Omg Seriously???

Business By TheBaketress Updated 21 Sep 2009 , 3:13pm by TheBaketress

TheBaketress Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 10:59pm
post #1 of 20

Ok so 1st... SIA if this ends up long! There are a few questions I have for you genious ladies, and the faster the better icon_lol.gif lol!

Lets start... In august I posted a "special" on craigslist only, and for a few really good clients I already had. It was for a free cake... charges were for ingredients only!!! I had a lot of free time and A LOT of free ingredients i had won locally and thought it would be a great way to get some new customers and at the same time building up my portfolio for future clients! Well I stated I was doing the special promo from Aug 1st-September 1st. I recieved an email from a lady mid august asking if there was any special arrangement i would b willing do do for her for her wedding at the end of September. After serious discussion I went back to her and gave her 30% off her entire order!!!

We had our initial meeting and everything went smoothly. Well... the wedding is supposed to be Septmber 25 (less than a week away today!) and less than 2 weeks ago she decides she wants to do her tasting cake. I explained that I dont normally charge for tasting cakes, but they are usually done waaay ahead of time. She was willing to pay anything (I ended up doing them for free as usual). Well... I get an email a few days after (oh and I had to drive approx 20 miles to deliver the cakes to her mother b/c she lives out of state and her mother was only available at specific times and only by her... ok sure no problem) that they would like to have a conference call about the tasting cake. The call was HORRIBLE!!! Now im just starting out and am trying to kep my cool and have great customer service, but after that call i was in tears! they said my cake was dry, tasted like a box mix and everything was just horrible. The ganache was gross, the cannoli filling wasn't sweet enough. So i took everything in stride and said i would be more than happy to change the rescipes and make everything better for them. 2nd tasting cake was delivered (yes again same place same time!) and I just recieved a call today saying the cake tasted exactly the same (i swear it was TOTALLy different... i didnt even use ganache this time, i used buttercream!!!) and they would like to cancel the order. They havent signed the contract yet, because it had to be revised since my timelines in it didn't correspond to her wedding's timeline once she found me... (Which I did, no problem i completely understood!) She only paid me approx 100 for a deposit. oh yeah also... she wanted me to make her and her hubbi to be a cake topper out of fondant/gumpaste (i have never done modeling yet, which i was totally upfront about) and even ordered special molds just for this!

What would you charge her for all this??? I am so upset and angry, but a lil relieved b/c of the PIA she was starting to become!

Oh yea and one other thing... she wanted to have my clients person contact information to speak with them. She liked the letters of referral i had, but wanted to speak with some personally. I didn't even get an opprotunity to get that info to her! Is that a normal request you have... to have a client contact another client driectly, by you giving out the information. When i was speaking with my new client she was saying how you go or a job and use references its like that and a HUGE part of the business (i didn't know that!) and i know she was completely taking advantage of the fact that im so new in this business (in regards to advertising myself and actually starting the business side, not just doing friends and family!)

I am so upset right now and feel like a failure its making me double think everything!!!!! I really hope some of you could give me your feedback, i would appreciate it soooo much!!!!! TIA xox icon_redface.gif

19 replies
LaBellaFlor Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:10pm
post #2 of 20

See how much you have spent on this order and refund her the difference. there is not contract, so things are little half a@@ with these people anyway. Have to say it and I'm saying it for your benefit, lesson learned and learn it well. NEVER go outside your norm of doing business. You DO NOT let clients dictate to you, you do your business. Do people ask to speak to clients, yes. Make sure it's okay with your former client first. Also, you don't change your recipes. If they don't like them , they don't like them. Not everyone is gonna like what you make. I make meringue buttercreams, not everyone is gonna like them. I'm not changing my recipe. Not only do you want to establish your style, but your flavors as well.

jillmakescakes Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:10pm
post #3 of 20

I'm not sure how much you should charge her, especially since there isn't a contract (but I bet there will be from now on, right? icon_wink.gif ) Most of the time, deposits aren't returned, but the lack of contract makes that one tricky.

As far as wanting to speak to a former client directly, you have to be careful on this one. While I haven't had the request, I have asked one or two of my past brides (one was a friend, the other was just REALLY happy and offered to be a reference) if they would be willing to be a reference if necessary. I ask them if I have new clients ask for references, can they be contacted. They said yes, and provided me with an email address and phone number. Be sure to ask in advance, otherwise who knows what they'll say!! Also, I would not appreciate a company giving out my information to a total stranger without my permission.

Lastly, I'm sorry you had such a PITA experience. The best thing to do is learly from this, and move on.

-K8memphis Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:38pm
post #4 of 20

$200 and if she balks say $300.

In other words, keep the $100--restocking fee. I mean I don't see how you could actually get any more out of them.

And for sure do not refund a dime.

indydebi Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:44pm
post #5 of 20

And we add yet another horror story from craigs list to our inventory! icon_rolleyes.gif

bbmom Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:51pm
post #6 of 20

OMG, I wouldnt do anything for her. You dont have a contract and you've already lost money.I 'd give her money back and figure my lost money and time was a hard lesson learned and just drop her like a hot potato!!!!

3GCakes Posted 20 Sep 2009 , 11:57pm
post #7 of 20

I think you should not refund anything.

But I am are doing the cake for free...just getting paid for ingredients, and you drove 20 miles on top of that...for free...twice...??

I don't care how bare my portfolio is....nuh-uh.

Clients like this only get this out of control because we LET them.

kelleym Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 12:12am
post #8 of 20

Never give your client's contact information to a prospective client without asking them first. Although in all the time I've been doing this, I've never had a prospective client demand this.

I think you've learned a hard lesson or two: First, craigslist has a tendency to attract more weirdos than you'd find in a normal setting. Second, everyone on craigslist is looking for something cheap or free. Third, use a contract. Fourth, you make the rules and let the customer follow them.

Keep the $100 as a deposit and send her a certified letter indicating that you acknkowledge that she is cancelling her order and forfeiting her deposit and that you consider the matter closed.

bfp Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 12:51am
post #9 of 20

I understand what you were trying to do on Craigslist. I'm just getting started too and posted on there about my cakes and did not get anything good out of it. I took it off after a month and still getting weirdos emailing me, wanting everything for nothing. People on there do not want to pay or pay as little as they can.

As for the refund I would keep the $100. With all your time you have in this order and stress they have given you, keep it. Too bad they did not give you more than $100 because I think you should get more. But I do not see them giving you any more than what they have.

Good luck and keep your head up. Just remember all the good comments and learn from the bad ones. If you have had lots of good comments from your recipes don't change them. I know we want to make everyone happy and we want everyone to like our product but it will never happen.

leah_s Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 2:22am
post #10 of 20

What they said.

1. Trust your recipes. Do not change them at all. if they work for you, use them.

2. ALWAYS stay in control of the appointment/process. Never, ever let the customer push you outside your zone.

3. It's a hard thing for newbies to learn, but no, you actually don't want every piece of business that comes to your door/phone.

4. Stay off Craig's List.

5. Have a signed contract with a non-refundable deposit before you order any specialty items/molds/pans/etc.

6. I would not give out client's info. In ten years no one has EVER asked.

all4cake Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:13am
post #11 of 20

Unless you have it written and you have proof they read and agreed to it that there is a non-refundable deposit or a charge for tastings, I'd give them back ALL the money. Otherwise, you may be meeting them again in court. It is a shame that you were subjected to such negative remarks....accentuate the positive, you could've been going through this after making the wedding cake...KWIM? All in all, this lesson was less costly than it could ultimately have been, yes? Now you have a mold that, although you might not have purchased it otherwise, you can now use it, get good with it and add it to your list of things you can do to personalize the next couple's cake.

lardbutt Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:21am
post #12 of 20

#3 of what Leah said!! Not everybody will want to be my client and I will not want everybody to be my client!!

My husband suggested craigslist to me....NO THANK YOU HONEY!!!!

indydebi Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:31am
post #13 of 20
Originally Posted by MessyBaker

#3 of what Leah said!! Not everybody will want to be my client and I will not want everybody to be my client!!

My husband suggested craigslist to me....NO THANK YOU HONEY!!!!

Agree on both of these points.

"Measure yourself against the company you WANT to keep." Which means if I want to be the cadillac of caterers, I have to measure myself against the existing cadillac of caterers. Do any of them advertise on craigs list? Heck no! Then neither do I.

See the quote in my signature: Sometimes I fly alone .... but that's what eagles do. thumbs_up.gif

ljdills Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:37am
post #14 of 20

If you are looking to build your portfolio, you would do better to do cakes and donate them to schools, churches, senior centers and things like that. I have learned the people you are "doing a favor" always turn into the clients from hell !! It is sad to say but anytime I have tried to help someone out by cutting fees and doing little extras those people are the ones that end up the pickiest and least appreciative.
Good luck with this situation. I hope it works out for you.

LaBellaFlor Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:43am
post #15 of 20
Originally Posted by ljdills

If you are looking to build your portfolio, you would do better to do cakes and donate them to schools, churches, senior centers and things like that. I have learned the people you are "doing a favor" always turn into the clients from hell !! It is sad to say but anytime I have tried to help someone out by cutting fees and doing little extras those people are the ones that end up the pickiest and least appreciative.
Good luck with this situation. I hope it works out for you.

This is SO unbelievably true! icon_mad.gif I don't know why, but it is. Maybe it's them not seeing you as a proffessional, since your not charging, so they have less respect.

ttehan4 Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:50am
post #16 of 20

Im sorry to hear about such a bad experience. Be glad you got rid of her now and not after she ran you all over tarnation and nagged you to death. Just remember that not everyone will be like that. You live and learn from experience.

As for Craigslist... I know alot of people have bad experience on there, but I advertise on Craigslist and I get tons of great business from it. Grant it Ive had a few el cheapos, but I always stick to my guns with pricing and they usually go away quickly.

good luck to you!

SomethingSweetbyJ Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 2:26pm
post #17 of 20

This is my favorite website, and I check this forum specifically everyday. Everyone's advice is dead on! Let this be a learning experience and if you do chose to refund her the $100, you are lucky that is all you are refunding. You will get a feel for your customers. In my career I have had 3 horrible brides. They were all horrible during their consultations...and they were horrible after the wedding. I know it hurts to have a client treat you badly, but don't forget how fortunate you are that you got rid of her, it would have ended even worse, trust me!

indydebi Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 2:31pm
post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by SomethingSweetbyJ

You will get a feel for your customers.

True. I've had more than one consultation where I just didn't even email the quote out because I was choosing not to work with them. It's not only an interview for the client to see if they want to hire you .... it's also an interview where I'm determining if I want to work with them.

__Jamie__ Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 2:43pm
post #19 of 20

Great suggestions. I on the other hand because I'm such a hothead would have taken money out of my pocket, shoved it at them and said please don't ever contact me again. Ugh! And stay off of Craigslist! Wedding cake are work of art, a thing of beauty, and should not be thrown in the mix of used lawnmowers or under ads that say "I make cake for you real CHEEP!" icon_biggrin.gif

TheBaketress Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 3:13pm
post #20 of 20

WOW thank you all so much for the GREAT advise!!! after looking over everything and pricing out what it cost me I ended up agreeing to a $50 refund (the contract stated 20% and thats a lot less than that!) I spoke with my bff (hes an attorney) and he said the contract would have been an implied contract and would have held up in court. Do i really wanna deal with court for a lousy $50, NO THANK YOU! The client said from the begining that my work ethic, professionalism and customer service are the best she has ever worked with, and after our last phone conversation she emailed me stating that she would love to work with me again in the future for a cake i would be more suited for and to please use her for a reference (i could even give out her contactt info).... UMMM NO!!!!!! do i look stupid? There will def b no more craigslsit for me!!! at least i have 2 really cool molds to practice with and perfect my modeling icon_smile.gif also... when i emailed her back i stated... "Every aspect of working with you and your mom was such an amazing learning experience!"... LOL how true... i'm sure everyone deals with one of these people and some of us have more expensive lessons to learn... so i'm just taking this with a grain of salt, LEARNING from it and moving on!!!!!!!!! icon_biggrin.gif thank you all soooooo much!

and no worries... my recipes have always recieved RAVE REVIEWS... they r staying the same!!!!!

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