How To Deal With Flaky Customer??--Quite Long

Business By jen9936 Updated 3 Nov 2010 , 12:52pm by CakeDiva101

jen9936 Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 4:44pm
post #1 of 30

Okay, so last June I made a cake for a customer, who happens to be my first cousin. She called Thurs. asking for cake Fri. I was super busy this week, but did it anyway because I've been doing b-day cakes for her girls for a few years. Anyway, she comes to pick it up and asks "how much?" (which she should already know). I tell her $25 (small sheet cake), to which she replies "well I left my money at home, I'll see you tomorrow and give it to you then". She actually lives less than 3/10 of a mile from my place of business, I would have just run home and got it, but whatever, like I said she is a long time customer.

Well the next day she went out of her way to pretend she did not see me and never mentioned it again until early September when she called to assure me that she hadn't forgotten about the payment, this time with a different excuse as to why she didn't have it before. This time she also requested another cake for another daughter. I declined the order, I was taking 2 months off from caking because my daughter was about to undergo spinal fusion surgery mid-September.

So, yesterday she called again and left a message wanting to "see about paying me for the cake from June and to see if I will make a cake for this Saturday for her daughter's baby shower."

Now I know that I should have just never given her the cake in the first place without payment and that now I should just tell her that she needs to find another source for her cakes from now on, but I am the world's biggest wimp and need some advice on how to go about saying this and not giving in. I just want to be rid of the whole situation and forget about it. It isn't about the money, I'm not so broke that I need her $25 from 5 months ago, it's the point that she has lied to me several times and took advantage of my kindness (or gullibility lol).

Please give me some advice on how to grow a backbone?

29 replies
Ladiesofthehouse Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 4:52pm
post #2 of 30

As a business owner I would return her call and tell her the total for the previous cake PLUS the new cake she is asking for. Then I would tell her if she brings cash to you for that total amount you will make the next cake. Period.

moralna Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:30pm
post #3 of 30

If you decide you want to do the cake, then LadiesoftheHouse is correct. Tell her the new total amount due you and that you will need it up front. If you don't dare do this, then forget about the $25 she owes you, because she is not going to pay it and tell her you can't do the cake. Trust me, if you tell her you can't do the cake she will get it. She is just playing dumb, because you allowed her to get away with it the first time.

dianne65 Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:39pm
post #4 of 30

Unfortunately I have no backbone recipes.
But, I would tell her that you will only do cakes for her if she pays the total up front from now on. My mother used to have hair customers like that..."Oh please, please I have a job interview tomorrow, I have to have it cut tonight" Then after she gives in and is done doing their hair, they've conveniently forgotten their wallet. After a couple of times of this, she started asking for the money up front and adding an inconvenience charge on top of and it they eventually went away. They were no loss because they just sucked the enjoyment out of her job for her.

jenmat Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:46pm
post #5 of 30

Oh yes, been there. Its sometimes when you're "nice" that it comes back to bite you. Do realize that if you turn down this order, you will not see that $25, and you will have to get over it. If you do this new cake, then I would definitely require the payment upfront:

"Hey hun, thanks for the order. I can probably do something for you- the total will be $xxx plus the $25 from the June cake. If we can get that taken care of today or tomorrow latest, I'll get started on your cake once payment is made. At this late date, cash is going to be best. When can you drop it off?"

By not giving her wiggle room, and not insulting her at the same time, you're teaching her that although you do appreciate her business, it is still business and you won't be waiting on payment again.

jo3d33 Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:47pm
post #6 of 30

I have had a few "friends" who at delivery, cake in hand, do the oh, I know you said it was $50 but I only have $40, is that ok? I no longer make cake for those "friends"

jason_kraft Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 5:59pm
post #7 of 30

Re the backbone issue, if you don't feel comfortable asking for money, just have a close friend or family member take care of it. My wife (who does the baking and decorating for our business) can sometimes fall for sob stories, so I take care of customer service, including collections.

In this case, I would definitely require payment for both cakes in cash up-front before starting the new cake.

jason_kraft Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 6:00pm
post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jo3d33

I have had a few "friends" who at delivery, cake in hand, do the oh, I know you said it was $50 but I only have $40, is that ok? I no longer make cake for those "friends"



That's the point where you ask for a knife and cut off 20% of the cake before you hand it over. icon_smile.gif

enchantedcreations Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 6:03pm
post #9 of 30

I think she's waiting on you to say "Oh, don't worry about it, it's been over 5 months ago". Don't give in, do what everyone else has been saying...... this new cake will be $$$ and with the $25 from the last cake, the total will be $$$ and you can pay me with cash.

costumeczar Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 6:37pm
post #10 of 30

Get payment in advance, for both cakes. In cash. As far as the backbone issue goes, why shouls she be able to do that to you? You can't walk into the grocery store and tell them that you forgot your wallet and will get them their money later. If she gives you grief keep saying "I have bills to pay too, so I need payment in advance." Repeat it two or three times and she'll either pay you or go away, and you win either way. icon_smile.gif

LNW Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 8:56pm
post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by enchantedcreations

I think she's waiting on you to say "Oh, don't worry about it, it's been over 5 months ago". Don't give in, do what everyone else has been saying...... this new cake will be $$$ and with the $25 from the last cake, the total will be $$$ and you can pay me with cash.




Ding ding ding!!! BTDT with a family member...twice.

It's hard when you know the person well and care about them. But if they cared about you they'd pay you. She is expecting you to forget about the past debt but keeps herself looking good by promising to pay you in the future just in case youre still thinking about it. But she has no intentions of paying you otherwise she would have 5 months ago.

In my situation I let it go but Ill never do another cake for that person again. I didnt let it interfere with our relationship but Ill always remember that this person basically stole from me and thinks thats perfectly acceptable to do.

You handle it however you see fit but its been 5 months. I dont think youll ever see that money. I would clear the air with her and then tell her you wont do any future orders for her without payment upfront.

cakesbycathy Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 9:08pm
post #12 of 30

Sweetie, this girl is not flaky. She's screwing you.
If she had any intention of ever paying you the money she would have given it to you by now.

I think you have two options:
If you don't want to do the cake then simply tell her "Sorry I won't be able to make the cake for you." Then accept the fact that you aren't ever going to see the $25 she owes you.

If you DO want to make the cake then you need to be very, very clear with her. "The cake is going to cost $xx plus the $25 you owe me to that's $xx. You need to bring me the full amount in cash by (whenever) or I won't be able to make the cake."
If you're worried she's going to flake out on you again or not bring the whole amount I would send your husband or somebody else who has a backbone over to pick it up. That way she'll be less likely to try and get out of paying.

Crazboutcakes Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 9:24pm
post #13 of 30

Everyone is soooo totally right. I also have compation for people but when I decided to start selling my work I also decided to make ground rules to stand by, this way there was no exceptions to the rule. I always get 50% down on all of my cakes no matter how big or small, this way at least it covers the cost of what I am doing, and will re iderate with the cust/friend/familiy member that the other 1/2 in $ amounts and is do at time of pick up and if they do show up with nothing or less i direct them to the nearest atm amd just let them know I'll be here when they get back. Make your guide lines and Stick to it. And you can still be a good person icon_smile.gif

cakeythings1961 Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 9:43pm
post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by jo3d33

I have had a few "friends" who at delivery, cake in hand, do the oh, I know you said it was $50 but I only have $40, is that ok? I no longer make cake for those "friends"


That's the point where you ask for a knife and cut off 20% of the cake before you hand it over. icon_smile.gif




icon_lol.gif That's a good one!!

Evoir Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 9:54pm
post #15 of 30

Geez...this is becoming a pet hate of mine!

Not only would I not make another cake for her until I see the money from June, not ony would I not make another cake for her unless she pays up front from now on, but I would ALSO incorporate an interest charge on the new cake she wants for the time she has held YOUR money that should have been in YOUR bank account.

Kitagrl Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 9:58pm
post #16 of 30

$25???? The woman can't pay you $25???? I mean really..... does she fill up her gas tank each week????

Kiddiekakes Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 10:14pm
post #17 of 30

I have had family and a customer do this and it is very frustrating...Needless to say...The customer no longer gets cakes from me....family I got mad at so she knows now..pay up or no cake!

jen9936 Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 10:31pm
post #18 of 30

Thank you everyone for your support and for not telling me how stupid I am for not wrapping all this up long ago!

I finally got myself together this afternoon and called her. I told her that I will not do the cake for her this weekend and won't be available in the future. She was all friendly and happy to tell me "That's okay, the baby's father has a great aunt (or something) who is insisting on trying to do the cake herself". No mention was made again of the previous money owed, of course, I did not expect it to be. I have long since written that off as a loss. "Stupid Tax" as Dave Ramsey says.

Oh well, I feel better for having stood up and just said what I feel. Thanks again for all the replies. icon_smile.gif

howsweet Posted 2 Nov 2010 , 10:49pm
post #19 of 30

Good for you! I'm sure that was really hard to do.

dldbrou Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 12:40am
post #20 of 30

You could always back up everything you told her in a formal letter and include an invoice for services rendered in June for $25.00 due now or late fees would be added and then turned over to collections. She doesn't have to know collections is a very mean looking relative that you have hidden away.

Since you have already ended your relationship as a customer, there is no harm in finishing up with a professional type letter.

CakeDiva101 Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 1:17am
post #21 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Re the backbone issue, if you don't feel comfortable asking for money, just have a close friend or family member take care of it. My wife (who does the baking and decorating for our business) can sometimes fall for sob stories, so I take care of customer service, including collections.

In this case, I would definitely require payment for both cakes in cash up-front before starting the new cake.





Jasonkraft's idea is great! I also have some issues with my backbone. Not as big as I was hoping for icon_sad.gif. However, My BFF is a great business person and she got tired of see in me undercharge my work. So, after she realized how much I charged for my last cake, she will be my...manager? Agent? I don't know what to call it but she will take care of the money asking and collecting, like jasonkraft does. And let me tell you...her backbone is HUGE!!! icon_biggrin.gif

Beansss Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 1:31am
post #22 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by dldbrou

You could always back up everything you told her in a formal letter and include an invoice for services rendered in June for $25.00 due now or late fees would be added and then turned over to collections. She doesn't have to know collections is a very mean looking relative that you have hidden away.

Since you have already ended your relationship as a customer, there is no harm in finishing up with a professional type letter.




I don't know if I'd bring up collections. IMHO, it's $25 and it's her cousin. If it were ME, I'd probably just do as OP ended up doing. Let the money go, keep the relationship friendly, but NOT accept anymore orders from her. To me, sounds like she made the best move! thumbs_up.gif

dldbrou Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 2:15am
post #23 of 30

Beanss, I was just being sarcastic. I mean who has a mean looking relative hidden away to do collections.

indydebi Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 2:56am
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasonkraft

Re the backbone issue, if you don't feel comfortable asking for money, just have a close friend or family member take care of it. My wife (who does the baking and decorating for our business) can sometimes fall for sob stories, so I take care of customer service, including collections.


totally agree!! This is a great tactic.

I think most on here know that I don't believe that I need "a man" to handle the tough things for me, but you use the assets where they are best used! I had a couple of issues with tracking down pymt and I wasn't getting anywhere. So I turned the info over to hubby (who used to be a bank repo man, by the way!) who called and introduced himself as my office manager who had an issue that needed cleared up. It was resolved asap.

Sometimes a man's voice (or just a 'different' voice) on the phone can make all the difference. As the baker/business owner, we spend time building a personal relationship with the client and sometimes that relationship that works very well in the sales department, just gets in the way in the collection department!

caymancake Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 3:07am
post #25 of 30

I agree with Ladiesofthehouse. I might even add in a late fee charge too! She needs to pay you in FULL before you even turn on your oven...cousin or not!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ladiesofthehouse

As a business owner I would return her call and tell her the total for the previous cake PLUS the new cake she is asking for. Then I would tell her if she brings cash to you for that total amount you will make the next cake. Period.


Ruth0209 Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 5:08am
post #26 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jo3d33

I have had a few "friends" who at delivery, cake in hand, do the oh, I know you said it was $50 but I only have $40, is that ok? I no longer make cake for those "friends"




I am always SO shocked to hear this kind of thing. I've never had a single friend try to weasel cake out of me for less than I asked. People don't expect me to bring cake to every event, and they don't suggest that they should get a discount. I just can't imagine what kind of low class jerks would do this.

When I told people I was starting my cake business they were so supportive and helpful. One friend/customer told me I needed to get real and RAISE my prices. I'm just always reminded of how fortunate I've been in this regard.

Apti Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 5:56am
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jen9936

Thank you everyone for your support and for not telling me how stupid I am for not wrapping all this up long ago!

I finally got myself together this afternoon and called her. I told her that I will not do the cake for her this weekend and won't be available in the future. She was all friendly and happy to tell me "That's okay, the baby's father has a great aunt (or something) who is insisting on trying to do the cake herself". No mention was made again of the previous money owed, of course, I did not expect it to be. I have long since written that off as a loss. "Stupid Tax" as Dave Ramsey says.

Oh well, I feel better for having stood up and just said what I feel. Thanks again for all the replies. icon_smile.gif




You did exactly the correct thing, Jen. Well done. (and I really liked the "stupid tax"). At least your's was only $25; I just had a $300 "stupid tax" on weed clearing/tree trimming [long, involved story with dad, "friends", etc.] that should never, ever have happened....sigh.....

cakes22 Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 12:23pm
post #28 of 30

This is a prime example of why you shouldn't do business with family. At some point your going to get taken advantage of.
Sorry you lost your $ but in the long run you probably saved your self some headaches icon_wink.gif

Love2BakeCakes Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 12:42pm
post #29 of 30

I look at it like this ... She doesn't owe you $25.00. It cost you $25 to get rid of an on-going problem ... and it was money well spent!!! And I would not do another cake for her in the future. She is definitely taking advantage of your "niceness."

CakeDiva101 Posted 3 Nov 2010 , 12:52pm
post #30 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Love2BakeCakes

I look at it like this ... She doesn't owe you $25.00. It cost you $25 to get rid of an on-going problem!!! And I would not do another cake for her in the future. She is definitely taking advantage of your "niceness."





Well said. thumbs_up.gif

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%