Johan Hogg and her daughter Lily couldn’t wait for their big community gala day to arrive.
Lily, 11, had been voted the local gala queen this year and was looking forward to parading through the streets of Prestonpans, East Lothian on a float with her friends.
In preparation for the big June event, Johan ordered nine bridesmaid dresses for the maids of honour in the middle of March.
Johan is on the gala committee and she paid £782 for the outfits from the WED2B bridal shop in Edinburgh.
“The gala committee fundraises for the event all year round and the parents of the girls taking part each put in £50 towards the cost of the dresses,” Johan, a school cook supervisor, said. “The kids had all been measured for their outfits and we paid extra for a rush order so that they would be ready by May. The staff at the shop couldn’t have been nicer.”
However, plans suddenly changed when the coronavirus pandemic struck. When lockdown measures were introduced across the country towards the end of March, the bridal shop had to close.
The wedding industry has been hit particularly hard by the ongoing public health crisis and thousands of ceremonies were cancelled all over the UK.
“I did sign an agreement with the shop but obviously with the Covid-19 situation, things had changed,” Johan said. “The dresses were first meant to be delivered to the store by May 11.
“I then received an email saying that my dresses would be ready for collection when the store was open again but we didn’t know when that would be.”
When the Prestonpans children’s gala day was also then cancelled due to the pandemic, the outfits for the girls were no longer required.
“Lily and her friends were very disappointed but we thought we would soon get the money back for the dresses,” Johan said.
“It is a lot of cash for parents to be out of pocket and it was also a big chunk of the committee’s funds.”
To make up for the community day being axed, Johan bought Lily another dress and held an alternative gala day party in her garden in June, with neighbours and friends joining in from a safe distance.
Parents also decorated their cars with balloons and drove around the town dispensing goody bags to kids.
“We managed to salvage some kind of special day for the girls, which was great,” Johan said.
However, because of the lockdown, the mum-of-two ran into issues when trying to get the money back from WED2B.
“The next I heard was a phone call from the store in the middle of July saying I could now collect the dresses,” she said. “Obviously our event was cancelled and the dresses were no longer needed. I emailed the company asking about a refund and pointed out that they did not meet the required collection date but they just keep saying that I had signed an agreement so nothing more could be done.
“I told them that their insurance would surely cover something like this as it was no one’s fault.”
Feeling that she was getting nowhere, Johan wrote to Raw Deal for help. We contacted WED2B on her behalf and the company moved quickly to resolve the matter. A refund was soon issued for the full £782.
WED2B in Edinburgh said: “Our customer care team have reviewed the case, and we will be in touch with the customer to offer a refund on the dresses. Our store will be processing this.”
Johan said she, other parents and the gala committee were grateful to Raw Deal for stepping in to help smooth a tricky situation.
She added: “We can’t thank you enough for intervening after we had tried unsuccessfully to sort this out for many weeks.”
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