Brand new to this forum. I sought it out because this issue has been bothering me since it occurred this June.
We are upscale on-site pit BBQ caterers located in the NY area. We were catering an event where the couple was coming in from far out of state. They were paying the substantial final balance at the event. Because of this, in our Catering Agreement, under payment terms, we specifically excluded payment by personal check. I pointed this out to the bride months before. A week before the event, I reminded her of this issue, and she told me she would have a certified check for us. Terms also clearly state final payment is due upon our arrival.
She had a planner. Upon arrival, I went to the planner for the check. She said the groom had it. They were not on-site yet.
Halfway thru cocktail hour, I spoke to the planner again. She said "Oh, I spoke to X (the groom), and he said he had to go get his checkbook". I told the planner that I hoped he was not intending to pay by personal check, because there would be a problem if that was his intention. She disappeared.
Before dinner service started, I spoke to the planner again. She was clearly ducking me. I told her that we needed to settle up. She promised me the bride and groom would settle up immediately after dinner was served. We served dinner.
As food service was winding down, the planner approached me and said the bride and groom were ready to settle up. We met in private. With a sheepish look, she took out her checkbook and attempted to pay by personal check. She said she just plain forgot to get a certified check.
I am very interested to know if you think there is any graceful way of handling this situation. I know now that the key mistake was letting this issue go unresolved so far into the event.
I refused to accept the personal check. They got angry. The groom became abusive, he had no part in the planning of the event and was uninformed. I had to pull out the contract and explain that this issue was covered in detail. The Planner stepped in and asserted that I should accept the personal check. I got angry and told her to mind her own business and step away. Because of the circumstances, they had to pay via Paypal, there was a snafu, and the process took about 15-20 minutes. Guests became aware there was an issue because they were missing.
I received post-event email from the bride and groom, separately. Both stated that the food was great, the staff and service were excellent, but, in short, I am a jerk and I ruined their day. It is still bothering me 4 months later. We cater weddings frequently, and in almost 10 years of service, we have never had anything like this happen.
I am looking for your advice/input. Were you in my shoes, was there something else I could have done, short of accepting the personal check, to resolve this? I genuinely don't think the check would have bounced. They seemed like decent people. But I did not want to put myself in the position of having them fly cross-country home, and then having to try to collect if the check did bounce.