Should I Stick To Contract Or Play Nice?

Business By lexi55033 Updated 4 Nov 2011 , 8:35pm by cs_confections

lexi55033 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:27pm
post #1 of 57

My contract states that the $100 deposit/retainer that couples pay to reserve their date is non-refundable. I just had a couple who is getting married in January and just recently booked the wedding with me email and say that they just realized that the contract they signed with the venue stated that they have to pay a $2/serving fee if using an outside cake vendor and they would like to cancel their contract with me, hinting that they'd like their $100 retainer/deposit back. Here's the deal: it's a cupcake wedding. My cupcakes are either $1.25 or $1.50/each depending on the flavor. The venues cupcakes as listed on their website are $2.75 each. They are planning on having 400 guests. I called the venue to verify this as I've delivered cupcakes there in the past and have never heard of them charging this fee. They emailed back and said that they have recently made some policy changes and there is indeed a $1.50/person fee, not $2 like the client said. So... if there's a $1.50/person fee and my cupcakes are $1.25 the total would be $2.75/person anyways, same as the cupcakes cost through the venue, which doesn't save the couple any money. Should I just cancel the contract and refund the money to be nice, even though they lied to me or stick to the contract and cancel the contract but keep the retainer/deposit? My husband thinks I should play nice and refund it, but it ticks me off that they lied to me. What do you think? That's the only wedding I have booked that weekend, so it's not a hugely popular wedding date and I haven't turned anyone else down because of it.

56 replies
lexi55033 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:33pm
post #2 of 57

I should add that I did provide a free tasting/consultation in which they received a free dozen cupcakes in 4 different flavors, so I do have some time and expense already invested in this wedding.

KatsSuiteCakes Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:49pm
post #3 of 57

I would point out to them that you've checked with the venue, and kindly let them know that they are not saving any money with the other option; particularly in light of the fact that they've paid a NON-refundable deposit.

tcakes65 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:53pm
post #4 of 57

My question would be why is the venue charging a serving fee for cupcakes? Unless they are putting them on a cart and taking them around to the guest tables, there is nothing for them to cut and serve.

As for reimbursement of the deposit, it is easy to want to cave and be nice. However, you must stick to your contract. Otherwise, why have a contract if you aren't going to uphold it? People do talk, and if you breach your own contract, other clients may expect you to do the same with their contracts. It sounds like the bride and groom hastily signed contracts without taking the time to read them in their entirety. Your contract should not be null and void because they did not read the contents of another vendor's contract. My guess is if you say no refund, they will change their minds and no longer want to cancel.

AnnieCahill Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:53pm
post #5 of 57

I wouldn't just assume that they lied to you. Maybe they talked to someone who didn't have the numbers in front of them. I experienced that more times than I care to remember when I got married last year.

If they just booked the wedding, I would say refund it. You could also politely remind them that they wouldn't be saving any money by going with the venue.

jason_kraft Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:55pm
post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcakes65

My question would be why is the venue charging a serving fee for cupcakes?



To encourage customers to purchase cupcakes from the venue instead of going with outside vendors.

me_me1 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:57pm
post #7 of 57

I think you should stick to your policy of having a non-refundable deposit. I would be very annoyed to find somebody had lied to me and it is their responsibility to read all contracts properly before signing anything.

I would cancel the contract but keep the deposit.

jason_kraft Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 3:58pm
post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnieCahill

I wouldn't just assume that they lied to you. Maybe they talked to someone who didn't have the numbers in front of them. I experienced that more times than I care to remember when I got married last year.



It's also possible that the venue found out that the customer was going with $1.25 cupcakes and decided to bump the serving fee to make sure the customer buys their cupcakes instead.

Definitely get the facts from all parties before you make a decision. If the venue added the serving fee after the customer placed an order with you I would refund the deposit since that really isn't the customer's fault, but if the customer knew all along I would keep the deposit.

Mb20fan Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 4:08pm
post #9 of 57

Of course, it's going to totally be up to you, but that is what contracts are for. Unfortunatley, they seem to sign things without really reading them until after the fact which isn't your problem. On one had, your contract is there to mainly protect you. They pay the deposit fee to reserve the date and now that date is soley for them and because of that deposit, you will not give anyone else that spot. You invested time and inventory with them for their tastings and some of that deposit will go towards that. So, on this hand I say no to returning the total deposit.

On the other hand...you didn't have any other events going on that weekend, you didn't have to turn anyone away so it isn't going to be a 'loss' in that sense. And, some people with contracts hope to NOT have to choose to play it naughty or nice when the client cancels (and things can get ugly) as there could always be a fear of backlash after the fact and we all know how powerful word of mouth can be, both positively and negatively. So...since there wasn't a real loss and you playing 'nice' could actually mean you may gain future business from this act of kindness in the future, on this hand I'd say give it back.

Now...on the other hand...you do have time and inventory invested, so for that - you should keep some and return just a small portion as a kind gesture and explain that what you are keeping is to cover your time and expenses on the tasting and that legallly, you were not obligated to do this, but that it was a choice.

And finally...on this last hand...it is 'business". An agreement is an agreement and they should take this small loss and look at it as an inexpensive lesson in that they should learn to always read everything BEFORE they sign anything.

Sorry that I didn't help much. icon_sad.gif

jewels710 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 4:40pm
post #10 of 57

Right from the start while I was reading my first thought was to refund a partial amount only due to your own time & expense incurred, also stating that per the contract you did not have to do this as the previous poster suggested.

At least you still have some time to book the date again.

Karen421 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 4:59pm
post #11 of 57

I was going to say the same thing as jewels710, refund some, but keep enough to cover your costs for the tasting. Tell them that it was a non-refundable deposit, but because they got back quickly to you, you would be willing to work with them. This will leave a "good taste" in their mouth for you and they may work with you in the future. (or at least speak of you highly to others) icon_biggrin.gif

sberryp Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:04pm
post #12 of 57

Stick to the contract.

tarabara Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:12pm
post #13 of 57

I think the more time you make exceptions to your contract (by returning deposits, etc.) the harder it is for you to enforce it in the future. Both because people have heard that you've made exceptions and because you lose the nerve to enforce it. Stick to your guns!

KoryAK Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:18pm
post #14 of 57

contract, contract, contract! Or just stop using them.

ConnieJ Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:42pm
post #15 of 57

Stick to your contract. I would think the only time you should not use your contract would be in the case of a true emergency or sympathy, such as an act of nature or a death in the family that caused the need to cancel the wedding.

kelleym Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:49pm
post #16 of 57

So, your poll says, "Should I stick to the contract or play nice?" And the possible answers are "yes", "no", and "refund part of it". But you didn't ask a yes or no question, so I don't know how to answer your poll. In any case, my answer is stick with your contract, and it doesn't have anything to do with being "nice", it's just business. There's no reason why adhering to a contract has to be perceived as "not nice". Kindly cancel their contract and explain that their $100 deposit was non-refundable. Period.

lexi55033 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 5:54pm
post #17 of 57

The question listed right above the 3 poll options says Should I refund the $100? So, it is a yes or no question...

It looks like the majority opinion is to not refund the deposit, which was my line of thought. My husband just made me second guess myself by saying I was being too hard on them and it would just hurt my business in the long run if I didn't because of negative word of mouth.

I'm going to stick to my guns on this one though. I still feel that they should have read and understood ALL of the contracts before signing them, which includes both the event center's and mine.

learningtodecorate Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:08pm
post #18 of 57

To make a long story short their is no need in having a contract if your not going to follow it. No refund

jason_kraft Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:28pm
post #19 of 57

You should at least get to the bottom of this $1.50 vs. $2 discrepancy first. If the charge really is $1.50/cupcake you can use the nonrefundable deposit as leverage to salvage the order.

Your husband is right that canceling the contract and keeping the entire $100 will probably result in negative word of mouth for your business, it's up to you whether or not the $100 is worth it.

KoryAK Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:36pm
post #20 of 57

The only thing negative they can say is "they stuck to their contract and didn't make an exception for me".... well people who won't go to you because of that you don't want as customers anyway! In this situation I send an email to this effect:

"This email is to confirm that, per our phone conversation on (date), you are cancelling your cupcake order for (date). Per our signed contact, all deposits are non refundable and non transferable:

(copy and paste the exact wording from your contract here)

We wish you all the best and look forward to working with you in the future."

jason_kraft Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 6:40pm
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

The only thing negative they can say is "they stuck to their contract and didn't make an exception for me"



Of course you're assuming that when they tell this story, they will logically state the facts of the situation as opposed to saying they were robbed of $100 for no reason. icon_lol.gif

GeminiCake Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:07pm
post #22 of 57

I dont think the customer truly lied, sometimes people who are not "numbers" people generally round up, when talking dollars. Also, the venue wouldn't refund her deposit, if she opted to cancel with them, because they didnt want to purchase the venue's cupcakes. WHy should you concede?

KoryAK Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:24pm
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

The only thing negative they can say is "they stuck to their contract and didn't make an exception for me"


Of course you're assuming that when they tell this story, they will logically state the facts of the situation as opposed to saying they were robbed of $100 for no reason. icon_lol.gif




yeah, yeah, yeah lol (a girl can dream, can't she?)

mplaidgirl2 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:41pm
post #24 of 57

If it was me I won't refund any money but offer 1/2 toward a future purchase.
Your entitled to the $50 for the samples and your time.
Then at least you can get thier return business later.
Maybe do $50 worth of anniversary cupcakes?

SomethingSweetByFlo Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 7:52pm
post #25 of 57

To me you have two options:

Option 1:

Do not refund the money as your contract clearly states that it is non-refundable and all signs point to them perhaps "exaggerating" the cost of the serving charge from the venue. Which if they did lie about that, it's not cool, they should just be honest about it.

Option 2:

Refund a portion of the refund keeping the portion that you spent on the tasting. I think that is more than fair!

Either way, it's your business and you feel have to be happy at the end of the day of the decisions you make.

I hope you make a decision that you feel comfortable with. GL!

Bridgette1129 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 8:40pm
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by KatsSuiteCakes

I would point out to them that you've checked with the venue, and kindly let them know that they are not saving any money with the other option; particularly in light of the fact that they've paid a NON-refundable deposit.



thumbs_up.gif

Apti Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 8:47pm
post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ConnieJ

Stick to your contract. I would think the only time you should not use your contract would be in the case of a true emergency or sympathy, such as an act of nature or a death in the family that caused the need to cancel the wedding.




Those are the ONLY two reasons. On 9/15/11 I posted a thread on the Business forum with the title: "How many clients don't pay on time (or at all)?"

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=730317&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=15

I posted the thread because I cannot understand why there are so many, many posts on Cake sites about pricing, money, contracts, refunds, etc. I was in business selling medical equipment for 35 years. I am now a retired hobby baker. If you read the thread above, you will see that people who treat cake decorating AS A BUSINESS do not have these problems. Bakers who have contracts and who ENFORCE THE CONTRACTS do not have problems. Bakers who do NOT have contracts AND who do not enforce contracts have problems.

lexi55033--Stick to the contract. Explain the math and let them decide whether to let you do the cupcakes and pay the same fee as the venue, OR to pay an additional $100 AND $2.75 a cupcake at the venue.

Chef_Stef Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 8:48pm
post #28 of 57

I'd stick to the contract. When brides sign mine, I make sure they know that by paying the deposit, they need to be REALLY REALLY sure they want to book this, because it's NONrefundable.

I *have* had two that I returned deposits for--one for a wedding that was canceled. The other was for a relative of a big wedding industry local vendor, which was (lonnng story short) just a judgement call on my part.

Other than those two: they understand when they pay, that they will not be seeing that money back. EsPECially if they've been to a consult and tasting.If

pixiefuncakes Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 9:01pm
post #29 of 57

Bottom line - I don't sign a contract until I have read it and understood it, it is the clients obligation to read any contract before they sign it.

If you feel it may effect future business, then I would maybe offer a partial refund for 'goodwill', regardless of whatever fibs they've told you. Otherwise it is your business and your call.

cakegirl1973 Posted 31 Oct 2011 , 9:24pm
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

You should at least get to the bottom of this $1.50 vs. $2 discrepancy first. If the charge really is $1.50/cupcake you can use the nonrefundable deposit as leverage to salvage the order.

Your husband is right that canceling the contract and keeping the entire $100 will probably result in negative word of mouth for your business, it's up to you whether or not the $100 is worth it.




I agree with Jason. I would first try to salvage the order by getting to the bottom of the fee discrepancy. I think it is quite possible that they were told a $2 fee per serving. Get that piece ironed out and then explain to the customer that they will pay the same for their cupcakes whether they use the venue (@ $2.75/cupcake) or they use you at $1.25/cupcake plus the $1.50/serving venue fee. Also, use the nonrefundable deposit as leverage so that they would actually be paying $100 more if they used the venue, since the deposit is nonrefundable per your contact's terms. I would think that, if this is really the customer's reason for wanting to cancel the contract, then they would be likely to keep their order with you.


If they ultimately decide that they do want to cancel the contract, I would give them a partial refund. I would probably deduct from the deposit for the cost of the tasting (including the samples and your time), as well as for any other time that you have already put into the order (telephone calls, emails, etc). Good luck!

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