Some twenty years ago I was at a kosher Jewish function when to everyone’s amazement the caterers started serving ham sandwiches. These things happen. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and will generally do so at the worst possible time. There are few things more upsetting than a party that turns pear-shaped – the wine that is corked, the band that fails to turn up, the sudden discovery that the venue has been double booked. What do you do? How do you complain?
  • As a general rule you should not panic into canceling everything. This may lead to catastrophic financial consequences and what you perceive as Armageddon may not always be so – get a second opinion before you make a snap decision.
  • If you can soldier on, do so. Everyone knows that bad things happen and it can even become something that brings everyone together. People will enjoy them selves at a good party regardless of the details so it may well be worth making the best of it and then dealing with the issue afterwards. The same is often true of restaurant meals and holidays.
  • Be insured. It is possible to get insurance to cater for unforeseeable disasters at a big function so do think about this in advance. It goes without saying that you cannot cater for “forces majeure” and if there is a strike or an earthquake a strongly worded letter to God will not do much good.
  • If one aspect of the party is very average despite the fact that you have paid a fortune, that is good grounds for complaint. The supplier may regard the problem as minor but ham sandwiches at a kosher function is a catastrophe and a court would share that view – a function is all about feeling good and that carries a very broad meaning.
  • Whether it is the entertainers or the caterers, try to hold some money back. Possession is ninth tenths of the law and if you are dissatisfied it is far better to put the onus on them to sue for payment rather than the other way around.
  • With any personal service it is always best to go on recommendation. If you pick your suppliers at random, be extra careful and ask for references. Better safe than sorry.