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post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I have recently had an issue with a client who had more people attend a catered meeting than originally contracted for. I submitted an invoice for the additional people and got quite a bit of grief from the client. Is it unusual to expect that the client pay for the people who eat above & beyond the original contract? Her theory is - you didn't have to bring more food. My theory is - you eat, you pay. Comments??
post #2 of 6


I have run into similar situations, and from reading past threads, it is common. It seems people give lower numbers so they can pay less, figuring that most caterers have food for more. I hate to say that because I really believ most people are inherently good - We - not the client who gave us the low numbers - are the ones who look bad if we run out. It is really our reputation!

I think you have every right to charge for the extras. I have read on this forum that many count plates and charge for every extra person. Most of my jobs are in a place I can not really do that, so I struggle with how to handle the situation. Good luck and let us know!
post #3 of 6
What's your contract say?

You should make it perfectly clear in your next contract and all others after that, that any additional persons after the cut-off time will be charged the full price per head rate.

If you don't have this in your contract the client has an excuse-albeit not a good one, but never-the-less an excuse not to pay, because "you never told me so" . If it's in black and white, with the client's signature underneath, there's absolutely no "wriggle room".

Chalk this one up to experience and get a good contract form drawn up for the future. If the client is a bitc*, don't force the issue as you don't have the contract to back you up. And if you do pressure her, she'll just bad-mouth until the day she dies.

Hope this helps
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 6

In writing

Clear concise contract is the way to go.
Guarantee is X above and beyond will incure extra charge of Y.
While your in there revising I have run across people that expect to take all the extra food home. Whatever your policy have it in writing before the chit hits the fan.
I am working in Washington too...Nice chatting!
post #5 of 6
Unusual? I'm not certain why there's a question. Your client contracted with you for the preparation and service for a specific number of diners. You served more than those for which she contracted. By law, in most locales, she is obligated to pay for the extra plates, unless in your contract or informal discussion, she clearly noted that there could be additional diners, and that these would be gratis.

The real question, however, is whether you want this individual as a client in the future. If you press this issue for the additional payment, you know that you'll lose her as a client and get some unfavorable word-of-mouth. It's a situation that most caters encounter endlessly, unless there are specific contract provisions and they are clearly understood by the client.

Sadly, there is too often the lack of understanding by our clients that the cost of the food, alone, is a small portion of the plate cost. Once they are educated to be fully aware that there is a significant cost of labor per plate, situations such as this will diminish among reputable clients.

Frankly, too many clients underestimate the number of plates with larcenous intent; particularly if service is buffet. They actually assume that we won't know how many are being served.
post #6 of 6
This is a lesson to be learnt for many of us. Somehow we are too genuine creative people. I too had a problem, but not now. Clear terms and conditions are the best solution, especially if you deal with lawyer. They are the worst people who can find the gap to argue with you. I now learnt a lot.

Terms and conditions must be clear especially how much per head, if any extra guests, there will be a charge at ie. £30/person, must be informed and that payment have to be made in advance.

If you contract to do 30, if they have more guests and customer didn't tell you. You shouldn't worry about it. It's their problem, not you, but if they tell you extra number of guests, you have to tell them right away that there is an extra charge ie. Most customers don't read terms and conditions well even they are lawyers....most of them are hopeless...even rich people...but when problem arised you the one who have to deal with it. So before any catering start...must stress about extra number will be charged and paid in advance, and cancellation lesson than 48 hours will be charged as well. What about if they phone you 2 hours later, you will not get the money. I have had lots of lessons....all of customers just me crazy many times. Luckily..I charged them a lot already and make money enough from them....so don't you be too kind to customers much...make sure you get the money up front at least 3 weeks in advance and the work will be carried out, it not don't do the work...you might get a complaints even your food is the best....then the sad story will make you feel so ill. Good luck to all of you chefs..who read this message.
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