Marc Dann, Ohio Attorney General charged a Columbus catering company with violating Ohio’s consumer protection laws and ruining the wedding receptions of many Ohio consumers on Tuesday.
A lawsuit was filed against Syndrea Whetsel Shy and her son, Donald Brandon Shy, III, in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
“These individuals cheated consumers out of thousands of dollars and turned wedding receptions into total nightmares,” said Dann.
The lawsuit claims that since 2005, the Shys have operated a catering and wedding-planning business, usually under the names “Eat My Ribs/Classic Event Catering” and “Southern Comfort Catering & Weddings and Events by Syndrea.”*
Dann found that most consumers paid the Shys about two thousand dollars for their services, which they consistently failed to deliver. According to the attorney general’s investigations, the Shys often failed to bring enough food, utensils, plates or servers to accommodate guests and frequently arrived late or never arrived at all.
In some cases, consumers had to pay for and provide additional catering goods for their own events.
According to the lawsuit, the Shys frequently responded to consumers’ complaints by threatening them. One consumer reported that Ms. Shy broke beer bottles all over the floor of a wedding reception site.
In another case, Mr. Shy reportedly attempted to hit a youth minister in response to his complaint about the caterer’s service.
The complaint alleges the Shys violated several counts of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), including failure to deliver, failure to disclose all exclusions and limitations in advertising, failure to provide deposit slips for down payments and misrepresentation of services.
The Shys also are accused of operating without the proper Food Services Operation licenses and violating Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) by failing to inform consumers of their cancellation rights.
Under HSSA, suppliers must give consumers three business days to cancel contracts made outside a normal place of business.
According to the lawsuit, all agreements and negotiations were made at consumers’ homes or at event locations.
In the lawsuit, the court was asked to assess a fine of at least $25,000 for the Shys’ violations of the law.
*Editor’s note: The investigation found that the Shys routinely changed the name of their business in order to confuse consumers and hide their poor reputation.
The variations include: Syndi Shy Classic Events, Eat My Ribs BBQ Catering, Tailgate BBQ, Eat My Ribs Southern BBQ Catering, Weddings by Syndrea, Shy’s Comfort Catering and Brandon Shy Restaurants, none of which are registered with the Ohio Secretary of State.
Most of the businesses have used the address 2482 Billingsley Road, Columbus, Ohio 43235. –Posted 3.19, 12:29 p.m.