One thing I see over and over again are couples who are upset with their vendors who don’t quite know how to proceed. For instance, I just heard about a wedding photographer who has not delivered prints for a wedding that happened two years ago. And, they have taken no action. Trouble. And, so sad at the same time!
Here are the steps I suggest you take when you have a conflict with your vendor, and you are not yet ready to hire a wedding lawyer.
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1) Gather your supporting documents – contracts, emails, letters.
2) Review the documents – try to find the place where the vendor agreed to do whatever s/he did not do. For instance, with the wedding photographer example, you would try to find the place in the documents where the photographer agreed to deliver the photos by date “x.”
3) Draft up a demand letter, and attach the documentation. Keep the letter professional, and leave your emotions out of it. Using nasty language or name calling is not going to get you far. Even when there is conflict, you will still catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Be polite, but be firm.
4) Give the vendor a reasonable deadline to respond to your letter. I personally, generally, like 2 weeks.
5) Send the letter via fax (yes, fax machines still exist), or email and send a hard copy. Or hand-deliver it. You want some kind of verification that your letter was received, if possible.
6) Wait for a response. Hopefully you will get one.
7) If you don’t get one, follow up.
8) If you still don’t receive a response, considering filing a lawsuit. Contact your local small claims office if the amount of damages fits into the jurisdictional cap. If it is more than the cap, and you are in the state of California, you will have to pursue a claim in limited or unlimited court.
From the SF Superior Court “Disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively in Small Claims Court, where the rules are simple and informal. Litigants may not be represented by an attorney. Generally claims are limited to $5,000. The jurisdictional limit is $10,000 for individuals who are filing a claim in the Small Claims Division. Corporations, partnerships, governmental entities and other legal entities cannot claim more than $5,000. Individuals may file unlimited claims for up to $2,500 each in a year. However, individuals may only file two claims a year that seek more than $2,500.” http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/divisions/small-claims.
These are general steps. Every case is different.
Please note – you should not hesitate to move forward if you feel you’ve been wronged. There are finite time limitations on causes of action. So don’t delay in proceeding with whatever course of action you take!
As always, you can consult with a wedding lawyer. Your case may be too complex for small claims court. And, if you do go to small claims court, the key to winning is having an organized and succinct argument.
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