Issues with my Wedding DJ
September 6, 2007 10:50 AM   Subscribe

After my wedding a few weeks ago, I found out that my DJ had eaten a full 3-course meal, instead of the much cheaper vendor meal he was supposed to have (he also took the vendor meal). I stopped payment on his check, and sent another for the amount less the cost of the vendor meal and the $50 gratuity I had given him. They're now sending my original check to collections. Am I in the wrong? What should I do?

Description of Events:
We had our wedding a few weeks ago, and we had hired a DJ for our entertainment. The evening went alright, and at the end of the night, we paid the DJ with a check, to which we added a $50 gratuity.

I find out a couple of days later that the DJ had had a full three-course meal (like the rest of the guests). Now, we had arranged for all of our vendors to have a vendor meal, which cost $25, and not the full dinner courses, which were $140 per person. The DJ had the full three-course dinner, and took his vendor meal home with him.
He claims that my mother-in-law invited him to sit down and eat the dinner, but she says that wasn't true, that he claimed the dinner by telling her "This is mine" at an empty place at her table.

So, later in the week, I called the DJ's boss, and explained the situation with him. He called his DJ, who said that he was invited to have the dinner, and, naturally, sided with him. He was yelling at my wife and my mother-in-law when they were on the phone, and was calling my mother-in-law a liar for not admitting that she invited the DJ to dinner.

Initially, I had wanted to deduct the $140 cost of the dinner from his paycheck. My wife and I then decided that, since it could have been an honest mistake that the DJ didn't know that he was to have a vendor meal (it came to him later in the evening), that we would deduct the cost of the vendor meal (since he took both meals), along with the gratuity (since we didn't like being yelled at by his boss). The total amount we were deducting was less than 5% of the total fee for the DJ.

I put a stop-payment on the check that I had given the DJ (it hadn't been deposited yet), and sent another check for the amount less the cost of the vendor meal and the gratuity.

The DJ's boss received the check (which I had sent registered mail), but never cashed it. He's sending my original check for the full amount and gratuity to collections, claiming that it's going to ruin my credit rating.

My question is: am I in the wrong for stopping the payment on the initial check and sending him another for a lesser amount? Do I have a case to argue with the collection agency and to try to save my credit? How much damage can the DJ's boss really do to my credit?
Can the DJ really include the gratuity in the amount sent to collections? If I end up having to pay the DJ the whole amount, can I still withhold the gratuity, or am I legally bound to pay it to them since it was included in the original check? The gratuity was optional, and not on the invoice.

Thanks for any help.
posted by elbaso to Law & Government (87 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
So, we're talking maybe $100, buried in a multi-thousand dollar wedding, and you aren't even certain that there was anything intentional (except for the boss being nasty when you called him)?

They sound like fools at best and j-holes at worst, but life is too short. Let it go.
posted by dirtdirt at 10:56 AM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

I guess it has to do with how mad you are really. Did you already pay the caterers for x amount of heads, or did you get charged an extra $140 for him?

You know your mil, do you think she might have invited him to sit down and eat and he took it the wrong way (sit to eat the fancy meal, not the vendor meal?)

I guess, its just a how much you care. If you just spent a bundle on the wedding, whats alittle more to live and let live? Why are you taking away dude's gratuity for something his boss did. (That is why you said.)

I think legally, you are probably entilted to any gratuity back. You are probably not entitled to the meal portion.
posted by stormygrey at 10:57 AM on September 6, 2007

I know this may not be the most helpful comment. But if there is any doubt at all about what happened I think you should just let it go. Is it worth souring your wedding for an infraction as small as this one? Enjoy your new life and leave this incident behind.
posted by johnbot at 10:59 AM on September 6, 2007

I am not a lawyer, but it seems that deducting any more than the gratuity from the second check probably goes against the original contract.
posted by boreddusty at 11:02 AM on September 6, 2007

This is why people shouldn't have insanely overpriced weddings they can't afford.

Really, the guy cost you $140 dollars you didn't want to spend, and now you're willing to get all tied up in knots over it?

Let it go, man.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:04 AM on September 6, 2007 [6 favorites]

Did you have a contract?
posted by chickaboo at 11:04 AM on September 6, 2007

Seconding considering how much aggravation you want attached to the wedding memories. Pay the entire amount (minus gratuity) and be done with it.
posted by boreddusty at 11:04 AM on September 6, 2007

I'm not a lawyer either, but it seems to me that this theft of services wasn't in the contract either. I don't see why they should get away with thievery.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 11:13 AM on September 6, 2007

Am I in the wrong?

Pretty much. Did he do the job? Then you can't stop payment without being in the wrong. Don't give him a tip, for sure. That's your right, and you should exercise it.

IMHO, if you wedding was outlandishly expensive enough that you paid $140 per person for dinner, one vendor stealing $140 from you will almost certainly be the least bit of theft, overcharging or other graft you will have experienced. Shit, I've been to weddings where the total budget including invitations was less than the cost of one of your dinners. Just let it go.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:14 AM on September 6, 2007

Do you really want a squabble over $140 to be one of the central events of your first month of marriage?
posted by scody at 11:19 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't believe that this could significantly affect your credit--it's not as if you're refusing payment. That is often an empty threat, a scare tactic used by people who have no real power to do anything to you. If they did have a legitimate claim against you, they'd be taking legal action, not going through a collection agency. Most of the time it takes many months of effort on their part to collect the money before any report is made to the credit bureaus.
These people sound like incredibly unprofessional assholes, and they are trying to intimidate and coerce you into paying for something to which you never agreed. I say, if you have a lawyer friend or a family lawyer (somebody who wouldn't charge you, or would charge you less than the amount in dispute), get them to write a letter on their letterhead to the DJ people laying out what you expect and are willing to do in the situation, and threatening legal action if they do not accept the situation. Usually, a letter like this is all that is required to get these types of people to back down.
Do you have a copy of the contract with them, that states that the DJ was supposed to get the $25 meal? If that is stipulated, then they really have no case against you. And as far as the gratuity, you have every right to withdraw it, seeing as the DJ acted inappropriately, and you were unaware of this fact when you tipped, his boss is a tool. As I see it, you have the right to deduct the amount of the 3-course meal, less the $25 meal to which he was entitled, from their payment, and if the boss has a problem with this, tell him he can take it up with the DJ, since it was his fault to begin with.
Ugh! I can't stand people with no sense of professionalism! Good luck!
posted by SixteenTons at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2007

Taking another approach...For this sumptuous wedding did you have a wedding planner? If so it was his/her rob to manage the hired help, and he/she should get a good talking to. Any planner woth his/her salt will offer the difference as anapology, and good faith towards future recommendations.
posted by Gungho at 11:20 AM on September 6, 2007

I think I'd let it go. I'm also not sure that I'm comfortable with the idea of a "vendor meal" in the first place. I understand that costs have to be reined in, but if I really couldn't afford to feed the DJ what he wanted to eat, I would probably just rent a PA and plug my iPod into it.

If I were as upset as you are, though, I would have put the guy's name and that of his boss and their company, all over this post, my blog, and anywhere else I could think of, so that others thinking of hiring them for their weddings will know to budget for the extra mouths at the table.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:23 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

The DJ, band, or any other entertainer is a guest at your wedding. They may not have received an explicit invitation, but they are there in your company, because of you -- and are at the mercy of your hospitality. It is possible that he was a bad guest by eating food that you wouldn't approve of, but you're not behaving appropriately by not letting it go.

Who cares if you had this written in a contract or not? It comes down to decency. Let it go for shit's sake.
posted by |n$eCur3 at 11:24 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Was a guest deprived of their dinner because the DJ ate it? (unlikely) Or was this something for which you'd already paid that would've been thrown away had it not been eaten, being an extra portion over? I expect some of the waiters/kitchen staff enjoyed their $140 dinners too, but the difference is that you don't know about it.

Seriously, man, you're sounding like a tool here. Let it go.
posted by essexjan at 11:26 AM on September 6, 2007 [6 favorites]

Oh yeah, and I don't think you're being a jerk, especially considering the way you were treated by the boss. Sure, you could just let it go, but if letting them win will rankle you forever, like, in ten years you'll still get mad every time you think about it, then try to see it through. Screw these people who accuse you of being cheap and having an expensive wedding. That's not what you asked about. Stop judging, people.
posted by SixteenTons at 11:26 AM on September 6, 2007

Send an additional check via registered mail that brings your total up to invoice and end it.

Send a copy of the invoice along with the check and note that this enclosed check, along with Check 123 that the DJ company received via registered mail on ____ bring the total up to agreed upon invoice - the amount agreed for services and the legal amount he is allowed to collect per contract. Keep personal copies of everything.

If it goes further than this, and you are so inclined, pursue it with the local Attorney General's office and/or Better Business Bureau.
posted by jerseygirl at 11:29 AM on September 6, 2007

Are you sure you actually paid extra for the meal?

My limited experience in these matters would have me believe your two-tier meal provider should have given you a contract like $X for Y and Z number of meals, whether or not they got eaten.

Second what everyone else said about being petty, btw.
posted by doublesix at 11:29 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

And after it's said and done, again if you are still so inclined, browse the bridal services sites and communities like and leave tactful, mature, honest and succinct reviews.
posted by jerseygirl at 11:31 AM on September 6, 2007

Look, the events are separate.

1) The DJ ate the wrong meal, big deal...140 bucks in the grand scheme of a wedding is nothing, stop being a dick about it.

2) The manager is a dick, write the BBB, post something in your blog about the company and the DJ if your panties are in that much of a bunch...and then let it go and don't do business with them again.

140 bucks is an awful cheap way of finding out a vendor (after the vendor has done the work just fine) is an ass. Think of how bad it could have been.
posted by iamabot at 11:34 AM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Oh, damnit I forgot. Congratulations on the wedding!

In all seriousness, don't you want all the wedding crap to be over with by now? At this point (mine is in 2 weeks) I'd pay 10x the amount you lost to have everything done with.
posted by iamabot at 11:36 AM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Did the DJ sign an agreement with the MIL or with the groom? Based on who is paying the bill, I'm guessing the groom handled the contractual end as well.

As such, any good contractor should have said "Thank you for thinking of me, however I believe dinner has been arranged for me and I need to man my station." Using an invitation by a guest (who could've been a cousin, 3rd removed for all the DJ knew) at the wedding to eat a guest meal is completely inappropriate and unprofessional, and for the company to then threaten collection on a small short payment to compensate for a second meal and tip is even more inappropriate and unprofessional.

I would make sure every other vendor you worked with hears about how poorly this DJ and company handled the whole affair, and I would stick to my guns over the check.

I hope you put in the memo that your second check is non-negotiable and covers all services rendered so they can't cash the second check and still continue to pursue you over the older check as well.
posted by prettymightyflighty at 11:37 AM on September 6, 2007

I agree with SixteenTons.

Not only did the DJ eat a 3-course guest meal, unless he had amnesia and forgot eating the first meal, he swiped the other meal too. It shows theft and a blatant disregard for you and your wife, as does his boss' reaction.

If he hadn't taken the other meal, it might have come across as a simple case of a mistake, but it seems he was just a slimeball intent on pulling the wool over your eyes and hoping you'd just not notice or forget it.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:40 AM on September 6, 2007

If you weren't charged above what you were originally quoted for meals, and paid at the beginning of the night or whatever, then this is really a nonissue. Forget about the tip, forget about the meal, just forget about the whole deal.

Really, it's your word against his, and he's probably got a signed contract that states you owe him X. You have hearsay that he ate food which you may or may not have been charged for. FWIW, I have an upcoming wedding, and I would feel funny feeding our (meager) staff of photogs and DJ folks a hoagie when everyone else is eating steak. If it were more than 10 extra people instead of 4, perhaps hoagies would be better. Weddings are not a time to cut corners, not when you are trying to build positive memories.

I'm not saying you're a bad person, I have experienced similar wedding trauma at friend's weddings. Feelings are easily hurt at weddings. That said, you need to let it go. Be glad that you will probably never have to hire another wedding DJ for the rest of your life.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2007

Hey, me too! (the 22nd)

Same here :) Congrats and best wishes!
posted by iamabot at 11:49 AM on September 6, 2007

Listen to 16 Tons.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on September 6, 2007

I'm sure I'm echoing similar comments but I think you should pay the total on the invoice/contract and be done with it (I like the idea of sending another certified check to cover the difference you owe). It's not worth your time and energy.

The DJ does sound like a jerk with the way he invited himself to the dinner table, though the idea of different levels of meals strikes me as odd. The boss sounds like an ass as well.

But stopping the check was the wrong way to go about things and was unfortunately inflammatory. A much better approach would have been to call or go to the company and discuss things calmly and indicating that you thought it was unprofessional to invite himself to the table and eat the meal.

Sure, maybe you could take this to small claims court and they'll find that you owe the amount you contracted for and possibly that the DJ owes $140 for a dinner he shouldn't have eaten. But at the end of the day $140 is likely only a small percentage of the total cost of the wedding, and is only reflective of the large expense, not the cause of it.
posted by 6550 at 11:53 AM on September 6, 2007

Preface: my response is written with the presumption that you know the DJ ate the $140 meal knowing that he should not have before hand.

I get really bothered by everyone's ability to "let things go" when it is their dime. Just because something is a pain in the butt doesn't mean you should let it go. As far as I am concerned, the matter is about principal and not at all about money.

To everyone who is saying this is petty, I ask: is it okay for me to steal toilet paper from my company? Definitely not, yet this guy is, essentially, in the shoes of the company. Forget the services he rendered. He stole.

Unfortunately, it is hard to tell from your description whether the DJ was aware of what happened - and if he was, whether he knew before hand or not until after he had eaten the $140 meal.

Bah, this sucks.
posted by mbatch at 11:57 AM on September 6, 2007

I've done sound for tons of weddings and I've never eaten anything different than what the guests eat.
posted by jjb at 12:00 PM on September 6, 2007 [4 favorites]

I've played a ton of weddings as a band member and most of the time we were all given the full meal.

That said, I never took it for granted. On the few occasions we didn't eat with the other guests, I wasn't offended at all. I was there to entertain, not as a guest. Nobody feeds all the caterers the expensive food, do they? Why should the DJ get the good stuff? Unless you specified in your contract that he should get a guest meal, he should not have taken it. He's the one being a dick, IMHO.

The only thing you are guilty of is hiring a DJ instead of a band.
posted by Camofrog at 12:01 PM on September 6, 2007

Do not "let it go". That's ridiculous. It's your money, and you are completely correct in fighting to KEEP WHAT IS YOURS. It would be a cold day before I would let someone blatantly rip me off in this manner, credit scores be damned.
posted by tadellin at 12:14 PM on September 6, 2007

Assuming the best of everyone, isn't it possible that the DJ had the impression that he was supposed to eat during the main dinner? (Makes sense to me, because that's usually when background-type music is playing. The DJ can't eat later because that's when he's spinning the dance music.) So whether he was beckoned or claimed the spot, it doesn't matter. He mistakenly thought he should eat during the served meal.

So later he gets his vendor meal. Maybe he told the staff, "I don't need it; I ate already." Maybe they said, "Well, take it anyway because we had ours too." So he takes it home rather than throw away perfectly good food.

It hurts to lose the money but it may have been an honest mistake. At my wedding we paid for meals for people whose babies got sick at the last minute... there's always going to be some waste with a large production. If you can turn 'waste' into 'generosity' maybe you'd feel better.
posted by xo at 12:17 PM on September 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

I agree with the "let it go" advice, but the band/dj/photographers/etc at the vast majority of the several hundred weddings I have bartended at got a different meal to the guests. It is not so beyond the pale as some commenters are suggesting.
posted by jamesonandwater at 12:22 PM on September 6, 2007

tadellin et al:
Is it 'his money'? I may be severely mistaken, but nowhere did I read that he was charged extra for the meal. Until such point as the OP pops out and says "yes, the caterers charged me extra at the end of the night", then there were, as far as the text suggests, NO DAMAGES...

I am (much to my dismay) a cheapskate in many respects, but I won't raise a big stink for lost money which was never mine in the first place.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:23 PM on September 6, 2007

I can EASILY think of a scenario where the DJ innocently ate a "guest" meal (offered either explicitly or implicitly), and then later, when offered a "vendor" meal, said "hey, ok! thanks!" and took it to go... with no intentions of ripping anyone off. What should he have done vis-a-vis the vendor meal? Given it back? You still would have had to pay for it.

Basically, it's called a MISUNDERSTANDING.

If the DJ did the job he was hired for to your satisfaction (which he seems to have done), you should pay him for that job, and whatever gratuity you saw fit at the time.

If the vendor meal was specifically spelled out in his contract, then you may have some leverage, but yes, even then it seems pretty petty. The boss was a jerk, call the BBBB, but pay your vendor for the services rendered.
posted by nkknkk at 12:26 PM on September 6, 2007 [3 favorites]

DJs are the lowest form of human life and should not be allowed in the company of decent people, let alone fed.

Send the company a certified letter briefly explaining your position and offering the reduced amount. Do not contact them again. It won't ruin your credit.

I'm not sure why people think you have *any* responsibility to feed anyone you're already paying to perform a service. If anything, it seems more classist to offer a free meal to a professional who's doing his job than not.
posted by electroboy at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2007

Response by poster: Wow, lots of great comments from both sides.

To answer some of the questions:
There was a contract, and it did stipulate that the DJ should get a minimum of a dinner sandwich and 2 beverages. The vendor meal was more than that, and the DJ could get unlimited alcoholic drinks all night, so I think we satisfied that part.

The vendor meal did come after the dinner courses, so it is possible that the DJ didn't know that he had a vendor meal coming. His lying about my mother-in-law inviting him to eat was slimy. He and his boss both said that they would never assume to eat the dinners that the guests are eating unless they are invited by a member of the bridal party (i.e. not some distant cousin). This sounds like lying to cover his ass.

The boss was civil on the phone with me, but when he spoke to my wife and then my mother-in-law, he was shouting at them. This feels like he's trying to the intimidate women, though he doesn't know my wife. :-)

I'm still torn on whether I should pay him the difference in the second check I wrote him and the invoiced amount (minus the gratuity) or not. Can he really do a lot of damage to my credit?
posted by elbaso at 12:32 PM on September 6, 2007

The problem with the "Don't let it go" attitude is the OP has himself acted badly in his approach to the situation with the stopping of the check and only escalated the problem. Letting it go is probably making the best of the bad situation. I don't think there's anything at this point that will leave the parties mutually satisfied but is it worth going to small claims court? That's a decision the OP has to make, but I wouldn't take it to court.
posted by 6550 at 12:34 PM on September 6, 2007

Mod note: if you can't answer this question without caling the OP names take your indignation to METATALK. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:35 PM on September 6, 2007

I've done sound for tons of weddings and I've never eaten anything different than what the guests eat.

How odd. My best friend is a wedding photographer. I just called to ask her if she usually eats what the guests eat, and she said almost never. She brings her own food and rarely someone will invite her to eat while she's there, almost like an afterthought. She's been shooting weddings for 5 years.
posted by peep at 12:42 PM on September 6, 2007

But were you actually charged extra for that guest meal he ate, or were you charged for a set number of guest meals and he had an extra that would have been thrown away anyway?

If yes, you have a legal case, although I would also advise you to shrug it off and deduct the tip only. If no, you're making the DJ and boss pay money for a) contradicting your mother-in-law's story and b) being an ass on the phone to your wide and mother-in-law. As nasty as they have shown themselves to be, I don't think you'll have much luck with that line of reasoning if this ever goes to small claims court.
posted by maudlin at 12:43 PM on September 6, 2007

Best answer: This isnt about wrong or right or manners or mistakes, its about the power of collections. Typically, money this trivial will never make it to collections. Heck, the collectors want 30-50% of the bill for themselves. I say just stop where you are. Let them cash the smaller check and never worry about it again.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:44 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For those who are asking if we were charged extra for the 3-course dinner the DJ had: no, we were charged a flat rate for the dinners based on our expected guest count. The DJ ate a dinner of a guest that RSVP'ed but didn't show up.

However, had he declined the vendor meal instead of taking it home, we would have been refunded the cost of the vendor meal. This is why we deducted the cost of the vendor meal from the second check, and not the full per-head cost of the dinner meal.
posted by elbaso at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2007

elbaso, the key question here is: Were you charged an extra $140 for the meal the DJ ate? My experience is that you need to guarantee at least X meals by Y date, and you are responsible to pay for all those meals, regardless of how many of them get eaten. You may have to pay more money (ie: if you have a full house plus four extra cousins who turn up to eat, you have to pay the guaranteed amount plus four), but you're not going to get out of this for less than the guaranteed amount.

So if you got a bill from the caterer that said "We served 1 more meal than we expected, so its an additional $140" then you might have an issue. But if you didn't end up paying for more meals than you guaranteed, then let it go, and be happy the food didn't go to waste.
posted by anastasiav at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2007

this is a little ridiculous. you paid how much for the wedding and all the food and booze, and you're getting upset about $140 dinner?

you should have just let it go, with maybe a note to his boss about him mooching food.

you should NOT have taken away HIS tip for something his BOSS did to piss you off.

sure, the dj shouldn't have eaten a dinner (that your new mom in law may or may not have invited him to have, and for which you had probably already paid for), but you didn't need to escalate it to what it's become.

let it go.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:03 PM on September 6, 2007

he DJ ate a dinner of a guest that RSVP'ed but didn't show up.

Simple answer: call up the fellow who didn't show, and ask him for the $140.00.

After all, it could be argued that he "defaulted on his contractual obligation" just about as much as your DJ did at the time. By admitting that the food was already paid for and would have either a) been put in the trash or b) eaten by one of the wait-staff anyways, you are attempting, it seems to me, to monetize a situation which has its roots in one of your guest's inconsideration (and did he/she not display just as much contempt for you and your bride by failing to honor his obligation to show up after RSVP'ing as the DJ and his boss have done by agressively pushing back against your financial punishment? Hell, at least the DJ performed his service adequately. He didn't literally take money out of your pocket like your so-called "guest" did by not showing.) just as much as the potential unprofessionalism of the DJ and his supervisor?

Seriously, elbaso, pay the man, and let this go.
posted by Chrischris at 1:09 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

So, those of you advising "let it go" would the same advice apply if he had taken $140.00 bottle of booze?, a camera?, something from the gift cash envelopes?

Duh, the guy's a crook and even if the issue "goes away" he should be flamed on any possible place where references and complaints can be posted.
posted by Freedomboy at 1:13 PM on September 6, 2007

For those who are asking if we were charged extra for the 3-course dinner the DJ had: no, we were charged a flat rate for the dinners based on our expected guest count. The DJ ate a dinner of a guest that RSVP'ed but didn't show up. However, had he declined the vendor meal instead of taking it home, we would have been refunded the cost of the vendor meal.

So, in fact, you're really only out $25, correct?
posted by scody at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

So, those of you advising "let it go" would the same advice apply if he had taken $140.00 bottle of booze?

Well, if it was understood that the bottle of booze was going to be smashed against a wall if it was not drunk, or the gift cash was going to be burned, or the camera crushed underfoot if not used by the "appropriate" user (who, btw, didn't bother to show up), then hell yes, I'd still say "let it go." $140.00 worth of food thrown into a dumpster is--at least to me-- a greater moral outrage than the ambiguous (remember, we have only one side of the story here) narrative we've been asked to consider in this read.
posted by Chrischris at 1:20 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Obviously without living in the DJ's head it's impossible to know what his thought-processes were, but it seems reasonable that he may have eaten the first, full-course meal simply because he didn't realize he wasn't supposed to.

Doggie-bagging the "vendor" meal does come off as tacky to me, but I guess I can see from his perspective that he may have thought the other alternative was having it thrown out, so I'm not sure this was a major crime either.

Behaving rudely to your spouse and mother-in-law was bad form, no doubt. However, if you place *ANY* value whatsoever on your time I would just let this battle drop, considering you are arguing over a $25 misbegotten meal. How many hours of your life (which are certainly worth more than $25 per hour, right?) do you want to spend fighting over this?

Congratulations on your getting married, btw.
posted by The Gooch at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2007

If I were in your position, I would have let it go.

However, if you are intent upon doing something, here's what makes most sense:

(1) Go ahead and pay the full, contractual amount to the DJ company, less the gratuity, which it is your right to withhold. The DJ performed as the contract provided; you owe them that money; and

(2) Report the DJ to the police, for theft. He ate a meal he was not entitled to. His defense, that your mother in law invited him to have the meal, is just that --- a defense. Let the jury decide who's telling the truth.

Now, I don't think the police or prosecutors will be interested in pursuing this case. But what you're accusing the guy of theft, why not behave like any other victim of theft should behave, and go to the police? (Frankly I think it's silly, but if you're serious about it, this seems like what you should do.)
posted by jayder at 1:27 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

Were you billed for the number of meals planned, or the numbers of guests in attendance? If you were billed by an actual platecount, then I don't blame you for being pissed. The DJ should not have pulled up a chair at a table for guests. It's rude and unprofessional and cheezy.

You can resolve any credit issue with a letter to the credit agencies explaing what is, in fact, a disputed bill. It's never going to small claims court because it's not that big, and they might lose. It's possible that you could get in trouble for stopping payment, but unlikely that this will ever go anywhere. Even the credit agency thing is unlikely.

I'd let it go as in, Don't pay them the money, and Don't worry about it any more.
posted by theora55 at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2007

I agree with sixteen tons. His threat to go to a collection agency strikes me as sound and fury. If he really wanted the full amount and if you have a contract as to what the DJ is supposed to get, then if he goes to small claims court, I suspect that he would lose badly.

You have some options at this point:
1. Pay the full amount
2. Talk to a lawyer and get advice as to what to do
3. Invite him to go to an arbitrator to settle the matter
4. Write him a C&D letter with regards to the collection agency
5. Ignore the collections agencies

The important thing, I think, is for you to choose what you are going to do rather than fall into it. Falling into it is a frustrating, powerless path.
posted by plinth at 1:40 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

No idea about the legalities of this, but my opinion is that the cost of the vendor meal is something that you'd be fully entitled to withhold. If the company/dj had apologized and offered to refund it, I would have let it drop. If it turns out that you can legally withhold that amount from their check, I would do so without hesitation.

Figure out what the law says first though. Contract law isn't someplace where the immediate, obvious interpretation is often right.
posted by Skorgu at 1:56 PM on September 6, 2007

I bounced a check for a $90 textbook once, and Barnes and Noble stuck a collection agency for me. Even though it was a small amount, it was a pain in butt for the week or two before I paid (the original amount plus the collection fee). Pay the original amount in full and save yourself the headache.

I agree that the DJ eating the more expensive meal isn't a big deal, since it was already paid for and would have gone to waste. However, you still owe them what you originally agreed, and I also think it seems kind of rude to take back the tip (which you wouldn't have given if you hadn't been satisfied with the job.)

Since the boss didn't treat you well after the fact, just badmouth the company to anyone and everyone who is looking to hire a DJ.
posted by emd3737 at 1:57 PM on September 6, 2007

A check is a promise to pay. Don't break your promise because he broke his.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:00 PM on September 6, 2007

The dj may have made a mistake in eating the dinner. Personally, I think he took advantage of the situation, especially since he then also bagged up the vendor meal.

But you never charged him for the dinner anyway, only the extra vendor meal (which makes perfect sense to me since he ate two meals) so whether he made a mistake re: the $140 dinner is really irrelevant.

The thing is, the legality of stopping payment and adjusting the amount from the contract is questionable, and since you are concerned with the collections agency threat, you might be better off giving that twenty dollars back.

That being said, the gratuity is a different matter. You took away his gratuity because he was a greedy gluttonous moocher, and you were not required by contract to give him the gratuity in the first place.

Talk to the manager again (don't make your wife do it, because although I am sure she can handle herself, the manager sounds like a chauvinistic jerk and why put her through that?), explain that you are not contractually bound in any way to provide the gratuity, that you feel you are being more than reasonable but that to avoid any further unpleasantness you will pay the check less that fifty dollars gratuity.

If he doesn't go for that, I'd match his collections agency threat with a "I need to talk to my lawyer, then" threat, because he's just being a jerk and bluffing to take advantage of you, imho. Of course, IANAL.

Congratulations, anyway, on your marriage, and I hope you enjoyed your wedding day despite this hassle and the hurf durf sandwich eating dj.
posted by misha at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2007

The terms of the contract as you explained them are vague enough that the DJ could have thought the guest meal was the meal he was supposed to eat. The people calling him a thief are being ridiculous. He may have intended to steal, but the contract does not state he is to have a different meal than the guests. How could he have known?

And I don't even think taking the vendor meal was all that bad. If someone offered me a doggie bag after all the guests had eaten, I would've thought, "cool, free food." It would not have occurred to me that it was a terrible thing to take it.

I think you should pay. It's a small amount of money and it's not clear to me that the DJ did anything wrong. The boss was an ass, and that's inappropriate, but I can see his side. If someone who had just thrown a lavish wedding called me up to complain that my employee had stolen food and wanted to deduct the (comparatively minor) cost of the meal from payment, I'd have been pretty pissed. It would have seemed very petty to me. Of course, good customer service dictates suppressing the piss until you get off the phone and can say nasty things about you behind your back. And then you stopped the check, which was not a class move.

If you decide not to pay, I agree that it's not likely to go to collection. Collection agencies are in a business, after all, not the enforcers of a moral code of "pay your bills." I can't see that there is much profit to be made in pursing someone for $25.
posted by Mavri at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2007

You sent him that second check for his fee, less the $25, right? If he or his boss wants to argue that, you can tell them to get bent. Will your credit get dinged? It's possible. But feel free to tell 'em that if they go after your credit, you'll call the cops about the theft, and make sure to tell everyone what a dipshit this guy and his boss are.

Of course, I'm one for petty grudge matches. You might be a bigger person.
posted by klangklangston at 2:07 PM on September 6, 2007

THE important question is whether he's sent the stopped check to collections or whether he's merely SAID he is going to send the stopped check to collections. Because it is almost certainly going to cost him to collect on that check and chances are he won't actually follow through. If it's just a threat call him and tell him he has gotten the payment he's going to get and you have proof of his receipt of payment and what you actually contractually agreed to pay him, so if he tries to collect on the full amount of the previous check (basically trying to collect money you have already paid him) you will go after him for fraud. He can rebill you for the 25 bucks you knocked off what you actually owed him if he wants, he can't legally send you to collections for the full bill when he has a valid check in hand for most of it. Most likely this phone call will resolve it. He'll cash your check and eat your discount. If not you're stuck with this business. Then main issue will be your time and hassle in that case: no, this will not have a significant effect on your credit and you can mitigate what effect it does have.
posted by nanojath at 2:08 PM on September 6, 2007

I suspect that in many US jurisdictions, using stop-payment on a check that wasn't fraudulently written, may be just like a bounced check, in the eyes of the local DA. This is why credit cards can tout their ability to force a chargeback on merchants. If DJ's boss really wants his money and to grief you, you could be in for far more cost than the meal you're worrying over.
posted by nomisxid at 2:30 PM on September 6, 2007

It may have been a misunderstanding. It may have been boorishness. It will cost you a lot more than $25 worth of headache to establish which, much less to get the money back—and that's neglecting the fact that they are free to construe your arrangements and actions as boorish themselves if they want. So pay the invoiced amount, and document that you have done so. Do whatever you want about the tip, including not pay it at all; tipping is, despite what people will try to tell you, a voluntary compensation for good service. Do not recommend them, and if asked, tell the whole truth about it.

And if they were trying to rip you off and bully your womenfolk, well, eventually they'll die and go to hell, or get reincarnated as a hookworm, or whatever.
posted by eritain at 2:36 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I would pay but I certainly wouldn't tip the guy. I can see that this might have been a misunderstanding, but his taking the other meal seems suspect. So I would pay him what you the agreed fee, but not tip him. Then if they said anything, like others have suggested, I'd badmouth them on every wedding site I could find.

Congratulations and good luck with this.
posted by ob at 3:00 PM on September 6, 2007

So, in fact, you're really only out $25, correct?

You're not even out the $25, really, since you had already planned on paying that.

The DJ did not cost you any extra money. There's no reason other than spite to be taking back money you already gave him.
posted by occhiblu at 3:10 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

I just have to say that this:
The DJ, band, or any other entertainer is a guest at your wedding. They may not have received an explicit invitation, but they are there in your company, because of you -- and are at the mercy of your hospitality.
is crazy talk. No. People that you hire to work at an event are there, working, because they were hired to be there. This is their job. They are not usually confused on this score, and the people who hire them shouldn't be either. Employers are obligated to treat their workers well, so you're obligated to give the guy a break so he can eat, give him bathroom breaks, safe working conditions, let him leave when you agreed, don't verbally abuse him, etc. This is not hospitality, it's being an ethical employer. There are two totally separate sets of obligations at work here. It's insane to suggest that hired people at a party are guests.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:18 PM on September 6, 2007

My question is: am I in the wrong for stopping the payment on the initial check and sending him another for a lesser amount?

I would say yes. IANAL, however he fulfilled the contract as stated. Granted, he ate/stole some food, but would you put a stop on a contractor's check when you found out he ate an apple that was on your counter? You might have a discussion with his boss about the apple-eating (and maybe ask for a new apple or reimbursement to pay for the apple), but chances are you wouldn't go so far as to stop the original check.

Really, it's not a huge deal in the scheme of things. The $140 meal was otherwise wasted and you're really only out a $25 vendor meal. I get that it's principle and whatnot, but I think that the old saying about mountains and molehills really applies here.

If you're mad and looking for a solution, send a check for the original amount of the contract and do not include the tip. Tell your friends and the internet, but be prepared for them to think you over-reacted.

As a sidenote, are you sure you aren't making this into a big thing because now that the wedding is over, you have nothing to focus on like you did before? I am getting married and have been reading about the post-wedding mindset where you look for excitement/drama once that of the wedding has passed. Wondering if that might be coming into play here?
posted by ml98tu at 3:27 PM on September 6, 2007

The vendor meal did come after the dinner courses, so it is possible that the DJ didn't know that he had a vendor meal coming.

Hey all, I've never been a DJ but I've served in fancy events before as a waiter or similar function (as volunteer for a local theatre). One thing that happened each time I worked one of these events was the staff always got what I guess you'd call a "vendor's meal" before the event started. This way, we all had energy for the evening, our stomachs were full, and we weren't as distracted by the food everyone else was eating.

So, unfortunately elbaso's experience teaches us all an important tip: feed the people before the event, not after.

I mean, if you think about it, when the event is over, I want to go home, not stick around in an empty ballroom eating a lousy sandwich.
posted by Deathalicious at 3:51 PM on September 6, 2007

Let it go. You'll never win. They'll screw you over to make a point. Give them the full amount.

Then immediately go out and file a report against them with the BBB. Plus, go to all the vendors you used for your wedding and explain to them what happened and tell them you want to help them avoid doing any business with these people in the future.

Once the DJ has cashed your check, call them and tell them you did all that. It'll be sweeter, cleaner and done with.
posted by damiano99 at 4:17 PM on September 6, 2007

Not to be rude in any way, but I have to agree with the above mentioned comments on price. If 75$ is 50% of what his fee was, you way overpaid ... unless it was Moby or that naked DJ doing it. For 200-300 you could have hired an amateur classical group to play all night.

Or if you hired him to play modern stuff ... you could have spent 200 on an Ipod and rented an entire sound system for 200-300 and let the Ipod shuffle stuff all night.
posted by damiano99 at 4:19 PM on September 6, 2007

I'm with the "just let it go" folks. This could easily have been a misunderstanding, and given the lack of any serious financial impact (as clarified by the original poster), I agree with some of the above posters that it is petty to try to get money back out of this. And this is not what you want to remember about your wedding or the first few weeks of the marriage. Let it go -- be generous, not miserly.
posted by litlnemo at 4:20 PM on September 6, 2007

Pay the check minus the gratuity, and vent your displeasure on the usual wedding boards. At least you can save other couples from assuming the vendors will eat what they're contracted to eat. Then move on.

And it's no crime to spend $140 a plate on a meal. Wedding expenses are just as neutral as other expenses -- it's all about doing it within your means. Don't assume that because you didn't do this or won't that the OP is a hedonistic debtor.
posted by mdiskin at 5:19 PM on September 6, 2007

I was the owner of a small business in the entertainment market. I usually had 25 to 30 people working for me per event. It was made very clear to my employees that they are at this event as employees, not as guest. They were not to accept any food or drink unless it was set up in the "staff room". The staff room was off to the side and set up with sandwiches and drinks.

I've fired people over taking a drink from the bartender, it is stealing from my client.

The owner should have apologized for his employee and offer to reduce his bill by the cost of the meal.

I think you are right in sending a second check less the tip and cost of the employee meal.
posted by JujuB at 5:32 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

$25 vendor meal and $50 tip on a $1,500 DJ bill in a wedding where meals cost $140.

It's annoying and inappropriate behavior on the DJ's part and of his boss.

I'm in the "it ain't worth it" camp. Pay the check minus the gratuity.
posted by idb at 5:39 PM on September 6, 2007

After your details on the vague contract and the fact that you would have paid for the dinner anyway, I'm changing my vote to pay up. Skip the tip if he didn't do an awesome job if it makes you feel better.

DJs give me the heebs but as a seasoned wedding-employee veteran, it sounds like he very well may have been offered, explicitly or implicitly, a meal and jumped on it. Don't blame him. And why would he have then refused the vendor meal that may have been a surprise to him later? Why not take it home, since it would be thrown out otherwise?

Pay him and learn a lesson about being very specific in contracts.
posted by Camofrog at 6:15 PM on September 6, 2007

Yes, you're in the wrong.

Yes, he can send it to collections, but it would be more expensive than eating the cost. If he did send it to collections, it would be expensive and time-consuming to fight it, and you would probably lose, since you did have a contract.

And dude, if you list the guy's name and company, I'll personally send him $25 for having to deal with such ___oops, sorry, the censor cut that.
posted by tejolote at 7:06 PM on September 6, 2007

The DJ ate a dinner of a guest that RSVP'ed but didn't show up.However, had he declined the vendor meal instead of taking it home, we would have been refunded the cost of the vendor meal. This is why we deducted the cost of the vendor meal from the second check, and not the full per-head cost of the dinner meal.

You're not out anything -- the extra 3 course meal would have been tossed in the trash. You already contracted to give the vendor meal. Yes, the 3 course meal "belonged" to you, but it was headed for the trash anyway.

I am really surprised at your position -- that taking a meal that would have been thrown out is theft to the point of creating a huge stink about it.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:48 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]

It's situations like these that made me stop singing at weddings. The brides were so friggin' petty about everything. "You sang four and a half songs instead of five." "Your drummer played too loudly." "You ate a slice of wedding cake." (This after the bride's mother offered me a slice of really nasty, likely overpriced wedding cake.)

Think about it this way. In five years, will it matter that the DJ, who's probably living hand-to-mouth, took some extra FOOD? It's not like he made off with your Tiffany punch bowl. Sheesh.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 8:59 PM on September 6, 2007 [5 favorites]

Eat the cost and complain on the sites where you found him.

This sort of thing is part of the reason why I'd want to be married quietly and have a big reception later.
posted by brujita at 9:59 PM on September 6, 2007

Stealing food to eat is one of the more forgivable "crimes" in my book.
posted by any major dude at 10:21 PM on September 6, 2007

I hear a lot of people whining about how, given your spend on the wedding, the cost of the vendor meal that you've decided to deduct is nothing.

OK. But given that this firm is charging $1500 to provide a DJ for the night, that isn't going to be very much to them either. Their refusal to ensure your satisfaction in this matter shows them up as being a shitty operation.

Given that, this is what I'd do if I were you and cared about the principle involved. (I'm not sure if I would myself, but I understand the impulse. I tend to get pissed when I feel as though people are trying to screw me over or play me for a jerk as well.) They wanna play dick? Show them how the game is *really* played.

Cut them a new check for the full amount, minus gratuity.

Set up a website or blog. Call it '' Name the company and the DJ, and describe in exquisite detail precisely why you were unhappy with this company and the service they provided. Talk extensively about your experience of the lies, the deception, the theft. About the disrespect to your wife and mother-in-law. Talk about the way that this experience has marred a special day -- one that you spent $X,000 to achieve. Talk about how you'd hate any other happy couples to be traumatized by this experience.

Look into search engine optimization. Make sure that whenever somebody searches for 'wedding' 'dj', the part of the world that you live in, the dj's name and the name of the company that he works for, that your website pops up.

Over the long term, you'll cost them a damn sight more in lost business than the money they're refusing to deduct from their bill.

Don't get mad -- get even.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:05 AM on September 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

alk about the way that this experience has marred a special day -- one that you spent $X,000 to achieve. Talk about how you'd hate any other happy couples to be traumatized by this experience.

Any wedding that is truly "marred" or any couple who is actually "traumatized" by such an incident has far bigger problems than the loss of 25 dollars.
posted by scody at 1:20 AM on September 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Looks like about half of you missed the fact that the DJ's boss did receive a check for the full amount. Now it's him being petty and going after the tip for christ's sake.

Write this guy a letter stating your position on the matter and send it to him certified. Something about certified mail has a way of changing the way people see the contents of the envelop. If he turns it over to a collection agency, very possible since the total of the check is probably rather higher than the amounts in dispute, you can take a certain amount of pride from the fact that it cost him a good chunk of money to use them if you pay. Just make sure you stop payment on that last check.

One other thing: The amount of money you've already paid to have the checks stopped, if your bank is anything like most in the US, is already double the 25 you're disputing. Just forget it unless the guy cashes your last check and then tries to collect for the original too. (It's happened.)

Must be something in the water where these people live
posted by IronLizard at 10:50 AM on September 7, 2007

Looks like about half of you missed the fact that the DJ's boss did receive a check for the full amount. Now it's him being petty and going after the tip for christ's sake.

No, the second check deducted not only the tip but also the $25 vendor meal charge (I ... sent another check for the amount less the cost of the vendor meal and the gratuity), which means it's $25 less than the invoiced amount (and also does not include a gratuity).
posted by occhiblu at 11:38 AM on September 7, 2007

You're right, I swore he mentioned a third check somewhere in here.
posted by IronLizard at 1:25 PM on September 7, 2007

Any wedding that is truly "marred" or any couple who is actually "traumatized" by such an incident has far bigger problems than the loss of 25 dollars.

You're missing the point. The point is payback. The extent of any trauma or marring, genuine or otherwise is completely immaterial.

It's the Keyser Sose school of dispute resolution. Fuck with me or mine and I *will* make you pay.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:23 PM on September 7, 2007

Go to the bank, and ask for $25 in pennies. Mail this to them certified mail. The end.
posted by bertrandom at 12:21 AM on September 8, 2007

I would caution against PeterMcDermott's "setting up a blog to blacken the DJ company's name" suggestion. Not that you're not perfectly justified in doing so, but it just seems like bad karma --- you're hurting yourself as much or more than you're hurting the DJ company.

It seems like taking this dispute so seriously could let it overshadow your wedding, to the point that, when you're discussing the wedding with your sweetheart, the conversation inevitably ends up on, "Can you believe what motherfuckers that DJ and his boss were?"

That's like spending thousands on a beautiful wedding dress and having toilet paper trailing after it all night.

Don't let shit become inextricably linked to your wedding memories.
posted by jayder at 8:37 AM on September 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

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