I’m on Jacinda’s side on this one

The Herald reports:

Jacinda Ardern has cancelled her wedding venue and the angry owner says the Prime Minister won’t pay a $5000 fee.

Unless the fee was documented and agreed to at the time of booking, there is no obligation to pay it.

Pierson said the couple had requested their friend, celebrity chef Peter Gordon, do the catering.

“Jacinda told me, ‘Peter Gordon has always said he wanted to be involved in my wedding’ to which I said, ‘I’ll have a free cooking lesson any day,’ thinking it would be a collaborative effort and we would be working together.

“My food is nothing like what Peter Gordon would do. I’m sure Clarke wouldn’t be bragging ‘Robin Pierson did our wedding’. I don’t think that cuts the mustard,” Pierson said.

I would have thought the sensible thing to do is explicitly ask if Peter Gordon would just be providing the menu and overseeing the kitchen, or doing all the catering himself. If someone told me they wanted to use my venue but say have Rith Pretty do the catering, I’d assume that would mean she is providing all the food, staff etc.

Pierson said Barbara Ward, Ardern’s electorate secretary, visited the Bushmere Arms to assist the couple with their wedding plans in early May.

Presumably this was on her own time, and not as part of her job.

“A week later I got sent a proposed menu from Peter Gordon’s ‘man’, which had been worked out with the bride and groom. It was then I suddenly realised I wasn’t involved in the catering at all and that Peter Gordon had clearly been contracted to do the food.

“The day they were here they should have been upfront and said, ‘I’m contracted to do the food now,’ but I don’t think he wanted to share the limelight with anybody.

Pierson was asked by Gordon to provide lettuce leaves from his garden, plums, homemade shortbread, and some mini pizzas for late-night snacks.

“It was insulting and I told them that too. In a cover letter with the menu, they thanked me for my hospitality. They were working on pricing for the event for the staff labour and the venue only.

“Peter Gordon was invoicing them separately for the food he was creating. I emailed back to say how insulted I was and told them the venue would cost $28,000.

So he got the pip and the demanded an outrageous amount for venue hire.

“Barbara sent me an email saying she was sorry I was insulted and that everything had gone ‘pear-shaped’. She then asked for a price and menu for Peter Gordon as a guest only. I emailed an outline and said the cost would be $100 to $110 per person, depending on the final menu,” Pierson said.

So he said the venue would be $28,000 by itself but if he did the catering the entire cost would drop to around $15,000. I’m sorry, but seems unprofessional to me.

Pierson said he was now in dispute over a $5000 cancellation fee.

He claimed he had been accommodating with the wedding date being changed several times because of Covid–19 and the couple’s hectic schedule.

“They have offered me $1200 and I’ve yet to get back to them. They say my fee is ‘unfounded’ but It’s not up to them to tell me what my cancellation fee is,” Pierson said.

Actually it is. You can’t unilaterally decide what a cancellation fee is. It needs to be stated in writing and agreed to by the party making the booking.

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