The state’s consumer watchdog, Consumer and Business Services, has led a successful prosecution against a caterer who took money from a bride-to-be and never showed up on the wedding day, with the court imposing penalties and compensation totalling $10,168.80.
Ian Vetter trading as The Right Chef was convicted in the Magistrates Court this week for an offence under the Australian Consumer Law of accepting payment and not providing services within the period specified.
Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Dini Soulio, said the defendant failed to provide a Woodcroft bride with the wedding catering she had paid for in advance at the value of nearly $2,000.
“Mr Vetter willingly accepted full payment prior to the event and kept in contact with the customer right until the morning of the wedding - when he assured her that despite running late he was on his way - however in the end he never turned up.
“The bride and her family were forced to rush around and purchase food from the local supermarket at the last minute with family members missing the celebrations as they rushed to prepare food for guests.
“I am pleased to see Vetter penalised $8,000 for his actions, and that the bride will be compensated,” Mr Soulio said.
Australian Consumer Law covers fair trading practices and exists to protect consumers from businesses who take money from customers but never follow through with the service initially promised.
The Commissioner said in this situation the impact was more than financial.
“Mr Vetter not only took money for catering services that he never provided, but also caused an enormous amount of stress to the bride on her wedding day - a day that she can never get back.
“This case is a timely reminder for consumers to do thorough research before deciding to engage in a contract with a trader.
“In particular, for special events such as weddings dodgy traders may take advantage of an overwhelmed or stressed couple who may have a number of active contracts with different businesses happening at the same time.
“Despite The Right Chef having an ABN, business cards and website - it pays to double-check the reputation of the business.
“Consumers are encouraged to have a good look online for reviews or check social media to see if the business has an active account and to see what other people are saying about the business and how they operate,” Mr Soulio said.
If you have any concerns about consumer contracts or would like more information about obligations under the Australian Consumer Law please visit http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au.