Now, what of the planner? Penis cake company had already quit the race, so I returned to the hotel as the simplest option. MiL had sent me a number of pictures of a printed photo album with wedding designs this company had allegedly created. Looking at them closely, I noticed the names of three different wedding companies and on a whim started googling – behold, and to no surprise after my multiple terrible experiences with fake pictures online, they had stolen all the images from these other companies who were located anywhere but Hohhot. I was fuming.
With my work, I have also come in touch with copyright issues and the fact that enforcement of copyright laws is currently appalling in the Middle Kingdom. The sad truth is that it is very common for companies to steal someone else’s pictures and pass them off as their own. Even more frustratingly, if you find out about it there is really not much you can do from a legal standpoint. You can threaten them with legal action and if you are lucky it is enough to intimidate them, but in truth, if they don’t care and take the risk copyright infringers would get off without so much as a scratch.
So, while I felt terribly sorry for these companies, that strengthened my resolve to not use this hotels wedding company. I might not be able to do anything from a legal standpoint, but I sure as hell won’t break my own principles.
Therefore I returned to Dianping, the site/app that has become my constant companion. It is the yellow pages for all of China with a review system. Any place that wants to be successful in China nowadays simply has to register their details on this site and users will comment on the service and the average cost. Since there is so much petty crime and trickery in China, this app is a godsend since anyone advertising one thing and then offering another will soon be found out and branded forever on the holy review site. Whenever I find myself in a new place, the app tells me where to eat, drink, go to the cinema, and so on and so forth.
The problem with Hohhot is that because it is only a third tier city, there are not many reviews on Dianping. Only one company really had any, although the good sign was that this company has three branches in across the city, suggesting they are doing something right. Also, their images were identical across all their platforms (personal webpage, Dianping and WeChat) and some of them were clearly taken with phones rather than by professionals – these are good indicators that they haven’t stolen the pics from somewhere else. Finally, in their WeChat messages each wedding included a picture and contact details of the wedding planner responsible for this wedding. They even uploaded multiple detailed bills of their services as opposed to most of the other wedding companies I had spoken to, who would say “We can’t tell you the detailed prices, only write a proposal”, thereby making sure there was no accountability and they can do what they want in terms of pricing.
All in all, this company looked the most promising. I contacted one of the planners who had already done a vintage theme and told her all the details she needed to know; since I had previously gone through this process before with PCC, it took only a few minutes. Then she said it would take her a week to write a proposal. She now is two days overdue; I will be curious to see whether she manages to deliver my “vintage UK theme”.