A couple set to marry on Friday have been forced to scramble to hire wedding cars after the company they booked with pulled out a week before their big day.
James Lavelle, 32, and Emma Ashworth, 31, of Hillcrest on the North Shore, have been planning for months for their wedding day and the groom booked two luxury SUV vehicles from Metropolitan Rentals, based in Mt Eden, in November.
He booked two silver Toyota Land Cruisers, which he thought would be a nice touch given their wedding photos are to be taken at a farm. But he did not pay a deposit as he was told he could pay the $250 fee on the day.
Then on Friday - just one week out from the wedding - Mr Lavelle received a call from Metropolitan Rentals to say it had to cancel his booking as another customer, who already had the vehicles, wanted to extend their booking for another week.
"[They said] they were cancelling my booking as they had a better longer-term booking that they would make more money on," Mr Lavelle said.
"I kind of had a go at them and said 'That's not good enough. So a booking doesn't guarantee me getting a deal?'.
"They just said they were sorry about that and said they could offer me a couple of utes if I wanted them. I said no."
Metropolitan Rentals general manager Andrew Langridge defended the decision yesterday and said there was nothing the company could do about it.
"We can't just go out and buy two new Prados for him, I'm afraid. We can't say, 'Okay, your business is worth $150,000 to us so we're going to buy two new vehicles for you and and you alone'."
The client who asked for an extension on the hired vehicles is a film company shooting in the lower North Island, he said.
Asked why the Metropolitan Rentals did not simply reject the client's wish to extend their hire - in order to honour Mr Lavelle's booking - Mr Langridge said: "We can't conduct business like that. We'll just lose our customers if we were being dogmatic like that.
"We can't say, 'sorry, you're going to have to cancel your film shoot, come back up from the North Island and bring these vehicles back up. You're not going to be able to finish filming your commercial ... because this person needs to take this vehicle for a day's hire.' How would you feel?
"Business doesn't work that way. It's just not feasible to tell a valuable customer that they can't have the vehicle."
Consumer NZ adviser Paul Doocey said it was crazy the company had not honoured Mr Lavelle's booking.
"I think it's ridiculous. You can't take bookings and then just let people extend their booking and then leave your [other] customers.
"The law is basically that if you've got a contract, you're obliged to meet your end of the bargain. And if you don't, the other person can claim damages."
Mr Doocey said that meant if Mr Lavelle ended up having to fork out more money to hire other vehicles from a different company, Metropolitan Rentals would have to pay the difference.
Despite the lack of a deposit, Mr Doocey said the company should still keep to the booking, given there was a solid agreement.
"Certainly this guy's come away thinking he's got a contract ... otherwise he wouldn't be surprised now."
Mr Lavelle said he would spend the next few days scrambling to get suitable wedding cars.
"I'm just gutted, really. I had it all organised and sorted and now it's just another thing on the list to get done," he said.
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