TORONTO- Seven years after brides complained about his conduct, a Mississauga-based wedding supplier was ordered to spend ten days in jail and pay $18,000 in restitution for breaching the Ontario Consumer Protection Act.
Karl Usmani of Kitchener, Ontario was sentenced on July 3 by Justice of the Peace, Eileen Walker, of the Ontario Court of Justice. Usmani was convicted of engaging in an unfair practice, failing to refund payment within 15 days of notice of cancellation of the consumer agreement, and failing to provide a consumer with a proper contract containing the information required by the Consumer Protection Act.
“We’re pleased with the result and this individual has been sent a strong signal that this is not the way to do business in the province of Ontario,” said David Orazietti, minister of government and consumer services.
Global News first became aware of complaints against Usmani and Global Wedding & Events Co. Ltd. in 2007. His title at the time was officer and director of the company. In a news report in October of that year, several future brides said Usmani had accepted deposits but had not followed through with providing services.
“It’s nine days before the wedding, I haven’t seen the flowers, just one centrepiece, it looks like crap,” said Tatiana Kouchil in 2007. She later hired other vendors to provide flowers, a limousine and photography services that she had originally planned to buy from Usmani, who accepted a $1,000 deposit.
Other consumers, including Bones Arruda, complained Usmani and Global Wedding didn’t attend scheduled appointments.
“If someone is not going to show up on time for their appointments, how are you going to trust them on the most important day of your life?” Arruda said at the time.
The court action involved eight customers. In one case, a couple’s photographer did not show up to certain events. Another couple’s wedding photos were not printed as promised and the quality was poor. In other cases, couples who tried to cancel their bookings did not receive refunds as required under the law.
Toronto event planner Arthur K says it’s important to find the right vendors when planning a wedding.
“It’s a lot to manage–you need someone with experience who knows the industry,” K said. He also advises consumers to consider buying event insurance. It can result in compensation if a supplier doesn’t deliver as promised. But the most important advice, he says, is doing research before signing deposits or contracts.
“You need to do your due diligence, find reputable suppliers that has a good online presence, reviews, and have been in industry for awhile.”