Vendor Relationships, or the True Source of Beauty, Vol. 16, Issue 29

Etiquetteer was taken aback by yesterday's news story about the one-million-dollar judgement against a Happy Couple for destroying the professional reputation of their wedding photographer. Neely Moldovan, also known as Neelykins, a beauty blogger, and her husband Andrew initiated a news story in 2015 about photographer Andrea Polito withholding their wedding album and photos because of an additional fee for the album cover. Now that they've destroyed her business, they're going to have to pay for it.

The most charitable thing that could be said about the Moldovans is that they didn't read their photographer's contract well enough to understand what their obligations were. And that's probably the only charitable thing that could be said for them. A Perfectly Proper business dispute is handled in a meeting room, possibly with attorneys if it's Come to That. It is not handled on the evening news. The Moldovans, however, with vengeance in their hearts and publicity on their minds, brought it to the networks. The result then: Polito, her reputation unjustly shattered, had to close her business and has depleted her savings since the story broke. The result now: just look at the hashtag #neelykins to learn the extent of her public shaming. Her website is down, and her Twitter and Instagram accounts have gone private.

This entire situation could have been avoided if the Moldovans had first reviewed their paperwork and recognized that they still had a financial obligation to the photographer. Barring that, they should have tamed their unquenchable, unjust need for vengeful publicity, which is now backfiring on them. Rumors to the contrary, there is such a thing as bad publicity.

Some Perfectly Proper Tips for Working with Vendors

  • Recognize that people go into business to make money.
  • Understand the terms of the contract before you sign it. If you don't, get a third party to explain them for you.
  • Abide by the terms of the contract after you've signed it.
  • Be sure the vendor abides by the terms of the contract, too. That document is a two-way street!
  • Don't let your temper flare so much that you use language you'd be embarrassed to find in print. (Etiquetteer wishes someone had shared that advice with Mr. Scaramucci . . .)
  • Resolving a vendor dispute in a public forum is likely not a great idea. Call your lawyer first, not the local news outlet.

A final question: how beautiful a beauty blogger can you be, really, to behave this way? True Beauty, like Perfect Propriety, starts on the inside and works out.