Food and Cakes

Another caterer vent...

blabla89blabla89 Atlanta
2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its Name Dropper
member
edited February 2015 in Food and Cakes
A while back I vented on CC about some communication issues with our caterer.
The responses helped me understand that they were probably just busy and
not necessarily being rude, so I stopped worrying about it. But now the
"miscommunication" with the manager seems a little sketchy. I'm hoping
you ladies (especially those who have worked in catering) can tell me
whether this is normal or if I should be concerned.

When we initially signed our catering contract we were planning on serving
dinner, and we had a menu quote with the price per person for each item.
Shortly after - it's kind of a long story - we decided to move our
wedding to afternoon and have a cocktail reception. We told the caterer
and said that we would still meet our guaranteed amount, and she said no
problem. She gave us a new quote for hors d'oeurves and everything looked good, except the price of one item had changed from the previous quote. So I asked about
it, and she said $X is the price, and just so you know that is the
price per piece. Since she had told us the prices were per person
before, I went back and asked her if everything else was priced per
piece and she said yes, all of it. Suddenly the prices don't seem
reasonable at all. We're on a tight budget, and that potentially triples
the amount we had expected to pay.

I'm frustrated because she neglected to mention the change in pricing structure when she gave us the quote, and I don't think it's reasonable to just assume that we
would know. If I hadn't asked, she wouldn't have told us at all until we
got the final bill that was much higher than anticipated. It seems
sketchy and kind of deceptive. I don't know if I should call her on it,
try to negotiate the prices, start looking for a new caterer, or what.
Is this normal in the catering business?

TLDR: Our caterer gave us a new quote and didn't tell us that the pricing structure had
changed from price per person to price per piece, and it's going to cost us a lot more than we had anticipated. It seems sketchy and I'm wondering if I should be concerned.

ETF weird line breaks
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Re: Another caterer vent...

  • Dreamergirl8812Dreamergirl8812 your closet
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    member
    Which items are per piece? I don't really understand that. I'm picturing like $2/shrimp in the shrimp cocktail or something.

    Any changes to the contract should have been explained verbally and in writing. I don't have any advice though because our catering was through the venue and very simple.



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  • From my experience, the contract should outline the final price as well as the price per piece/person, using an estimated number of guests as a placeholder. For example, we estimated we would have 100 guests at our wedding, so our contract was laid out to tell us how much each item would be, as well as what the total would be if we were to have those 100 people. It was also included in the contract that this number would change depending on how many guests we notified them would be coming by X date, so that it was clear that the final price would go up or down based on replies.

    Now, perhaps they explain clearly elsewhere (their website, whatever written materials they provide you with options to choose from, etc.) that hors d'oeuvres are priced by piece while sit-down meals are priced per person. So maybe they expected you would know this when you made the change. That being said, I think it still should have been clearly stated in the contract, as should as estimated total charge to give you a sense of the final tally.
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  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!)
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    blabla89 said:

    A while back I vented on CC about some communication issues with our caterer.
    The responses helped me understand that they were probably just busy and
    not necessarily being rude, so I stoppedWhen we initially signed our catering contract we were planning on serving dinner, and we had a menu quote with the price per person for each item. Shortly after - it's kind of a long story - we decided to move our wedding to afternoon and have a cocktail reception.  worrying about it. But now the
    "miscommunication" with the manager seems a little sketchy. I'm hoping
    you ladies (especially those who have worked in catering) can tell me
    whether this is normal or if I should be concerned.

    blabla89 said:


    We told the caterer
    and said that we would still meet our guaranteed amount, and she said no
    problem. She gave us a new quote for hors d'oeurves and everything looked good, except the price of one item had changed from the previous quote. So I asked about
    it, and she said $X is the price, and just so you know that is the
    price per piece. Since she had told us the prices were per person
    before, I went back and asked her if everything else was priced per
    piece and she said yes, all of it. Suddenly the prices don't seem
    reasonable at all. We're on a tight budget, and that potentially triples
    the amount we had expected to pay.

    I'm frustrated because she neglected to mention the change in pricing structure when she gave us the quote, and I don't think it's reasonable to just assume that we
    would know. If I hadn't asked, she wouldn't have told us at all until we
    got the final bill that was much higher than anticipated. It seems
    sketchy and kind of deceptive. I don't know if I should call her on it,
    try to negotiate the prices, start looking for a new caterer, or what.
    Is this normal in the catering business?

    TLDR: Our caterer gave us a new quote and didn't tell us that the pricing structure had
    changed from price per person to price per piece, and it's going to cost us a lot more than we had anticipated. It seems sketchy and I'm wondering if I should be concerned.

    ETF weird line breaks

    I agree, I think it's pretty sketchy if she didn't detail out the charges.  That said, cocktail receptions are usually more expensive than a plated or buffet meal.  If you're on a tight budget, can you see if the caterer will serve a meal similar to what you originally planned on serving at night?  It will probably cost the same or similar to what you were paying (don't expect her to come down on price when you signed a contract for more).   But at least this way the cost of the reception wouldn't change, just the time (you didn't move the time to cut costs for the reception, right?)
    MesmrEwe
  • amelishaamelisha Canadian Texas
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    member
    She should have explained it; however, it is very typical to do hors d'oeuvres pricing like this. I book catered events all the time at work and cocktail appetizers are virtually always priced per piece or per dozen in my experience. Very occasionally I have seen "package" rates with a given number of apps per person as a total price (so it'll be $25/pp and they'll offer 5 pieces per person or whatever...but these have generally been when I've done them as an add-on to a plated meal rather than a stand-alone.) 

    So, yeah. Not great communication but also not an unusual pricing structure.

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  • I'm a bit late but hopefully I can help. I'm a caterer with hopefully better explanation skills. :)
    If you were to make a wedding with say 6 hors then have a dinner the hors would be less expensive than if you were to eliminate the dinner. The reason is that if you are having a cocktail hour followed by dinner, I would expect that "most" guest would try one of each and save room for the main meal. If you are only serving hors then they will eat more hors.  If the caterer only made say 120% of the guest count they would run out. By charging per piece she is pushing that back on you to make you decide how many she should provide for the guests so she doesn't look like it's her fault you run out.

    Having only hors reception is usually MORE expensive as those tasty little bites take a lot more labor to produce than say roasting a whole chicken. AND it takes a lot more of them to fill up your guests and make them feel like they have had a complete meal.

    Hope this helps.
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