For at least a dozen couples, their wedding memories might be gone forever. Because a wedding videographer hasn't delivered on his promises.
Jesse Clark is the owner of SureShot Videography and he is running as fast as he can from the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters. Why? Clark’s company shot wedding videos for more than a dozen brides, who all say he did not deliver on their contracts. In most cases, he did not deliver any video at all.
Alison Romeo and her husband Matt got married last fall and have been left high and dry by Clark. It has tainted what otherwise would have been perfect wedding day memories.
"It's kinda messed up to screw with someone on what's supposed to be the most special day of their life," Romeo told NBC Connecticut.
When the Romeos were searching for a wedding videographer, they were looking for a reliable company with a good price. They found Clark via theknot.com and saw positive reviews. Then, she and her then-fiancé met him.
"He seemed really nice and really genuine," Matt Romeo said.
Another couple had a similarly positive experience.
"He was really great. He had a good special, we really liked him," Francesca DiRobbio of Old Lyme said.
So both couples signed contracts.
"The wedding went fine,” Matt Romeo recalled. “Then we just kept waiting, just kept waiting and we kept emailing and emailing … it's been a headache ever since."
After SureShot recorded the video, Clark disappeared with the video. The couples’ contracts said they would receive their DVDs in eight to 12 weeks. The Romeos, however, waited eight months. That’s when they started pushing.
"I said, if I don't get it in a certain amount of time I feel like I'm going to have to pursue legal action, and then he wrote back in an email, 'See you in court,’” Alison Romeo recalled with disbelief.
Francesca and Nicholas DiRobbio had slightly better luck. After waiting for seven months, they got several highlights on a web video. To get their full DVD, they decided to go to the next level and enlisted the help of the local police.
"I went straight to the police department and the sergeant went over with me to the storefront and he was there,” Francesca DiRobbio said.
The officer who accompanied her said he was familiar with complaints against Clark. DiRobbio got the DVD but when she viewed it, she thought it looked like an amateur home video.
The Dirobbios said they never got most of what was guaranteed in the contract.
“We went with the premier package, so you're supposed to get up to six hours of footage, two fully edited 90-minute DVDs. Ours is 60 minutes and that's the rough copy," DiRobbio said, holding a clear plastic jewel case.
The package promised a “sterling silver, custom engraved DVD case.” What the DiRobbios got was clip art printed on white paper.
“I could've done that myself!” the newlywed Francesca said.
The Romeos and DiRobbios are far from alone.
The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters talked to 12 couples in Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts missing wedding videos from SureShot. They each paid Clark in full, between $500 and $1,000 each.
In some communications with brides, Clark cited a variety of excuses in attempt to explain why the videos had been delayed: “a power surge during Hurricane Irene,” a hard drive crash, family illness and that he was waiting for custom-engraved DVD cases to arrive.
In a letter dated Feb. 1, SureShot Videography promised full refunds for the footage “lost” from Hurricane Irene, but none of the couples we spoke to have received one penny back yet.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office told us it has received 12 formal complaints against SureShot Videography in the last six months. The Better Business Bureau gave it an ‘F’ based on numerous unanswered complaints.
This is just the beginning. SureShot Videography has closed since the complaints started. Visit the SureShot website now, and you’re redirected to a new wedding videography company, Magnolia Films. Jesse Clark also started Magnolia. Last August, Clark opened SureShot Portraits, a studio in Blackstone Valley Mall in Millbury, Massachusetts.
The expansion plans don’t stop there. SureShot Portraits has plans to expand into Connecticut with a new store inside Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester. A mall representative confirmed a leasing deal is in the works for July but said it hasn't signed a lease. They were unaware of any complaints against the company.
Clark did not respond to our repeated phone calls. So we visited his business several times. On our third attempt, he saw us coming and headed straight for the door.
"Jesse, 12 brides told us they are missing their wedding videos from you. What do you have to say to that?" I asked Clark as he ran down a back alley.
Clark sprinted out SureShot’s doors, around the mall and down a hill to avoid our questions. When the Troubleshooters stopped, he kept on running.
Back at SureShot Portraits, we met employee Keith Morin who has tried to help many of the brides obtain their wedding videos.
"Several times a day, I tell Jesse about the customers who have called who are willing to accept money back, to accept anything, the raw footage we have,” Morin said. “I tell him about it and he usually doesn't have a response."
With Clark running away from giving answers, the brides and grooms are telling everyone they know to stay away.
"You can't go forward and you can't start a new name and a new company and leave all the mistakes you made behind," Nicholas DiRobbio said.
The Smith family is planning to gather couples to sue Clark as a group. Others are warning brides-to-be on theknot.com and other wedding sites to avoid Clark at all costs.
"It sounds like he is motivated by greed. He has no remorse, no shame,” Matt Romeo told NBC Connecticut. “He's just going to prey on people in this wedding."
Bridebop.com said it will remove advertising by Magnolia Films after brides and grooms complained to its co-founder, Christie Campagna.
There has been a small silver lining. The Romeos suddenly received part of their wedding video, postmarked two days after the Troubleshooters began calling SureShot. Even though they say it was poor quality, they salvaged a few memories.
However, 10 other couples are still waiting for their memories of happily ever after.