A Nedlands catering company and its Director have been ordered by the Perth Magistrates Court to pay more than $20,000 in fines, costs and consumer compensation after failing to turn up at a wedding reception and botching a birthday celebration.
Eat Street Enterprises Pty Ltd, trading as Ole Paella Catering, and sole Director Bradley John Lamb were fined $3,500 each for breaching the Australian Consumer Law and ordered to pay costs of $1,500 each, with Mr Lamb to pay a total of $10,073.10 in compensation to two affected consumers.
A Darlington man hired the catering company for a 40th birthday celebration in October 2018. He paid $4,852.60 for a paella chef to cook three tapas entrees, three different types of paella, including a vegetarian option, and provide churros and ice cream for dessert. The chef was to arrive at 4pm to prepare for a 6pm start and two waiters were also ordered for a five hour period from 6pm.
On the night, the chef arrived at 8pm and only one waiter turned up so, as a result, some of the food ordered was not provided and some was undercooked. Instead of the churros, 12 caramel slices for 60 guests was purchased from a local supermarket. None of the changes in the menu were authorised by the consumer and a promised refund was never provided.
In the other case, a Cottesloe mother hired the catering company to provide two types of paella for her daughter’s wedding in Margaret River in November 2018. She paid a total of $6,825.50 in three payments prior to the wedding, but no-one from the catering company turned up on the day. Despite promising a full refund, Mr Lamb only paid the consumer $1,605 in 2019, leaving a balance owing of $5,220.50.
In handing down the sentence, Magistrate De Vries acknowledged that, with such important events, the offending would have impacted the affected consumers terribly, in particular the wedding no-show which would have been disastrous.
The court was told that Mr Lamb is now a declared bankrupt but he would attempt to reimburse the consumers. Mr Lamb acknowledged that he had let his customers down and was remorseful about their negative experiences.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Lanie Chopping said Mr Lamb and his catering company had ruined very important events in the lives of two consumers.
“Both the botched birthday bash and the wedding no-show were inexcusable failings on the part of Mr Lamb and the Ole Paella Catering company who were entrusted to provide food and services that were vital for the success of these events,” Ms Chopping said.
“The wedding reception was saved by a local restaurant providing pizza and pasta at short notice.
“Organising these types of events is stressful enough for consumers without the caterer turning up late or not at all. It’s important that consumers choose a catering company that has a good reputation and can provide genuine references from previously satisfied customers.
“We would also not recommend paying the full amount upfront. Pay only a small deposit and then the balance after the event has taken place and when all food and services promised have been provided.”
Anyone who has unsatisfactory outcomes with event organisers, suppliers or caterers should lodge a complaint with the Consumer Protection.