Angry Now-Non Paying Bride-Need Advice

Business By karateka Updated 29 Jun 2011 , 5:00pm by madicakes

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:22pm
post #1 of 61

I had a bride who placed a deposit right away during the tasting.

She was supposed to sign the contract and mail it back to me, payment due by 3 weeks prior. The contract came back with the date and venue changed.

I contacted her and informed her that yes, she was fortunate, I had space available that date. Confirmed delivery address.

I get back from vacation, during which the final payment date came and went. No payment. Contacted her via email and phone, she gets back saying that venue is changed again. I inform her that in no way whatsoever are further changes acceptable. This is it, I'm delivering cake to this new address come hell or high water, this email is the final addendum to her contract, I need payment NOW, in cash or via paypal. She asked me to send paypal invoice.

Today she informs me that "she tried for over 3 hours to get paypal to work and it just wouldn't, so I went to the post office and mailed a check which you should get by Monday, you can just go to PNC bank and cash it."

I am so PISSED. What should I do now? I won't be home most of today, and won't be home all day Monday, either. I have work to do on this cake and have no money. This freaking cake is due one week from today. She ended her email with "see you in 1 week".

60 replies
leah_s Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:27pm
post #2 of 61

I would probably arrange to meet her where you had her the check and she hands you cash.

Kellbella Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:30pm
post #3 of 61

No money.....no cakey... icon_wink.gif

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:36pm
post #4 of 61

The thing is, I won't be able to meet her check in hand until I get it! Which "should" be Monday, but may not. Plus, I work my other job Monday and won't be home most of the day!

I have obligations today, too, so demanding cash today would have its own problems.

I'm thinking of highlighting the pertinent areas of her contract and emailing them to her, with a "I've been more than flexible" type statement telling her that today is it, and either she pays or no cake.

How awful would that be?

mmdiez10 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:37pm
post #5 of 61

Unfortunately, you put yourself in a time crunch by agreeing to and allowing the changes. Hopefully there is no problem with the check on Monday. If you have terms and conditions, you have to stick to them for your own benefit. Someone will always take advantage given the opportunity. Good luck, hope it works out and lesson learned.

mmdiez10 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:40pm
post #6 of 61

It wouldn't be awful to bring attention to the terms of the contract. If she really wants the cake, she will make the appropriate accommodations to get you the money. Otherwise, it will be supermarket sheet cake for her.

berrypoptart Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:49pm
post #7 of 61

You don' really have any options here. Your contract states that there is noe cake unless payment is received...no question as to what to do. To be fair, when Monday comes, and the check hasn't arrived, you send her an email stating that no payment was received, no cake will be delivered, THE END.

artscallion Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 1:59pm
post #8 of 61

Tell her that when the check arrives on Monday you will void it and return it to her. And that, in the meantime, she needs to find a way to do the paypal today if she wants the order to remain active.

cakesdivine Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 2:01pm
post #9 of 61

This is why I DO NOT ACCEPT CHECKS! EVER! They are a hassle and if they bounce even a bigger hassle. I have had too many clients in the past write me bad checks, some causing snowball NSF fees. After I received a $500 hot check and the havoc it created in my account because it took me 2 months to collect I decided never again! Cash or Credit card only. I have never (knock on wood) had a problem with either. since you gave her that "pay by check" option, it will be perpetually in the mail.

I have a clause in my contract that states that any changes to the contract that is less than 30 days from event will require a new contract AND a re-contract fee equal to $1.50 per serving of will apply. It it is to change the count to lower, the fee is based on the OLD serving count. This makes them realize they must finalize all aspects of their cake contract 30 days prior to event or pay a hefty chunk of money to change it later.

lutie Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 2:02pm
post #10 of 61

You are adding unneeded stress to your life...pick up the phone and speak to her...this emailing does not convey the tone of voice...so, just be nice and tell her that you need the money by today in cash...WHEN the check arrives, you will return it to her in person when you deliver the cake. Simple and do not depend upon technology for your clients who do not pay...she could not even get PayPal to work...I think not!

Stay in control of your business. Do not let some young thing determine your attitude.

kakeladi Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 2:11pm
post #11 of 61

..............contract states .... no cake unless payment is received...no question...... To be fair, when Monday comes, and the check hasn't arrived, you send her an email stating that no payment was received, no cake will be delivered, THE END...........

I agree here BUT.........instead of Email you CALL or do both.

mmdiez10 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 2:36pm
post #12 of 61

In this business, unfortunately, we get to feeling sorry for the client or guilty about enforcing a contract. Just think, if payment for the cake is being left as an afterthought for the most important occasion in a person's life, then just think what can happen if for some reason she isn't "happy" with the cake. I can imagine a refund request for some silly detail. This would not happen with the wedding gown vendor or the videographer or the caterer. The cake is the thing people remember most about a wedding,aside from the dress. So give yourself the importance you deserve.

jason_kraft Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 2:45pm
post #13 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

This is why I DO NOT ACCEPT CHECKS! EVER! They are a hassle and if they bounce even a bigger hassle. I have had too many clients in the past write me bad checks, some causing snowball NSF fees.



To play devil's advocate, we've filled 600+ orders over the past 3 years and have had only 2 bounced checks. We use a credit union so we were only charged a $5 NSF fee, and in both cases the customers apologized and sent a new check plus twice the NSF fee. What snowballing fees are you referring to?

To answer the OP's question, I would go ahead and start on the cake, even if getting cash in time is not an option. In the unlikely event there is a problem with the check it can be sorted out later.

jenscreativity Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:09pm
post #14 of 61

no check on monday, no cake..I agree..OR else call or meet her for the money asap..

.if you call her though and the voice mail picks up..just simply say that you have been going out of your way to help her in all you can, yet, if you cannot meet her today for the cash..OR if the check does NOT get to you on Monday,,then you are sorry..but you cannot do the cake for her and wish her best..THEN maybe if you give her a warning,,she will step it up on her end and do what's right and take responsibility..

cakesbycathy Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:28pm
post #15 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

The thing is, I won't be able to meet her check in hand until I get it! Which "should" be Monday, but may not. Plus, I work my other job Monday and won't be home most of the day!

I have obligations today, too, so demanding cash today would have its own problems.

I'm thinking of highlighting the pertinent areas of her contract and emailing them to her, with a "I've been more than flexible" type statement telling her that today is it, and either she pays or no cake.

How awful would that be?




DO THIS!
Then you need to CALL her and explain that if you do not have cash she will NOT be getting a wedding cake, plain and simple. Tell her when the check comes in the mail on Monday (or if it ever shows up) you will return it to her.

It's either that or hold out until Monday and then when the check is not in the mail you CALL her and tell her that unless you have cash in your hands by 9am Tuesday she will not have a cake.

cakegirl1973 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:33pm
post #16 of 61

However you decide to handle this, follow up with the bride by phone AND email so that you have a paper trail. You've got to protect yourself by having your actions in writing to prevent this from becoming a "he said, she said" situation. Hope everything works out for you.

mrsbriggs06 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:39pm
post #17 of 61

When you call to reinforce the contract, state that if she unable to pay before the check arrives then you will be unable to begin prepwork for her cake. Those handmade flowers that need to dry? Can't start them. You can't do your job until she does hers.... And hope that she hasn't gotten in too deep financially leaving you holding a bad check..

Janette Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 3:41pm
post #18 of 61

I use to do wedding cakes and my Daugher has a Wedding decorating business. It is amazing how people have the nack to avoid paying at all.

Maybe you could tell her you will only take Paypal as payment at this late date. If she can't figure it out then maybe there is a number to Paypal she can call for assistance or a family member or friend can help her. But it is her problem to figure it out.

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:02pm
post #19 of 61

I sent her the email with excerpts from her contract, stated that I had been as flexible as possible taking into account her family's issues, but this is a business issue and I need payment today, no later than 9pm in cash, or the order is cancelled. I did state that I would return her check to her.

I stated that she failed to meet the deadline, changed her order date once and venue twice, and that I have been accommodating even though contractually I was within rights to refuse and to cancel her order for non-payment with no deposit refund.

I have received no response via either email or phone. Yes, I did leave a message at her voicemail once today, though I'm unsure if calling again would be seen as harassment or just covering bases.

This is making me sick to my stomach. I know that even if she pays me, I'm in trouble with the after wedding stuff. I can smell "I deserve a refund" from waaaaay over here.

And if she tells me she sent a check and she isn't bringing cash and if I don't accept the check then she's suing me.....what then?

jason_kraft Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:11pm
post #20 of 61

You are probably safe from a legal perspective, but depending on how pissed the customer is she may turn things over to the court of public opinion, and that can get very ugly (as seen recently).

Will you be returning the deposit?

Regarding calling again...I would call every 2 hours or so until the deadline or until you hear from the customer. No need to leave a message each time (maybe leave one more message a few hours before the deadline).

jenmat Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:19pm
post #21 of 61

Repeat after me: This is business, not personal... this is business, not personal.

I had a few brides last year that I got SOOO mad at when the payment date came and went with no check and no respect.

BUT, there is a time when you have to realize this is business, she's NOT doing this to YOU she's doing it to your business.

SO, my advice isn't to the non-payment, but to your anger. If you can keep that in check, realize she's not trying to hurt you, then you will be able to handle the issue from a much better angle. (this is speaking from experience, TRUST ME!)
Here's hoping she responds to you and you get to make a lovely cake for her that she's luck to have!

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:27pm
post #22 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

You are probably safe from a legal perspective, but depending on how pissed the customer is she may turn things over to the court of public opinion, and that can get very ugly (as seen recently).

Will you be returning the deposit?

Regarding calling again...I would call every 2 hours or so until the deadline or until you hear from the customer. No need to leave a message each time (maybe leave one more message a few hours before the deadline).




I told her that her order would be cancelled without refunding the deposit, as stated in the contract. The deposit is listed as non-refundable.

I see what you mean about the court of public opinion.....am I supposed to just give it all back to her, or abide by her terms? I've turned down >3 other orders for next weekend because I was doing a wedding.

jason_kraft Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:34pm
post #23 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I see what you mean about the court of public opinion.....am I supposed to just give it all back to her, or abide by her terms? I've turned down >3 other orders for next weekend because I was doing a wedding.



If you do cancel the order I would refund the deposit, even though your contract says otherwise. She will already be very upset because she will be left without a wedding cake, and if she doesn't get the deposit back you can be sure that she will tell everyone who will listen (including the media) that you also "stole" her money, even though you paid when you asked (which is technically true, just not the requested form of payment).

There are so many downsides to not going ahead with this order (loss of income, potential damage to reputation), to me it's worthwhile to take the very small risk of going ahead with the order and cashing the check.

Just make sure to add this customer to your PITA list so you know to be very strict with your terms earlier in the process next time she orders.

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:49pm
post #24 of 61

I see your point, Jason_kraft.

I just got off the phone with her. She is coming by with cash. She told me she wasn't happy, it is a huge inconvenience, her step father is near to passing away, it is all very stressful, etc. A check is the same as cash, etc. (well, not if I have to hope it arrives, and I can find the bank it is drawn on and get there to cash it before I have to start on this cake, it isn't!)

But she was pleasant on the phone and said she will be here shortly and I could just shred the check. I guess we'll see.

I suppose if she balks I'll end up having to suck it up, but this is killing me. Why this kind of stuff is suddenly my problem is beyond my capacity. I don't do this to people, and don't understand why they think it is ok to do it to me.

Guess I shouldn't ask her for a review when this is done.

cakegirl1973 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 5:50pm
post #25 of 61

Glad to hear that you were able to speak with her and that she is (supposedly) coming to you with cash in hand. Although you will probably not ask her for a review, I'm sure you will have a lovely cake to add to your portfolio/gallery. Good luck!

karateka Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 6:24pm
post #26 of 61

Heave great sigh of relief....she just left after paying me. We exchanged pleasant small talk and there was no negativity.

Although...I won't ask for a review, seeing as how she referenced her lawyer in the last phone call. (Something about him advising her not to pay something before she got something else, but she didn't read the contract fully, so I am correct, she needs to pay me? not a fuzzy feeling that she is already mentioning a lawyer....)

cs_confections Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 6:30pm
post #27 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

I see what you mean about the court of public opinion.....am I supposed to just give it all back to her, or abide by her terms? I've turned down >3 other orders for next weekend because I was doing a wedding.


If you do cancel the order I would refund the deposit, even though your contract says otherwise. She will already be very upset because she will be left without a wedding cake, and if she doesn't get the deposit back you can be sure that she will tell everyone who will listen (including the media) that you also "stole" her money, even though you paid when you asked (which is technically true, just not the requested form of payment).

There are so many downsides to not going ahead with this order (loss of income, potential damage to reputation), to me it's worthwhile to take the very small risk of going ahead with the order and cashing the check.

Just make sure to add this customer to your PITA list so you know to be very strict with your terms earlier in the process next time she orders.




I agree with this. I was thinking along the same lines as I read through it. If it came to cancelling on her, I'd rather just refund the deposit that deal with the aftermath. The cake is not started, so other than design time and time spent repeatedly changing things, you're not too much.

cs_confections Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 6:32pm
post #28 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Heave great sigh of relief....she just left after paying me. We exchanged pleasant small talk and there was no negativity.

Although...I won't ask for a review, seeing as how she referenced her lawyer in the last phone call. (Something about him advising her not to pay something before she got something else, but she didn't read the contract fully, so I am correct, she needs to pay me? not a fuzzy feeling that she is already mentioning a lawyer....)




Wow she was quick to lawyer up! I'm wondering if he was advising her not to pay with cash until she had the check returned. I can see being fearful about having a check floating around out there and being worried that the person may try to cash it even though they were paid with an alternate form of payment. You know you wouldn't be shady and cash it, but strangers may not be so sure.

cakegirl1973 Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 7:20pm
post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by karateka

Heave great sigh of relief....she just left after paying me. We exchanged pleasant small talk and there was no negativity.

Although...I won't ask for a review, seeing as how she referenced her lawyer in the last phone call. (Something about him advising her not to pay something before she got something else, but she didn't read the contract fully, so I am correct, she needs to pay me? not a fuzzy feeling that she is already mentioning a lawyer....)




People bluff about consulting with an attorney all the time. (I am an attorney. icon_smile.gif)

cakesbycathy Posted 18 Jun 2011 , 11:06pm
post #30 of 61

I'm glad it all worked out!

That being said, I would NOT have returned the deposit. The signed contract stated it was non-refundable and it's the bride's inability to get her act together that caused it to be late in the first place. The OP had already turned down other orders.

The bride could cause a fuss but in the end the baker would have been protected by her contract. The bride would probably complain to anyone that would listen but it would be her own fault she didn't have a cake. No reason the baker should be out the money.

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