Like India, in the United States too marriage venues have to be booked well in advance. But sometimes advance planning may land the bride and the bridegroom in trouble, as it happened with a couple in New York.
Apparently, after the pair set a date to tie the knot, cracks began in their love life, which finally ended up with a break-up. So they cancelled the wedding. But when it came to the marriage venue, they were in for a rude shock. They were told that money once paid would not be returned under any circumstances.
"How could we ever dream of a situation like this and ask about the cancellation policy?" asked the couple who eventually had to hire a lawyer to fight their case. They did get back their money as all the term pertaining to cancellation in the contract was unfair and the couple was not even informed of it.
We face such situations in India too, though the reason of cancellation or postponement is usually due to death of some relatives. But the attitude of the hall owners is no different. Here is a typical case.
Ravinder Singh: I had booked in March this year a banquet hall in west Delhi for my daughter's marriage scheduled to be held in the second week of April. I was asked to give R10,000 as advance, which I did, but the hall owner did not give me a receipt. Instead, he wrote on the back of the menu card and signed on it. After one week I was forced to cancel my booking due to sudden demise of my mother-in-law in Mumbai. When I went to cancel my booking — 17 days prior to the wedding date — the manager said in about three to four days he would send me a refund cheque. But the cheque is yet to come. I have since then visited the hall many times, but every time I am given some new excuse for the delay and promised that the refund would be sent. What should I do now?
Answer: First and foremost, preserve the menu card on which the manager has signed acknowledging R10,000 that you have given him. Without that, you cannot get back your money. If that is secured, I do not see how or why you should not get back your money. After all, you cancelled the booking on account of certain unavoidable circumstances and even here, the hall manager did not mention anything about any cancellation policy. (Even if he had one, court may strike it down if it is unfair or if it was not shown to you). Instead, he has been promising to pay you back.
So send him a formal letter asking for the money and if he refuses, lodge a complaint with one of the mediation centres run by the Delhi government (you can find them on the consumer court premises).
Or else, you can seek the help of the consumer court. These courts have resolved many such cases and while in some cases have directed full refund, in some, partial payment.
Only recently, the First Additional Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in Bangalore asked the manager of Sri Ranganatha Swamy Kalyana Mantapa to refund an additional amount of R28,000 to the complainant, HK Sathyanarayana.
In this case, the hall owner was willing to pay back only Rs 15,000 out of Rs 60,000 paid as advance on the ground that he had not got any other party and had therefore suffered a loss on account of cancellation.