Should we ask for a partial refund? Possible lawsuit? UPDATE
Question: money back?
Total Votes: 206
For Easter Sunday, my family rented a banquet room in a local restaurant, hired a photographer, and an Easter Bunny to give out candy/gifts. We had a buffet and private servers. We did this to have a large enough space for about 70 people and no one had to worry about cooking or clean up
We had a reason to. This will probably be our last holiday with my grandma. For 46 years, she has fought cancer. I know it will sound like I am making this up, but she had uterine cancer, breast cancer in both breasts at different times, lung cancer in her left lung that resulted in a lobe being removed, cancer in her right lung later, and now we have found out she has spots on her liver and her brain that we're waiting for the results of. The chemo she is doing now, that is it. There are no more options after this. She has been on every combo of chemo and what she is on right now is actually experimental. The doctors are basically telling us she has 6 months. My grandpa is also stage 4 Alzheimer's Disease so who knows how long he has?
So we wanted to make the most of it.
We get to the restaurant and immediately they tell us that the owner had sent the curtains for the room out to be cleaned last week and the cleaners still do not have them back. The banquet room is used as part of the restaurant when not rented out and it has a glass wall that separates it from the rest of the place. They close the curtain when the banquet room is in use. We do not think it should be that big of a problem since the doors will be closed and there will be signs posted saying "RESERVED FOR PRIVATE PARTY."
As soon as the photographer and Easter Bunny arrived, everyone in the restaurant seemed to think that they could send their kids in. This was not part of the contract with the restaurant. This was an outside photographer who hired someone to be his Easter Bunny for the pictures, like we had requested. It was made well aware to the restaurant we were doing this.
So we got to be the bad guys by telling little kids they couldn't come in to see the Easter Bunny and he didn't have candy for them, that it was just for the people in our room. No, we did NOT have extra candy for other kids, we had baskets made up specifically for the kids in attendance with their names on them for the Easter Bunny to give them. I can't even count how many parents informed us we were rude for having that Easter Bunny where all the kid could see and not allow it. This would not have been a problem if the curtain had been closed. The whole time (a little over 2 hours) we were constantly interrupted with a "Hi, I know you all are having a private thing, but can my kid come in and see your bunny?" Um, no, we're really trying to have professional pictures done of all the grandkids, great-grandkids, and great-great-grandkids, so we really don't have time for your child to interrupt. We were cussed at, called names, and told we were rude and selfish. And thanks to the curtain not being closed, it was uncomfortable having all these kids staring at us through the glass wall, trying to get the Easter Bunny to notice them instead of our group.
But that is not even the worst of it. I can't tell you how many times we had people come in and start serving themselves from our buffet! They didn't want to wait so they figured they would just fix themselves a plate and go back to their seats in the restaurant. Hey! That food was paid for by us! When you're being catered like that, there are set portions! Thankfully we had thought ahead because some family members are bigger eaters and we knew there would be at least 10 teenage boys and we ordered enough for 100 people instead of just the 70 we were expecting.
My aunt and I went to manager twice and asked him if there was some way he could help us since people kept coming in. He was NO help at all. He asked "What do you want me to do? Stand there with a shotbun and turn people away?'
Needless to say, we're not 100% happy. We are seriously considering asking for 1/4-1/2 of the money back.
Sorry it took so long for an update, but we ended up in small claims court.
After speaking with the actual owners, they were appalled at what happened and wanted to make things right. Until they spoke to the manager on duty. HE claimed that we had more than our 70 people, that we had about 150. Our family isn't that big! MAYBE if we had invited inlaws (like my dad's family, and my aunt's inlaws, my inlaws, etc.) we would have had that many people! With that claim, he insisted they had to double our food. We pre paid for 100 people to start with! He also claimed he spoke with my aunt on Friday to warn her about the curtains being down. No, we found out when we arrived at the restaurant on Sunday. He also said we complained and wanted part of the larger dining room for pictures. We did not. The room was plenty big enough for our set up. He also claimed that our Easter Bunny did in fact walk through the main dining area talking to the kids and that is why the children kept trying to come in. He did have to walk through the restaurant, but he went straight from the front door to the rented room.
So, the owners actually sued US for more money on the food! They wanted another $1500 for having to provide double the food with no notice.
We countersued. Due to them suing us for more food, we asked for everything back that we paid the restaurant due to breach of contract. Due to small claims court being limited to $2500, since the lawsuit named me and my wholly and individually, we separated our countersuits between the 2 of us so we could get the full amount back. We just requested that our cases be heard together or in the same day by the same judge.
We went in with pictures of almost everyone in attendance, with a letter from each household as to how many people attended with them and what their experience was (several mentioned the interruptions of other children while pictures were being taken and encountering people not a part of our party at the buffet. They also mentioned how at times it was uncomfortable due to the lack privacy that the curtains should have provided.) We had a guest registry that people signed so that we could send thank you cards (so glad my aunt thought of that!) Adding it all up, we actually had 76 in attendance, with 2 being newborn infants. We still prepaid for 100 and it is in the contract stating that.
The photographer and the man that did the Easter Bunny also came as witnesses. They testified as to how they were there all day and how the conditions were (no privacy, others coming in, interruptions of the pictures, other patrons demanding time with the Easter Bunny, etc.)
They brought the manager on duty, the manager we had signed the contract with, and a server.
I would say of all things, that server won the case for us. The manager that we signed the contract with and the owners were not there on Easter Sunday, so the judge said they could not be witnesses to what happened, other than the one we signed with verifying the contract. The manager on duty stumbled over himself and contradicted himself several times when asked about the our complaints and asking for help keeping others out. He admitted that yes, others had come in that were outside of our party and did go through the buffet, but then tried to say that they weren't the reason more food had to be brought out, that it was because we had several more in attendance than the contract stated.
The server however said she never opened any food that wasn't premarked as being for our party (everything was covered with foil in warming ovens and had the family name on it.) She said she and another server were doing most of the kitchen running and she never saw the cooks add food to the warming ovens nor did she get any food directly from the cooks, it all came out of the warming ovens. She and the other runner would add food to the warming ovens from the walk-in as they took things out. She said she saw several people get up from their seats in the main dining room, come in to the private area, get a plate and return to their seats. She also said she saw several children run in and out of the main area to our area. The owner of the restaurant tried to say she was mistaken but the judge asked how he would know since he wasn't there.
So they lost their case for the $1500 and we won $3500 that we paid to the restaurant, another $500 for the lack of privacy and our private party being interrupted so many times.
I know a lot of people won't like it that we won everything, plus some, back, but it is what it is. We were only going to ask for the actual room rental back and drop it on the food part until they sued us asking for more money towards food. Even if they did put out more food than we originally paid for, it was on them because of allowing others in that were not part of our party!