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Caterer frustrations, WWTKD?

We booked a caterer over the summer. They were on the recommended vendor lists of our venue and several others we looked at. Everything seemed great when we met with them, plus the prices were very reasonable. We have a guest list of 80 people and we wrote the catering contract for 60 to be on the safe side. So it's a smaller wedding, but not tiny.

Since we signed the contract and paid the deposit, they haven't been especially helpful. When I've emailed the lady with a question it took her forever to get back to me, and her email started with an excuse like, "Sorry, I was busy with an event for 300 people this weekend." She's made it clear that our small wedding isn't a priority for her, and I'm seriously tempted to call her out on it next time it happens. Two weeks ago I emailed her to confirm some things, and she sent me a price for one of our menu items that was different than what she initially quoted. I pointed it out and she said she didn't remember quoting it, so I politely directed her down the email string to find the original quote. She told me she would "take a look at it" and now it's been two weeks and still no answer.

Would it be totally out of line for me to point out my frustration with the way she's treated us? Or would that do more harm than good? Should I just bite my tongue for now?
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Re: Caterer frustrations, WWTKD?

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    I don't think you'd be out of line at all for you to point out that you're a paying client and you expect to be treated like a paying client. 

    She may become more responsive when it gets closer to your wedding, because her priority right now is likely the weddings she's catering RIGHT NOW, but I'd also be worried that she doesn't take your event as a priority at all, even the day of, and that's not ok to do to a client. 
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    When is your wedding? If it's soon I think you should bring this up. If it's not for months, I don't see this as a big deal at all. A wedding this weekend should be a priority over one in several months.
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    I would document a summary of dates and communications. If your wedding is in the next 6 months and you plan to do plated, I would escalate it to her boss. If your wedding is further out and/or you're doing a buffet, I'd give it a little more time. 

    The reason I say 6 months is because you'll want time to decide on some menu options, do a tasting, make a final decision...then order invites with RSVPs that match your menu. If you're planning a buffet, you definitely do not need as much time.

    Sorry you're dealing with this, super frustrating.
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    I get frustrated when I have to wait two or more days for a response to an email because I generally hold myself to a 24 hour response time. Casual email correspondence with family and friends is way more lax but I absolutely believe businesses should be prompt with paying customers (or prospective customers).

    I think how you proceed should depend on how close your wedding is. If it's within 2 or so months, I would go ahead and say something about your impression of their customer service so far. If you're further out than that, I would just give them a few days after you send a question and reply from your previous email saying "I want to follow up on the email I sent on feb 2, I haven't gotten a response yet." But as your day gets closer, they really need to treat you the same as they would for larger scale events.

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     fka dallasbetch 


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    When is the wedding?  

    I wouldn't read into the 300 person comment   A 300 person event is time consuming in the days leading up to the event. There is a lot of prep to be done.  You can't be in the kitchen and on the computer at the same time.  Especially if you are a small caterer.   You  take care of the event going on now before an event months out. Doesn't mean they will not give you the same priority.

    Now to the prices, that would annoy me.  Especially if they are in the same email chain.  Not getting back to you in 2 weeks.  That  is unacceptable also.    

    Caterers tend to be busy Thursday-Sundays.  So give them a pass on taking longer to get back to  you if you email during that time.  But they should be able to respond to emails early-to-mid-week.     So IMO a week is the longest they should get back to you.  








    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
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    Regardless of when your wedding is, taking longer than a week to respond to a paying customer is unacceptable IMO.

    But my opinion on how to talk to them about it would depend on how far away your wedding date is, as some PPs said.

    Formerly martha1818

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    I get frustrated when I have to wait two or more days for a response to an email because I generally hold myself to a 24 hour response time. Casual email correspondence with family and friends is way more lax but I absolutely believe businesses should be prompt with paying customers (or prospective customers).

    I think how you proceed should depend on how close your wedding is. If it's within 2 or so months, I would go ahead and say something about your impression of their customer service so far. If you're further out than that, I would just give them a few days after you send a question and reply from your previous email saying "I want to follow up on the email I sent on feb 2, I haven't gotten a response yet." But as your day gets closer, they really need to treat you the same as they would for larger scale events.

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    On her response time, just remember caterers often work a twelve to sixteen hour day on event days, and the day before. Bread baking and runs for fresh produce or to provisioners may start their day at 7am and making desserts or doing an event means they finish at 11pm.
    They may take 3 and a half days off a week to make up for this, usually weekdays.
    Two caterers I worked with who had no office staff were frustrated when people though they were being ignored. The reality was they were often called on days off , for events 3 to 9 months away, which they did not treat like emergencies.

    Venues with a lot of support staff, like hotels with people full time on customer support, are different.
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