That's why I said "or their attorney"
since they have cut off communication.
I'm not convinced that the designer retained an attorney as an intimidation tactic though. OP said the designer stopped communicating about it after 45 days. It's not like they "took the money and ran". During that time they could have been trying to resolve it (or just making excuses, who knows).
But I have to say, though, that if I were in a situation where I was in disagreement with a client about work that was done or supposed to be done on a project and for how much, and I felt I truly, honestly
did the work and was completely confident that I did not rip off my client, AND I gave them my explanation and stated my policies, etc. then at some point I would have to cut off direct communication with the client and refer them to an attorney (assuming the project is no longer being worked on, and assuming there's no reasonable compromise). Because there's only so many times I could state and re-state what I believe to be true about the situation and the agreement, and if the client did not want to accept it then repeated back and forth emails about it would take up a lot of time I could be spending on other projects that support my family, kwim? I have never had to do that, though, and hope I never ever
I'm also not against her reporting to BBBOnline or anywhere else, as long as it's an honest and fair review. If no work was done and they did just take her money and not do any work then she indeed was "totally ripped off" and should get all of her money back. But even with the limited information given, I am not sure that's the case here. Not that she doesn't deserve any money back, though. I was just trying to explain since I'm also a designer what *may* be happening on the other side of the story. Edited to add:
One quick note about the references...I have actually never ever had someone ask me for references directly.
So you're exactly right, references could be their friends/family who will say whatever! I guess I meant more along the lines of checking with people they've worked with before, like looking at their portfolio and contacting previous clients and stuff like that.