So, What Do You Do When The Customer Stiffs You??? Ugh!!

Business By KHalstead Updated 24 Jan 2009 , 12:08am by gailsgoodies

KHalstead Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:12pm
post #1 of 22

OKay, without getting too involved with the details I had a customer that ordered a wedding cake last minute, less than a week before wedding and I literally got her check for payment of the entire cake order the day before the wedding and cashed it the day OF the wedding, before delivery to make sure it would clear. It did.......however she was to still pay me an additional $65.00 for delivery and asked if she could mail THAT check to me, after the wedding when she was mailing back the plates/pillars used on the cake.....I said that was fine.......(I've always taken the attitude that until someone stiffs me on a cake I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt)....so now my dilemma is..........she hasn't paid yet and the wedding was Dec. 27, 2008.......I've sent two emails to her first one being a week and a half after the wedding since I give them a week to return plates, etc. if they want their deposit back. The other, I sent last week. I haven't heard ANYTHING from her. Technically I'm not $65.00 in the hole....but that is $65.00 of profit I'm missing out on.......which maybe not seem like much, but for me it is! I only charge $2.00/serv. for tiered cakes......so for me that's a 2 tiered cake right there that I didn't get paid for! Anhow........what exactlly is the protocal for something like this??
I mean, do I contact the BBB or do I just chalk it up to experience and stick to my guns in the future (my contract states that payment in full is due 2 weeks prior to the wedding date). I've never had this problem before! I won't have it again either.....but as for now, what should I do?

In case you're curious, my emails up to now have been friendly; ie;

Hello,
Just a reminder for you that you have an outstanding balance of $65.00, that was due by Jan. 10, 2009. You can make the check payable to : xxxxxxxx and my address is xxxxxxxxxxx. Thank you so much for your prompt payment, it was a pleasure working with you on this cake!

sincerely,
xxxxxx

and I haven't heard back from her AT ALL!!!
what now?

21 replies
-K8memphis Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:33pm
post #2 of 22

Well for one thing keep it pleasant all the way through--it's much easier on your blood pressure. She's already squirming because she's goofing up. Unless she's one of 'those'.

So I'd just keep sending the email every week like clockwork.

What other phone numbers do you have?

I get work numbers and as many family phone numbers as I can during the consult. When you call her work and other people's numbers don't let on that it's about a debt just say who you are and leave a message for her to call you. And just call every week, be happy, be pleasant, be professional wish them a good day, ask them to have her call you. This will work even if she is one of 'those'.

She might become unpleasant but that's the risk she's taking.

cakesdivine Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:39pm
post #3 of 22

Live & Learn...first you are way under selling yourself at $2 a serving, secondly, NEVER and I mean NEVER allow any outstanding balance before delivering that cake. You should have insisted on the $65 IN CASH when she brought back the plates & pillars.

I personally only accept cash and credit cards, NO CHECKS EVER! And payment must be made in full at time of order if under $300, if there is a balance due then it is due 2 weeks prior to event! No exceptions. You don't pay your order is cancelled and NO REFUNDS! I also require a deposit for items such as plates & pillars...if they don't return them I keep the deposit, if they bring them back I give them their money back. If you had charged her a deposit you could have rightfully held onto those funds (even if they were less than what she owed) until the balance was paid.

Cakechick123 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:48pm
post #4 of 22

did she bring back your plates and stuff? Do you have a nice fat deposit for those??

Monkess Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:50pm
post #5 of 22

I would continue to harrass the living daylights out of her! Phone morning evening and email her every day...this is unacceptable...though you want to check she is in town and not honeymooning etc....next time you know better!

-K8memphis Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:51pm
post #6 of 22

I had this miserable company once and this stinking mean person passed me a bad check. I mean it was bad enough my business sucked big ones, this chickie decides to screw me. Oh no she dident.

So I commence the phone calling barage. Once a week whether you like it or not.

So she finally coughs up with another check--well miss sneaky arse doesn't sign her last name. She advises me to sign it for her. hahaha
hahaha I might run stupid businesses but I ain't that stupid.

So finally finally finally after drama city galore I get to the bank with that like less twenny dollah check (b*tch!) and her bank calls her at work, she says yes she did write the check. They admonish her for not signing properly I get my money and she looses. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Because had I touched that sucker (the check) she could say that was not her endorsement and the bank would have to refund her the money.

hahahahahaha LOVE a happy ending.

Took plenty of perserverance.

But oh so sweet was my reward. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

Eisskween Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:52pm
post #7 of 22

I would send her another "friendly reminder." After that, if no response, have your attorney send her a friendly reminder. That should wake her up.

I always have my brides pay for their cakes ten days prior to the event to avoid situations like this. NO exceptions. It states that in the contract.

Supplies cost money sweetie, business is business.

kakeladi Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:53pm
post #8 of 22

Sounds like you haven't gotten your plate & pillars eithericon_sad.gif
The BBB isn't going to help you a bit icon_sad.gif
You need to see if you can find her parents and talk to them. No more e-mails; no more time; you are out the $65 PLUS the cost of replacing the plates & p9illars.

Eisskween Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:56pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess

I would continue to harrass the living daylights out of her!




Not a really great idea. I would check with the local authorities. With all due respect, this practice is illegal where I am and constitutes harassment. Even bill collection agencies aren't allowed to do this.

cylstrial Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:10pm
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisskween

I would send her another "friendly reminder." After that, if no response, have your attorney send her a friendly reminder. That should wake her up.





Yes.. I would do the same. Send her the friendly reminder.. at the end of it.. put something like. "if you haven't paid the $65 by Feb. 1, 2009, I will be contacting my lawyer.

You could always take her to small claims court. I don't know if it's worth it for $65. You have to decide that.. but good luck! I hope you get the money you are owed.

-K8memphis Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:15pm
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisskween

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess

I would continue to harrass the living daylights out of her!



Not a really great idea. I would check with the local authorities. With all due respect, this practice is illegal where I am and constitutes harassment. Even bill collection agencies aren't allowed to do this.




Yes that's illegal everywhere. Check the Fair Debt Collection Practice Act. Can't harrass. Can call weekly during business hours. Can leave messages with friends and family--again do not mention the debt. If they say do not call here again, then you gotta stop but until then...

tirby Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:17pm
post #12 of 22

I am like you in the fact that my cakes start out at 2.00 per serv. BUT I do require payment in full including depo or delivery 3 weeks before the date of event. I have NEVER had a complaint. I also let them know nicely no $$ I wont even begin...

So on a rare occasion I take an order after the 3 week . Like 2 weeks before the date then its a cash only basis. NO CASH NO CAKE....

uabcjgrad2006 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:30pm
post #13 of 22

As a former collector on bad checks, you are allowed by law to try to contact her at every number she has provided to you, work, cell, home, mom's work, mom's cell, etc. You may do that once per day per number (IF you leave a message). I've noticed that these days, collectors are NOT leaving messages so that they have plausible nature to call you in excess of once per day at any given number. If they speak to you or leave a message on your phone then they've made "contact." They can also send letters in addition to phone calls. We weren't allowed to call for three days after sending a letter though...don't know what the law was. I would CERTAINLY call her EVERY Thursday--paydays are usually on Fridays so she may be more apt to make arrangements to come by your shop with a check. Sorry you're having to deal with this!

Deb_ Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:48pm
post #14 of 22

Is it possible that she left for her honeymoon after New Years and maybe just returned or hasn't returned yet?

Based on the info. you gave in your opening post, I doubt this person is going to stiff you the $65. I mean, if she was the type of person that didn't pay up I think you would have had a problem with her check and you didn't.

Did you get a deposit for the plates and pillars?

I would give her the benefit of the doubt, like you are.......continue to send her pleasant e-mails, and leave pleasant messages. Do you have her home address? Maybe try sending her a certified letter that she needs to sign for.

I had a bride do this to me. She hadn't returned my cake stand and supports and wasn't returning my calls or e-mails. It turned out that the venue had "misplaced" my silver cake stand, even though the MOTB was supposed to take it home with her the night of the wedding.

The bride was afraid to tell me for fear that I'd "be mad" at her. I ran into her at BJ's one night and the poor girl looked like she saw a ghost when she saw me. I nicely asked her what happened and why I didn't hear back from her and she started crying right there in the aisle. I felt so sorry for her, because I immediately saw my DD's face in the same situation, she didn't intentionally lose my stuff, she had other things on her mind that day.

Anyway, long story short, I just kept the $100 deposit and bought a new stand and she was grateful to me that I wasn't "mad" at her.

So maybe the venue lost your stuff and the bride's afraid to tell you. She still should step up to the plate and pay you the delivery charge and the cost of the supplies if you didn't take a deposit.

Good luck I hope it works out for you.

BTW, your prices are VERY reasonable, you could go up a little and still be reasonable, don't sell yourself short. icon_smile.gif

KHalstead Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:23pm
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by riana

did she bring back your plates and stuff? Do you have a nice fat deposit for those??




She didn't send back the plates but yes I charged a nice deposit and such...I charge them $10.00 per plate w/ 4 pillars to "rent" and then an additonal $10.00 per plate for deposit.......so for a 3 tiered cake she paid me an additional $40.00 for the two plates and 8 pillars and they're sps from oasis supply....I think I paid like 2 bucks for one and not much more for the other lol. In any case..........the deposit more than covers the plates so I'm not worried about them. The only reason I allowed this was because it was just for the delivery cost (which didn't even cost me $5.00 in gas) and I wasn't going to see her upon delivery of the cake.......she ordered the cake solely through email (friend of the bride) and we've never met, but this is something that happens often with me and out of town brides so no red flags went up. And although I say she was a last minute order, we had been talking for months before the wedding....she just didn't finalize the design until about 3 days before the wedding!!

I have a cell phone number for her, but haven't called it yet......guess that'll be the next step if I don't hear anything.

Cakechick123 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:32pm
post #16 of 22

well at least the deposit covers the plates and your gas money icon_smile.gif But keep on phoning/mailing her. Maybe she is on honeymoon like a prev poster said.

I also do a lot of cakes via email, and never even see the bride, got a cake like that tommorrow icon_smile.gif I do however insist, with these last minute orders that they pay me at least a week in advance, and that includes the delivery fee, no payment no cake.

KHalstead Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:34pm
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

Is it possible that she left for her honeymoon after New Years and maybe just returned or hasn't returned yet?

Based on the info. you gave in your opening post, I doubt this person is going to stiff you the $65. I mean, if she was the type of person that didn't pay up I think you would have had a problem with her check and you didn't.

Did you get a deposit for the plates and pillars?

I would give her the benefit of the doubt, like you are.......continue to send her pleasant e-mails, and leave pleasant messages. Do you have her home address? Maybe try sending her a certified letter that she needs to sign for.

I had a bride do this to me. She hadn't returned my cake stand and supports and wasn't returning my calls or e-mails. It turned out that the venue had "misplaced" my silver cake stand, even though the MOTB was supposed to take it home with her the night of the wedding.

The bride was afraid to tell me for fear that I'd "be mad" at her. I ran into her at BJ's one night and the poor girl looked like she saw a ghost when she saw me. I nicely asked her what happened and why I didn't hear back from her and she started crying right there in the aisle. I felt so sorry for her, because I immediately saw my DD's face in the same situation, she didn't intentionally lose my stuff, she had other things on her mind that day.

Anyway, long story short, I just kept the $100 deposit and bought a new stand and she was grateful to me that I wasn't "mad" at her.

So maybe the venue lost your stuff and the bride's afraid to tell you. She still should step up to the plate and pay you the delivery charge and the cost of the supplies if you didn't take a deposit.

Good luck I hope it works out for you.

BTW, your prices are VERY reasonable, you could go up a little and still be reasonable, don't sell yourself short. icon_smile.gif





The girl that ordered the cake and paid for it wasn't the bride, she was the best friend of the bride and handled everything to do with the cake (I'm guessing it was a gift) in any case.......I already sent her an email telling her that she didn't have to worry about the plates/pillars, unless she wanted the deposit money back so I know it's not that she's afraid that she's lost them......I told her the deposit covers the cost of replacement!
And yes, I know the whole.......make sure the check clears ahead of time, etc. etc. and I ALWAYS do........it's just this one time that was the exception.........I guess I just felt bad for the girl because she was so stressed out (she had a lot of involvement in the planning of the whole wedding) and wanted everything to be perfect and in the run around got side tracked w/ deciding on stuff for the cake. Once I cashed the check for the cake (nearly $400.00) it didn't even occur to me that a 65.00 check would be an issue for her. She never once mentioned that money was tight or anything of the sort, so really there were no red flags aside from the tight deadline!

Live and learn!!!
Everyone that's ordered birthday cakes that are elaborate and wind up over 100.00 always ask if I want a deposit and I leave that up to them because I always tell them I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt until someone writes a back check or stiffs me for a cake and that was usually enough to keep everyone honest....
I dunno, I guess I'll continue to email and start calling once a week. I'm not a person with no backbone, I just don't like getting mean with people and unfortunately some people don't react unless you do!!

Eisskween Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:41pm
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

It turned out that the venue had "misplaced" my silver cake stand




Amazing how those little buggers grow legs! LOL Same thing happened to mine, maybe they are hanging out together at some cake stand club.

LOL Sorry. It just amazes me how often this happens and the poor bride suffers the loss of the deposit.

cakesdivine Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:47pm
post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

I had this miserable company once and this stinking mean person passed me a bad check. I mean it was bad enough my business sucked big ones, this chickie decides to screw me. Oh no she dident.

So I commence the phone calling barage. Once a week whether you like it or not.

So she finally coughs up with another check--well miss sneaky arse doesn't sign her last name. She advises me to sign it for her. hahaha
hahaha I might run stupid businesses but I ain't that stupid.

So finally finally finally after drama city galore I get to the bank with that like less twenny dollah check (b*tch!) and her bank calls her at work, she says yes she did write the check. They admonish her for not signing properly I get my money and she looses. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Because had I touched that sucker (the check) she could say that was not her endorsement and the bank would have to refund her the money.

hahahahahaha LOVE a happy ending.

Took plenty of perserverance.

But oh so sweet was my reward. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif




WTH???? K8memphis...is that really you saying all this or are you channelling some low class, street trash talkin', illegal alien?...LOL!

playingwithsugar Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:48pm
post #20 of 22

You know we love ya, but unless you desperately need the money, do not take any more last-minute cake orders from anyone. Getting stiffed by customers is coming up more and more in all the forums I belong to, and most often, it's last minute customers who are doing it.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

-K8memphis Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:13pm
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

I had this miserable company once and this stinking mean person passed me a bad check. I mean it was bad enough my business sucked big ones, this chickie decides to screw me. Oh no she dident.

So I commence the phone calling barage. Once a week whether you like it or not.

So she finally coughs up with another check--well miss sneaky arse doesn't sign her last name. She advises me to sign it for her. hahaha
hahaha I might run stupid businesses but I ain't that stupid.

So finally finally finally after drama city galore I get to the bank with that like less twenny dollah check (b*tch!) and her bank calls her at work, she says yes she did write the check. They admonish her for not signing properly I get my money and she looses. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Because had I touched that sucker (the check) she could say that was not her endorsement and the bank would have to refund her the money.

hahahahahaha LOVE a happy ending.

Took plenty of perserverance.

But oh so sweet was my reward. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif



WTH???? K8memphis...is that really you saying all this or are you channelling some low class, street trash talkin', illegal alien?...LOL!




No it's me and that chick was a b**** I can trash talk with the best of 'em.

gailsgoodies Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 12:08am
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Quote:

I charge them $10.00 per plate w/ 4 pillars to "rent" and then an additonal $10.00 per plate for deposit.......so for a 3 tiered cake she paid me an additional $40.00




My guess is that since you kept the $40.00 deposit for the stands, she'll figure you guys are "even" and you won't see the $65.00 she owes you.

Good Luck!
Gail

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