Refunding Deposit, Help!!

Business By KalisCakes Updated 16 Jun 2011 , 6:50pm by bakingatthebeach

warchild Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:42pm
post #61 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccr03

A business being linked to their own reviews is different from this one bad experience being brought up everytime bakeries are mentioned are slightly different, how scp stated. Also, regardless of how many years pass, if the overwhleming reviews are positive, one negative reveiw will hardly affect the business.

I've had slips in the past, made it right and still get tons of business this the group of friends/family. They come back because I have a good, quality product.




I read all the reviews I can find on goods I wish to purchase, or a biz I wish to deal with before going ahead. I can read a dozen positive reviews, but if I read one or two negative reviews, nine times out of ten, I'll go elsewhere with my money.

I know that makes me sound like an odd duck, but negative reviews cause me to loose trust. I've/we've been burned by a few "honest" people/businesses to ignore them, as they might well be the reviews I/we should have paid more heed too.

tonedna Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:46pm
post #62 of 413

If they signed a contract, they can take you to court and they still will loose.
Edna icon_smile.gif

WykdGud Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 6:58pm
post #63 of 413

I don't think there's any argument that a business could POTENTIALLY be hurt by negative reviews. But that doesn't mean every person who is unhappy with you will run to the internet.

I think it boils down to the comfort level each business owner has with handling disgruntled customers. If someone else would rather give an unwarranted refund than risk a possible ding to their reputation - well that's their prerogative.

However, having worked in the legal field for so long, I am familiar with the puffery and threats that people use in attempting to get their way - and that very few actually follow through with any action other than grumbling as they sulk away with their tail tucked between their legs.

I am certainly not ignorant of the potential for harm to my reputation, but I'm willing to risk it. I operate my business with integrity, I deliver a quality product and I have contracts to protect both myself and my customers. Nothing is going to change because I'm afraid someone could potentially say something bad about me online.

jason_kraft Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 7:33pm
post #64 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

However, having worked in the legal field for so long, I am familiar with the puffery and threats that people use in attempting to get their way - and that very few actually follow through with any action other than grumbling as they sulk away with their tail tucked between their legs.



From a legal perspective I absolutely agree, once the complainant finds out how much a lawsuit actually costs they usually drop the issue. But it's free to post reviews and comment on popular social media sites about bad experiences, the only cost is a few minutes of your time.

Quote:
Quote:

I am certainly not ignorant of the potential for harm to my reputation, but I'm willing to risk it. I operate my business with integrity, I deliver a quality product and I have contracts to protect both myself and my customers. Nothing is going to change because I'm afraid someone could potentially say something bad about me online.



It sounds like you don't have to change anything about your business, no one's asking you to do so. icon_smile.gif

Not sure what you mean by "willing to risk it" though?

alvarezmom Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 8:22pm
post #65 of 413

Stick to you contract. This is why you have one so it protects you and the client.

Id like to know if the client ever responded to your email.

MamaDear Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 8:35pm
post #66 of 413

There has been a lot of talk about negative social media impacts on business. Just a couple of comments to consider about internet feedback whether on facebook or on regular websites -

Back when I was in business school studying marketing told the class that on average every disatisfied customer will tell at least 10 people about their experience. Out of those 10 people, about 5 will pass the story on to other mutual friends. That was in the days before Facebook, Twitter and the other 100s of social media sites. Now, I have seen several "Angry Wall Postings" from friends about different products or restaraunts, some of them even posted before they left the restaraunt. There is probably no end to how far out those negative comments go...however...I still go to those restaraunts and use some of those products. So I'm not swayed much either way.

Second thing is... now in the age of instant info via the internet, SOME companies (and business owners themselves) hire folks to put fake positive reviews on websites in order to diminish bad reviews and promote their business. I don't soley rely on this kind of feedback because if the poster is really flowery about how things were so special I assume they are paid and if they are full of venting rants and emotional turmoil as the event just happened or the product was just served, they have trouble being objective either way. If I really want to know about something I ask a close personal friend or a semi-expert and put the appropriate weight with their opinion, not some distant friend or stranger on the internet.


If a customer is disatisfied, there is only so much you can do to fix it whether you caused the disatisfaction or not. If it was your fault, all you can do is replace the cake, offer discounts to maintain good-will and apologize. Be clear in your communication and your contract that replacement is what they are entitled to in case of accidents. If it wasn't your fault and the customer demands a refund plus a replacement plus free cake for life plus an apology on the ten oclock news... keep in mind that chances are that they have already bad-mouthed you to everyone who would listen and the damage is already done. You can't please everyone everytime on everything even if you are in business... all you can do is try to make things right.

warchild Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 9:20pm
post #67 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear


If I really want to know about something I ask a close personal friend or a semi-expert and put the appropriate weight with their opinion, not some distant friend or stranger on the internet.




I do it all, read online reviews, listen to friends, read consumer reports magazine etc but that still doesn't guarantee I'll get a great product or deal with a great business. Its like grasping for straws and always getting the short one at times.

I needed a new washer & dryer. I wanted a front load steam washer and dryer as I liked what I'd seen and read about them. After doing some research on the different brands, and listening to advice from my DHs co-worker and a neighbour who swore by them, I bought the Samsung steam washer and dryer set complete with pedestals. The whole shebang, cost close to $5000. I've had my washer and dryer for 2 1/2 yrs and I hate them both.

The washer destroys clothing even if the spin cycle is set on low. Blankets that used to be soft and cuddly are now stiff and uncomfortable, as most of the soft fibres have been destroyed from the rediculously fast spin cycle. Bedding in the dryer ends up in a single tight log no matter how many times I open the door to separate them. As a result, I have sheets, duvet covers with millions of wrinkles from being wound together so tighly.

I cannot return the machines, I've had them too long, and I would not allow myself to spend so much money, once again, to buy replacements. Every time I go downstairs to do the laundry, I'm reminded of how I did not do enough research, even though I thought I had.

LNW Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 9:44pm
post #68 of 413

I would stick to your contract. I dont think all the booty kissing in the world will make this group of folks any happier with you. You want rid of them anyways so go with it.

I was contracted to make a wedding cake for a couple. They also had me make some cupcakes for the bridal shower. The cupcakes sucked. I forgot an ingredient and they turned out like cornbread (so I was told, I didnt have enough batter left over to make extra, just what they had ordered). The bride was scared I might make the same mistake and mess up her wedding cake too. So I came here, posted the issue and asked for help. I got a lot of advice, everything from screw em to give them youre first born etc. Doug (does he still post here?) gave me the advice I chose to use. He told me to first apologize, give them a refund for the cupcakes and then bake them a small, simply iced cake in their wedding flavor to not just show my understanding of her situation but to help bolster her trust in me. So that is exactly what I did. They were so impressed with how I handled everything they refused to accept the check, loved the free cake and kept me as their baker. Difference here though is that I really really wanted this order. I did get more orders from this wedding and every once in a while Ill get a call from someone who was sent my way by that couple so a little booty kissing in my situation worked great. You on the other hand would like to part ways with these folks and a contract is a contract.

MamaDear Posted 3 Jun 2011 , 10:16pm
post #69 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by warchild

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear


If I really want to know about something I ask a close personal friend or a semi-expert and put the appropriate weight with their opinion, not some distant friend or stranger on the internet.



I do it all, read online reviews, listen to friends, read consumer reports magazine etc but that still doesn't guarantee I'll get a great product or deal with a great business. Its like grasping for straws and always getting the short one at times.

I needed a new washer & dryer. I wanted a front load steam washer and dryer as I liked what I'd seen and read about them. After doing some research on the different brands, and listening to advice from my DHs co-worker and a neighbour who swore by them, I bought the Samsung steam washer and dryer set complete with pedestals. The whole shebang, cost close to $5000. I've had my washer and dryer for 2 1/2 yrs and I hate them both.

The washer destroys clothing even if the spin cycle is set on low. Blankets that used to be soft and cuddly are now stiff and uncomfortable, as most of the soft fibres have been destroyed from the rediculously fast spin cycle. Bedding in the dryer ends up in a single tight log no matter how many times I open the door to separate them. As a result, I have sheets, duvet covers with millions of wrinkles from being wound together so tighly.

I cannot return the machines, I've had them too long, and I would not allow myself to spend so much money, once again, to buy replacements. Every time I go downstairs to do the laundry, I'm reminded of how I did not do enough research, even though I thought I had.




Yeah warchild, I agree sometimes it doesn't matter who you ask or where you look- you don't get the product that suits you best in the end and you are stuck... Sorry about your 5k disaster but it makes a good point to the OP - sometimes you can't judge what you think you have all the information to judge just by someone else's experiences. I'm sure there is someone out there with that Washer/Dryer set that love love loves it...

scp1127 Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 4:06am
post #70 of 413

Carmijok, as I have mentioned many times before, I did own my own marketing agency for years. Two years ago, I decided not to be a SAHM and I decided to open this bakery.

As I have researched, extensively, the changes in the way people buy, it has been documented over and over that most CEO's and people in business do not understand how to use the internet to its fullest. If you have been out several years, there have been significant changes. Rather than start a business mid-life and running it like I used to do, I spent these years studying the changes.

If we are going to ask the people in their twenties, thirties, and forties to buy our products, we cannot approach them in our old ways. We have to exist in their world... and that is the web.

I really don't care who embraces this form to build your business. Learning to navigate all of the options is a big job... not learned overnight, but through diligent study, and a serious dedication to keeping up with the whirlwind changes taking place. If you have't paid attention in a few years, then things have changed. My husband is a physician. Everything I have learned in the past several years, I have had him incorporate it in his marketing plan. In the past few months, his business has seen a surge. He is becoming known for his accessability to patients through the web, email, texts, phone, and even house calls. He has even had one case of a negative post. He found it, addressed it, and turned the entire situation around to his good. Fortunately, we both realize the advantage we have by incorporating social media, strong web sites, and exemplary customer service. By the way, we met by him being one of my first marketing company customers.

I had a sales position once and I was the highest earner in my entire state. It was full commission, heavily dedicated to customer service, and results oriented or the salesman was out. When I left that company, emergency injunctions were threatened, and two lawsuits were launched. My customer base was so large that it could have caused irreparable damage to the company. My marketing plans made money for businesses. But my customer service was second to none. I certainly was no pushover as you can probably tell by my posts. The habits I formed have followed me through several businesses and have made me plenty of money. When I post on here, I am posting from experience. And this particular subject is one that I have studied extensively because of my husband's business. The growth of my husband's business is paramount to how we spend our retirement. My bakery is insignificant by comparison. Both businesses have already seen the value.

Warchild, I do exactly as you do for every major purchase... and most smaller purchases.

When we google a product, do you all know what we get in the search results? Blogs and forums. You don't even realize that this is what our information consists of... try it. Most of us rely on the recommendations of others just like us to steer us in the right direction on a purchase.

All I have to say is that hopefully, this idea will be picked up by a few CC members and their business will grow. And I hope that all of you who say this is not true are in my area.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 4:32pm
post #71 of 413

I don't think anyone here was trying to say that social media/online reviews etc. are not important or that they don't make a huge impact on how your business is perceived. We all get that it is vital to your success these days to utilize social media and such, and I think we are all doing that to the best of our ability, and constantly learning and trying to think of new ideas to incorporate. I know I am.

I think they are just trying to say that you have to strike a balance between good customer service and catering to every whim of a PITA customer. The bottom line is that you cannot expect every single review or snippet about your business to be forever positive and glowing. Eventually, no matter what you do, you are going to have a customer or potential customer that didn't like you or the way you did a certain thing, and they are going to be someone who will go out of their way to post it all over the internet. Even if you did nothing wrong.

So you have to decide for yourself how much you are willing to bend for someone, what is a reasonable request or complaint and what is not. Each person has to decide that, no one can do it for you. I do know that if you consistently give in to people who just want to screw you over, you are going to burn out. Fast.

WykdGud Posted 4 Jun 2011 , 5:03pm
post #72 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMaster2009

I don't think anyone here was trying to say that social media/online reviews etc. are not important or that they don't make a huge impact on how your business is perceived. We all get that it is vital to your success these days to utilize social media and such, and I think we are all doing that to the best of our ability, and constantly learning and trying to think of new ideas to incorporate. I know I am.

I think they are just trying to say that you have to strike a balance between good customer service and catering to every whim of a PITA customer. The bottom line is that you cannot expect every single review or snippet about your business to be forever positive and glowing. Eventually, no matter what you do, you are going to have a customer or potential customer that didn't like you or the way you did a certain thing, and they are going to be someone who will go out of their way to post it all over the internet. Even if you did nothing wrong.

So you have to decide for yourself how much you are willing to bend for someone, what is a reasonable request or complaint and what is not. Each person has to decide that, no one can do it for you. I do know that if you consistently give in to people who just want to screw you over, you are going to burn out. Fast.




EXACTLY!

It's not that I'm not aware of the potential harm a negative review could cause - I just DON'T CARE! LOL!

If you operate your business ethically and abide by the contract and treat your customers well, I really don't think there's much room to worry. And if someone is the type to post something negative no matter what - well, then there's not much you can do about it anyway.

snowballwinters Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 2:40pm
post #73 of 413

I am new to the baking business and don't have an opinion to add to this thread, but I do want to say thank you to all for your valuable information.

This type of insight brings years of information to a novice that can hopefully prepare them to, at least, not be blindsided by these situations that seem inevitable.

KalisCakes Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 8:16pm
post #74 of 413

I just had one of the local news station come by my home requesting an interview. They're got a friend at one of the stations. Thankfully, I have all paper trails, etc. so I've printed everything out, contracts included, photos, etc. We'll see how this goes.
Any advice on what to say/not to say??

jason_kraft Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:09pm
post #75 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by KalisCakes

I just had one of the local news station come by my home requesting an interview. They're got a friend at one of the stations. Thankfully, I have all paper trails, etc. so I've printed everything out, contracts included, photos, etc. We'll see how this goes.
Any advice on what to say/not to say??



Just stick to the facts, don't get emotional, and be respectful to all parties involved and you should be fine. Definitely hold up the contracts and photos during the interview (mention you have digital copies of the photos beforehand in case they want to air them directly), TV news shows love visual aids in stories. Also mention why your deposits are nonrefundable in as clear language as possible. Might want to bake off some cupcakes for the interviewer and cameraman as well.

Before the interview try to think of a pithy 5-second sound bite that sums up your situation, and make sure to say it verbatim (more than once if possible -- with different wording each time of course). Even better if you are referring to visual aids while delivering your sound bite. If this segment airs (doubtful in my opinion), chances are they will pick up that sound bite and maybe 2 or 3 supporting statements if you're lucky.

Sangriacupcake Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:18pm
post #76 of 413

Definitely don't ramble....it's easier to be misrepresented in the editing process when you ramble!

Edit: Oh, and be sure to point out that non-refundable deposits are standard in the wedding cake business.

WykdGud Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:20pm
post #77 of 413

Wow, must be a really slow news day... and the station must not mind looking stupid. Hmmmm.

jason_kraft Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:26pm
post #78 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by WykdGud

Wow, must be a really slow news day... and the station must not mind looking stupid. Hmmmm.



The station has final control over the editing, so the one thing you can be sure of is that either OP or the customer will end up looking stupid, not the station. Who will end up looking stupid depends largely on how important the customer's friends are at the station, but it would need to be someone high up to introduce enough bias to spin the story that far away from the facts.

sweetflowers Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:40pm
post #79 of 413

Yup, keep it terse, polite and factual. Although the station can edit, they can't twist the facts to make either side look bad on purpose, or they could be held liabel and forced to air a retraction. I'd want to know if this was a news crew for a news program that was asking, or just a talk/morning show type thing (news stations do both). There is a difference.

jenmat Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 9:53pm
post #80 of 413

oh. my. goodness. That is nuts. big cake hugs going your way, and I don't know what else to say.....

KalisCakes Posted 6 Jun 2011 , 10:41pm
post #81 of 413

Well THAT was fun! (NOT!!!) The thing about this particular news station is that they don't do investigative reporting; they do one sided "already formed an opinion" reporting. They weren't interesting in non-refundable deposits, contracts, or previous work. They just wanted to know why I don't give out refunds, if I think this is acceptable business practices, if I think it's right to have my clients meet with me in my home office for their consults, if I think it's right that I have my clients contact me through email/online appointment booking, what am I going to tell other clients who want refunds after they see this airing, etc etc....So, whatever damage that's going to be done is done. I stuck to the facts, recorded the interview with my digital recorder, and now we'll see how they edit it tonight.
But to try and look at the bright side, the majority audience for this news station are usually the Jerry Springer clients I don't want.
*sigh* And this city wonders why there are very few high end vendors, and not just for cakes, for EVERYTHING: floral, venues, restaurants, shopping, etc.

cakesbycathy Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 12:03am
post #82 of 413

Oh no!! I am so sorry about this!!
Please tell me you have an attorney. If not, it might be time to consider getting one. Just in case.

CreativeCakesbyMichelle Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 12:58am
post #83 of 413

I agree about getting an attorney. I have found that a lovely letter from an attorney will cause people to change their behavior 100%. People don't like the idea of getting sued. And if the news station misrepresents the facts they can certainly be sued for slander.

snowballwinters Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 1:08am
post #84 of 413

I can't believe you actually were interviewed by a "news" station! My jaw has literally dropped over this.

jason_kraft Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 1:12am
post #85 of 413

Not sure how much help an attorney would be here, it's doubtful the station would cross the slander line -- they have attorneys too. Seems like an unnecessary expense to me.

KalisCakes Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 1:31am
post #86 of 413

Actually, my best friend is a civil attorney, and my uncle is a lawyer in corporate law icon_smile.gif The 6 o'clock news didn't air anything, so we'll see what happens at 9 (have an hour and a half to go, my time). I did have the reporter read the contract, and have added the contract to my website under the new "Our Policies" link. I also just made a twitter account, and am about to subscribe to this reporter's tweets.... She posts all her stories that are about to air, and so far no tweet about this "story". And, in the event it is aired at 9, there's an arsenal of my clients who are ready to post their experiences as well.

Haha, this news reporter said she tried calling me a month ago, but that I didn't answer.... ummm.... this wasn't a situation a month ago. She also said she had already looked at my website and facebook, to which I restrained myself from asking, "Well, then, why didn't you schedule an appointment online or send me an email like both my website AND Facebook say to do?"

KalisCakes Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 5:37am
post #87 of 413

Well, I watched the story, and while it's obviously not a positive one, I think it could have been a lot worse. here's the link: http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/28150072/detail.html

shannon100 Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 12:05pm
post #88 of 413

I'm so sorry. That is one of the most ridiculous stories ever!! Hopefully anyone who sees it will think the bride is crazy as well. The story focuses on the fact that you couldn't be contact 6 weeks before the wedding. It's a cake!! What's the be discussed 6 weeks out that couldn't wait another week?? I hope you don't refund the deposit, and I hope your supporters come out in force and spread all kinds of great things about you!!!

If I had a business, I don't know that I would announce to all my clients I was on vacation either. I've seen too many news stories about people being robbed after posting it on FB. They obviously knew where you lived. That would have been a security risk for you to have announced you were gone.

Do your lawyer friends recommend you put anything on your website defending yourself, or at least explaining in a way that doesn't come across as defense?

I hope this blows over quickly.

KalisCakes Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 12:44pm
post #89 of 413

Thanks so much Shannon!!! I think that the only ones who are really responding right now are the ones that started all this, and the ones firing back are long time loyal clients (some of whom yes, happen to be friends as well.)
My personal facebook status currently is "Gosh, I suppose could email all 300+ of my current contracts to tell them I'm going to be out of town/unavailable for a couple of weeks. I could also email them monthly letting them know my menstrual cycle, but that doesn't mean I'm GOING to!" icon_wink.gif
I won't be posting any remarks on the news station site, or on Facebook, unless it gets truly ugly where I do need to make some type of rebuttle. For now, I've simply added an FAQ section to my website:
Do you take Walk-Ins?


Sorry, but no. We run on an APPOINTMENT ONLY basis. We are a very small, very busy shop. Every cake we make is handcrafted to order. We truly value ALL of our clients, but we simply do not have the time or resources for visitors and unscheduled consultations. If, however, you do decide to show up for an unscheduled consult, please understand why the door is not answered.

If you ask to visit, we will be forced to say "no". If you show up anyway, we will not be able to let you come inside. We don't want to let you down and we don't want to feel like mega jerk meanie heads. We are very sorry to be so stern and such, but there are no exceptions to this policy.

Appointments are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, subject to availability, and must be scheduled at least 1 week in advance.

To reiterate (it bears repeating), if you show up unannounced, we cannot accept walk-in consultations/meetings/tastings/talk sessions/etc. No matter how loud or how long you knock.

How Do I Order A Cake?
To start the order process, please send an email to chasingbutterfliespastries@yahoo.com containing all the following information:

* the date of your event
* the occasion/nature of your event (wedding, bat mitzvah, etc)
* the event location, delivery address, and delivery time
* how many people you will need to serve
* your daytime phone number
* your email address
* six flavors from our flavor list you would like to sample
* an idea of what kind of cake design you are looking for

We will contact you to to discuss your order and/or schedule an appointment.
Consults are by appointment ONLY, and unfortunately we do not have any cakes pre-made for sale. Every cake we make is custom made to order from start to finish. You can also schedule an appointment online!

I've placed my order, signed a contract, and paid a deposit. Now what?

Contracts are not signed and deposits not accepted until AFTER the cake design is finalized and approved by the client, including the taste testing and flavor selection. Once a contract is signed and a deposit accepted, there are no further steps necessary for the client until the final payment is is due. We will contact you at that time to arrange final payment, get the final guest count (in case more servings are necessary), and go over the design again briefly with you via telephone or e-mail.

So just sit back and relax; we'll take it from here. Enjoy this time to make other preparations for your upcoming event, because at this point, you've already taken care of the cake!

Sangriacupcake Posted 7 Jun 2011 , 1:03pm
post #90 of 413

Thanks for the link to the story....I guess anything can pass for investigative reporting. icon_rolleyes.gif I posted a comment on that page about what a non-issue this is.

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