Mom's Unreasonable album requests

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by geo_martin, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. I have a bride who had ordered her final albums, one 10x10 and one 8x8 parent album. I had to reorder the initial delivered album due to MY error on an image. No problem.
    Upon delivery of the second albums, the bride loved them, approved of them and signed off on the
    delivery sheet and left happy.
    Two days later she calls and says the her mom had some photos that she "didn't like".
    1. Mom wanted the "flowers" on the altar removed as they were "sticking out of the back of our heads" in
    a photo of her and her hubby exiting the ceremony.
    2. Mom wanted certain background items removed also in certain images. (nothing particular was given
    by the bride over the phone)
    I explained to the bride that i had re ordered the albums already in regards to MY initial error. And
    now "mom" wants other items edited out ? I stated that the bride was my client, not mom. The bride then stated " well my mother paid for the photos and signed the contract and she has the final say".
    I was silent for a while surprised at her comment. I then asked the bride to have her mother call me since she
    is the legal client and I would have to work with her from here on out. Also that if she wanted those changes made that they would have to pay for them.
    Now, prior to any albums being produced, MOM had requested that certain proofs be re edited for various reasons.
    Remove her "double chin" even though she is 5-5 105 pounds.
    Edit out certain background items.
    Adjust the color on some images.
    The bride NEVER requested that done. The mom did. I did it as a favor because mom was so NICE.
    So now, she is expecting the same thing be done to the albums.
    The bride asked " Well why didn't you include those changes in the album ?"
    Me :"Those changes were made for MOM, not you." YOU never requested them. Mom did when she picked up
    the proofs."
    Bride :"Well anyone would assume that they would be included in the albums with the changes. "
    Me : " Well no, those changes were for mom, not YOU." The albums were designed for YOU".
    Bride : " Well my mom paid for the photos and she has the last say".
    So this is where we stand as I am waiting for mom to call me.
    Basically MOM is the shot caller. She is very nice. But the bride cannot make any decision without mom's
    approval. Yet mom has not called about the albums. She prefers to make the bride do the dirty work.
    Should I relent and re do the entire albums or stick to my policy where they have to pay to have those changes made ?
  2. Talk to the mother before you do anything
  3. Sure, you can edit any photo she likes...
    ....for $100 per image.
  4. I would gracefully do what the legal client wants done. As she asked for some post on the proofs, I think that she is probably justified in expecting at least the same in the finished work.
    You have a chance here to make a happy customer and enhance your reputation......and it does seem to me that Mom has some reason on her side....regards, Bob
  5. It's a good lesson for us all to learn--have the client sign off that 1)the album is done and 2) any further changes will cost money. I'd do it, for a nominal fee (compromise) and make sure she acknowledges, in writing, that no further changes can be made without full retail price compensation. You want her happy, or it will cost you (however unfair) probably more than this will in referrals.
  6. One suggestion for further orders - I print out every single page - color copy and have the bride initial the pages to approve them and they stay in a file in my studio.
  7. yep, mom is having bride do dirty work. I guess it would be better to do what the bride wants. You do not need someone trashing your name. This is what the "digital age" has done for us pros. I do not offer editing unless someone asks of it. Maybe I am cutting myself short, but sometimes the "Keep It Simple" principle applies in wedding photography also.
  8. Looks like you had some communication issues. You assumed that she didn't want the edits her mom requested, she assumed that mom's edits would appear in the album.
    I'm all about making couples happy but I do draw the line at time consuming edits (unpaid) such as the ones you are describing. Your mistake was that you threw them in for free because Mom is so nice. Lesson here: don't do stuff for free. Double chins are not like fixing white-balance or adjusting levels. Professionals get paid good money to fix things like that.
    In order to make them happy, just get them the new albums with the edits (get it in writing from Mom), use the "rejects" for your portfolio/studio (would not give them to the clients since they only paid for one version) and move on.
  9. I offer to do basic blemish/skin stuff for about $25.00 per image.
  10. Maybe Richard Simmons has a PS action to get rid of her double chin ;)
  11. The changes the mom wants were not stipulated EVER, only until she looked at the album. The bride HAS signed off on the albums as acceptable.
    I totally understand making clients happy, but having to reprint entire albums for a couple of small inconsequential changes is ridiculous.
    The flowers that mom wants edited out are the flowers that they purchased and had place on the altar for the ceremony. That was THEIR decision to have those flowers there. Now she wants them edited out ?
    Is the fact that the bride signed the pick up sheet accepting the albums LEGALLY enforceable being that she did not sign the contract ?
  12. Who contracted you? Mother or Bride?
  13. Well if you re-order all those albums don't you have to pay for it? And you've already re-ordered once. If you can come to an agreement somehow, I'd try not to re-order.
  14. Trying to determine who is the legal client is moot, IMHO. That determination will not help you get out of the current situation gracefully. If you dig your heels in about being paid for the changes, you will make an enemy out of the mom and bride. So while you make money you will lose good will, something which is more valuable (to me). I would make the changes--this time--and eat the costs. Chalk it up to experience, and in all future dealings, have sign off sheets for album designs, and pay careful attention to whether the legal client is signing off on those sheets. I would also make it crystal clear what that signature on the sign off sheet means, and put a limit on the number of changes the client can make before they are charged for the work.
  15. There have been other issues that I have bent over backwards on for this client. The album issue is just one of several. The wedding was a smal intimate wedding. Not some large affair. Yet they questioned why their photos didn't look like the "ones from the Ritz." Literally. Well they got married at a small wedding chapel with a small reception at a local restaurant.
    I'll make the changes MOM wants. But it sucks.
  16. In regards to who is the "legal client", my contention is that WHO do I listen to ? The brides requests or the mom's requests.
    The bride was satisfied with the albums. Mom apparently was not according to the bride.
  17. These days, many wedding photographers have it in their contract that they 'take orders' only from the bride and groom, regardless of who is actually paying. If you had such a provision in your contract, you would have been on better ground to tell the mom that she would have to pay for changes and/or a new album. It still would not have made everyone happy, however. The bride would still eventually side with the mom. So you would have ended up in the same place on the 'goodwill' end.
    The only thing you could have done differently (in either case) was to ask both the bride and mother, before having the album committed to print, whether the 'mom's changes' should be included in the album. This is why I would say that the best course of action is to redo the album, chalk it up to experience and know better the next time.
  18. I guess it all depends on whether how much i'm willing to spend to make them happy. I'll have to think about that one. I'm not hard up for clients.
  19. Depending on the customer, if I know they might be complicated customers, I show the album pages to them on the computer before I send it in for printing. Usually all my customers know how I work and they even request, to the owner of the studio, that they want me to work on their album.
    I have the studio secretary and the owner of the studio later check all the album pages before they are sent to print making any changes . The owner of the studio where I work most always check and approve the work, after the album has been approved I do not make changes unless I get paid.
    First: On your case do not mention again that you changed the album once because it was your fault!
    Second: check the changes they want made, if they are unreasonable charge them for the changes, at least a small amount to compensate your pocket, on the other hand if they are right you should pay to make the changes!
    Good luck!
  20. Geo:
    I'm not sure I understand.
    Did the mom request certain edits, which you made on prints, but when you used these same pictures in the album, you used the non-edited images?
    I can see where if they requested changes to be made on a print, they would assume the same changes would make it into the album unless you explicitly told them otherwise.
  21. Yes. The MOM wanted some changes made, NOT the bride. When the BRIDE ordered HER albums, I used the proof files that the BRIDE had in her proof album files. Not the changed files that mom requested. NORMALLY, I would not do any changes for the MOM. It would have to be made through the BRIDE.
    It was never stated that I should use MOMS re edited files. I used the BRIDES files. At no time did the BRIDE request any changes to any files. She was happy with everything as it was. So when I designed the album I designed it for the bride NOT mom.
    You know what happens when people assume.
    The changed requested by mom are so insignificant that any normal person viewing the photos would not even have an inkling as to what needed to be changed.
    I feel that MOM wants things changed simply because I did it initially and NOW feels that it is as easy as one two three. If I did it at the beginning, why can't I do it now ?
    "All you have to do is push a button and it's done".
    I rarely run into this problem. Can't remember the last time if ever it has happened.
    I will ask her for a specific list of the changes she wants, make them, have her sign off on them and that's it.
  22. So be polite and do nothing. The take the husband out for a beer and wish him luck...he'll need it.
  23. Geo, firstly its not there fault you have already done the album twice, I think you should of put the improved images in the album you had done the work, I don't really understand why you did not use them. In my opinion I think you need to get the album re-done for them maybe you can come to some compromise over the cost, the album they have must have some value to them maybe you could split the difference over the cost of the new album.
  24. "I'm not hard up for clients."
    You tread on thin ice, my friend. Whether or not that is the case, do you want your clients to know that you have that "take it or leave it" attitude. In the end, are you ready to let these people go and complain about you to their friends for the rest of their natural lives?
    It is very strange that you have made corrections to certain photos, but then did not use them in the albums. You have to realize that a girl and her mother are inseparable. The Groom is going to spend his whole life trying to get more intimate with the Bride, but he will never be able to drive a wedge between her and her mother. She will always side with her mother. This is human (or feminine) nature. I don't know much about women, but I know you can't separate one from her mom.
    Your fallacy was to assume that the Bride's opinion and the mother's were different, just because they had expressed themselves differently. If there was ever a question, you should have cleared it up before committing your own money to have an album printed. Now you're stuck with an album you can't sell to Mom, because she's already seen that you can do better work.
    The bride and her mother are going to sit down with their respective albums and compare pictures. You must have realized this.
    "The changes requested by mom are so insignificant that any normal person viewing the photos..."
    When you insult your client's mother, you insult your client. There's no question that at this point, you owe Mom a new album at least as good as the proofs you showed her.
  25. "...take the husband out for a beer and wish him luck...he'll need it...".....Amen! And although there is some truth that you can't seperate a woman from her mom....this woman (bride) is actually subservient to her mother. She appears to have no opinion of her own....just moms. I know many women that would tell their moms to go pound sand if they though they were right.
    It's unfortunate Geo that you got stuck in the middle of it.....but, a new album for Mom is about the only way out of this. And not for any altruistic reasons or future client reasons....just because, simply, by law Mom was the signing client.
  26. So when I designed the album I designed it for the bride NOT mom​
    Unfortunately not - you did the album for the mother because you signed the contract with her. So if whe isn't happy her daughter's signature means squat no matter how much say her daughter has.
    I have been on the rough end of this sort of situation and the hard lesson is that the contract signatory signs off the final product unless they clearly designate someone else - at the very least I would have contacted MOB and found out if she was happy for her daughter to approve them; better still ask her to reply to an e-mail confirming that; best option though is still for her to come and sign them off herself. If you had done any of those things then you could argue that they had not communicated properly between themselves and you could maybe offset some of the cost of re-doing it.
    I agree with other posts - the fact you ordered the wrong album is nothing to do with the requests of MOB here so should not be any part of discussions with the client. Mentioning it to them could go from 'oh he was great, he corrected his own mistake' to '...and another thing he screwed up was...'.
    The easiest business to get is repeat business so if you get this right they will recommend you to other people (maybe give MOB a free album?).
  27. One thing I learned when in business for myself for 15 years was " The customer is always right, even when they're wrong**". A positive recommendation from this family may seed more orders, and that in the long run, this is good for business. On the other hand, if they are asking for touch ups that were not included in the original contract then don't be shy about stating your fees on custom enhancements like cloning out flowers or correcting double chins. Color correction should probably be included at no charge. I also thing the daughter is right to assume the corrections would be included in all final albums.
    **there are exceptions to every rule
  28. a new album for Mom is about the only way out of this... ...just because, simply, by law Mom was the signing client.

    Actually, signing alone does not make mom the client. The contract should state who the client and deciding authority is. If it is silent on that issue the odds of Mom, as signor, being the authority excercising client is much greater though.
    The cure to avoid future instances of this is to set forth in the contract, clearly and in writing, who is the decision making client and if its not the signing party, it should say that that person's conduct alone governs. Now the designated client can still pursue the signor's bidding, as seen here, but it brings needed order. If a bride is made the actual client with sole decision making authority and signs off that the work was completed satisfactorily, then the signing party's subsequent claims are essentially unenforcable. Any new work is solely based on supposed good will, other non-contractual reasons or a brand new contract.
    Sometimes making the clients and others happy, despite having no legal obligation, can go too far. Someone could demand a whole refund and be a negative referall when one does not do as they demand. Here, however, there was this confusion caused by agreeing with the signor (who you say is the actual client) to make adjustments and then the adjustments did not follow to the album. The fact that the signor and/or bride were demanding may be frustrating but it was a clear signal that the confusion caused would become an issue later. There was also compounding confusion caused treating one person as a client who you say was not a client. Even more confusion was caused by agreeing to major and extra adjustments due to 'niceness' rather than a fee based or pre-existing contracted services.
    If you had followed a clear contractual path on this, the decision would be based solely on whether you should cave in to demands that were obviously not contracted for. Here, the mom and bride may be difficult but it is, nevertheless, a self inflicted mess transcending legal and customer service issues. Even if you were to win on the legal front, you allowed confusion to reign and the demands don't seem so unreasonable as a result.
  29. Amen, Stephen. Between this type of mother-in-law (nice but really unreasonable and wanting what she wants) and a bride who has no spine when it comes to being in charge of her own life away from her mother, that guys' gonna need a LOT of beer.
  30. Addendum (after reading more threads): since the bride had already approved the album, say to the mom, "sorry but your daughter has already approved it and I went ahead with the print. It's too late to make changes under the original contract, but I would be happy to make modifications and print another album for an additional cost." It was the daughter's mistake to approve the album without the mom's consent, not yours. There is no reason to eat the cost of someone elses mistake. On the other hand if you are in a gray zone about who did what when, you should always give the client the benefit of the doubt. Good luck.
  31. Just offer to add an extra chin, free of charge. Clients LOVE that.
    But seriously, Mom and bride need to agree on what changes they want made, before you do anything else. Have Mom or bride email the agreed-upon changes to you as a means of protecting yourself. Even if they have a conversation with you over the phone discussing changes, just ask them to email it you to confirm. Or offer to email the alts to them, and use the email to get their confirmation on an electronic paper trail. Just in case. You can put your additional pricing in there too, just to keep everything transparent. Sometimes that additional cost tends to limit the amount of changes that are "nice to do" versus "need to do."
    The compromise on price sounds like a good way for everyone to feel satisfied at this point. But I definitely wouldn't do all this work for free. Your time is money, and if you do all this for free, then everyone else will be looking for freebies when you work for them as well.
    And, copy them both on the email.
  32. Yes, Mike. I have first hand, bitter experience of how a mother can turn into a witch when its about wedding plans. It happened to me.
    My mother (with my father keeping his head down and agreeing with her) made all sorts of demands on us over our wedding, even though we were paying for the whole thing. There was the guest list, the color of the cake, the venue, which church....endless conditions and she made them contingent on them coming when it looked like I would stand up to her.
    I was faced with a choice: Tell my mother to pull her head in or cave in and be her dutiful only son. I chose to show leadership and did the former. She didn't come to the wedding as a result. It was more important that she win the argument than see her only child married. It poisoned the whole affair and as a couple we never recovered. In the end we divorced.
    So my feelings here are strong. Tell her to go jump, and tell the husband to man up.
  33. And some people still ask me why I don't shoot weddings.
  34. Ditto Owen
    Regards all
  35. Here are my thoughts:
    First, you need to meet with everyone and get this worked out. You also need to do whatever it takes and chalk it up to experience. You shouldn't have let the bride have the final say when she doesn't have the final say.
    You have an additional expense here because you made an initial mistake, but you can't let that cloud your judgement.
    This is why I'm not a fan of print and bind. I like to see the prints from the lab, then have the album bound. If I have a picky client, I invite them in to approve the prints first. Just my opinion, but it works for me.
    Don't let all these others steer you into making a decision that isn't right for your business. Charging an unhappy client is never the way to go about this. It's not going to remedy the situation with your client, it's going to anger them even more. And what do you think it's going to do to referrals?......-Aimee
  36. after reading more threads): since the bride had already approved the album, say to the mom, "sorry but your daughter has already approved it and I went ahead with the print. It's too late to make changes under the original contract,

    Apparently you didn't read the part that matters, namely, Geo stating that the mom is the client. Assuming that is accurate, then what someone else does, including the bride, is irrelevent. The statement above being incorrect as a result. Now an exception would exist if the bride were the agent of the client. That's possible but we weren't given enough facts to support that. Do you have information that we don't have?
  37. The nitty gritty of all this is actually who paid? For a contract to be enforceable one needs three elements: Offer, acceptance and consideration (money to change hands). Simple signatures are not enough. Payment has to be made. Whoever makes the payment is in fact the party to the contract. If payment has not been made then you can rescind the contract and walk away.
    And yes, Owen...this is why I don't do them either.
  38. Even though they have been overly picky on inconsequential items (my view) they have still been extremely nice.
    Personally, I just can't see how someone wants the altar flowers removed from the background on a totaly candid shot of them exiting down the aisle. That makes no sense at all. They bought the flowers, they put them there, they are part of the background.
    What next, remove the altar and replace it with the Crystal Cathedral ?
  39. "It was the daughter's mistake to approve the album without the mom's consent, not yours."​
    I think this says it all...
  40. The nitty gritty of all this is actually who paid? For a contract to be enforceable one needs three elements: Offer, acceptance and consideration (money to change hands). Simple signatures are not enough. Payment has to be made. Whoever makes the payment is in fact the party to the contract.

    Wrong. The irony is that you name the elements to a contract but leave out the element that would be required if you statement were true. Namely, that there be a an identified payor. All sorts of contracts, including wedding contracts, are set up so that they paying and/or signing party is not the client and instead designates someone else to be. Also, Third parties often directly "pay" a party to a contract, on behalf of someone else, even though they are not part of the contract. That does not give them authority to act as a party to a contract. This also happens often enough with wedding contracts. A bride signs it, then arrives a check direct from Daddy to the photographer. Dad does not magically become a party to the contract. Also it is incorrect to say that "payment has to be made". Consideration, which you cite, includes promises to pay or give something else of value. This is why contracts often have language indicating that failure to pay by a certain time relieves the photographer of their duties. If those terms weren't there, the photographer would be bound to perform because of the promise to pay which is, itself, consideration. Consideration which needs to be tendered at an unspecified time unless it IS specified.
    In this instance, the contract terms govern and, again, we don't have the language so claiming the person who paid is the client is premature. We're just taking Geo's word for it at this point.
  41. "It was the daughter's mistake to approve the album without the mom's consent, not yours."
    I think this says it all...​
    If mom was the actual client, as Geo claims, then this is not true unless the daughter were an agent of the mother. So it doesn't say much of anything actually.
    Sorry to make all these corrections but its not right for the readers to be mislead by inaccurate information.
  42. John,
    I assure you in OZ, Common Contract Law applies. If the daughter was the client on the contract, but a third party paid, say the mother, the contract is avoidable as the daughter, the actual party to the contract, did not meet her obligation under it. The law may be different over there.
    Thats why, here, we get paid by the party to the contract, 50% on engagement and 50% on the day. And no ifs or buts...receipts are issued only to the contracted party. There's none of this "oh, I don't like my hair" or "he didn't look nice" nonsense and withholding payment.
    You guys need a stronger contract over there.
  43. .....And in fact we are moving to fully payment in advance, 14 days prior to the wedding. For example:
  44. I make albums for a living and see this many times.
    I agree with you. Your contract should always be with the couple (no matter who is paying for it). Have the contract solid, if they want changes, no problem, they simply will have to pay for it. Alway revert back to your contract, it takes the emotion out of it.
    jack hudkins
  45. Your contract was with the bride & she is happy. The mom's are never completely satisfied & are the biggest pain when doing a wedding. The bride was happy. She signed off. You're paid & done.
  46. Although I would not necessarily bend to the mother's wishes, I think the best course of action would be talk to the mother directly and explain to her that the bride signed off on all of the prints and her approval carries the most weight. If the mother wants additional re-touching work done so the prints meet her approval, remind her that it is expensive and that any costs incurred by modifications to the prints would be borne by her.
  47. I show my clients a digital proof of the album pages, and have them sign off that it's the way they want it before I order hard copies.
  48. Your contract was with the bride & she is happy... ...The bride was happy. She signed off. You're paid & done.

    Geo says that the contract is with the mom. As far as anyone knows, you have not been provided with the contract language. So while it is possible that Geo is mistaken, you have no information that he is.
  49. There's none of this "oh, I don't like my hair" or "he didn't look nice" nonsense and withholding payment.
    You guys need a stronger contract over there.

    That's interesting but is not analogous to the situation being discussed here.
  50. the best course of action would be talk to the mother directly and explain to her that the bride signed off on all of the prints and her approval carries the most weight.

    If the mom is the client Geo is obligated to perform services for, as he is saying, then the daughter's approval doesn't carry the most weight. It carries no weight. We don't have the contract language here so, at this point, its reckless to assume Geo is incorrect. If the mom is the obligee as he says, then the next issue is whether the mom's claims have any merit.
    It appears people are having a hard time reconciling the concept of the wedding couple as the primary focus of the wedding and the work from the fact that some contracts happen to make someone else, such as a parent, the client (obligee). One way to prevent this problem is to follow Jack Hudkins' suggestion above and make clear who has authority to enforce the terms of the contract.
  51. Mom signed the contract.
  52. Many times I personally don't do the consultation and don't witness who actually signs the contract. Other times we don't give the contract until the client selects their collection, then we mail it out to them. In those cases, anyone could theoretically sign the contract without our knowledge.
    It brings up some very interesting issues that I have to find solutions to. Great thread.
  53. Get them together, ask them exactly what they want, do it, take the money and be shot of them !
    I pity the groom !
  54. Sounds like this Mom runs the show here and this may in fact be a short marriage. I feel bad for the husbands...havent heard a peep from them in this saga. So, be careful being too nice, as they may ask you to photograph her daughters 2nd wedding too. You can make up the profit on that one. :)
  55. The mother's requests are unreasonable at this date. They should have been made prior to the production of the album. Adjusting color is one thing but the removal of items from the background and her "double chin" certainly should not be included without explicitly being written into the contract. (Double chin, indeed...that's a Jenny Craig problem!)
  56. A number of friends have asked me why I don't shoot weddings for a living.
    Well, there you go.
    PS: I have shot plenty of friend's weddings, and damnit if those aren't complicated enough!
  57. How much does a new album cost for the mother? The bride already said she's happy with her's. Maybe the price isn't too bad and you can just make one new one for the mother?
  58. I have done two reprints already. This would be the third. The first one was due to my error. The second one was at their request. Now we're into the third reprint. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
  59. Wow....all these responses.... Geo, seems to me everything has been said. So now you need to quit whining, learn what you can from all this and, decide what you will do and just DO it.
  60. Geo--I think the first one (your fault) does not count. So the one the bride got was the true 'first one'. We are now talking about a second printing. The $$$ that was spent on the one that was your fault does not figure in any of the reprint reasoning.
    As I said above, 'legal client' determination helps nothing about the present situation. I still think you should reprint it as the mom wants, chalk it up to experience, benefit of the doubt, etc., but then do two things. First would be to check and double check with both the mom and bride before printing this 'last' copy. Second would be to clean up and clarify your procedures on album printing for future use.
  61. (Unable ,due to time constraints, to read all of the above responses.)
    In my contract, right where the "Contractual" person signs the contract I make it clear that they are the person who pays for the service and that they agree, per contract to give all decision making over to the bride and groom.
    If it's not clear that the bride and groom are the only persons you are communicating with regarding all elements of the wedding photography then focus on what you need to change in your contract for future weddings. I'm sure my statement is merely an echo of some of the above messages but sometimes we need to hear things a few times before we become believers.
    Right now you have to get approval from the person who hired you and no one else: this is why you want to work Only for the Bridal Couple no matter who pays you. You do this per agreement upon signing the contract. I only take direction from the bridal couple , before / during / and after the wedding day, no matter who pays for the contract; this is per contract and none negotiable.
    It's just good business to be clear on lines of communication; in fact, it's imperative .
  62. As interesting as this thread is, it's not the first, nor the last time it will feature on this forum. I am not a wedding photographer, but I would by now have amended my contract as follows:
    One page for "Responsibility for payment" signed by the person who will pay the invoice. A second page for "Responsibility for picture and album content," signed by whomever was to be responsible, probably the bride and groom. If this or these persons were different to the person who signed the "Responsibility for payment' page, I would get them to countersign it.
    The chances of this kind if thing happening would be greatly reduced if not negated altogether.
  63. Geo,
    I'm not sure what you're looking for here. Do you want actual opinions or justification to either have the client pay for another album or just refuse to do it for her?
    Yes, the album will cost you, but the bad press will cost you more....-Aimee

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