End Of the Engagement Woes

Even planning to get married is expensive, I’ve put down $1,600 in non-refundable deposits since October. He fronted deposits for other things as well, but I don’t recall the amount right now.

For the reception I booked the San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf, I put down a non-refundable deposit of $900. That guaranteed me rooms for 50 nights (10 rooms on Thursday, 20 rooms on Friday and Saturday) at a special rate ($160 a night) and the ballroom. I thought that was a pretty good deal…. until I tried to cancel the reception.

That bill is $12,989.44. I seriously said WTF when I saw it. So first I emailed and asked for explanations and was told: The contract I signed says that if we cancel for any reason I’m responsible for paying for any revenue they wouldn’t get for the rooms and the ballroom. So reviewing the contract with my boss, it does kind of look like I should have read it better than I did. So we drafted a letter that basically said:

This letter is being provided in accordance with Section Five: Cancellation/Modification and Section 7.5 Dispute Resolution.

Due to unexpected and unfortunate circumstances, it was necessary to totally cancel this event. Accordingly, notice was formally given to the hotel on April 21, 2011.

Considering that notice was given more than 60 days prior to the scheduled June 25, 2011 event and prior to the May 27, 2011 cut-off date for room reservations, I request that we mutually agree to cancel our contract without penalty.

In addition, I request that you refund my $900 deposit as, in accordance with 4.1 Deposit, it was provided solely for the purpose of securing the room block which has been released back to the hotel more than 60 days prior to the event.

I thank you for the opportunity to have scheduled this event and am both sad and disheartened that it will not occur as had been anticipated.

I should note here that on April 22, the hotel started to phone the guests who had booked rooms to let them know the event had been cancelled and if they still wanted their room they would have a new rate of $239 a night. Some of these guest hadn’t heard yet that the wedding was off so I received frantic phone calls asking what was up.

The hotels sales manager contacted me back and said: awww, that’s too bad. When are you going to pay us our $12,989:

I am very disappointed to hear that you will no longer be having your event beginning on June 23, 2011, with us at the San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf.

As I am xxxxxx xxxxx direct supervisor, I asked her to forward all questions regarding your contractual obligations to me so that I may answer you directly.

Per the points that you address in your letter to us – please note the following:

1.) We did receive formal notice of your intent to cancel your event on April 21, 2011. In your letter, you imply that this date is relevant to your cancellation obligations. The date of cancellation, however, has no bearing in section 5.1, which outlines your cancellation fees.

2.) Your cancellation obligations are outlined in your contract dated October 20, 2010, in section 5.1, entitled “Group’s Cancellation”. Pursuant to this paragraph, “100% of all estimated revenues” are owed to the hotel at time of cancellation. Additionally, the definition of “estimated revenues” is listed in this paragraph. I believe that xxxx has sent you an invoice outlining all liquidated damage fees, totaling $13,889.44.

3.) We have applied your $900 deposit to the above total, making your current outstanding amount owed at $12,989.44. I see that in your letter you request that we refund this $900 deposit to you. As xxxx mentions below, pursuant to section 4.1 of your contract, deposits are “non-refundable”.

4.) As you mention in your letter, the cutoff date for your attendees to obtain your discounted Group Rate was indeed May 27, 2011. This date, however, has absolutely no relevance to your cancellation fees. All cancellation obligations are outlined in section 5.1.

5.) You reference section 7.5, Dispute Resolution in your letter. We too always prefer to have contractual questions first addressed through informal means, versus immediately pursuing legal opportunities. So I appreciate the opportunity to address your questions and clarify your contractual obligations.

Please let me know if there is any further clarification you require as well as your estimated timeline of payment.

So I asked her if she didn’t think she could resell the rooms, to which I was told

We have had this space blocked off for your event since October of 2010.
Thus, we have turned away multiple opportunities from groups looking to
contract both the guestrooms and function space.  Now that we are only
two months away from your originally scheduled date, however, we do not
anticipate being able to resell this space at this time.

So, first I said, “it’s Gay Pride weekend in San Francisco, I think you’ll be able to sell the rooms” then I said: “Could I resell them on Craigslist? I know I could sell them”. Apparently not:

It is a violation of our contract with Marriott International to allow
anyone other than an approved Wholesaler, with a registered Wholesaler
license and tax-exempt status, to “re-sell” guest rooms.

So now I’m not sure what to do, I’d rather not think about the wedding at all, but these folks want $13,000 for rooms and space I can no longer want to use and am sure will be resold at a higher rate. I’m running out of options here and am looking for advice on what to do. One person told me to file bankruptcy, but I’m really not a fan of doing that. I just really don’t think I should have to pay for something that 1. I’m not going to use, 2. will be resold at a higher rate, and 3. reminds me that I was going to get married.


2 thoughts on “End Of the Engagement Woes

  1. Publicize this posting. Put the Marriott in the headline with the complaint. Send a copy to Bill Marriott, the San Francisco Examiner, the LA Times, and the New York Times (the society page).
    The shame should do them in!


  2. I would call a few weeks before the wedding to see if you can reserve a block of 20 rooms. If there are none available then you will know that they were able to resell them. It seems that it would be illegal for them to charge you for rooms that they were able to resell. They should have to prove how many they were unable to sell. If you have no choice other than to pay for them then I would make Bill pay for half. I know it’s not any of my business but this is totally unfair and ridiculous. I am so sorry for you.


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