We had been planning it for months. Everything was in place. Just three weeks to go before my daughter’s wedding. Then, like so many people around Minnesota, we got word that COVID-19 has claimed our event as a victim.
In the aftermath of the cancellation, I was quite surprised by the attitudes of the vendors toward their deposits. Although they all graciously agreed to hold the deposit as a credit on the rescheduled event, they almost uniformly refused to return the deposit when we asked for it.
They all pointed to their contracts which characterized the deposit as non-refundable. There were also a variety of non-cancellation provisions – all in favor of the vendors. But you need not get stuck on the words, there are options.
Minnesota is a good place to be as a consumer. We were able to devise a plan to get almost all of our deposits back fairly quickly. Through this process I learned a few lessons:
- Regardless of what the contract says, a contract that is “impossible” to perform is not enforceable. It is void.
- Contracts are construed against the drafters.
- The cancellation because of COVID-19 is not your fault and not the vendor’s fault. Therefore, things should be returned to the status quo before the contract.
- We were able to devise a way to work with intermediaries to create leverage against the vendors who were really stubborn about keeping the deposit.
If your big event has been cancelled, you may have the ability to enforce your rights. Contracts are not always what they seem. Regardless of what they say, you may still be entitled to get your money back.