Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Timothy S. Hopkins Catering: My Experience

In my experience, Timothy S. Hopkins Catering was another wedding vendor who was not friendly to a bride having a small wedding in Massachusetts.  I ended up going with A Haute Dish (now located in North Andover, MA) instead, because I want my wedding to be just as elegant as a large one, just for fewer people, and she clearly conveyed that she understands and will help make it special.  But I wanted to recount my experience with Hopkins here so that any brides out there who are considering them know what they’re getting into.

I went to an event that Timothy S. Hopkins Catering hosted a couple years ago, and I thought their food was exceptional, both in taste and visual appearance.  So I saved their pamphlet in my folder of preferred vendors.  It was really between them and Jennifer of A Haute Dish because she was just so personable (and her food was also great).  I made my selections from both caterers and sent out an inquiry to both.

I got an Email back from Hopkins, “Thank you for our information request.  We are available and would love to cater your wedding.  One question, is your wedding for 12 people?  That's what is says on the computer form.  :-)”

That should have been my first clue that they were not used to catering for small events.  But hindsight is 20-20, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they were simply being diligent and pursued them further.

After going over my choices and options, the woman I spoke to told me she would send me a proposal.  I explained that I was waiting to hear back from one other caterer and I planned to make my final decision next week.  So she said, “If I’m going to be competing, what is your budget?”  I told her I was unsure, so she gave me a per-person figure and I said that was fine.  It was right where I was hoping, actually, and I didn’t have an idea what the range was going to be.

Well, she Emailed me the proposal.  And the bottom line was DOUBLE what she had said.  And I’ll admit that part of the misunderstanding was probably my fault.  The “per person” figure was for the meal only.  It didn’t include the cost of the chef.  But then there was also a hefty “service charge” tacked on with all the other fees that made me go “hmm.”

I got back Jennifer’s proposal, and it was far less.  Once again, within the range I was hoping, and it included all taxes and fees.  And since Hopkins did say they wanted to be competitive, I called them up and let them know how low I would need the cost to come down, and what I was willing to give up to accomplish this.  Bear in mind, these were very comparable menus!

Well, the woman at Timothy Hopkins told me, “We don’t know you.  And this is a business.  We need to make sure you’re going to be a money maker for us.  If we start paring down too many of the displays it might not be worth our time to work with you.”

Shocked, I told her to let me know what her boss decided.

I felt horrible for the rest of the day.

I slept on it.

I woke up and realized there was no reason for ME to feel upset.  Why would I even consider paying someone who spoke to me that way?  I called Jennifer from A Haute Dish that morning and told her she was hired.  When the woman from Hopkins emailed me later to say, “I talked to Tim and he feels it would not be in our best interest to go any lower than the price we quoted you.” I wrote back to say, “Thank you for your time.  I found a different caterer who is excited about my event.”  Because that’s what Jennifer told me.  “I love doing dinner parties; I’m excited!”

So again, I enjoyed Timothy S. Hopkins Catering’s food very much.  But if you are planning a small wedding in Massachusetts and you’re looking for a caterer because reception halls are too large for your needs, be forewarned about this vendor. 

Readers, what is your relationship status?