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The Tale of the Disappearing DJ

Scott Susor- Assistant Editor

It's a Wednesday afternoon in mid-August.  The office phone rings.  On the other end is a frantic bride.  "My wedding is September 9th and I can't find the DJ that is supposed to be there!"  As we probe into the situation, we discover several interesting, but alarming things, concerning how she "booked" this now-missing DJ.

It turns out that the venue, an upscale suburban Houston country club, had an "Open House" several months previous.  Several vendors were present at this gathering -- one of which was the DJ in question.  Believing that his presence there was essentially a recommendation by the venue, this bride talked a little with him about her planned September 9th wedding.  She liked him and was delighted to discover that he had September 9th open.  He said that a $50 deposit would guarantee him for that date and the bride quickly paid him the $50, relieved that another of her wedding day concerns was taken care of.

When the bride hadn't heard from the DJ by mid-August, she became concerned.  She called the number on his business card to make sure everything was still on for her September 9th wedding.  What she heard was, "I'm sorry.  The number you have dialed has been disconnected or is no longer in service."  Turning pale, she re-checked the card and re-dialed the number - same result.  The business card also showed an Internet web site URL address, so she went to her computer, brought up her browser, and input the URL.  What came back was "Web Site Not Found."

She then called the country club, figuring that since this DJ was at their Open House, they would certainly know something about him, and perhaps what was going on.  Nobody at the venue had ever heard of this DJ, or at least that was what they told her.  In any case, the venue's manager said there was nothing he could do about it - she would simply have to try and find him on her own, or book another DJ.

The first thing we asked this bride was, "Do you have a contract with this other DJ?"  She said no, explaining that the only document exchange that took place was his business card for her $50 deposit.  She didn't even remember if he actually wrote down her wedding date.  After telling her that we just happened to have September 9th open (ironically, every other Saturday in September was already booked), we told her that we'd meet with her immediately so that we could make up for lost time in planning her reception.  She was elated, and a meeting was scheduled for the next day.

Out of curiosity, we decided to see what we could find out about this disappearing DJ.  Was he really a DJ?  Or was he a scam artist posing as a DJ?  We checked every phone-listing source we could think of for both his name and his company name.  We came up empty.  We then went online to check various local Houston web sites, and national bridal web sites, where mobile DJ's often list their services.  We happened on one local Houston site that did list this DJ's company name and phone number.  Naturally, it was the same disconnected number that appeared on his business card.  It's possible that this was a pure con job.  But it's also possible that this was an incompetent DJ.

Ironically, within the next four weeks, we received two more calls from frantic brides, reporting that their DJ had also "disappeared" - phone disconnected, web site missing, and e-mail bouncing back.  Neither of them had booked the same DJ as the first bride.  In fact, both were different, and both were DJ's we HAVE heard of, as opposed to the first DJ who NOBODY had heard of.  We just happen to keep an ongoing list of all DJ's we can find who are operating in the Houston area, and these two were both on that list.  But, unfortunately in the cases of these two brides, we were already booked on their wedding dates, so we were unable to help them personally.  We did, however, refer them to other competent Houston-area DJ's we know PERSONALLY.

How often do you suppose this type of thing happens in YOUR area?  Houston, of course, is a major metropolitan area, ripe with opportunity for scams.  But a "travelling DJ scam artist" COULD perpetrate a similar scheme almost anywhere, and be quite successful.  Why?  It's a combination of two things:  (1) Brides often make emotion-based judgements and decisions concerning their wedding day, and (2) The mobile DJ industry has not done an adequate job of cultivating an "informed consumer."  We, as professional mobile DJ entertainers, can do nothing about the first thing.  Brides will ALWAYS tend to make emotion-based judgements and decisions concerning the most important day of their life.  But we CAN and SHOULD do more to ensure that scam artists and incompetent DJ's don't give the rest of us in this industry a collective black eye.

Scott & Doreen Susor are the Owners/Operators of "Your DJ" Professional Entertainment Services in Houston, Texas

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