Couples stage sit-in for wedding deposits

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2008, 12:00am

About 60 couples staged a sit-in at a fast-food shop in Kowloon Bay yesterday to demand the refund of deposits paid for wedding banquets.

That followed a breakdown in talks between representatives of the couples and Club Regency, the venue where their banquets will be held before March 31.

Club Regency, at the International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kowloon Bay, will close on March 31 because the International Trademart Company won a court application on Saturday to evict the club for failing to pay two months' rent, totalling HK$1.25 million.

More than 90 couples went to the club yesterday to negotiate the return of their deposits.

About 20 couples who had booked the venue for after March 31 had their deposits refunded by cheque.

But another 60 couples, whose bookings are before that date, could not get their deposits back because the venue will still be operating then, a club official said.

Club Regency tried to reassure the couples, saying it had deposited HK$10 million into a special account, to repay the deposits to those affected if the club is unable to host banquets scheduled before March 31.

But the couples wanted their deposits back anyway. Ricky Lee Tsun-kit, whose banquet is booked for September, said: 'The club might close tomorrow, so I want to change the venue for the banquet.'

After three hours of fruitless talks at the club, about 60 couples went to Cafe de Coral in Telford Plaza, as the chairman of the fast-food chain, Michael Chan Yue-kwong, is the head of Club Regency.

No club officials met them there, and they staged their sit-in to demand the return of their deposits.

Club Regency general manager Sandy So Yuk-ping said the club had no contractual obligation to return deposits when it was holding up its side of the bargain. 'If we can provide the venue, there is no need for us to return the down payment,' she said.

The club had contacted all the clients about the closure next March, she said, claiming that 80 per cent of them were satisfied with the new arrangement.

But Mr Lee said he would rather have his deposit back now. He said the couples may take follow-up actions to claim damages from the club.