Couple fights for wedding refund after Sandy

Seven On Your Side
December 3, 2012 2:34:31 PM PST
The plans were made, the bill was paid but then the reception hall called with the bad news; Hurricane Sandy was crashing the wedding.

But, it was getting their refund that started the real storm.

They were sitting in the line for gas when they got the news 48 hours before the most important day of their lives, the place they paid to hold their reception couldn't open up.

The couple had to scramble for a venue, but that turned out to be the easy part.

"I broke down and started crying and panicked," said McKenzie May, the bride.

That was school teacher McKenzie May's reaction when just days after Hurricane Sandy, her banquet hall, Pantagis Renaissance, pulled the plug on her dream wedding.

Schoolteacher McKenzie May and her fiancé Zeus Ortiz already had a boatload of problems getting friends and relatives into storm-ravaged New Jersey the week of their wedding.

But then with just two days warning, their banquet hall, Pantagis Renaissance pulled the plug.

"They still did not have power and if they got the power back on they still wouldn't have food or staff to wait on us. So he asked me if I would like to cancel and I said, 'You're telling me that you're not going to provide services for me, so that more or less means you're cancelling on me, correct?' And he said, 'Well yeah,'" May said.

"It was a very stressful, hard time, we just tried to make the best of it," said Jesus Ortiz, groom.

They made the best of it in the church's donated gym and their first dance was at center court.

They already paid Pantagis nearly $9,000 for a blowout cocktail hour and reception dinner.

The couple had to trade fancy for frugal and it was priceless.

"Family and friends, they came through for us, it touched my heart bringing all the food," Ortiz said, "Plates napkins cups, for sternos trays we went to the dollar store and friend and family helped us decorate."

But when the couple asked for a refund from Pantagis Renaissance they were told that it wasn't going to happen.

The banquet hall pointed to their contract saying they're excused "from performance" if caused by "an act of God."

The contract doesn't say Pantagis can keep the money.

"I felt like we were being cheated and robbed," Ortiz said.

So 7 On Your Side asked to speak with the owner and general manager and asked New Jersey's Division of Consumer Affairs to look into it.

Things changed within 48 hours.

"Thanks to both of you. Thanks to you guys we got our money and we're very happy now," Ortiz said.

The Ortiz's picked up a check for the full refund, $9,868.

Pantagis Renaissance's owner never called 7 On Your Side back.

However, its banquet manager, who said he was on vacation when all this went down, told Eyewitness News he disagreed with the owner's stance and asked them to do the right thing and pay up.



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