How can I get money back from a caterer that no longer offers service?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How can I get money back from a caterer that no longer offers service?

My fiance and I found a caterer this summer to host our wedding reception. The owner ran a restaurant that was attached to a hotel. We reserved her services and paid a down payment of $1500 via credit card transaction. A couple of months later, the hotel took over the restaurant and reception hall. The restaurant owner told us that her new location could not accommodate our crowd and that she would offer us a refund. She said her accountant would need time to process it. After 2 weeks passed by, I began calling her cell phone to explain that we did not receive the reversal. She never picked up, so I left many messages over the next couple of weeks. I also reached out to her on Facebook. I got a hold of the hotel she had worked at and they gave me the address and phone number of her new restaurant. I began calling there frequently but she was always either absent or too busy. Finally, after months, she called me back and said that her accountant had processed a credit reversal. I double checked my credit account and no refund was present. She said she would need to contact her accountant. I asked her if I could contact her accountant instead but she said no. She said she would call me the next day. I explained that I had spent months trying to get in touch with her and requested a better way to contact her. She said she didn’t have a working cell phone, and I needed to continue to call the restaurant. She did not call back. I continue to call the restaurant on a daily basis but she is always reportedly busy or absent. I fear that taking her to court would cost me more than the $1500 at hand. Are there any recommendations to getting our money back?

Asked on December 5, 2016 under Business Law, Illinois


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue the caterer for breach of contract in small claims court.  If you prevail in the case, you can recover your $1500 plus court costs. Court costs would include the court filing fee and process server fee.  There are no attorneys in small claims court.  Therefore, you don't need to worry about costly legal bills.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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