Hiring a caterer (or at least considering hiring a caterer) is weird.
You spend a bunch of time doing research and asking for possible menus and trying to figure out what they supply (do they bring silverware? do I have to rent napkins?).
Then, when you decide you're ready, you have to send in a request for a proposal. Because, apparently, they may or may not want to do a proposal for you.
Then, you wait for a reply. Lots of times, they seem to reply (at least with an automated notice saying they've gotten your request) pretty quickly. And you move forward.
But if they don't respond within a few days, you have to decide whether or not to follow up with them. If you do have to follow up, you get one of two responses: "Sorry, it's on its way," or "I've been busy, but I'll get it to you in a while."
Unfortunately, neither of those responses guarantees you'll get a response any time soon.
Okay. I get it. This is all customer service. I've been in customer service jobs for most of my life. Retail. Box Office. Editing. It's all Customer Service.
I know that some times you get busy and you drop a ball or two. And that you have to push through and get things done. So I'm prone to giving a lot of leeway to most people in that kind of position.
And, with this in mind, on October 3rd I sent off for a proposal from a company whose food we really like. We've toured one of their venues and met some of their staff and thought they could be a good, fun fit for us. Having not heard from them for a few days, I followed up the next week, and received a kind of snippy email saying, in essence, "I've been busy, I'll get back to you."
Today, however - after waiting a month for that proposal - I tried calling the company's main number, instead of emailing the person I had been going back and forth with. The woman on the phone offered to have me talk to the same person who has ignored me for the past 4 weeks. I re-explained my situation, and flat-out told her that if that was my only choice at this point, then I would go to a different caterer. The person on the phone didn't sound happy when she said she'd have someone else get in touch with me. No apology. No "not sure why it's taken so long." Nothing.
I'm trying my best to not completely write them off right now (after all, their food is good - and the pricing that we've seen so far was also good), but at this point... wow... that proposal better be stellar - and fast.
UPDATE: Barely an hour after my phonecall, I received a very polite follow-up call from someone else in the office. No apology, technically, but a guarantee that if I send him my info today (not sure why he can't get it from the other person...) he'll get me a proposal by the end of the day tomorrow. It's a start.