A Melbourne cafe has been ordered to pay an Instagram "influencer" more than $A1600 ($NZ1696.88) after an verbal contract between the parties "turned sour".
Chloe Roberts won her legal stoush with east Melbourne cafe, Legacy, after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal took her side in a dispute between the parties over "prematurely" deleted posts.
The tribunal this week likened Ms Roberts advertising service to that of a billboard, and accepted her argument that she was entitled to be paid for posts she later hid.
Ms Roberts is a gym and fitness "ambassador" whose revealing Instagram account - which largely shows her in bikinis, g-strings or tights - attracts thousands of likes. She is often pictured with food, working out or on the beach and can now demand $1,200 ($NZ1272.66) a post from clients.
The Camberwell cafe only advertises by hiring Instagram influencers and its owner believed Ms Roberts would help him attract customers.
"(Ms Roberts') Instagram page promotes an image of young, slim, attractive people, so that viewers of the Instagram page would hopefully form the view that the cafe was a cool place to go," the VCAT finding read.
Legacy owner Con 'Costa' Katsogiannis did not dispute the "quality" of Ms Roberts' posts and agreed to up her pay from $200 ($NZ212.11) to $300 ($NZ318.17) per post after her followers increased from 80,000 to 123,000.
But when Ms Roberts and Mr Katsogiannis met to settle his outstanding debt of $2,250 ($NZ2386.24), the relationship began to unravel.
VCAT deputy president Mr Ian Lulham details what happened next.
Mr Katsogiannis tried to tally the number of posts on Ms Roberts' Instagram feed which showed her at his cafe but was shocked to find "the posts were not there".
He felt Ms Roberts "was seeking payment for nothing".
The influencer - who retained creative control of her Instagram page - told him she archived old posts, which made them invisible but could be retrieved and re-posted.
Ms Roberts argued doing so was in the interest of both parties as "90 per cent of the views of an image occur in the first week" and that Instagram accounts with too many old posts become "unattractive for followers".
The cafe owner did not buy it, saying instead the posts should remain "until the client expressly agrees that the image be archived".
After several "fruitless" meetings Ms Roberts maintained she was owed $2100 ($NZ2227.16).
On Monday, Mr Lulham said he found merit in Ms Roberts' assertion that "new images are viewed more than old images" and that, "in a general sense", Mr Katsogiannis did not not lose value when the old posts were archived.
But he could not determine if the influencer was entitled to delete posts at any time.
He therefore ordered the cafe owner pay Ms Roberts two-thirds of the sum she sought - or $1400 ($NZ1484.77) - as well as her filing fees of $276 ($NZ292.71).
Legacy's own Instagram account remains active and is replete with photos of fit, attractive people and often heaving plates of food:from acai bowls with peanut butter, coconut, strawberries and granola coyo to buttermilk fried chicken baos with pickled cabbage.
Mr Lulham did note a "dichotomy between the young slim consumers, and the thoughtfully plated but somewhat enormous meals".
"Perhaps they are share plates," he suggested.
Ms Roberts and Mr Katsogiannis were contacted for comment.