Home Photo Services United Studios Of America Scam and cheating!

United Studios Of America review: Scam and cheating!

Author of the complaint
12:00 am EST
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Featured review
This review was chosen algorithmically as the most valued customer feedback.

A friend of mine went to meijer and was approached by someone to get her pictures taken for $10 at that time and then $6 when she got the pictures taken. She didn't have any need to get her pictures taken and I just had a child 3 mos. before and I have a 2 yr old. She asked if I wanted to do that. I said sure I have always been bugging my husband to get our pictures taken, so I gave her $10 and paid the $6 when we got there. We had to ask several people employed at Meijer as to where to go because there were no signs posted as to where to go. Finally we were told to go to the back of the store and look for United Studios of America's sign. We found it where the employees take their lunch or break. We were told to be there at a certain time and we were there a little early only to wait because they had only 1 person there. He was very nice and helpful though.

We scheduled our appt to pick up the pictures, again we were ontime only to wait, now this time they had 2 people working. The sales women was very nice as well. It was very upsetting to get there and see all the pictures only to find out that to get them all that was going to cost a lot of money. I wonder what they do with the ones that we didn't order?

We had the pictures the taken about the 3rd week of Oct. and was told we were going to receive them after Thanksgiving before Christmas. So when a week after xmas passed I contacted them and asked what was going on? I was told that they would have to research it and someone would give me a call. Then a week passed and I called again only to be told the same thing.

Now at that point I got a little upset because I didn't pay $216 plus the up front $16 to wait this long for not that many pictures. I told the women that she had 2 weeks to get me my pictures or refund my $$. She then informed me that they do not do refunds. I let her know that if she didn't refund my $ or get me my pictures I would filing complaints with the better business bureau or taking them to court, she had nothing to say.

Then on Mon this week I again called only to be told that i would have to wait on hold because there were 3 calls with the same problem ahead of me, I held for about 5 min. The women came to phone and asked if I still wanted to hold, I said no I would really like a call back but the last 2 times I was told I was going to get a call back I did not. She swore someone would.

Finally late this evening I received a call and was told that my pictures were in the canvas dept and would ship in 1-2 weeks and that I would get a call with a tracking # when sent. I asked several times how or why this is taking so long? She had no response and told me that all she could do to compensate me was to give me 50% of my next purchase!

I am not for sure why this women thinks that i will be ever getting pictures from then again. I asked for someone above her and was told that person was on vacation till mon... I asked if I could call then and ask for him? She said yes I could. So on mon I will be calling and asking for Jim.

So if I am ever approached or told about pictures cheap at a grocery store I will NEVER get them done that way again!


The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

More United Studios Of America complaints & reviews

United Studios Of America - Fraud!
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
United Studios Of America - Family Portrait Certificate
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
United Studios Of America - Bad customer service
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
United Studios Of America - no pictures nor a refund
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
United Studios Of America - Horrible Customer Service
The complaint has been investigated and resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Add a comment
May 07, 2017 8:53 pm EDT

Hello! I used to work for United Studios if America! The entire company is a scam! They also scam the employees! We had one guy that would take a customers credit card info, then later in the evening would call a pizza shop and order his dinner using the customers info! Bam, free dinner! Yes he was caught and actually did jail time! But it happens a lot... But the company lies to employees and cheat them out of hotel money, cheat them out of pay and make them all share rooms at hotels and send kids without drivers licenses or cars with older employees that drive. And no compensation to that driver for gas or wear and tear on the car! I hated it but was stuck, I had a family to feed! Had to do it until I could find something else! Oh, it was a treat wirking for them... lol. That company is a joke!

Sep 22, 2010 5:11 pm EDT

i was approached in a kroger grocery store in conyers, ga by a woman asking if i wanted to take advantage of a picture deal they were having where i would pay $10 that day to have my picture taken at a later scheduled date. i was to pay a $6 sitting fee on the date that i was scheduled to take my pictures and i was to receive 1 10x13, 2 5x7's, n 16 wallets for the $16 that i payed. when i came back on the date i was scheduled to pick up my pictures the sales lady tried to sell me 3 or 4 different packages ranging from almost $200-$500. when i declined she handed me 1 10x13, 1 5x7 (instead of the 2 that i was promised in the beginning), and 16 "mini-wallets" (instead of the 16 wallets i was promised). all of the pictures were of the same pose and i didn't even get to pick which pose i wanted. wat a scam! i can honestly say that i would never have my picture taken by united studios again because although the photographer was excellent the salespeople and the company ripped me off. i would not recommend united studios to anyone!

May 02, 2012 4:34 am EDT

does anyone know how to get ahold of them.. or is the company out of business?

Oct 28, 2010 4:46 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

As the Trainer and new sales Rep. I ensure consumer satisfatction and company politeness. The Michigan area holds no accountability for expanded company problems. The happiness and comfortabiltiy of our consumers is a number one priorty, I as a sales representative for Portraits USA and Eternal light Studios will hold full responsibilty and will ensure that every constumer will be content and serviced to the full of my companys ability. I aplogize for the problems occured with United Studios of America and I wish to correct all problems created by our main corrporation. You are welcome to contact me at [email protected] and please label the message with your name and area you purchased the original coupon. To our consumers we offer a new line of products at better prices and have a brand new group of employees to handle and deliver great servives. My name Is Kristofer Horne and I guarreente satisfaction to all consumers and wish to see you soon for our new productions.

Kristofer Horne

Oct 12, 2010 12:56 am EDT

I worked for united studios for 10 years. This was the best company I ever worked for. I realize some of you posting comments are ex employees that didn't have the ability to get the job done and now have to pretend to be a real customer with a real complaint and try to slam the company. Get over it. Your a small thinker and couldn't stand the rejection. I appreciate the excellent quality and the principles of the business. They do the pledge and say a prayer before every meeting. How many companies still do that? I understand their are some valid complaints and should be taken seriously. This company has done so much for the community and for struggling families during Christmas time by doing free pictures. Many of them donate their time to charity. I love United studios. I realize when ever you deal with humans their will be issues. I get my portraits taken every year with them and had the come to my church and take pictures for free of every family that came to the Easter service. Have a day

Aug 11, 2010 1:54 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

I agree. This company is a scam. Don't get me wrong, the pictures came out so beautiful that i ordered more. I went in June to take the pictures, on June 18th i went to pick them up and gave them 3 checks that totaled $350.00, i was told i would get my pictures in 3 to 4 weeks. It is now August and have not received a thing, i call the phone # and i just get a voicemail, i have left messages and they have not called me back. All i want is to get my pictures, if i do not receive them, i will do a chargeback and get my money back.

Aug 11, 2010 12:09 pm EDT

In response to NeverAgain1973 these allegations of a name change are totally inaccurate. You are committing corporate slander and you will be dealt with appropriately. Portraits USA is an entirely different company in a different state with different ownership. United Studios no longer exists. Portraits USA was gracious enough to offer opportunities to certain employees upon its inception but is again an entirely different company. It is an entirely different business model than United Studios of America. So let this be a warning that you will hear from our legal counsel if these types of false and erroneous statements appear on this or other bulletins on the Internet. If any customer has any questions, please feel free to call me at [protected] to discuss.

Aug 05, 2010 10:06 am EDT

United Studios of America HAS CHANGED THEIR NAME TO PORTRAITS USA, why would a company change their name, could it be th 40 plus Attorney Generals Reports ot the ohio Attorney Generals Office, could it be the bankruptcy, could it be the 100's of BBB reports (PORTRAITS USA / UNITED STUDIOS scores a F) . The company just cant deliver the pre paid product, they can't do the right thing their are 3 new 2010 Attorney Generals reports allready. Same company Same problems.

Aug 01, 2010 8:52 pm EDT

HAHA...I use to work for that company..and NEVER again...was the guy a black guy? email me oskygirl27 at yahoo

Jul 20, 2010 2:42 am EDT

okay will im from memphis tn and my family paid 7 bucks for the 10x15 i think and a 6buck waiting fee. now i was told by the nice lady that 7 bucks was for the first picture. she seem pretty fair to me and said for any additional pictures to bring some money and if i didnt have alot of money that they'll work something out with me far as how many pictures i would receive for that lumpsome. so i would let you know if this is scam or not and my pictures will be here on the 4th of august so till then i hope nobody else gets scamed but pictures are really high so that might be their prices for them

Jul 04, 2010 4:06 pm EDT

listen, people, every business in america is a scam if you think that portrait studios are. This is America, and people need to feed their families. You are responsible for your own financial decisions. Complain to the banks, the credit card companies. The business model these companies use is to sell more pictures around every corner. You the customer have every right to say no. I am sick of people who are almost prejudiced against sales people. Those entry level packages are a good product. Maybe not at United Studios, but other studios. You can stay with that or buy more sheets. You have to understand the nature of this business. It involves lots of screaming children. You are probably not going to enjoy your sitting anywhere, unless you are sadistic or something. You are supposed to enjoy the finished product, which will last a lifetime if they are good prints. So its worth spending some money on. The bottom line is you are never going to get something for nothing. Those 12 or 10 dollar packages really are about 60-100 dollars worth of pictures. Granted its one pose, but that takes care of to whom you are giving the photos, especially during the holidays.
These studios are there to make money, make more money, and them some more. Just like every other freaking business in the world. Big surprise. Take your own crappy pictures if you like or have your brother, or sister, or whoever the heck you told the sales person at the front was a photographer in your family. Everyone can do everything by themselves and save money. After awhile no one will be able to provide any services, and there wont be money from a good economy to save. You think its bad now? The depression was caused not by the stock market but by cheap crabs in a barrel shoving dimes up their butts keeping money out of the market via ruining the banks. Smarten up.

Mar 10, 2010 2:36 pm EST

I have currently worked for this company for over 5 years, and to the person who had fraudulant charges on their account I would advise you to check public records, as United Studios does employ thousands of people accross the nation and THEY DO PRESS CHARGES against employees that steal from the company and the customers. As others have mentioned, for $10 you are receiving a great price for 18 pictures. The company only makes money if you order additional pictures. This has been one of the best companies I have ever worked for. Like any company, they have had some occasional problems with the lab, thus delaying pictures being shipped at the promised time. Keep in mind the time frame you are given is an estimate, and especially with the holidays this year, we received an unexpectedly high volume of orders for plaques and canvas portraits. As far as the managers in Arizona, I will personally see to it that the VP of Operations and our owner is made aware of your of your concerns. We have been in business for over 20 years and although it is hard to get back to everyone in a timely manner when we get thousands of calls a day from people wanting to place additional orders, ect. if you have a complaint or need immediate attention I suggest visiting our website and contacting us via email through our website. We are a company that stands behind our word and we guarantee satisfaction to ALL of our customers. Although we do not generally issue refunds (which is stated on your certificates at the time of purchase) we do offer to re-shoot any and all portraits that customers are unhappy with. We set up appointments for you when you pay the $10.00 and although we do expect our photographers to call all the appointments, that doesnt always happen, which is why we write the date and time of your appointment on your certificate. If you do not use your certificate for the appointment scheduled, you are not out your money, we will still honor your certificate (no matter how long ago you bought it). Also if you were to go to JCPenneys Sears, Lifetouch, Picture People, ect they charge you a sitting fee per person, and we do not, so you are saving a significant amount of money on sitting fees alone. Also our additional pictures are not always high priced, there are times that we run specials of $5.00 per sheet.

Jan 22, 2010 12:32 pm EST

Well as of this moment. I am satisfied with my expierence with United Studios. I took pics with them this past November which happend to be the day after my son's 9th birthday and also my parents 35th Wedding Anniversary. I was excited about these pictures because it was an opportunity for us to take a complete family picture with my parents, myself and my sister (which we hadn't done in nearly 20 years) and a picture including my children and husband and my sister's fiancee'.
The pics we took turned out beautiful, and our photographer was nice, curtious, and knowledgable. My only disappointment was that when the couples pics were taken my husband and I did not get one with just the two of us. Besides the group pic we only took a pic with our children which was nice, but it is also nice to have a pic with the two of us alone.
Normally we spend several hundred dollars yearly on pictures because we have 3 school aged children who take school pics twice a year, and a 19 month old who has been taking photographs at all the monumental ages. We have a new baby on the way and collectively we love to take pics and compare how much we have all changed over the year, we use several different companies eg. Lifetouch, Picture People, Olan Mills, Sears, JCPenny.
I did order a pretty expensive package from United Studios and I recieved all of my pictures on my pick up date. My biggest complaint is that I would like to have more wallet sized pics, with a large family it made it very difficult to distribute pics with so many mini pics in the package. I did additionally order 3 picture plaques that I am still waiting for. I was told 6-8 weeks with the holidays, and it has been over 10 weeks now. I am a little didturbed by this because they surely recieved their payment in a timely fashion and no one even called to say that there would be a dely.
I did contact the company today to find out what is going on and I spoke with Kimberly, she was very pleasant and she did ask for my number to return my phone call. She did call me back within 5 mins of ending our previous phone call. She is supposed to investigate with the Lab to find out where my plaques are, and I am going to be very paitent and wait a few days for a response. As I said at this time they can have my business again. We will see how they manage my current situation with the photo plaques to determine if I still feel this way at a later date.

Jan 13, 2010 12:33 pm EST

Buyers BEWARE!
Your picture quality depends on the photographer. Some are execellent having worked for Olan Mills, etc. Some stink. The company doesn't care, the local managment doesn't care as long as they get money from the masses.
I worked for them. Sometimes the management sends you to shoot with a broken lens, outside in front of a grocery store in 100+ degree heat, on an outside patio in the rain, in a crowded space in a poor/dangerous place of town, in a different location than where the coupons are being sold-without telling the customer. That's my experience with the misrepresenting/lying/dishonest 'church going' managment in Arizona.
This company never checks backgrounds on it's employees and has many illegals working for them that live in hotels, have no transportation except cabs and busses-don't give them your credit card info-no way, no how.

Nov 27, 2009 9:02 am EST

I'm sure it is very fusterating not to receive a callback after so many attempts. I also understand the pressure the Sales Reps push when trying to sell you your many pictures. I got my pictures taken three years ago and I am still in love with them and I am trying to set an appointment to get my pictures taken again with my baby. The one thing that I would say went wrong was that I paid more for a smaller package then a friend did. I was pretty upset because I paid $180 for package only without the canvas and my friend paid $100 for package with canvas. Yeah, I was mad, but I loved my pictures too much. I think my pictures were well worth the price. I have taken at other studios and I have paid about the same amount for my pictures, I am not as satisfied with them as I was with the pictures taken by United Studios. As for how to contact them, I was able to get my copyrights by email. You should try it, they responded quickly.

Nov 17, 2009 5:26 pm EST

I also I the picture taken. They tried to sell me lots of pictures at that time. Now I have this picture. It is nice and I wanted to make it larger like a potrait and I contacted them, No one pics up the phone. No answer. It directly goes to the voice mail. Unfortunately, no one even relplires to your call. I really love this pic. I took it to the color lab and they said that they couldn't do anything with it because there was a copyright sign? Now there is no way I can contact them. I even heard that they went out of business. Can someone help?

Nov 12, 2009 9:59 pm EST

You can't please everyone all of the time. During a time of economic downfall, everyone is looking for something for nothing or almost nothing. When you go into a deal where you are going to get 18 portraits for only $10 plus a sitting fee, you should realize that this isn't how the company makes their money.

I know for a fact that on the west coast, the presellers make as much as $9 for ever4y booking, and the photographers (if they do make the calls and get the people in) make the entire $6. So the only way the company makes their money is if the cuswtomer buys som of the extras.

Did it ever occur to you that when you go to Sears, Penney's, Olan Mills, etc, they do the exact same thing. I could scream scam because for my youngest daughter's 1 month old picture (at Sears), the photographer took wide shots of every single pose, and got my arm in every single one. And then told me that they could zoom in, but it's an extra $10 per sheet. Or I could rant about the fact that when I took my son to Olan Mills for his 1 year old "Birthday Package", the photographer was so busy on the phone booking more appointments that she was missing all of the good shots of my son, and the only one worth taking home was the very last shot (which sheet tried to sell me for $30 per sheet). I took my oldest tp Walmart and the photographer made her cry and tried to over charge me for pictures of my daughter crying.

So to be completely honest, NOBODY will ever do 100% just for your memories, and you definitely get what you pay for.

Oct 25, 2009 1:36 am EDT

Ive cureently worked for the company for 6 years on and off love the company they do everyone right in the company think about it if you had 250 people come thru every 5 min 3 days straight no time! to think straight the company is the largest in the country so take your pictures that you buy for 16 bucks and jet dont buy mo more if you are gonna complain its worthless to try to make a good company look bad sorry not gonna happen

Nov 19, 2008 3:05 am EST

I personally worked for this company. Let me tell you how they operate. I walked into my neighborhood grocery store and was approached by the "area manager" about having pictures taken. I told him tha tI was a photographer and he asked me if I wanted to make $1, 500 a weekend. that was a lot of money for a 21 year old and so I said yes and was hired on the spot. I then began to understand that while they do provide a valuable service they are con artists. Let me explain how the system works. First they find the most charismatic local kids they can and setup shop at your local mid to low income grocery store. They pay these kids $5 per booking. They can book an unlimited number of people per weekend. (They do this because on average only 34% of the people show up. Then they hand the list of people that made appointments to the "photographer". The Photographer (the job I had) is supposed to call everyone the day before and remind them. I hardly called anyone because no one spoke english. Ok this is where it gets good. When you show up on the specified day you pay $5 of that the photographer keeps $3. Then I photograph you and your family in 6-10 poses and give you a day to come back to get the pictures. On average I had 400 people show up, but 400 families X 10 minutes is 4000 minutes which is equal to 66 hours. So you can see one problem because there are only 24 hours in a day. After the photographer goes home they have the sales team come in. At this point the company has made ($22, 500 bookings)+(2400 siting fee)= $24, 900. The sales people then come to the store on a payday weekend to sell the overpriced portriats. Everything is printed and sold as packages. Cash only. Anything not purchased is thrown away.
Once I realized it was a shady operation I imediatly left the company.

Nov 17, 2008 5:29 pm EST

I find that everywhere you go some people just look for faults. i had the exact same experience, however rather than being negative about it i realize $16 dollars for a total of 18 portraits is an awesome deal. i was very pleased with my portraits and of course the prices will be jacked up when you want more. the point of a promotion is to get someone's attention, which they do with the initial package. and they gave me a receipt that clearly stated that it would take time for my special order to get to me. it gives a time frame and it ddin't even take as long as it said i would to get it. i really think a positive attitude could really help all of you.

Aug 10, 2008 4:30 pm EDT

My husband and I had our picture taken at our local Meijer by United Studios. We returned on the appointed date and made our selection of reprints. We chose only one pose as a couple and one each as individuals. We were promised our reprints within 5 weeks. Seven weeks later we were still waiting for our order which was to be gifts to our children on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary. We received a call from United Studios giving us an opportunity to purchase the remainder of the pictures that we had originally turned. We declined and said we just wanted the rest of our order that we had already paid for.
After several phone calls to the studio on the status of our order, we received a package from them...and guess what? It contained not what we had requested but the pictures that we felt were not flattering to us. I am very disappointed and disgusted with United Studios. I will certainly tell anyone who shows an interest in using this company to beware.
I am also disappointed in the Meijer company for allowing such a company to use their facility.

May 28, 2008 3:41 pm EDT

I recently had my photographs taken by these so-called professionals (same company). I too, had these photographs taken at a local Meijer's store. Like the previous post claims, I paid $10 up front, followed by an additional $6 at the time the photographs were taken. When it was time to look at the photographs I was disappointed. They didn't even use the background I had selected and the pictures weren't even good (mediocre at best). The pictures for $16 were the worst of the lot and to get the better ones I'd have to pay $117.65. I wasn't feeling too well when I got in, between that, wanting to be able to give something to my parents on Mother's/Father's Day, and their high-pressure sales tactics I talked myself into the buying the photos. I paid $60 up front and would pay the rest later. I hadn't even left the premesis when I decided to return the pictures and get my money back.

I was given a phone number to call for someone who could authorize the refund. I left two messages and decided because of the weekend, and holiday, that I"d give them four days to respond. I waited and called them back. I had to leave another message. I tried to get someone else to talk to but nobody was available. I finally got a hold of someone the next day (today) and they said they would have to check with the person I had left the photographs with, to make sure I had done so, then would get back to me on the refund. Based on the previous claims I found here, I called Meijer's and told them the situation. I found out that I wasn't the only person that had called and complained. I'm now going to call the Better Business Bureau and file my complaint with them.

May 05, 2008 1:05 am EDT

They ripped me off, I was suposed to get half off everything and they charges me 150 bucks, when I got home I noticed some of the photos had metal fixtures in the backround! I am going to try to get my money back asap! I paid half as much at pennys and got twice the quality and twice as many!

Apr 17, 2008 12:46 pm EDT
Verified customer This comment was posted by a verified customer. Learn more

United studios is the largest mobile portrait studio in the country. There are thousands of people working for them. Don't you think it's possible that every now and then they hire a bad one. All you have to do is call your bank and they will take care of this (as you know) I'm sure they will prosecute the guy, as any other company would...

Jan 22, 2008 1:44 pm EST

I will also never do it again. In a shopping mall where I live in Louisville KY called Jefferson Mall, this same company gave me the same deal. Pay 10$ up front and then 6$ at the sitting. Well I havent gotten to my sitting yet. My sitting is this comming Sat. and My bank called me yesterday morning because they have drained my bank account with over 100 charges ranging from 5 to 149$. This has never happened to me until I gave them my card info. My banks security dept is tracking them. I know the guys name that did it. I spoke with the supposed VP of the company and he says hes pressing charges against this guy and so should I. I had a fishy feeling when I have them my info. I geek thinking its the whole company doing this instead if this one person that they said they were pressing charges on. I am now waiting for those charges to clear my account so they can be credited back. The charges came to like 2 grand. This company still has a kiosk at the mall and I may go picket in front of them to get everyone to stay away.