Ever Dropped A Client?

Business By cakesbycathy Updated 9 Mar 2009 , 7:55am by Chef_Stef

cakesbycathy Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 4:47am
post #1 of 32

Have any of you ever dropped a client with an existing order? Example: bride chooses you to do her cake and pays deposit. Bride turns out to be a major PITA. Do you just suck it up until the wedding day? Or has anyone ever "quit?" If so, did you give the deposit back? What if it is the contract that the deposit is non-refundable?

Clearly, each case would be different, but I am trying to get a sense of what someone would do with a bride that is just a whack-a-doodle.

31 replies
bcake1960 Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 4:59am
post #2 of 32

Yes! Just did! I had a feeling about this one.. was difficult from the start.. my gut told me she was a major Bridezilla.. and I do not put up with that at all! She had not put down a deposit but had she I would have gladly given it back. I just told her had a family issue that arose and would not be able to do her cake. end of story.. I have no patience for that kind of behavior.. DONT THINK TWICE.. LISTEN TO YOUR GUT FEELING... WAY MORE BOTHER THAN ITS WORTH.

LaBellaFlor Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 5:07am
post #3 of 32

Of course if the deposit is non-refundable & you break the contract, you have to give the money back. Also, be careful, find out the law, cause if you do break the contract they may be able to sue you. What they could sue you for, I'm not sure, but just check to be sure. I hope it all works out for you! icon_smile.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:15pm
post #4 of 32

Let's suppose the client didn't hold up her end of the contract.
For example, she was supposed to provide a sketch or photo of the cake by a certain date and she doesn't come thru.

FromScratch Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:33pm
post #5 of 32

How close is it to the wedding? How many times have you asked for it? Brides don't always get it... that their actions (or lack there of) can make our lives miserable. If she's been asked repeatedly and still isn't coming through I think the "I am not going to be able to continue our working relationship if I can't get information in a timely manner" e-mail might be due. That usually jolts them into reality.

costumeczar Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:39pm
post #6 of 32

I put a clause in my contract that says that if I can't get a hold of the bride under certain circumstances, I can assume that the event has been cancelled. Then if I call and have to leave multiple messages, the message ultimately becomes "If I don't hear from you by tomorrow, I will assume that you don't want me to do your cake." They tend to call back pretty fast after that.

Just put that kind of stuff in writing, email them as well as calling so that you have an evidence trail. That way if they do go ballistic and try to sue you, you'll have something that can back up your side of the story.

newmansmom2004 Posted 4 Mar 2009 , 2:48pm
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

Let's suppose the client didn't hold up her end of the contract.
For example, she was supposed to provide a sketch or photo of the cake by a certain date and she doesn't come thru.




I'd definitely let her know that you have other orders to complete and the fact that she has not sent the sketch she promised you by the date promised has set up a situation where you may not have time to do it now.

Brides to be shouldn't be allowed to set YOUR schedule when you need critical information. This is how they start 'training' you to be at their beck and call. Let them get by with it once and they'll know they can do it again.

snarkybaker Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 1:53am
post #8 of 32

I have. When things get difficult, I simply tell them " I don't think we are the bakery for you. I can't imagine there is anything we could do to make you happy." and immediately give them their money back.

CakeForte Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 5:56am
post #9 of 32

If I cancel.....they stlll only get a partial refund...if one at all. Why? because I have still worked on the account up to a certain point. The tasting has a fee...the design session has a fee, etc. It's all rolled into the price of the cake...but I'm still working those hours with them.

So it depends on how much work I have done up to a certain point. A cake hasn't been baked....but some of that money was still earned. Just not all of it.

CakeDiva73 Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 7:15am
post #10 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeForte

If I cancel.....they stlll only get a partial refund...if one at all. Why? because I have still worked on the account up to a certain point. The tasting has a fee...the design session has a fee, etc. It's all rolled into the price of the cake...but I'm still working those hours with them.

So it depends on how much work I have done up to a certain point. A cake hasn't been baked....but some of that money was still earned. Just not all of it.




With all due respect, this sounds sooooo wrong to me. icon_smile.gif

How can they still be repsonsible for paying you for working on a job they booked, you accepted AND they paid deposit for and then if they cancel - they are out of luck but if you do, they still have to pay???

It sounds like an insane lawsuit that I can somehow visualize Judge Judy saying:

"Did you schedule that cake and take the deposit?"

yes

"Did you deliver the cake as promised?"

no

"Give them their money back. Case closed."

____________________________________________

Please tell me what I am missing - I just don't understand the reasoning but perhaps there is more to it???

Do you have some sort of PITA clause in the contract that spells this all out? Is it standard business practice and I just am not understanding? Thanks.

FromScratch Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 1:49pm
post #11 of 32

If *they* cancel... then no... no money back. It's in my contract that all monies paid are date specific and non-refundable. I booked the date and have sent people away because that date was closed so I have lost revenue if the client cancels.

If *I* cancel... the yes... they get a refund. It's not their decision to cancel and I will refund them their money because it was *my* decision to cancel their cake. I am dropping their cake to save myself from something so I am glad to see them go. I haven't had to follow through on a cancelling. So far the threat has been enough to snap them back into line. icon_lol.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 3:05pm
post #12 of 32

CakeForte wrote:
If I cancel.....they stlll only get a partial refund...if one at all. Why? because I have still worked on the account up to a certain point. The tasting has a fee...the design session has a fee, etc. It's all rolled into the price of the cake...but I'm still working those hours with them.

So it depends on how much work I have done up to a certain point. A cake hasn't been baked....but some of that money was still earned. Just not all of it.


With all due respect, this sounds sooooo wrong to me.

How can they still be repsonsible for paying you for working on a job they booked, you accepted AND they paid deposit for and then if they cancel - they are out of luck but if you do, they still have to pay???

It sounds like an insane lawsuit that I can somehow visualize Judge Judy saying:

"Did you schedule that cake and take the deposit?"

yes

"Did you deliver the cake as promised?"

no

"Give them their money back. Case closed."


I totally agree with you CakeDiva73! Everyone does cake tastings & discusses deigns at their tasting. Sometimes they book you, sometimes they don't. Thats the give & take of tastings. You win some, you loose some. I can't see how you can justify keeping any part of the deposit, just cause of a tasting, when you the baker decides to cancel on the client. That just doesn't seem right to me either.

cakesbycathy Posted 5 Mar 2009 , 11:52pm
post #13 of 32

Here's the story. Was referred by a wedding planner I work with frequently. WP had been complaining how bride would not commit to anything, put any deposits down, etc. Bride also wants a custom designed gown. Wedding is May 24th of this year. Bride and groom are students (they are in their 30s) and have a $6000 budget using student loan money to pay for the wedding. As of today, the only thing they have reserved is the hall and me.

Anyway, we meet on Feb 14 for 3 hours. She is not really sure what she wants cake to look like. Give her books to look thru. Finds a picture she likes but wants to make a small change (substituting scroll work instead of a lace look). I note this in the contract. Tells me she wants to make a sketch of how she wants cake to look since she is a graphic artist. We determine flavors and pricing and she puts down 50% non-refundable deposit. I put in the contract that she will get me the sketch by March 1.

The following Wed I email her a copy of the contract (I also send one via snail mail) mentioning that I am excited to see the sketch. She emails me back that day saying she will email me the sketch by the end of the week. I don't hear anything from her until I send her an email on March 2nd:
I wanted to check in with you about the sketch you are drawing of your wedding cake. I was a little surprised not have received it yet since we discussed getting it to me no later than March 1 (yesterday).
It is very important to me that I create the cake of your dreams. I need to see your sketch in order to know the amount of work involved, what materials/supplies I need to order, etc. Since your wedding is only two and a half months away, I want to make sure there is enough time to deal with any issues that may come up. Otherwise, i will have to create the design based solely on our discussion at your consultation. Please let me know exactly when you will be sending the sketch to me. I am anxious to see it, as I am sure it is beautiful.


She emails back that evening:
I've redone it a hundred times so far adn haven't gotten it exactly what I want yet, which is why you haven't gotten it yet. i will get you something this week even if it is just a pile of ideas but not a complete cake yet.

I email back two hours later:
I can understand wanting to get it just right icon_smile.gif
Are you still basing the design on the picture from the book you looked at or have you decided on a completely different design? The price on your contract reflects the design we agreed on at the consultation. If you are creating a more elaborate design, it may incur an additional charge, depending on how labor-intensive it is to produce.
If you could send me the most recent sketch you have done, I will have some sort of idea about the look you are trying to achieve and may be able to assist you in the completion of the design. Will it be possible for you to email that by tomorrow? I am a little concerned that it may be a much more elaborate design than what we discussed.


One hour later she emails me:
It's not a more elaborate design, it's more an issue of colors and placement of what we already talked about. I have homework tonight and am in class all day tomorrow until the evening so I doubt I can get anything for you by tomorrow.

I email this the next morning:
Please understand that creating a shade of color on the computer (or with colored pencils, paints, etc.) is not the same as creating it in icing. While I make every effort to recreate the colors provided (thru drawings or fabric swatches), an exact match cannot be guaranteed.

Please do not stress about making the sketch perfect. When a client asks me to create a cake based on a drawing or photo, I make every every effort to replicate it so that their cake looks as close as possible to the picture. Like the color, an exact match cannot be guaranteed.
As I am not the creator of the picture there will probably be some subtle
differences when the cake is finished. Even when a client asks me to
recreate a design I've previously made, there are still small differences
from the original.

This is standard throughout the sugar artistry industry. As an artist
yourself, I'm sure you can understand the complexities of recreating someone else's work. Hopefully you will have time to email me the sketch tomorrow. icon_smile.gif


She emails back in the evening:
Yes, I understand all of that. Also remember that I was married before
and had a cake made before and so I understand how it goes. I'm going
to try to give you the best sketch I can so that you can have the best
idea of what I want, not because I think it is going to come out
exactly 100% like that. The lady who did my previous cake was
apparently a nervous wreck because she thought that because I was so
specific about what I wanted that it meant that I was going to be
really hard to please or really perfectionistic about how the cake
came out. It's not that at all. I just want to give you the best
starting point. I will have some time tomorrow to work on the ideas
and hopefully have something I can show you.


Frankly I am a little irritated at this point. I have shared all of this with the wedding planner who apparently has had it up to here (since she's been like this and worse with everything for the wedding) and sent her an email yesterday threatening to quit.

If you hung on this long, thanks!!

costumeczar Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 12:01am
post #14 of 32

So this was on Sunday and she still hasn't sent anything to you? I can see being busy, but if she has even a basic idea on paper she should send it.

If you're going to have to do any pre-baking gumpaste or anything like that, I'd push it, but if it's just a matter of piping the design that she wants, I don't think it's a big deal. Do you have a clause in your contract about when final designs have to be in? You could tell her that she has to have something to you by a certain date and no changes are allowed after that (without incurring additional fees!)

What would piss me off more than the not sending the design is the THREE HOUR meeting! What the heck???

FromScratch Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 12:38am
post #15 of 32

Her wedding is 2 months away. So long as she gets you something within a week you will have plenty of time. It sounds to me like she is a busy person too with school and wedding planning and regular life and all. I allow changes up until 30 days before the wedding, so this wouldn't be a huge issue for me so long as I had the general jist of the cake.

Solecito Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 12:55am
post #16 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy


She emails back in the evening:
... The lady who did my previous cake was
apparently a nervous wreck because she thought that because I was so
specific about what I wanted that it meant that I was going to be
really hard to please or really perfectionistic about how the cake
came out. It's not that at all. I just want to give you the best
starting point. I will have some time tomorrow to work on the ideas
and hopefully have something I can show you.





Wouldn't this be a red flag??? It seems to me that the first cake lady had problem with the BTB too.

cakesbycathy Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:05am
post #17 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solecito

Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy


She emails back in the evening:
... The lady who did my previous cake was
apparently a nervous wreck because she thought that because I was so
specific about what I wanted that it meant that I was going to be
really hard to please or really perfectionistic about how the cake
came out. It's not that at all. I just want to give you the best
starting point. I will have some time tomorrow to work on the ideas
and hopefully have something I can show you.





Wouldn't this be a red flag??? It seems to me that the first cake lady had problem with the BTB too.




That's what I thought, too.

It is in my contract that three weeks before the wedding is the final date for any changes. For me, it's the fact that she is dragging everything out, not just the cake design. It's like she has no sense of time. At the consultation she said she threw her first wedding together in two weeks. icon_eek.gif

indydebi Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:21am
post #18 of 32

I agree that I'm seeing red flags on this. She's assuring you that she's not a perfectionist, but she won't get you the sketch until it's "perfect". She's been married before so she knows ALL about what's involved in making a cake. icon_confused.gif What she send you might be "just a pile of ideas" then says she wants to give you the best "starting point". Starting point? icon_confused.gif Does this mean that what she sends you is just the beginning of design negotiation? Is it a "starting point" .... or is it the design she wants?

This isn't an issue about just getting a sketch. This is an issue about her overall attitude. It's a control thing at her end (just like people who are always late ... it's an underlying control issue. They are MAKING you wait for them.) It's disrespect for what you need. It's no regard for what's involved, no matter how much she THINKS she knows about it.

With the correspondence you've already had, I would tell the wedding planner (let HER be the bearer of bad news!) that either you get that sketch from the bride by (pick any day) Monday .... or you're putting her deposit in the mail on Tuesday.

Too many red freakin' flags in this one for me.

paddlegirl14 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:42am
post #19 of 32

I think I would give her one more weekend. Email her and tell her. If no sketch by then, then consider canceling. So far, you aren't sure what she has in mind. My guess would be that she has changed more than she's letting on.

cakesbycathy Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:46am
post #20 of 32

And another thing..
The first hour of the consultation was all about a small cake she wants to go on the side of the wedding cake. Not a groom's cake, since this cake is all about her.
She wants it decorated to look like bubble wrap. icon_eek.gificon_confused.gif
Yes, bubble wrap.
Apparently she just loves to pop the stuff.

First she wanted me to wrap the cake in bubble wrap. I told her no way, since bubble wrap is not food safe. Her next suggestion was that I cover the entire cake in white m&m's to portray the idea of bubble wrap. Groom nixed that plan. Next, her idea was to use those "icing sheets that look like pictures." She wants edible icing sheets that look like bubble wrap on the cake. I told her I wasn't sure where to find them, but if she wanted to purchase them then I would put them on the cake. I have no idea where she thinks she's going to be able to buy those. There's a very lengthy little clause in the contract just to cover the issues with this little cake icon_cool.gif

snarkybaker Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 3:01am
post #21 of 32

Here's my two cents FWIW:

If I were the bride, I would find your constant emailing annoying. For Pete's sake, the wedding is two months away. If she is a graphic artist, she probably likes to doodle and look at it for a while, and then maybe change her mind etc.

To me it sounds like you two are annoying each other, which is not a good relationship. Give her her money back and move on to a bride you can work with in a style you are comfortable working.

You two are just not a match.

mommachris Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:30am
post #22 of 32

Not trying to be mean or anything but she sounds like she needs to be wrapped in bubble wrap. icon_wink.gif

Making a cake for a wedding is stressful enough without a bride who compounds the issue.

I agree with giving back her deposit. You two are not a good a match. Do it quick so she can move on with plan 'B'. She should have not problem since she has experience throwing a wedding together. icon_razz.gif

mommachris

cakesbycathy Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:17pm
post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommachris

Not trying to be mean or anything but she sounds like she needs to be wrapped in bubble wrap. icon_wink.gif

Making a cake for a wedding is stressful enough without a bride who compounds the issue.

I agree with giving back her deposit. You two are not a good a match. Do it quick so she can move on with plan 'B'. She should have not problem since she has experience throwing a wedding together. icon_razz.gif

mommachris




AMEN!!

The thing about it is, she has ignored any deadlines given to her by the wedding planner. For exaample: Bride talked to the DJ. He told her he would hold the date for 3 weeks. 4 weeks passes. DJ calls WP and says date is no longer available. Bride is then upset because she says well we were going to book him. Well, duh!

What happens if the sketch she sends is way more elaborate and then we have to "negotiate" a design that is in her price range? How long do you think that's going to take icon_confused.gif

WP told her I need to have the sketch today. We'll see what happens.

aligotmatt Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:50pm
post #24 of 32

Okay, there is more waiting for a sketch. If it does not arrive, I would put a copy of the contract with "order canceled" written on it. Put the entire deposit in it, mail it certified mail to the bride. Then email or call the wedding planner and say something like, 'After going back and forth about this design, I feel your client would be better suited with another cake designer. You have been very nice to work with, and I look forward to working with you in the future.' And do not contact the bride any further. She has a wedding planner for her and YOU. Wedding planner barriers have really helped subdue some crazies for me, so take advantage of that.


For me, I would have left her alone with the design. I would have just said the one email that said, hey, if I don't get your sketch, I will base your cake on what we discussed at your consultation. and she could have emailed back with whatever busyness and I would not have responded. I don't respond to peoples excuses for the most part.

But I suspect you were annoyed at the consultation and this just added to the heap...

aligotmatt Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 1:55pm
post #25 of 32

ooh and back the the canceling issues, my contract says something like, if they violate the terms of our agreement, their order may be canceled with all monies lost.

So, I guess it would seem like I was canceling the order, but by choosing to violate terms, they would be. I really don't have hard terms. It's not like they have to learn how to do a back hand spring to have me make their cake...

Kiddiekakes Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 2:07pm
post #26 of 32

Not yet.....but I am seriously considering one!! She emailed me last night as a matter of fact and wants a cake for next Thursday (Which I am already booked up) icon_rolleyes.gif anyway she always proceeds to tell me exactly what she wants on the cake..I mean every detail...no border..fondant accents which is always more and she never wants to pay for it... icon_mad.gif Grrrr and she wants smarties on the edge and "Oh yeah..no red trim but yellow"...WTF...and then finally tells me her budget is $30.00...Hmmmm not!! thumbsdown.gif She is such a pain in the A$$ and the last 2 cakes I did for her she stood there and criticized the writing or it was too small etc...not how she invisioned etc...so I think I am going to have to tell her that our business relationship will have to part ways!! thumbs_up.gif I just don't have the time and energy for her and her budget of $30.00..I know that sounds really bad but in the end she isn't worth the hassle she gives me everytime!!



Laurel icon_wink.gif

cms2 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 2:41pm
post #27 of 32

I agree that if we cancel on the customer they get the deposit back. I also know that many hours go into a cake order before the baking even starts. All the time spent thinking about how you're going to decorate it, getting the appropriate supplies, emails back and worth (and back and forth) and so on. Unfortunately, unless you're the one doing all this prep work, nobody (including judges) will justify giving us a dime without a cake to show for it. It's going to be the price we pay for getting rid of a PITA.

Kiddiekakes Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 7:12pm
post #28 of 32

Update...now she wants to know what I can do for $20.00.....Um maybe not even firing up my oven...Idiots!!! The dam grocery stores don't even sell a cake under $25.00 anymore!!!

costumeczar Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 8:21pm
post #29 of 32

Ha ha ha! For $20 you could decorate a couple of Hostess Cupcakes with a smartie smiley face, maybe.

LaBellaFlor Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 9:06pm
post #30 of 32

I thank ALL of you for the craziness you have put up. It has taught me what NOT to put up with & the signs to look for in order to avoid the crazy clients. WOO , HOO! Better you then me J/K icon_wink.gif

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