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NSW Child Birthday Party Organiser - Extra Charges Payable?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Pyroflamer, 6 September 2014.

  1. Pyroflamer

    Pyroflamer Active Member

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    Hi erudites,

    My friend is a manager at a child birthday party function organiser. There was a parent who booked a child birthday for 16 people today, and the price was set to be 200$ over the phone.

    When the party arrived, the employee on roster didn't count the number of people which was in fact 22. Only when the party finished did the employee realised that there were more people than stated over the phone. He recalculated the price and told the parent that they would have to now pay 50$ extra at 250$. However, the parents were outraged and outright refused on the basis that the extra 6 people were brought in by a friend of the parent's child (a.k.a the birthday boy), which they did not invite. I.e. another classmate decided to call his own friends to this party. The employee went inside the staffroom to inform the manager but when he came back out the parents (and of course all the children) had already left.

    Will there be any form redress? Legally, under the Australian Consumer Law, who is at fault? On one hand, should the employee have done a headcount before the party began, and hence not telling the parents of the extra charge means he implicitly accepted 22 people at the stipulated price? on the other hand, should the onus be on the parent as a reasonable person would know that bringing more guests than stated would obviously incur higher prices, which is based on a per person basis?
     
  2. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Pyroflamer,

    - Did you sign any written agreement with the parents?
    - Did you make it clear to the parents that the cost is calculated on a per-headcount basis? How did you tell the parents that the costs would be calculated?
    - Did the company incur any significant extra costs from the extra 4 people? Therefore, did you have to cater more food, was the premises rented on a head-count basis?

    There is no legal position on what a reasonable person would have paid/limited guests. Generally, the onus is on the person claiming money to show that this extra money is rightfully due.

    If you really would like to recoup this extra cost, I would suggest speaking with the parent and explain why having 4 extra people makes a significant difference to costs/expenses and catering etc. and why you are seeking this extra payment. If nobody noticed until after the party finished, then perhaps the extra people did not make a significant difference? Are you claiming on a principle/precedent basis or is there actual material damage to your company as a result? Perhaps it is best to classify this as a "lesson learnt for next time" (ie. explain that costs vary depending on a number of factors, one of which is the number of people actually attending the event) and it would be best for your business reputation and in order to avoid legal costs, to forgo this claim?
     
  3. Pyroflamer

    Pyroflamer Active Member

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    Hi Sarah,

    No there was no written agreement signed, but the parents were told that pricing was based per person. I just think its inequitable for a party knowing cost is charged per head, to exploit the forgetfulness of the employee and scoot away afterwards. Wouldn't this set a precedent that one can bring extra people for a function regardless of how many were originally contracted for, because it would not bring substantial losses to a company?

    No we did not suffer material losses apart from some extra food that we had to cater. I figure it is definitely too trite to take to court, but for the sake of knowing in the future, in this context that I have described just now, would you say that inasmuch as the fault was the parent's, the onus is still on us to prove we suffered losses? So I guess it would be a principle clai

    Thanks in advance Sarah.

    Regards
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi Pyroflamer,

    This would be a contractual issue. You spoke with the parents on the phone and entered into an oral agreement where you told them that pricing would be based on the number of people attending (ie. per head) and they agreed to this condition. You are not wrong for feeling short changed by the parents after the fact. The fact that the waiters did not count the number of heads present at the event is not relevant. If you gave them an invoice stating a total amount, then it would be reasonable for them to pay that amount. And if the total invoice is more than the one originally quoted based on a lesser number of heads, then it would be reasonable that they pay that new amount. In principle, you do have a case.

    However, whether this is actual worth pursing in court is another matter. I would say it isn't. If it is pursued, the court will look at actual loss suffered and award compensation accordingly. If there's not much loss suffered, then compensation would be minimal, legal costs and stress would be high. It would not be worth it and courts would not like it much.

    I would suggest speaking with the parents, explaining to them the difference in price, and if they don't agree, just count this as a loss and lesson learned.
     
  5. DennisD

    DennisD Well-Known Member

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    As Sarah J suggests, if you're not pleased with how things panned out, a practical approach might be to let them know and try to talk through an outcome that is more acceptable to you
     

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