Justin Montney and Alexis-Athena Wyatt had planned to marry in Colorado Springs in May. But tragedy struck in early February when Wyatt, 22, died in a car crash, forcing Montney to cancel the arrangements.
That’s when he contacted Copper Stallion Media, the Dallas, Texas-based wedding videography company the couple had hired to capture their big day, to ask for a refund. But the company refused, saying the $1,800 fee they paid was nonrefundable.
After not hearing from the company about his request for months, Montney, a 24-year-old Kansas resident, told BuzzFeed News he reached out again last week, letting them know he planned to tell his friends about what happened and post about it on social media. But before he could, the company threatened to sue him and Alexis’ family in response to a review her mom wrote on the Knot website.
At that point, he said he decided to reach out to KRDO, a local television station, to talk about what happened. The story published Thursday, along with a Facebook post in which, according to screenshots, Copper Stallion Media mocked the 24-year-old for talking to the news, saying “we hope you sob and cry all day for what would have been your wedding day. Sorry, not sorry.” The story sparked widespread outrage online.
“At first I was just going to tell friends and family, but when he started to threaten Alexis’ family with a lawsuit for basically their daughter dying, that’s when I was like, OK, I’m going to start going to the people who … spread the news,” Montney said during a live video interview Tuesday. “The rest of the internet said, ‘Oh, that’s terrible.'”
The backlash prompted the company to purportedly create a website under the domain name JustinMontney.com “to build our case against” Montney, accusing him of fueling a “smear campaign.”
According to the website, the vendor received more than 75 one-star reviews on Yelp and the Knot “in a matter of hours” after the KRDO story was published. The website also includes several videos the company claims are voicemails of people bashing the company for not refunding Montney.
“It is not right that people can go online and trash a company. The contract was non-refundable. We will NEVER refund Justin Montney even with the online threats and harassment,” the website states. “If we knew he was going to shake us down, we would have charged a higher deposit.”
Copper Stallion Media did not return BuzzFeed News’ requests for comment. According to the website, the company has shut down their page on the Knot. The company’s Facebook account also appears to have been taken down.
The website explains that deposits for wedding contracts are nonrefundable because if an event is canceled it’s unlikely the company would be able to book another event for that date, causing staff to lose out on income.
“Nonrefundable deposits are the industry standard,” the website states.
However, Montney said other vendors didn’t hesitate to give back their money after hearing about Alexis’ death.
“They obviously felt terrible for what had happened,” he said.
After seeing the website, Montney said he was a little concerned about his safety, noting that it appears the company Photoshopped a picture of him from his college’s website. The website also links to Montney’s personal Facebook page, as well as other pages for people the company claims to be a part of the alleged campaign.
“[The company’s owner] is trying to stir up a ruckus and defame my name, but obviously he doesn’t have any ground to stand on,” Montney said, adding that he felt like it was clear who is actually defaming someone. “He kind of made his own smear campaign.”