I again showed her the paper), I need to be able to put my name at the top of the stamp. I could not do so since you (Sandi) stamped the back of the picture very close to the top. You (Sandi) used a passport stamp format instead of a shorter citizenship stamp format.
Sandi said that unwanted pictures would usually be sent back to her along with a rejection paper. She said: “I have been doing this for 35 years. You are a liar.”
I told Sandi: “I am not a liar. I am not the one who issued the specifications. Immigration Canada has put the requirements there for a reason and I can not afford to lengthen the wait time by sending in a pair of pictures that do not meet the compulsory specifications. “
She had her hand on my wrist, saying: “you are not understanding, you are not understanding.”
I was ready to take the pair home and go to the library in order to find another photo studio when Sandi spirited half of my pair away.
I thought she was going to replace the stamp. I wanted to follow her but I wasn’t sure if I would not be trespassing.
Some minutes later, I peeked into the studio’s workshop. Sandi was on the phone, while cutting a picture of me with a pair of scissors.
It was a scan of the half that has been with her, she gave me the scanned picture and refused to hand me half of my original.
I initially took the scan but upon further inspection, the scan is darker than the original half.
The scan was also in a slanted position. Worse, Sandi cut the bottom of the scan with a pair of scissors and it was jagged.
I went back to the studio (my palms together in front of my nose, stating: “Please do not get mad at me.”) in order to collect half of the original that has been with her.
Sandi abruptly took the scan away, she was furious. I begged her to hand it back to me.
She repeatedly refused.
I tiptoed and got the scan from her hand. I needed it in order to show an arbitrator the reality of this piece of unauthorized work.
But most of all, I needed half of my original back since it already has my full name and signature. I told Sandi: “I do not wish to leave my personal property here.”
I asked her to return half of the original to me. She refused.
I said: “Please, I do not wish to cause anyone any trouble. I need half of my original back. I would then give you the unauthorized work back, that is the darker, slanted and jagged scan.
On top of her lungs, she called security on me. Sandi said: “There is nothing wrong with any these pictures.” I said: “if you really think so, why did you take one of my original away?” Sandi refused to hand it back to me. I said: “you said there is nothing wrong with it, so please return it to me.”
When I refused to leave (without half of the pair that I’ve paid), she walked me away from the photo studio.
I took my time leaving Walmart. I stopped and spoke to a guy with a small charity table.
( I am applying for my Canadian citizenship. I can not afford leaving a signed photograph of me with a person who called security on me. I didn’t wish to leave Walmart this way.)
I took the bus home but I was so distraught, I couldn’t get out of the bus. I let the bus drove me over to Dartmouth (even though I live in Clayton Park).
I am reporting this incident since I haven't been able to shake off the contempt, aggressions andviolence that was directed against me.
I have been losing sleeps in the past 8 weeks. I have been living in constant fear of identity theft and further aggressions.
I have been sleeping less than 3 hours per night in the past 8 weeks.
I have also accumulated a lot of missed opportunities since I haven’t been able to go places alone in the past 6 weeks.
I ventured out to Dalhousie Open House and Saint Mary’s Open House but Post Traumatic Disorder took over me and I could not interact with the friendly staff and teenagers there.
I was in constant fear of random acts of aggressions.
I went to Halifax Forum to purchase a winter cap and I could not bring myself to get my purchase from the counter that the owner of the counter had to personally hand it to me.
I regretted I didn’t go to the police on Sep 30.
Later on, I found out that Shoppers Drug mart has been offering a pair of citizenship pictures for 10$. I went to Shoppers Drug mart, 3x. Each time I saw the white screen background, my head spun and my knees failed to support my body. I had to hang on the nearest fixture.
It is worth noting that on Oct 23, 2010 a recent acquaintance (Martina Bottmeyer, originally fromGermany) offered to drive me to Dartmouth Crossing to see Sandi’s manager (Jackie, I got her phone number from the 1-800 number on Sandi’s studio).
We arrived at Walmart (Dartmouth Crossing) I waited for my turn, and when I finally got to see Jackie, I said: “I do not wish for anything bad to happen to Sandi, I do not wish for her to get fired or reprimanded. Half of a pair of a citizenship photos that has been signed with my signature and full name has been with Sandy since Sep 30, and I would like your help to get it back.” Jackie picked up the phone and said (I am paraphrasing):” Sandi, someone is coming your way. Please have her picture ready and give it back to her. She said you’ve had it since Sep 30.”
Jackie told us that Sandi is actually the manager of the photo studio in Walmart (Bayers Lake) and that Jackie is not Sandi’s superior.
Martina and I arrived at Walmart (Bayers Lake).
There were around 3 customers in front of us and so we waited for our turns.
Our turn came, Sandy refused to speak with me. Sandy looked at Martina in the eyes, telling Martina (I am paraphrasing): “this woman cost the studio 60$, this woman stole 4 pairs of pictures, this woman assaulted me.”
Martina needed to leave early since she has booked a course downtown.
Martina looked at me, I shook my head indicating that I am innocent.
It is the company who cost me 18$, it is Sandi who took half of my picture away.
Sandi said she needs to send that half to the company’s head office in the US.
(Earlier, Jackie said it is not their practice to do so.)
It is Sandi who has performed an unauthorized work and has taken half of the original pair without my consent.
I am a very peaceful and thoughtful person. Nothing of this sort has happened to me before- thankfully.
I have been living in fear of further aggressions since September 30, 2010.
I have failed to properly function since Sep 30, 2010.
I am reporting this incident so that I can finally rest my fear of further aggressions in good hands (The Halifax Regional Police) and move on with my citizenship application / my life in general.
Thank you very much for your attention, thank you very much for reading and filing my report.
based on BBB files, this business has an F for their BBB Rating.