Sudden closure of Bismarck photo studio sparks flood of complaints, state investigation


Glasser Images informed customers in an email at 7:24 p.m. on Thursday, October 7 that it would be shutting down due to economic hardship during the pandemic and that it would not be able to refund down payments to customers who had already paid.

“Due to the closure, if there is something paid for, we will not be able to make any refunds. For this we cannot apologize enough,” wrote studio founder Jack Glasser in the e- mail.

Parrell Grossman, an attorney with the Attorney General’s Office’s consumer and competition division, said the state has received at least 50 complaints about the brutal shutdown of Glasser Image since Thursday’s announcement, prompting the state open an investigation into potential breaches of consumer fraud protections.

Grossman noted that the attorney general’s office does not investigate every business closure, but said in this case there were enough complaints and specific factors to warrant further examination. Some of the complaints are likely to be down payments worth thousands of dollars, including a complaint Grossman cited that Glasser accepted a $ 5,000 deposit in October, just days before it closed.

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Glasser did not immediately respond to a voicemail message left to comment on this story. Jon Sanstead, a Bismarck attorney mentioned in Glasser’s shutdown announcement, said in an email he is no longer representing the company due to a dispute uncovered the night before. He said he didn’t know who would represent Glasser in the future.

A search of a US Small Business Administration database shows that Glasser Images received two loans totaling more than $ 500,000 under the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, a government initiative to support struggling businesses during the pandemic.

A Facebook group, originally titled “GlasserImagesSucks” and renamed “GlasserImagesGroup”, formed Thursday with the stated purpose of determining legal action against the company. The group quickly gathered more than 1,000 subscribers.

V Keagan McGarvey, a 25-year-old woman from Minnesota who posted to the Facebook group, said in an interview that she and her fiance paid the company about $ 3,000 in May to film their upcoming wedding, agreeing to a discount in exchange for the full payment cost in advance.

“The fact that we trusted this company to do it is really devastating,” she said. “We’re already having a little trouble because we want the day to be really special.”

On Facebook, McGarvey shared an email from Glasser dated Sept. 25 about advertising discounts on wedding video bookings.

A commenter replied that she had accepted a discount to pay the entire company on Wednesday, October 6, a day before the announced closure.

Readers can contact Forum reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America body member, at [email protected]

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