Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vendor Beware!

The above article appeared on the front page of this past Saturday's Toronto Star. The pictured couple, along with several others, were allegedly left high and dry by a Mississauga-based decorator, Affairs With Flair, when it claimed bankruptcy and 'backed out' of its contracts days, in some cases even hours, before their clients' weddings. The kicker? This decorator was still demanding payments from clients while it was emailing others to let them know they were 'bankrupt.' According to the Toronto Star, The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada has no record of Affairs With Flair filing for bankruptcy. Outrageous. I really feel for all those couples out there who paid this company hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and were left with nothing on their special day.

After reading this article, I contacted Alison of Toronto-based A Hot Pink Petticoat for her advice on how other couples can avoid this vendor nightmare. Here are Alison's comments:
  • First off, if a vendor is aggressive, almost forceful, about getting your 50% deposit up front, then walk away. Receiving emails along the lines of "pay your balance or else" is a huge sign to just cut your losses and run!
  • Like we hear all the time, if the prices are too good to be true, they are. This vendor was offering decor at prices that undercut their competitors by too much. Reputable vendors will not under price their value as much as this vendor did.
  • Make sure your contract is air-tight. That is, make sure it states that if the vendor does not provide the services as per the contract, that you will be reimbursed 100% of payments already made.
  • Ask your other vendors about vendors you have yet to hire. If someone had asked me about this vendor, I would have told them how there has been some talk in the industry questioning this vendors' ethics.
Alison also recommends those individuals looking to hire a decorator to read this article, 7 Questions to Ask Your Decorator, written by professional decorator, Vivian of Vivian's Decor & Designs.

A big thank you to Alison for sharing her wise advice with us. I would just add that if you are in the beginning stages of your wedding planning, you may want to consider hiring a event planner or an event co-ordinator. I know that this is an expense that many couples cannot afford especially in these economic times but the benefit of having someone 'in the know', who can guide you towards reputable vendors, may save you a lot of heartache and money in the long run. Finally, elaborating on Alison's comment above, make sure you read all your vendors' contracts. Legal contacts can be daunting sometimes and as easy as it is to just sign and file away, step up to the plate and read the contracts. You'll find that often times, it's in plain English disguised in 'legal font.' And don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you don't understand a provision. After all, it's YOUR money and YOUR big day on the line here!

If you are or were a client of Affairs with Flair, I encourage you to contact the author of the Toronto Star article, Nick Kyonka at nkyonka@thestar.ca.


Westside Wedding said...

That is so sad what happened to the couples! Thank you so much for this post, it has such great information!!!!

Mo said...

Yikes! How awful for those couples! =/
Thank you for the tips. I'll be sure to look for any of those signs next time I'm ready to book someone.

Carol said...

Yikes! thanks for posting this, definetly something to remember as I go into booking vendors

A Hot Pink Petticoat said...

Thanks again for having me :) It is people like this who create trust issues towards professional, passionate wedding vendors.

Krista said...

Wow. That sucks.

You said it - if it sounds too good to be true (especially with prices), it probably is.

Personally, I get seriously turned off by pushy "pay now" tactics. But this reminds us of how it's more than just being rude, it might be a sign of desperation.

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