SAN ANTONIO — It's a common coronavirus complication: Milestones need to be modified.
Samantha McBurney’s daughter, Emily, had country-western themed quinceañera scheduled for August. Her court was 16 people and about 300 guests were expected.
But the big celebration will not be held this year.
“With everything going on, we decided to postpone," McBurney said. "Due to the pandemic and just all the rules and regulations that are needed, we decided to put it for her Sweet 16 now."
McBurney ran into problems rescheduling with her events venue, however. She gave the venue more than a month’s notice that she wanted to reschedule, and now she'll have to pay an extra $1,000 for the postponement. McBurney said that, after recovering from the coronavirus herself, there is no other option but to delay.
“I canceled her practices, you know, everything that they were doing, because (with) me having it, I wouldn’t want it on any of them," she said. "Especially teenagers."
Contracts are key, especially any cancellation clauses that may be included in them.
“That contract needs to be read up and down,” said Jason Meza, the regional director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). “Let’s face it, COVID-19 is a fluid situation. There’s no end date. It’s impossible to tell when we can get back to events.”
McBurney has already paid more than half the cost of the event. She is currently trying to work out the price of moving her daughter’s big birthday and see if the additional money needs to be paid up front or in payments.
“I work Monday through Saturday,” she said. “I’m a medical assistant, so I don’t make that much. I’m barely making it myself. Still, it’s making her little dream come true.”
The BBB said a fee to postpone is standard. It suggests trying to work out an alternate plan with your venue first. Meza said it's important to remember many venues are trying to keep their doors open.
“Small businesses are attempting to make some kind of adjustments along the way,” he said. “There may be extra fees involved.”
Here is when you need to seek outside help:
“(If) you’re dealing with a business that has stopped communicating, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and other agencies to get the dialog back running and help us alert other consumers of a potential issue with the dates and contracts,” Meza said.
“We didn’t predict this was going to happen,” McBurney said. "Nobody did. We, you know...it caught everybody off-guard.”
These celebrations cannot be repeated; after all Emily will not turn 15 again. But they can be reimagined.
It is important to give both your event's venue and the guests notice as soon as possible that an event will be rescheduled. If you run into problems with your venue, file a complaint with the BBB.