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Mr. Delicious

Catering pick up no show

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Here we go, I love the week of Valentines (not at all), I had a man call on monday, (he was either hard of hearing or def) so I had to talk to someone who would type what I said or say what he typed, so therefore I have no phone number. Anyway he ordered 300 BBQ beef sandwiches, for his daughters birthday at $6 each after tax total was $1926.

He then said he would email me the credit card info and then I could charge his card. This morning I had an email from him with 3 credit cards and he asked if I could split it among the 3 cards, when I tried they all said denied, I emailed again filled him in and he gave me 2 more credit card numbers. These were also denied, I then emailed him again, and called one of the restaurants I used to work for, the manager said that when the pick it up take a credit card number as collateral, get contact info and have them sign the invoice.

This I thought would take care of any issues. It is now about an hour and a half late and nobody has picked it up and no phone call. I was quite afraid of this and now are unsure what to do. I do have all the emails and his credit card numbers but what can I legally do? My mother suggested I call the local police station, that it is probably considered fraud. I definately know that I will never make this mistake again but I am pissed!! I want to hunt this a***hole down!!

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The first flag was the offer to email the card #, then alarms going off when the cards were declined in succesion. Try the police, but don't expect anything.

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I did they said there is nothing criminal they can do. I was hoping they (a***holes) would pick them up and sign my invoice, I was quite worried and suspicious with the whole thing. The police suggested I try civil court. I am furious. I want to hunt the dude down.

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If 5 different credit cards were denied, what makes you think he actually has any money to pay an invoice. I would NEVER just give someone 2k worth of product and let them pay me later( after all those credit cards were denied).

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying. I sure feel like an idiot now. I just didnt think that no one would show up. Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying.  I sure feel like an idiot now.  I just didnt think that no one would show up.  Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

Any shelters in your area?

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I'm sure that you're thinking over how to avoid this in the future. One word comes to my mind: deposit

Actually two: hefty deposit

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying.  I sure feel like an idiot now.  I just didnt think that no one would show up.

I'm no lawyer but if you've got emails referring to the order, that might amount to an implied contract. And if the guy is not a career fraudster who knows how to hide his tracks, you've got an email address that, possibly with a little subterfuge of you own, might help you track him down.

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I've watched enough Peoples Court :laugh: to think that you have sufficient documentation to file a claim in small claims court. Seriously, your filing fee will be like $50 and if he had 5 cards go denied (assuming they were his), then you want to get in line in case there is a bankruptcy coming.

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying.  I sure feel like an idiot now.  I just didnt think that no one would show up.  Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

I think maybe what Randi meant was that, after 5 credit cards being denied, she wouldn't have made the food at all without a deposit. Interesting that he didn't give you the credit card number on the phone when you spoke with him, but chose to email it, generally a less secure option.

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Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

Not sure what you can do with those buns - maybe feed the birds?

But surely you can freeze the beef.

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying.  I sure feel like an idiot now.  I just didnt think that no one would show up.  Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

I think maybe what Randi meant was that, after 5 credit cards being denied, she wouldn't have made the food at all without a deposit. Interesting that he didn't give you the credit card number on the phone when you spoke with him, but chose to email it, generally a less secure option.

Yep, thats what I meant. Thanks Marlene!!

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I didnt give anybody sandwiches, the hope was someone would sign the invoice and I would have a legally binding contract, the person picking them up was someone else than the one ordering and paying.  I sure feel like an idiot now.  I just didnt think that no one would show up.  Now I have 100 lbs shredded beef and 300 soggy buns any suggestions?

I think maybe what Randi meant was that, after 5 credit cards being denied, she wouldn't have made the food at all without a deposit. Interesting that he didn't give you the credit card number on the phone when you spoke with him, but chose to email it, generally a less secure option.

Email is not generally a less secure option. It is NOT a secure option. It wouldn't surprise me if all 5 of those credit card numbers were stolen. I mean, if you have to split a $2k invoice over 3 credit cards (the initial request), perhaps you have better things to do with your $2000.

A legally binding contract has to happen before you buy the food and prepare it. Obviously in this case, it was short notice. This says to me: High risk order. With no signed contract in place, your only choice is to get enough of a deposit to cover your risk. I would've asked for 50% on the day they placed the order with 50% due on pick-up. You might not have made any profit when the customer didn't show up, but at least you've covered your food and production costs.

Definitely report it to the police. Without a police report, you may be limited in your legal options.

As for what to do with the food, I'd agree to freeze it for another day. You are already out the cost of the food and production costs. Turn it into a promotion of some kind. Advertise in your local paper for free sandwiches on a particular Saturday in front of your store. Or maybe sponsor a booth at a local food and wine event. Then at least the expense becomes an advertising cost as opposed to a lost cost.

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That's a good idea... Or if you don't have a store, the next big charity function in your town - say a walkathon or city-wide garage sale or something - make a big fuss about how you're going to donate the food.

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1) Do you have a name, phone number or any other contact information for this person? You note you want to "hunt" him down. If you wanted to, could you actually hunt him down? I'm not suggesting you hunt the person down, but if you needed to have a court serve him with the lawsuit, could you do it?

2) I would agree with the comment about the implied contract. It's certainly not as strong (from a legal standpoint) as a signed contract, but the e-mails would likely be enough evidence to show that the two of you entered into a contract.

3) Small Claims would be the best place. The rules in small claims are far more relaxed than they are in other court divisions and would be best for your needs. Plus it tends to move quicker. Don't request a jury; you'll be better off with a judge deciding the case.

However, you're going to need to have a name. Ensuring you have the name is the first step.

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Small claims.

If this person has any assets and you win against him, or he fails to show and you win by default, you might get a shot at reclaiming your losses. I don't know about where you live, but in NH, it pays to find out what it takes to actually be able to enforce a judgment. There are procedures you need to follow to put enforceable teeth in a judgment here.

Good luck with this.

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It sounds exactly like something that happened to us where I worked. A person called saying they were an operator typing in information for a hearing impaired person and that this person wanted to order a large amount of food for pick-up. We declined when the potential customer stated he/she wanted to email several credit card numbers. We thought it was quite odd that someone would email several credit card numbers, saying that they felt better about emailing the numbers than giving it to us over the phone. We also weren't comfortable with splitting an invoice between several cards.

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Small claims.

If this person has any assets and you win against him, or he fails to show and you win by default, you might get a shot at reclaiming your losses.  I don't know about where you live, but in NH, it pays to find out what it takes to actually be able to enforce a judgment.  There are procedures you need to follow to put enforceable teeth in a judgment here.

Good luck with this.

Oh dear....

To make a claim--in Canada, anyway, you have to pay a fee, then the defendant must be served. Usually this responsibility falls on you. If this doesn't cost you in time, then it will cost you in money, as you will have to hire a bailiff to serve the papers. You must prove that the papers have been served, in most cases registered mail won't cut it, and scum-bags won't respond to registered mail anyhoo. It will cost in time and usually money. And there's no guarantee that the defendant will actually show up. Besides, the goods were never picked up, so you couldn't claim full damages, even though the food was given away to charity.

And I wouldn't bother calling the cops. They (Cops) make just as good enemies as they do customers--and I'd rather have them as customers. In most cases it would have been--how do you say in legal-ese--"prudent"? to inform the cops or FBI about splitting a $2000 invoice on 3 credit cards and all three of them are no good. Had you done this, the cops might be able to investigate the c. card #'s to see if they are hot. I don't know what the cops would say if you then told them that inspite of this you went ahead with two MORE credit cards-again both no good. Possibly an accesory to fraud had you gotten any money?

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As someone who works in the legal field, I urge you to think long and hard before you even go to small claims court. If you can find the guy easily, fine. But this situation is set up to consume a considerable amount of time and energy on your part. Small Claims Court will give you only a judgment. Then you have to collect on that judgment. Good luck with that. You'll need it, because half the time, collecting requires more luck than skill.

My recommendation: find a good attorney and pay for an hour of his/her time to have the local laws governing such situations explained to you. Armed with that information, you can create policies and procedures so that you won't go through this again. The reason I suggest the attorney is because the devil is in the details. Without knowing the whole picture, you could find yourself believing you're doing everything right, except for that last step on which everything hinges. Believe me, it'll be the best couple hundred dollars you ever spent. As I always tell our clients: "Mopping up a mess is considerably more expensive than preventing one." See the attorney and get it done right.

Trying to pursue this guy will require a great deal of time, energy, and stress, and will keep your anger about it alive for months. Anger can be extremely toxic. I know you have a lot invested, but if you pursue this, you'll have a lot more invested. Next time, require a 1/3 deposit when the order is placed, a 1/3 deposit X days before pickup day (to cover your supply purchases), and the final third when the order is picked up. Half-and-half might work for smaller orders, but with an order this size, you want as much up front as you can get. And make them sign a contract in the first transaction. You'll then have a few days to make sure the address, phone number, and checks are good.

Circulate a letter to other caterers and restaurants. Use the wording "...a man identifying himself as John Doe called and ordered. . ." Run it by that lawyer you're going to see before you send it out. It'll give you satisfaction, and it may save others from the same grief.

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The use of the hearing impaired/disability operator is a not uncommon element of scam. The multiple denied credit cards also were an obvious sign. The use of the interpreter makes it harder to track the scammer, e.g., now you don't even have a phone number. What's odd here is that usually this done to place a large order of merchandise which will be shipped somewhere, often out of the country, so that when the chargeback comes from the credit card company the seller is SOL and there's no way to know who it was really sent to. Here you apparently had someone who, if one or some of the credit cards had worked, was going to run the risk of being seen (or maybe would send a patsy) in order to get the merchandise.

Example


Edited by Dignan (log)

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Who invites 300 people (or even 150, if they each eat two sandwiches) to a birthday party for a 6 year old? Right off the bat, this order was fishy.

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I understand wanting to "hurt the guy." I'd also have that restaurant manager in my sights - the one who convinced you to trust a signed invoice from a guy who gave you five "denied" credit card numbers. Incidentally, "denied" can mean all sorts of things beyond lack of funds.

My guess - someone getting even for something ie a pissed off ex-employee. Hence the intermediary whose voice would not be recognized.

One thing you might do is talk with you credit card processing company - tell them about the fraud and give them the numbers. They might pass the issue on to the cardholder's company and if the are from different cardholders they might initiate a fraud investigation - maybe get the computer's isp address from the email account, that sort of thing.

A bit of advice - always get the billing address and telephone number for any phone or email order.

As for the left-overs - when I had my restaurant we got stuck with the makings of a couple of hundred hoagies we had prepped for a restaurant festival the was subsequently rained out. I put hoagie soup on the menu - didn't sell all that much soup, but got some good PR out of it.

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As for the left-overs - when I had my restaurant we got stuck with the makings of a couple of hundred hoagies we had prepped for a restaurant festival the was subsequently rained out.  I put hoagie soup on the menu - didn't sell all that much soup, but got some good PR out of it.

What we can't use or re-sell, we donate to our community kitchens (aka "soup kitchens" that feed hundreds of people a day) It's tax deductible, we aren't sitting on it, and it's put to good use.

The whole hearing impaired person thing is amazing. I'm in the midwest, but apparently this sort of hearing impaired person scam is happening all over. That's pretty evil.

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In response to Florida's reply about what to do, maybe I wasn't clear enough: Learn and live

Look, you can play the game with all energy on offense, or on defense. With offense, you learn from your mistakes and focus all your energy on promoting your business, getting and retaining customers, and growing. With defense you focus all your energy on getting slime-balls to pay up.

With the small claims court advice you must factor in the costs for small-claims, the costs for serving the defendant. Justice is neither free nor swift. Even if your time is calculated at a bargain-basdement rate of $15.00/hr, by the time the case is heard and decision given, the costs have climbed far above the $2000.00 limit, which was the amount of damage.

Small claims can not and will not pay you money. Maybe the defendant does have property. It will cost you to find out.

Maybe you can slap a lien on said property. It will cost you to do this--and there's no guarantee that the lein will be removed anytime soon.

Walk away from this scenerio

As other posters have pointed out, and if you have read "inbetween the lines" of my previous posts, going through small-claims is a very stressfull, bitter, and energy-draining process. It will affect the way you think and conduct your business in the meantime.

Save your fighting energy for more immediate problems, like landlords who go back on leases, employees who know the labour and worker's comp rules better than the experts, and squeeze you good.

Walk away from this and focus your energy on building your business.

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I'm all for turning lemons into lemonade

You can either freezer the meat and try to recoup some of the loss or do some type of PR with free food to promote your business. You will get more return on your investment with this type of advertising than trying to resell the food.

I wouldn't waste much time trying to go after this scammer. You already lost time and $. Move on. You've gained knowledge from the experience which has value as well.

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