Why Are People Gullable? (Rant)

Decorating By pamperedcheftiffany1 Updated 17 Sep 2009 , 2:34pm by Shannie13

pamperedcheftiffany1 Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 6:54pm
post #1 of 30

So today I get a call from one of my fellow Pam. Chef consultant (my friend) who asks my advice. In short, he daughter was going to get married in October, but had a bad car accident in June and they decided to postpone the wedding indefinately do to all of the circustances around it. Well my friend calls me today (she knows I do cakes) and wants my advice. She says that they ordered the cake last year and the baker told them she needed the 100% of the money up front... ok strange but not unheard of especially a year in advance!

Well, in July my friend contacted the baker and informed her that they would like to get the money back, because they have postponed the wedding indefinately due tot he car accident and will be putting all of the wedding money towards medical bills. The woman informs my friend that she has "spent all of the money on bills." To which my gullable friend says... "That's ok I understand... I will work with you to get all the money back." Which is ok and nice of her... but Today she calls me asking what to do because 1. The baker has made NO attempt to refund even a portion of the money... 2. There was no contract... 3. My friend has the copy of the cashed check from her bank and a written reciept from the baker...

I personally would not spend my customers money on anything other than the cake necessities until after the order is delivered in which case I have completed my obligation and earned the pay, and 2. If I am asked for a refund months in advance of the event I immediately oblige... Well, my friend called the baker this mornign and the baker said she would have her the money by the end of the money! This is the 2nd month ina row she has said this!

So myadvice was... Write a letter to the baker to let her know you expect your full refund as discussed on dates XY&Z, by no later than date xxxxx. Include references to the fact that you paid her for product and services you have not recieved, and will not be receiving, and that in the state of Texas that is called Theft! Include copies of the paid check,a nd the written reciept and note in the letter that you have proof of payment, and that she has no contract to dispute payment time, refund limitations or restrictions, and that you need to immediately hear from her!


Then she proceeds to inform me that they hired a DJ for $600 and are trying to get the money back on that and he won't even call her back... again NO CONTRACT!!!

I told her she needs to just go hire an attorney at this point... I am amazed at how 1 the businesses did a hige wedding like this without contracts and 2. How my friend who is normally pretty smart booked these people without contracts! Granted she did follow up EVERYTHING with email cnfirmations so she has most of it in writing...

sorry for the long rant if you amde it this far...

29 replies
cakesbycathy Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 7:37pm
post #2 of 30

I hate to say this, but I think your friend needs to come to the harsh realization that she is not going to get her money back. Why in the world would she fork over that kind of cash without signing a contract icon_eek.gificon_confused.gif

cylstrial Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 10:30pm
post #3 of 30

Ouch! That sucks! I would do what you said to do. I would tell her to send the letters with the fact that there was no contract, copies of the receipts and checks. I would put on there that the lady said that she would return the money on such and such a date. I would also put in there the day that she contacted this person. And then at the end, if I don't have the money by such and such a date - my lawyer will contact you.

The thing is though - that the baker probably shouldn't have to give a full refund because she is out the money the money that she would have made on the wedding cake. That's why most bakers have a 50% non-refundable policy. The baker turned down other clients to make the MOB's wedding cake. So perhaps the MOB should only ask for 50%.

indydebi Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 10:46pm
post #4 of 30

It's pretty common that if the wedding is canceled, the deposits are lost. I think many folks would try to work with this mom due to the circumstances, but deposits and monies paid are non-refundable as a rule.

I think the only reason she has a grain of hope is because there was no contract, so she might be able to weasel it.

As far as not spending the money ..... I think that's unreasonable to think that every vendor puts every dime of pre-paid monies in an escrow account. Those monies are part of the vendor's pay, to cover utilities, rent, insurance, and other overheads. If you're able to sock the money away in an escrow account for a year and not use it for business expenses, then that is great for you. But I wouldn't say business in general runs that way.

terrylee Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:06pm
post #5 of 30

Sorry about the wedding being called off. First - Usually I would have given back all of the deposit back - three months is plenty of notice and plenty of time to maybe rebook that date - a month or two I would keep it.....but I would never ask for the whole amount........usually $50.00 to $100.00 to secure the date......Second - you don't spend the money before you deliver the merchandise. Sounds like she runs a business that is pretty tight, financially........ It doesn't sound very professional....

sweetkake Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:11pm
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

... As far as not spending the money ..... I think that's unreasonable to think that every vendor puts every dime of pre-paid monies in an escrow account. Those monies are part of the vendor's pay, to cover utilities, rent, insurance, and other overheads.




Absolutely, indydebi, I totally agree.

sweetkake Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:12pm
post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

It's pretty common that if the wedding is canceled, the deposits are lost. I think many folks would try to work with this mom due to the circumstances, but deposits and monies paid are non-refundable as a rule.

I think the only reason she has a grain of hope is because there was no contract, so she might be able to weasel it.

As far as not spending the money ..... I think that's unreasonable to think that every vendor puts every dime of pre-paid monies in an escrow account. Those monies are part of the vendor's pay, to cover utilities, rent, insurance, and other overheads. If you're able to sock the money away in an escrow account for a year and not use it for business expenses, then that is great for you. But I wouldn't say business in general runs that way.


__Jamie__ Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:16pm
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetkake

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

... As far as not spending the money ..... I think that's unreasonable to think that every vendor puts every dime of pre-paid monies in an escrow account. Those monies are part of the vendor's pay, to cover utilities, rent, insurance, and other overheads.



Absolutely, indydebi, I totally agree.




Ditto. And ditto again.

indydebi Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:23pm
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamperedcheftiffany1

If I am asked for a refund months in advance of the event I immediately oblige...



Since my contract states that all monies paid are non-refundable, this never comes up for me. And as a bride found out a few weeks ago, when I say "all", I mean "ALL".

__Jamie__ Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:29pm
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by pamperedcheftiffany1

If I am asked for a refund months in advance of the event I immediately oblige...


Since my contract states that all monies paid are non-refundable, this never comes up for me. And as a bride found out a few weeks ago, when I say "all", I mean "ALL".




Can you imagine forking over a deposit after telling other brides you were booked that day? Sorry, I have an event that's been booked for over a year now. And plenty of people have asked for that date. This bride cancels, now I have zero orders for the day. When I could have had multiple. Non refundable deposit for a reason.

Janette Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:34pm
post #11 of 30

Perhaps if she threatens her with small claims court.

__Jamie__ Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:38pm
post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janette

Perhaps if she threatens her with small claims court.




Would probably work.

newmansmom2004 Posted 16 Sep 2009 , 11:54pm
post #13 of 30

She should contact an attorney to ask if she even has a case to begin with since she has no contract from either party.

Just saw a story on our local (Texas) news about 2 weeks ago about this thing called "theft of service" where if you pay someone for a service - like a DJ - and they don't provide that service, you can sue them. This happened with a wedding photographer down here and several people whose money he took are now suing him for theft of service.

If this were me I'd talk to an attorney and chalk this up to a very hard life lesson. She'll know in the future to get a contract for anything of this nature.

I'm sorry she's going through this - it's tough enough dealing with the daughter's accident, but to have these issues as well just puts added strain on the situation. I hope the daughter recovers without any long-term effects.

indydebi Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 12:12am
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by newmansmom2004

....about this thing called "theft of service" where if you pay someone for a service - like a DJ - and they don't provide that service, you can sue them.



Did they say what the circumstances were? DJ was a no-show? Client fired DJ? Event canceled? Was there a contract? "you can sue them ....." Anyone can sue for anything. Winning is another story. Did these news report indicate if the court had decided or if the vendor had been sued?

I find it hard to believe that the courts would set up a situation where I'm locked into a contract with a client, then I have to turn down other clients, then I have to return all the money when first client cancels. In that situation, I have been damaged by the first client's actions and I am entitled to compensation for that.

To paraphrase Paul Harvey, I'd like to know "the REST of the story." icon_biggrin.gif

redpanda Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 12:38am
post #15 of 30

In this case, the "deposit" was 100% of the cake price. While I wouldn't expect a cake "escrow" account, I think it is reasonable to expect that, in July, the baker would not yet have purchased the supplies she would use in October. Therefore, I have to wonder if she has no money left and no ability to refund anything, what she would have used to purchase supplies to make the cake. (I could understand saying that you don't have liquid funds at a specific point in time, but don't buy it that she wouldn't have any due, as a result of not having to purchase supplies for the cake.

I don't think a full refund is in order, but I do think that half would be reasonable.

loulou2 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 12:58am
post #16 of 30

A deposit is to hold that day open for you to receive their services. A payment is to pay for those services. If you do not partake of said services you should not have to pay & be given a refund, full or partial, depending on what the provider has to recover. Contracts are so important. You can find templates online & work it to suit your needs. DH made one when we had some work done in our yard, it was really easy to do & gave us peace of mind.

indydebi Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:02am
post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by redpanda

In this case, the "deposit" was 100% of the cake price. While I wouldn't expect a cake "escrow" account, I think it is reasonable to expect that, in July, the baker would not yet have purchased the supplies she would use in October.




Even tho' you wouldn't expect her to set up an "escrow" account, it sounds like you believe she should have the money "sitting somewhere" because she shouldn't have spent it yet. Call it escrow, call it savings, call it a coffee can in the backyard, it sounds like your expectation is the same: The money should be "somewhere" because the cake isnt' baked yet.

It's called "cashflow". This past June sucked for me. That means all of my cash on hand had (repeat: HAD!) to be used to keep the lights on and the loans paid and supplies bought. As new deposits come in, those monies are rolled into the cashflow schedule. I have to schedule monies that come in. I look at my schedule of deposits/payments due and figure what goes to bills and what goes to supplies and when. I based my buying decisions, my how-much-labor-do-I-schedule based on the cashflow schedule.

I may make a loan payment today with a bride's deposit and then schedule the corporate catering payment that I get tomorrow to buy her supplies for next week.

It's called cashflow and the control of cashflow.

I feel like I'm explaining basic business concepts with this one. If you're unclear on how this works or would like add'l info and knowledge about it, check with your local SBA or SBDC ... they have great classes on just this kind of stuff that we all need to know to run a business successfully.

jillmakescakes Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:19am
post #18 of 30

While Debi is right (you know I"M not gonna make you angry, Debi icon_wink.gif ), but she should still be able to make some sort of arrangements. Yes, the deposit money was probably spent, but then she should be able to use another brides deposit for the refund.

A prime example of this is when we have brides pay a security deposit for equipment. We don't hold that out. It gets deposited into our regular checking account and spent as needed. When its time to give them back any portion of that deposit, it comes out of the same checking account, but I'm sure its not the same money.

indydebi Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:27am
post #19 of 30

I agree totally with Jill. It sounds like this lady does very low volume. If she's a home/hobby baker, I can see how she would be in this situation.

Gosh, this thread is SUCH a great lesson to all of us why contracts are important ... to both sides. thumbs_up.gif

pamperedcheftiffany1 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:28am
post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by newmansmom2004

....about this thing called "theft of service" where if you pay someone for a service - like a DJ - and they don't provide that service, you can sue them.


Did they say what the circumstances were? DJ was a no-show? Client fired DJ? Event canceled? Was there a contract? "you can sue them ....." Anyone can sue for anything. Winning is another story. Did these news report indicate if the court had decided or if the vendor had been sued?

I find it hard to believe that the courts would set up a situation where I'm locked into a contract with a client, then I have to turn down other clients, then I have to return all the money when first client cancels. In that situation, I have been damaged by the first client's actions and I am entitled to compensation for that.

To paraphrase Paul Harvey, I'd like to know "the REST of the story." icon_biggrin.gif






In Texas there is a law that says if a person pays for a service and does not recieve that service they are entitled to a full refund of monies paid unless there is a written and signed contract of other arrangements. Howeve in this case there is no written contract...therefor the baker is legally responsible for the full refund. I just spoke to her a bit ago to ask a few prying questions, and I found out the "baker" is running a HOME kitchen! Illegal in Texas... So I infomred my friend just to print the laws about Texas Food handling facilities, and the letter mentioned above and then if she doesn't refund the money then take her to court.


As someone mentioned before I totally agree that she held that date for this specific wedding, but I hae to argue that 1 plenty of notice was given to allow her to reschedule... they posponed in June-July for a wedding to be held in October... and the fact that she agreed to a full refund, and keeps putting it off... Then "ice the cake" so to speak with the fact that she hasn't even offered a partial refund at this point in time...

Oh and The wedding has NOT been canceled it is just indefinately posponed until the bride is recovered from the accident. This particuliar friend I have knows for 18 years and she is the "repeat business type"... You treat her right she will come back to you. She would have reordered from this baker when they replanned the wedding but this baker has pretty much sealed that fate.

Someone else mentioned cashflow... I run a business so I fully understand cashflow, but I also have my cashflow schedule where I have a little something set aside for unforseen circumstances to "Cover My Tail"... I know if I went to the store and bought a new shirt and got home took it out of the bag and realized there was a hole in it and took it back to the store and they didn't have another one in my size... i would ask for a refund... and I am sure i would hit the roof if they said "we don't have the cash to refund you right now because we paid the light bill today. But we will mail you a check by the end of the week." end of week comes and goes I contact said store and they start giving the run around... I think I would have to take some type of action.

LaBellaFlor Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:36am
post #21 of 30

Just a thought, when I was planning my wedding, I got pregnant. So naturally I changed the date of the wedding to 3 months later. I knew my deposits could be forfeit, but I asked my vendors, (cake person included) if I could move my deposits to the new date. They were all more then willing to do that. I did give them 8 months notice of the date change and explained why. Is this an option for your friend? Can she just let them hold the money until the date she needs them?

rvercher23 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:37am
post #22 of 30

Well, it does suck what your friend is going through. Maybe her luck will turn around and she will get her refund by the end of the month like the baker said.. Who knows, alot of lessons learned on this one!

indydebi Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 1:44am
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pamperedcheftiffany1

In Texas there is a law that says if a person pays for a service and does not recieve that service they are entitled to a full refund of monies paid unless there is a written and signed contract of other arrangements. Howeve in this case there is no written contract...therefor the baker is legally responsible for the full refund.



Appreciate that info...that the type of info I was looking for with the above example. Thanks! thumbs_up.gif

redpanda Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:07am
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi



Even tho' you wouldn't expect her to set up an "escrow" account, it sounds like you believe she should have the money "sitting somewhere" because she shouldn't have spent it yet. Call it escrow, call it savings, call it a coffee can in the backyard, it sounds like your expectation is the same: The money should be "somewhere" because the cake isnt' baked yet.

It's called "cashflow". This past June sucked for me. That means all of my cash on hand had (repeat: HAD!) to be used to keep the lights on and the loans paid and supplies bought. As new deposits come in, those monies are rolled into the cashflow schedule. I have to schedule monies that come in. I look at my schedule of deposits/payments due and figure what goes to bills and what goes to supplies and when. I based my buying decisions, my how-much-labor-do-I-schedule based on the cashflow schedule.

I may make a loan payment today with a bride's deposit and then schedule the corporate catering payment that I get tomorrow to buy her supplies for next week.

It's called cashflow and the control of cashflow.

I feel like I'm explaining basic business concepts with this one. If you're unclear on how this works or would like add'l info and knowledge about it, check with your local SBA or SBDC ... they have great classes on just this kind of stuff that we all need to know to run a business successfully.




Wow! I think you may have misunderstood my point. Trust me, as the manager of a program that involves annual revenue of over $1.5 million, I am well aware of the concept of cash flow. I might even have taken a business class or two along the way. (Not to mention providing instructional design work for a couple more business classes. Oops, I mentioned it!)

The point you seem to have missed, which was explained in part of the post that you edited out, was:

(I could understand saying that she might not have liquid funds at a specific point in time, but don't buy it that she wouldn't have any due, as a result of not having to purchase supplies for the cake.)


(Note: I apologize for the atrocious grammar in that sentence in the original!)

In other words, she may not have had any "free" cash in July, but due to cash flow--at least if she is a responsible individual--she should have had some money available between July and the original wedding date three months later. Otherwise, what would she buy the supplies with?

"I'm sorry, I can't provide a cake for your wedding, because I spent your money on bills in the Spring, and didn't get any more in and can't buy supplies," just won't cut it. Not that I haven't had vendors try things like that.

You didn't need to give me that business econ lesson, but maybe I was less than perfectly clear in an attempt to be brief. (Or maybe you just missed that second part, because you were so focused on the first part.)

mcaulir Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 8:44am
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

I hate to say this, but I think your friend needs to come to the harsh realization that she is not going to get her money back. Why in the world would she fork over that kind of cash without signing a contract icon_eek.gificon_confused.gif




I wouldn't have known that a contract was required for a wedding cake before CC. Ordering a wedding cake isn't something most people do very often.

cakemaker30 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 11:10am
post #26 of 30

This is just a question so I hope I don't upset anyone by asking because really I'm just curious; if the baker is running an illegal business and your friend paid her in full with no signed contract to back up what she was paying for, does she really have a chance in court. I mean she can say that she paid her for a cake and she has the check, but what proof does she have of what the check was for. As far as the state goes, this woman doesn't own a business because that would be illegal in Texas so she could simply say the check was for something else and it doesn't seem that your friend has any proof otherwise. Am I missing something? I was hoping someone who knows a little more about the law could clear that up for me. icon_biggrin.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 12:21pm
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakemaker30

This is just a question so I hope I don't upset anyone by asking because really I'm just curious; if the baker is running an illegal business and your friend paid her in full with no signed contract to back up what she was paying for, does she really have a chance in court. I mean she can say that she paid her for a cake and she has the check, but what proof does she have of what the check was for. As far as the state goes, this woman doesn't own a business because that would be illegal in Texas so she could simply say the check was for something else and it doesn't seem that your friend has any proof otherwise. Am I missing something? I was hoping someone who knows a little more about the law could clear that up for me. icon_biggrin.gif




I think she would be okay, cause I'm sure the courts would ask why the client gave her the money. I don't think they're friends and this was just a business transaction.

cakemaker30 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:03pm
post #28 of 30

[quote="LaBellaFlor"I think she would be okay, cause I'm sure the courts would ask why the client gave her the money. I don't think they're friends and this was just a business transaction.[/quote]

Yeah I guess that was kind of what I was getting at. Is it really a business transaction if no business exists? icon_lol.gif

LaBellaFlor Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:09pm
post #29 of 30

Yes. Theres a whole lot of different types of business transactions. It's kind of like if someone pays you to do something, like this guy paid my husband to put in an alternator, he would have to pay him even though my husband doesn't have a business reparing cars. The courts recognize that people do things for money all the time even without an actual "business".

Shannie13 Posted 17 Sep 2009 , 2:34pm
post #30 of 30

"In Texas there is a law that says if a person pays for a service and does not receive that service they are entitled to a full refun of monies paid unless there is a written and signed contract of other arrangements"

This has me questioning the idea that your friend didn't receive the service because the wedding was postponed, not because the baker was at fault. Don't get me wrong, the soft heart in me thinks she does deserve some money returned as 100% is quite a bit to ask for up front. But if she knew that baker was not a legal business and paid the money anyway, do they have a foot to stand on. I am from Canada and not too familiar with the laws in the States.

hope it all works out for the best!

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