What is wrong with people ?

Joined Feb 8, 2017
Yeah, I know.. leading title..

Seriously though.  How can so many people be so rude and actually have the chutzpah to call the day of the event, or day before the event and essentially say.  "Yes I know we've been working on this event for several months and we've changed counts and entree items numerous times, but in the two weeks now that I have had the invoice for the total I couldn't be bothered to remember to get it to our accounting department so is it ok if we mail you a check maybe at the end of next week and because the account is off moday-wednesday it won't go out until Friday so you won't actually get paid until two weeks after the event !!!!"

I exaggerated a bit obviously, but no matter what their excuse is all I hear is...  "yes we know you've bent over backwards for us, and it's going to be a great event that they'll take credit for (as it should be) but they couldn't be bothered to make sure we get paid on time"

And yes.. before anyone asks...  especially on large events, the contract states that if full payment isn't made by the day of the event, they might not eat.  ( a little more polite than that )

Do these people go to restaurants with a group and tell the server... "oh, we forgot to tell our accountant so is it ok if we mail you a check next week?"

Sorry for the rant... we return you to your normally enjoyable stress-free posts.
Joined Aug 21, 2004
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Foodpump's second or third law of life:
"Whatever is free, under priced, or available in unlimited quantities, will be treated with contempt and scorn."

Fourth law of life:
"Bullies bully because they can"

Did catering for ten years. Learnt the hard way that anywhere from 75% - %100 of the bill HAS to be paid before you show up with the food...
Joined Apr 1, 2017
I do a lot of lunch platters for Municipal School board seminars, workshops, etc...They pay out on certain days. If the contact doesn't submit the invoice in time, we have to wait weeks for the next pay out. Sometimes the bill gets into the thousands...not much I can do. I don't want to bitch because they would probably go someplace else..they are all unionized, well paid officials while I am a small business guy. They call the shots..
Joined Oct 31, 2012
I'm curious to know how Desdinovas' situation was handled.  As others say, no money, no food, at least for private accounts.

I worked for a caterer once who handled a lot of state contracts and the process was that payment

would not come for 45 days, as that was the  way the state paid for everything. They always paid without discussion, he just knew 

he would have to wait the 45 days to get the money and worked out his finances accordingly. Everyone else paid before the event. 
Joined Jun 23, 2015
When working with governments sometimes it helps to give a percentage discount for prompt payment.  Net 30 days less five percent 10 days.  Put the discount in the price up front,
Joined Oct 10, 2005

I get all that working with Gov'ts. But the o.p. is talking about private events, no gov't. is paying the bill.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
This looks to be a problem with working with an event person/planner that's low on the corp totem poll. The corp event planner is following the regular rules of getting invoices expedited. Almost all my catering was Corp accounts. I all cases I gave them my invoice a few days after the event and then check was reposed either in-house or from the corp office. I think many of the caterer's that don't work with Corp accounts will not understand there is a process and the caterer's payment isn't a higher priority than any other bill. The corp really doesn't care about your problems. If you want to cater to Corporation you better be able to wait for a check. Small caterer's may have a problem doing this because they live on the premiss of doing the job and being paid. This isn't part of the Corp world philosophy. The only way I got paid quickly was when the corporation wanted me as a caterer more than I needed their event. When they need you more, they will follow your rules more. If your just anyone cater in town then why should they change their ways and bend over backwards. It's all a game of who needs who more and how much one is willing to do something for the other. When you put all the power with one person, why would they feel there is or should be any room for negotiation. In my catering company, I bought food from my purveyor and paid my bill monthly. If I'm a small caterer I may buy my food a few days before the catering and be out of pocket for the total amount. This may be the reason why some small caterer's should stay out of the corperate world. I've been in the position in my business waiting for checks for 25 to 30k. I'm not sure I totally agree that people suck. I think it's more of the way corporations work. The world doesn't stop in the corporate world because we catered and now need to be paid on the spot. We need to realize we are just a blip on the screen of a corporation. I figured out along time ago, if I wanted to get more catering from this corporation I needed to be what they need me to be.  I shouldn't be a thorn their side and a problem to work with. My Corp accounts got to a point where they just called me and told me what was going on and the reasons why they were having a function. The trust level got so high they didn't even ask what or how I was doing it. They know I was out for their best interests and took care of their needs unconditionally. This didn't happen over night,but, when you establish this trust it makes everything easier. My accounts got praise from their guests and clients. I got a thank you and respect back from my client.......ChefBillyB
Joined Feb 8, 2017
To be clear, this is not limited by corporate or private.  The gig that set me off was a private group, but we get it from all sorts.

Two things to set straight for understanding... we also have net30 and net10 terms with some folks. But even on those, we get the net30 that we've been doing for years, we get the "oh, the girl that submits the invoice was on vacation last week" or "oops, forgot to send in that invoice" so either the net30 turns into net45...  or it's not that amount it's supposed to be..  Not often, but often enough to mention.

So to answer the question on how we deal with it.  Each event is unique.  We haven't actually been stiffed yet, which almost makes me angrier cause it's just down to they couldn't be bothered to ensure we were paid on time.

If it's a private event, we check in a few days before the event to ensure there aren't any changes they only "dreamed" they told us, and at that time we let them know we are sending an invoice with a link to pay the final amount, or if they want to drop by with a check (whichever is more convenient) the day before the event so they don't have to worry about anything on the day of the event.  This interaction is where we either learn they've all written checks and they will be at the event, or someone is in charge of paying everyone, or we get some other warm fuzzy that all is well.   This is also the exchange that ignites rants like the one that started this thread.   "Oops, I forgot to submit" if it's an organization or sometimes we'll be making this call because we haven't received the deposit yet but they keep asking for things and adjusting numbers etc..   "oh I forgot to mail it out"   etc..

The whole reason we started this "check in a few days before the event" is because we were running into the issues AT the event.  Weddings traditionally someone is assigned to walk around with the envelopes at the end of the night, so it wasn't even until cleanup that "oh crap... auntie megabucks was supposed to write a check, but she got sloshed and they took her back to the hotel"  

As I said, we've never had to go after anyone, and when it's been a case where it got the event day, they have always lived up to whatever their promise has been at that time.  They are or at least seem genuinely sorry.   We are not in a large enough area where people can screw businesses and get away with it, so that's the up side.

But just the annoyance and frankly rudeness and it happens at least twice a month where either we're getting ready or order food and the promised deposit isn't in yet, or we are packing for the event, and find out...  maybe we won't be payed as promised on or before the event (per the contract).

I'm not sure there is anything we can do about it.   It's just annoying, it's the cost of doing business, it's rude and it adds stress where they doesn't need to be.  
Joined Oct 10, 2005

After our first year, we wised up and put our "terms" on the catering contract, right above the client's signature.

For special events, it was 25% upon booking, 50% 7-10 days before the event, and the final 25% on the day, but BEFORE the vans were unloaded or the staff got out of the vans.

What we learned was was if there was an excuse not to pay, a good portion of the time that excuse would be taken.
Hence my observation about bullies: They only bully if they can, if they don't get the opportunity to, they don't.
Pay before you unload, and you don't have to chase aunt Sally for that check at 1 am.
Pay before the event and 99% of the "I'm not happy because_______ wasn't quite right" b.s. is avoided.
Hence my other observation.

We did lots of daily catering to law firms, investment co.'s, and banks. If they paid the first couple of deliveries c.o.d., or within a week, they would get the "preferred"treatment of 30 days. Some clients we kept for almost 8 years.

People put off paying bills because they can. Don't give them the opportunity to do so.
Joined Feb 8, 2017
Hey Foodpump... I hear'ya.   We're not quite there yet.  As I said, we've never gotten stiffed (in the last 10 years and hope this doesn't jinx it), and in all cases of "issues" it has truly been on honest (albeit stupid/rude) mistake on the clients part.  In fact the only "it's not quite right" issues, and there have only been 3 or 4 of those, have been from people we LEAST expected it from because they were so by-the-book, paid in advance, used a pro planner, etc etc..  So there's that.

This last instance is a good example.  Two days before the event we find they forgot to get a check from their accountant.  They offer to hand-write a check although their accountant frowns on it.  We say... hand-written would be fine.   We don't hear from back from them, totally expect they are going to mail the check in a couple of weeks, or at least we are prepared for it, but at the event, and yes I had to track the person down, sure enough there was envelope with our name on it and check enclosed.  Part of me is embarrassed that I thought they wouldn't come through on the day of the event, but the other part of me is kindod annoyed that they tried wiggling out of their mistake and had the chutzpah to think it was ok to even offer to mail it.  Then I think...  if it was me..

Personally, if I was them...  I would just have written the check and not said anything about the whole "forgot to tell accountant" because saying something makes me (made them) look like an idiot.

We do roughly 700 events per year for about 150 clients and that includes around 12 weddings. Most of our work is corporate. We are strictly a custom caterer, and we are not in competition with the restaurants and food chains, food trucks and grocery store catering companies which are all great... but they are not on the same level of service or quality we are. 

I guess I shouldn't complain.  Not even sure why it rubs me so wrong, but it does.  Maybe because in each case they chose to share their incompetence or space-cadet-edness with me and that just makes my life more stressful for... what almost always turns out...  no need.  

Maybe there is a lesson there.

I was mainly curious to see if other people have issues like this more often or less often.  Hard to tell so far.  
Joined May 5, 2010
Foodpump and Desdinova, it is a sad state of affairs when a host and a caterer can't trust each other.

The client with holds the final payment until after the affair because they don't trust the caterer to give them what they ordered.

Those people that nit-pick in order to get a break on the price are usually the ones that make it bad for the rest, hence your contract wording about payment.

Caterers also come in all shapes and sizes.

Most are honest.

Some are not.

Some are honest but can't facilitate a catering to save their soul as they haven't got a clue.

Some are great at planning and organizing, but fall short on the food quality.

When it comes to the contract, it's all in black and white. Both parties signed it so it becomes legal and binding.

Like the subject line says "What is wrong with people?"
Joined Oct 10, 2005
Hi ChefRoss,

After observing people people for 50-odd years (then again I are one too) you see patterns.

Given choices between special events and daily corporate catering, the daily wins immediatly. Why?

With a wedding, its a one time deal. Whoever hired you will only use you once, so there's no real incentive to treat you fairly. I know this sounds cruel, but it happens a lot.

Now with daily, there is a relationship, and a good office manager will value a competant caterer, and they will ensure you get paid on time.

From a pure business point of view, by the time the vans arrive full of food and staff, the event is already over: Food and bevies have been purchased, labour spent on proccesing this, labour spent on organizing and packing, rentals paid for, staff hired, etc.. The deal is done before the guests even eat.

I have lots of stories about how clients treat caterers, based my personal experiences. We used to do a lot of law firms on a daily basis and for special events, even managed to get the bar ass'n and the law society on a regular basis as well. Always were treated fairly. We wanted to get into the medical community but could never break through. Finally got one medical group, never forget that one, a hot working lunch buffet for 25. Office mngr inspects my work and says:
"Not enough food here"
"Well, you ordered for 25, and thats what is here"
"My guests are hungry! They eat twice as much, you should provide for fifty at least"
"I'd be happy to provide for fifty, you just have to order and pay for fifty"
Took almost two months to get paid for that one....We stuck with the lawyers and the accountants only after that....
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Now I remember why I didn't do Weddings. I think this is more modern day" I get what I want and the Hell with you". I think people had more of a feeling of moral conscience in the past. What the OP describes in past catering's shows people don't really give a shit what his needs are. I was happy to be in a situation that most of my catering were for my clients. The other factor I had was, people called me and asked if would cater their function. I always felt catering is a lot of work to put up with to much bologna. If I couldn't do it my way, I din't do it at all. I also had the luxury of having my day to day operation so the catering was always just an added bonus. I could see why the OP is frustrated......

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