Risky Business: No time to react
By Ashleigh Petersen Mary Ann Gormly, CERP
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Risky Business: No time to react

Disgruntled customer leads to charges

We’ve all heard the sayings “Truth is stranger than fiction” and “If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it.” One rental store owner and her employees lived through just that this summer.

A customer rented a tent and all the other items needed for his daughter’s wedding reception. The soon-to-be bride’s mom and dad coordinated tablecloths, napkins, tables and chairs with the flowers their daughter and her fiancé ordered from their local florist.

Rental store employees delivered the items and had everything set up hours before the reception was to begin. The father of the bride signed off on the delivery and setup and left to go to the location of the wedding.

After the ceremony, the wedding party and their guests made their way across town to the reception. The bridal party was met in front of the house by the wedding planner. She left just as the wedding had ended. She wanted to confirm that the tent was ready.

A huge gust of wind had blown through about 30 minutes before. Chairs were overturned and linens from the tables were strewn across the yard. The wedding planner asked the attendees to wait out front while everything was righted, and the reception was ready to commence. Just a little while later the guests were let into the backyard.

Two weeks later, the mother of the bride went into the rental store and demanded their money back. She stated that the failure of the rental store employees to properly secure everything led to the disaster that the reception had become. The rental store had a policy in place that stated there would be no refunds after 30 days prior to the event.

The mother of the bride admitted that everything was beautiful. Her husband had indicated as much when he arrived at the church the day of the wedding. In fact, he had taken photos and showed them to his wife on his phone at the time.

Still, she demanded her money back and was irate when the manager showed her the contract they had signed when the rental was agreed upon and the manager stated no money would be refunded. It was an act of God that blew everything across the yard. The tent had stayed right where it had been installed.

The lady grabbed a cup of coffee off the counter and threw it on the floor. She made her way to the exit door, knocking items from shelves to the floor as she went. Once outside, she keyed the side of a company truck parked near the front door.

The manager and her employees were shocked. The woman was gone before they even realized what had happened. They reviewed the surveillance video from in the store and in the parking lot. That was when they realized the delivery truck had been damaged, too. The police were called, and they decided to press charges. The following week, the father of the bride came into the store to review the video with the manager. Before he left that afternoon, he wrote a check for the damages.

The surveillance video provided all the evidence the rental store employees needed of what occurred that day. They didn’t have time to react when it was happening, but they were prepared in the aftermath. 

Mary Ann Gormly, CERP, is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. This article first appeared in Rental Pulse, Rental Management’s weekly e-newsletter, and is provided by ARA Insurance to help readers better understand and manage risk. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.

Ashleigh Petersen

Ashleigh PetersenAshleigh Petersen

Ashleigh Petersen is the digital communications manager for Rental Management. She writes news and feature articles, plus coordinates the monthly Safety Issue and several sections in the magazine. Ashleigh loves spending time with her husband and young son, baking, gardening and listening to true crime and comedy podcasts.

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