ConsumerWatch: Canceled Wedding Costs Woman Thousands
AUBURN (CBS) – A week after signing a contract to book a wedding, the wedding was called off.
When the venue refused to give them any of their money back, an Auburn woman called CBS for help.
This family felt 10 months was plenty of time, for the venue to book another wedding.
We’ve learned they did, so why are they keeping their money too?
Carolynn Steiner’s cold feet came a week after she and her mom, Jonnie, signed the contract to have her wedding at Power’s Mansion Inn in Auburn.
“I broke everything off, just after he had bought the ring. It was very difficult time,” said Carolynn.
Still, 10 months out from the big day, they figured the venue had plenty of time to book another event and thought they could get back at least part of their $5,750 they paid.
But the owner refused, pointing to the contract that said “non-refundable.”
“That’s very reasonable and I respect that policy, but we were 10 months ahead,” said Jonnie.
Wedding planner, Kate Miller, said most wedding contracts have refund schedules.
“Say 30 days out from the wedding, if you cancel, it’s nonrefundable, 60 days out of you cancel, it may be 50% refundable,” said Kate Miller, Wedding Planner, Kate Miller Events.
Even though the contract said no refunds, attorney Crystal Caldwell Virtue said, under California case law, (Kuish v. Smith case and the restatement of contracts), if the vendor rebooks the date and recoups their money, you should be able to get your money back.
“The law would say that he was unjustly enriched to be paid twice for the same thing,” said Caldwell Virtue with Caldwell Legal.
Power’s Mansion Inn owner, Alfred Lee admitted he booked another wedding but said he “had to cut the price by 50%” and is just “breaking even, if not losing a little bit…”
He also admitted he’s having financial problems and “spent the money.”
“I feel very frustrated,” said Carolynn.
Carolynn and Jonnie were hoping they could at least apply that money toward another event there, like a birthday party, but the owner is refusing.
“I’m the little guy, I feel like I’m fighting Goliath,” said Jonnie.
They are now considering small claims court, but if the owner of the mansion can prove he lost money, the attorney we spoke with said they may lose the case.
So how can you avoid this? Wedding planner Kate Miller said you can buy wedding insurance. For example, if a bride or groom is in the military and they get deployed, it might be a good idea to get insurance should you have to cancel.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)