Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Party rentals: Learn from my mistakes

First of all, let me say there are some really good vendors in the party biz. In our area, one of the greats is Taylor Rental. They were the folks I should have used this past weekend. However, I needed to get the items picked up while doing other errands and Taylor is really out of the way. Next time, I will drive the 20 minutes to them and take a pass on All Season Rentals in Danbury, CT.

Firstly, my parents home has always been pretty well equipped with nearly everything one might need for a dinner service or party. It was only the number of guests we anticipated that caused me to go to a vendor to be sure I was covered with the following additional items:

Coffee Samovar (Victorian-style server with sterno)
5 foot catering cooler for the bar
4 gallon ice bucket
50 cups and saucers
Punch bowl and ladle

Pretty simple. But as I mentioned at Blushing Hostess the night before the party, there were issues which mounted in number during the party. Let us review what became of these items:

1. Coffee Samovar (Victorian-style server with sterno): Was beat up and the silver plate chipped in several places.

2. 5' catering cooler for the bar: This is my personal favorite. This cooler leaked profusely once the ice inside with the drinks began to melt, all over the hardwoods and had to pitched outside the kitchen slider into the 20 degree night. In that cold, we had to remove all the contents and bring them back inside. Overnight, the ice inside froze into a block which I was unable to pry free the next day even with a good deal of warm water. That annoyed me but I was plain angry about the leak.

3. 4 gallon ice bucket: There was a pretty hammered steel 2 gallon bucket in the showroom, I asked if there was a larger size and was told there was. I did not check the box the 4 gallon item was in before leaving and when it was unpacked the day before, I discovered it was an ugly and tasteless 4 gallon bucket. The vendor said he would swap it out the next morning but I was stuck with it because there was no time to run over to his place again. I felt taken for a ride.

4. 50 cups and saucers: No issues!

5. Punch bowl and ladle: Now, when I order two things that normally come in matched sets, that is what I expect to receive. Not a glass bowl and a plastic ladle. Just ridiculous and speaks to the level of entertaining knowledge and grace of their business - and it does not speak well.

When I explained all of this to the vendor (who is a nice person but not customer savvy) he advised me they would discount my next order from them. As if there would one with rentals in this condition! Just because I am pleasant does not mean I am satisfied.

And to put a little more salt in the wound: I just checked my credit card statement and they charged me 40% more for this than the price they advised me the day I went to see them to confirm the order. Interesting. So you gave me garbage, made no recompense, and then misrepresented your costs. What a deal! Look, avoid these people at any cost.

And at a general level learn from my mistakes:

1. When you place the order, get the draft invoice or costs in writing. Have them email you the document.

2. Check every single item and crate before you take possession, photograph them as they were returned.

3. Be clear that items which become unusable, like the cooler, during the event for which they were rented will not be paid for.

4. As you know, smart customer service is huge for the Hostess, don't deal with people who screwed you this time but promise not to next time. I promise you, they will screw next time too, it is who they are and what they do.


pve design said...

Oh, too bad about that bad party rental. I rent from a local place here and have had great luck. Alperson party rental.
Enjoy the holidays and over the years accumulate things to store away for you parties which in time you will avoid renting. Thrift shops and discounts are out there.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Your site is fabulous; how have I missed this???