CHICAGO (CBS) — With a lot of people now scrambling to save every dollar during the coronavirus crisis, we met one couple who not only face the loss of their income – but also prepaid for their wedding and can’t get any of their money back.
Thus, they can’t make ends meet.
CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini took their case straight to the vendor Monday.
Shane Soto and his fiancée, Kelly Lynch, were supposed to get married this past weekend. They had the wedding rings paid for, the vendors were all scheduled, and the wedding hall – The Estate by Gene and Georgetti in Rosemont – got pre-paid too.
But then, Gene and Georgetti canceled after all the bars and restaurants were shut down by Gov. JB Pritzker. And unlike their other vendors, Gene and Georgetti has not gotten Soto and Lynch their money back.
The couple said they are out about $21,000. They say Gene and Georgetti kept their $5,000 deposit along with another $16,500 they also paid in advance for the big day – and the couple does not think that’s right.
“People’s lives are more important than us getting married on Saturday, but now we do have to still have to live our lives; pay our bills, you know move forward with whatever is coming next,” Lynch said.
“We’re sympathetic to everyone who is going through the coronavirus sick; loved ones who are sick,” Soto said. “What is weighing on us is that we had a contract with a business.”
They say the contract protected the two of them if the venue canceled because of an act of God or state of emergency.
Gene and Georgetti told CBS 2 in a statement Monday that they offered “rescheduling” with “no penalties,” as well as a refund, after the immediate and devastating “financial impact is of this crisis has passed.”
“That’s a lot of money to just be out for the next six to eight months, with no idea what my job’s going to look like; what his job’s going to look like,” Soto said.
Wedding cancellations are costing big bucks and putting many people out of work all over the country.
“It’s definitely going to hit us hard,” said Paula Heckenast.
Heckenast runs City Lights Makeup. She is not involved in the Soto-Lynch wedding, but has had numerous hair and makeup cancellations for weddings because of the pandemic.
She said she is losing thousands of dollars each week.
Heckenast said she is refunding customers or giving them credit for their deposits.
“I don’t think it’s fair to charge them the full amount for something out of their control,” she said.
Meanwhile, Lynch said when she looks at the now-blank guestbook for her planned wedding to Soto, the hardest part is, “I don’t know when we are going to get to use it.”
She added, “I don’t know what to think.”
Lynch works in the restaurant industry and Soto in car sales, so the couple is doubly impacted by the economic shutdown – one more reason they could use some of that $21,000 now.
Here is the full statement by Michelle Durpetti, Principal at The Estate by Gene and Georgetti:
“Our team at The Estate is committed to its clients and sensitive to the distress felt by those whose events who have required postponement due to COVID-19 and ensuing legislative mandates. The global pandemic has devastated the events industry and pour hearts ache for our clients that have been affected. This party is no exception. Along with leaders in the events industry nationwide, we greatly encourage postponement and not cancellation of events in an effort to preserve the future of milestone celebrations such as these – including rescheduling of their 150-person affair, applying all payments to the future date with no penalties, as well as a refund after the immediate and devastating financial impact of this crisis has passed.
“We remain committed to working with our clients to devise alternative and satisfactory arrangements during this unprecedented time. With public health being the first priority, we will continue to do our part to keep our communities safe, while ensuring that our clients and loyal team members have a home to which they can run.”
An attorney representing The Estate claims in a May 19 letter to CBS that the reception charges for the Soto/Lynch wedding have been the subject of a credit card dispute and have since been reversed. According to attorney Adrian Mendoza: “March 26, 2020 – The Estate’s credit card processor reversed the $21,514 in charges in favor of the couple’s credit card companies.”
The couple says as of May 18 they still haven’t seen the refund reflected on their credit card statement and are awaiting an official letter from the credit card company about the status of their dispute.