(Closed) My rights in cancelling a caterer 8 days before wedding – AUSTRALIA

posted 5 years ago in Money
Post # 3
352 posts
Helper bee

@kriss85:  What is she not giving back, the deposit? Or is there more money you paid after the deposit?


I think the point of the deposit is that you don’t get it back, right? 


Post # 4
9674 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2019

I am not entirely sure what the law is on this, BUT I think you can’t get your money back. She has the right to keep it as you cancelled. Usually venues will only give money back if they can get the venue rebooked, since the cafe wouldn’t have been rebooked she shouldn’t give you the money. And they are extremely unlikely to be able to get it rebooked in that short a space of time anyway. So I don’t think you are going to get your money back, I think just drop it.

Post # 5
866 posts
Busy bee

I really don’t know. I feel sorry for you and the situation you are in but on the other hand, that is why people have deposits, in case stuff like this happens. I am not sure it is fair to her to expect the money back if you give such short notice on cancellation. My guess is that there are some places that would expect you to pay even more after cancelling to make up for their potential lost business. i know you said you know she didn’t lose any but that could never be proven.

Post # 6
963 posts
Busy bee

My daughter cancelled her Wedding 5 months before and we lost all our deposits.

Post # 7
2297 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

i am not clear on what you are trying to get back  – is it the deposit, or the entire amount?

Post # 9
307 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

Yah sorry, I don’t think you are going to get your deposit back. If she doesn’t hound you for the rest of the money you will be quite lucky. 

Also 8 days before (not sure how many people she was catering for though?) she may very well have pre-ordered some of the food such as meat.

It’s a shame it wasn’t done with a contract but if she does functions regularly I bet she has some legal paperwork/terms and conditions somewhere, even if you may not have seen them.

Post # 10
7276 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

I’m sorry that you lost this money but I don’t think that she should give anything back. I understand maybe giving some back out of sypmathy for the situation but there is a very good chance that she would be out money if she did that. She may have turned done other catering opportunities and she may have pre-ordered food already. She may also have told waitstaff that they would have a job that night. 

It stinks that you had to cancel, but I would not expect a deposit back. I may try to contact her once to ask about it but beyond that I would not keep pestering her about it.

Post # 11
7560 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

I wouldn’t expect to get a deposit back even if she booked another event. A deposit covers the caterer’s prep time – making a menu, scheduling waiters, renting any extra equipment, etc. 

Post # 12
2297 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

@kriss85:  it’s unfortunate but – she doesn’t have any reason to talk to you. she is well within her rights to keep the deposit, and since you have no further business with her, i’m not sure why she would need to call you etc. 

even though she might not have bought all the food etc, it’s possible she booked employees for that day etc. 

it’s too bad that your original wedding didn’t pan out – but look at it from her perspective. she was expecting to make x amount of dollars, and instead 8 days before was told that wasn’t happening AND the person who cancelled with very little notice has been asking for her deposit back. 

she shouldn’t be rude to you, but imo after she declined to return your deposit (which is completely normal policy) you should have accepted that. i’m sure on some level she does empathize with you, but this is her business. 

Post # 13
3885 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

These are excerpts from fair trading.nsw.gov:

Consumers should be aware however, that payment of a deposit and/or signing any documents may well mean they have entered into a contract and are bound by the terms and conditions of that contract

 So despite not having a formal contract, you’ve paid a deposit, and therefore you’ve agreed to some sort of contract.

Once a contract has been signed, neither party can change their mind – both parties are locked in. If either party still wishes to pull out of the contract before it is finished, they may end up paying a penalty (sometimes the full amount of the contract) or the other party may take them to court to recover their losses.

Some contracts may allow a party to ‘opt out’ or terminate the contract early, with or without a penalty.  If either party wishes to have an opting-out clause in the contract, they should seek independent legal advice to make sure they are properly covered.

As mentioned earlier, a contract can be made without a party being aware of it. For example, a book store promising to obtain a book for a customer and taking a deposit from the customer is entering into a contract. By the book store accepting the deposit and the customer offering to pay the balance later, a contractual arrangement has been agreed to.

Since you and your caterer did not agree upon cancellation penalty in advance, the courts (if you decided to sue) would likely follow the customary agreement that the deposit is what’s forfeit if the buyer cancels, and may force you to pay the balance.
you’re definitely in the wrong here, and it’s very possible that your caterer is s avoiding your calls because she’s so angry that she’s not sure she can speak professionally with you. I would accept that I was going to lose the deposit, and send her a letter requesting to consider the matter closed.
FWIW many vendors in the food service world only deliver twice a week, or even once a weel for smaller accents. It is very possible that your caterer has truly already received or at least ordered product for your wedding if its only 8 days away.

Post # 14
2934 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 1996

If you have already asked her about a refund and you’ve now decided to accept that you won’t get your deposit back, it would be VERY good of you to contact her and let her know. Honestly, she did nothing wrong, and if you don’t tell her you understand she won’t be refunding you and are okay with it, it’ll be hanging over her head for the next year or more that she might suddenly get a letter from a lawyer or whatever. It’s too bad your wedding had to be so drastically changed last-minute, but not her fault, and she’s not in the wrong for keeping the deposit.

Post # 15
502 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Did you have anything in writing that stipulated terms of the agreement?

Post # 16
11270 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2012

@kriss85:  unfortunately, i don’t think you are entitled to your deposit back.  perhaps you can work something out with the caterer where she can suppy you with some food trays for brunch the next day or can she make your cake?  this way you can recoup some of the deposit with product.  with the way she is acting though, it may be a long shot. 

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