Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:19pm
post #1 of

made a beautiful 3 tier fondnat covered cake with different flavors on each tier..posted it and everybody loved it..ppl said it was awesome..go to the bank today and they said customer stopped payment on the check..fb the daughter and she told me to take it up with her mom..called her mom and shes not answering the phone..starting to get scared cus this was a 365 check..and that cake took alot of time so im freaking out a little that they are going to stiff me..what can i do???somebody help icon_sad.gif((( its my wedding anniversary and i feel horrid..hate this!!

53 replies
jason_kraft Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:25pm
post #2 of

Leave a message for the mom that if you don't hear from her within 24 hours you will be contacting a collection agency. In the meantime you can put together a list of collection agencies in your area so you can make some calls on Monday if necessary.

Also if the daughter's name is on the contract you should let her know that collections will be going after her too.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:30pm
post #3 of

So sorry this happened to you! Sounds like Jason has already told you what to do for this situation, but for the future, ALWAYS get payment in advance for cakes!!! And if you are going to take personal checks, always get them at least 3 weeks in advance of the event date so that if it bounces or they stop payment, you can come back to them and say "no money, no cake". I hope you are able to get your money for this one!!

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:35pm
post #4 of

It shouldn't take more than 7 days for a check to clear (from the date of deposit) if you deposit it at a different bank from where the check was drawn, so 2 weeks should be plenty of time.

MissMona Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:36pm
post #5 of

Who do we need to whip? Tell me! I'll break both legs! How rude!!!!! I am so sorry!!! And on your special day??? Keep us posted.....but I wouldn't threaten or mess with collections, I would go monday and file with small claims court.....or is there a minimum? I can't remember what it is...or is it that it has to be under a certain amount? Why can't I ever remember that part? But I would take it before a judge! I hope you have a good anniversary and can put this behind you until Monday. Hugs!!!!

Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:37pm
post #6 of

definatly learned a lesson here..but im wondering if i can take her to a small claims court cus this is theft!! you dont go to a resteraunt and eat the food and decide after your done that you didnt like it as much and didnt think it was worth what they payed and get your money back..this is flat out stealing..this cant be legal!!

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:42pm
post #7 of

You can certainly take her to small claims court, but you would still need to collect the debt when you win the case. If she's not paying you now chances are she won't pay the small claims judgment either.

Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:43pm
post #8 of

feel kinda sick..i know you cant please everyone but they really gave no evidence that they were unhappy with the cake and to not even talk to me just go strait to the bank and stop payment..thats horrid..i feel liked they robbed not only my income but my time and energy..and tottaly ruined a nice day

Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:45pm
post #9 of

what?? they cant make her pay..whats the point in taking her to small claims court then?? surely somthing can be done..she cant just steal from me like this

scp1127 Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:52pm

This is why bakers and decorators ask for payment well in advance of the event.

Last Thursday I got a call from a frantic lady saying her baker was just admitted to the hospital because her boyfriend broke her jaw in two places. Get the picture? This was a client that had no business buying a $330 cake. She had already paid for the first cake that the woman couldn't make that was much less than mine. I asked if the baker was licensed because this is the cost of a cake that size when the business is licensed. She said she wanted it anyway. It was for two days later. She asked to write a check or use a credit card and I insisted on cash immediately. She pulled up in an old van, told me the air just went out, she only had the $600 to fix it and she was giving me $333 of that money. That handwriting was on the wall. I told her to make sure she read my policies. I knew when she got in that hot car she was going to regret the cake.

Two days after the party, she told me that it was inedible. She said "no one" could eat it and that "all of it" was thrown away. I asked did she have the leftover cake? She said yes but it had been sitting out for two days uncovered.

I told her I not only taste my batter and my cakes, I torte to inspect the crumb and taste the batter. It was Warren Brown's vanilla, chocolate IMBC, Duff's fondant in buttercream. It also happened to be one of the best I had made (a chunk came off on one of the cake pans). Of course there is no evidence now. She wanted a refund. I referred her to my refund policy and she said she was taking me to court. I politely told her that it was her right and I thought she should do that since she felt so strongly.

I have a foolproof refund policy on my site, make sure I have real money ( cash or cleared check) before the cake is delivered, and check every cake. I really knew better than to do business with someone who had no business buying my cakes... I mean way out of my target market... or anyone's target, even Walmart.

The fact that the person will not return your calls is on your side. They need to contact you right away when there is a problem. Make sure you note when you called by getting your cell records. You will get a judgement because they have to prove there is something wrong. If the design is wrong, they may have evidence, but for taste, this is timely. You can't wait for days and abuse the evidence and then complain.

I told that woman that if they really threw that cake in the trash, she would have delivered that trash bag to my door. If she had said some didn't like it, that was believable. But this was Warren Brown's. Some may be indifferent to the taste, but not go so far as to spit it out.

I truly hope this woman takes me to court so that I ca report back. I have written down our conversations and documented the calls.

If a cake is good, they cannot bring you the piece of good cake, properly wrapped on the next day and ask for a refund. If it is good and they want a refund, they will wait until the cake is old or say they threw it away.

Anyone who wants to use my refund policy is welcomed to it. It's on my site.

Lesson... get your money in advance. If the date is close, insist on cash. My lesson, don't sell to someone who's car is worth less than the cake. But I do have the cash and I happily spent it on inventory for my other business, not worried a bit about court.

I would call quite a few more times from a cell where you can get the records. Be proactive. You will probably have to persue this in small claims court, but you get the fees back.

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:55pm

The main purpose of small claims court is to settle legal disputes, they are not in the collections business. If the customer had claimed that she didn't have to pay you because of XYZ, then you would go to small claims so the judge can decide if the customer had a valid point, but that's not the case here.

Another tactic would be to have a male friend or family member contact the customer as your "business manager" in an attempt to collect the debt.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 8:59pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

It shouldn't take more than 7 days for a check to clear (from the date of deposit) if you deposit it at a different bank from where the check was drawn, so 2 weeks should be plenty of time.




True, I guess I was speaking from what our policy is for personal checks. We won't accept them less than 3 weeks out. Some people don't accept them at all.

Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 9:01pm

thank you..yea i tried calling her and emailing her and so on and so on...i saw face book comments from other ppl that were at her party saying the cake was amazing so im hoping i can use that..this really is a learning experience...ive never had a customer do this to me..but will definatly change my check policys..they never told me anything so i was blind sighted by the check stoppage..even now..ive been messaging her daughter and all she has said is she will have her mom call me asap! ive asked her if everyhing is ok but all she says is ill have my mom call you..i think they spent alot of money on a party they couldnt afford and now they are regretting it now that the balloons have popped..

mommachris Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 9:23pm

If mom won't answer the phone, it's time to report the theft. You can call the daughter and give her the heads up ( if she was the one that signed your contract) that you are taking the check into the police department that afternoon. He butt on the line, too.
She may think you are too gentle to make a fuss. You're just the cake lady, and they're pushovers, right. icon_rolleyes.gif

Do you know any other venders from the event. Give them a call and see if she's pulling this on the florist, the caterer or the party rentals. Chances are you aren't the only one getting stiffed.
If several of you show up with the same issue it's going to look very bad for her.

Don't sit there frustrated and in disbelief. She wouldn't have tried it if she had thought you'd get tough on her. What they did is criminal and they need to be held accountable.
Hope this is quickly resolved.

mommachris

kakeladi Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 9:24pm

I have a judgement from a small claims court some 30 yrs ago.......never could .....never will collect icon_sad.gif

kelleym Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 10:05pm

Your county district attorney should have a fraudulent checks division. Tell the customer you're turning it over to them for prosecution. It is a crime to write a check with the intent of stopping payment on it.

From the Bexar county DA office: (I know you're in Bee county, but the law still applies)
http://www.bexar.org/da2/body_pages/body_checks.html

"Under penal code section 31.03 Theft, a person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property or secures performance of a service from the owner by deception. The key under the law is that the owner must give the merchandise at the time the check writer renders the check. Furthermore, inducing a provider of services to provide services by giving the provider a check which the issuer knows will be dishonored by the bank qualifies as deception. Again, the key under the law is that the owner must provide the service at the time the check writer renders the check."

Good luck to you, hon.

Buttercream_warrior Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 10:22pm

im trying to be amicable..but im not going to let her get away with it...i heard even if you dont collect it will be on her credit report and what goes around comes around...so hopefully we can work this out outside of court but with the silence on the other end its starting to look like thats not going to happen,,trying to not let this bother me cus it is my anniversary and my hubby made reservations at an awesome resteraunt..i will keep everyone posted.

pmarks0 Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 10:41pm

In terms of you "gathering evidence" you mentioned seeing positive comments about the cake on her facebook page. Take screenshots of that page and save them and do it frequently if the comments continue to increase. She can delete those comments if she chooses to do so and you won't have any proof that the guest loved the cake, contrary to what your customer has told you. Good luck with this.

costumeczar Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 10:47pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmarks0

In terms of you "gathering evidence" you mentioned seeing positive comments about the cake on her facebook page. Take screenshots of that page and save them and do it frequently if the comments continue to increase. She can delete those comments if she chooses to do so and you won't have any proof that the guest loved the cake, contrary to what your customer has told you. Good luck with this.




That's what I was going to say, too. Plus call the reception site and talk to them to see who cut the cake that day so that they can attest to the fact that the cake was eaten and nobody had a problem with it.

Something must be in the water these days, because a couple weeks ago I had a client complain about a cake that had nothing wrong with it. I gave them a refund for various reasons (they are the harassing type and they weren't going to give up until I gave them something back, also complained to the venue about a bunch of stuff to get refunds too), and as soon as that check cleared they contested the credit card charge for the balance payment, so they're basically trying to get more money back than they paid me. I contacted the bride and she said that her mother pulled the complaint, but in the meantime the payment was pulled back and it's sitting in limbo while they figure it out. Clients are getting bolder and more dishonest.

jason_kraft Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 11:15pm

Definitely continue collecting evidence -- most importantly, your signed contract and invoice -- and try not to let it bother you. There's a chance (albeit a small one) this may all be a misunderstanding.

You can try following up with the local PD or county DA but with staffing levels as they are a $365 theft probably won't get any attention.

At the very least you can write off the value of the order as bad debt on your income taxes.

kelleym Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 11:25pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by pmarks0

In terms of you "gathering evidence" you mentioned seeing positive comments about the cake on her facebook page. Take screenshots of that page and save them and do it frequently if the comments continue to increase. She can delete those comments if she chooses to do so and you won't have any proof that the guest loved the cake, contrary to what your customer has told you. Good luck with this.


Something must be in the water these days, because a couple weeks ago I had a client complain about a cake that had nothing wrong with it. I gave them a refund for various reasons (they are the harassing type and they weren't going to give up until I gave them something back, also complained to the venue about a bunch of stuff to get refunds too), and as soon as that check cleared they contested the credit card charge for the balance payment, so they're basically trying to get more money back than they paid me. I contacted the bride and she said that her mother pulled the complaint, but in the meantime the payment was pulled back and it's sitting in limbo while they figure it out. Clients are getting bolder and more dishonest.



Always give refunds in the same form that you received the payment. Credit card payment = credit card refund.

vgcea Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 11:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by pmarks0

In terms of you "gathering evidence" you mentioned seeing positive comments about the cake on her facebook page. Take screenshots of that page and save them and do it frequently if the comments continue to increase. She can delete those comments if she chooses to do so and you won't have any proof that the guest loved the cake, contrary to what your customer has told you. Good luck with this.




I was just coming here to post this.

brenda549 Posted 14 Jul 2012 , 11:58pm

From my own previous experience (not cake business) here is what you do. Collect your evidence and send her a certified, return receipt requested letter demanding payment. State in the letter that failure to make good on the check within a reasonable amount of time (I would not give her more than 7 days) will lead to delivering the check to the DA fraud division and a case in small claims court. The judge will appreciate your effort to contact her by phone and in writing. Small claims cannot collect, however it does give you the right to garnish her wages (at least it does here in Georgia).

ETA: In some small claims courts, you can add in all the fees you incurred in order to take her to court.

kelleym Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:01am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Definitely continue collecting evidence -- most importantly, your signed contract and invoice -- and try not to let it bother you. There's a chance (albeit a small one) this may all be a misunderstanding.

You can try following up with the local PD or county DA but with staffing levels as they are a $365 theft probably won't get any attention.

At the very least you can write off the value of the order as bad debt on your income taxes.




If I were a deadbeat customer, the threat of being arrested would do a lot more to motivate me than the threat of a collection agency. Also, collection agencies usually take 40-60% of any monies collected. While that's still better than nothing, it still means a $100+ loss for the OP. I'd be going the route with the DA. In my county in Texas, bad check writers are in big trouble for crap like this. Maybe it's different in California.

scp1127 Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:09am

Jason, our magistrate (small claims) does handle non-payments such as stop payments.

It sounds like you have plenty of evidence. If you do get a judgement, you will probably need to act on it by getting it from their bank account or from their paycheck. This is an extra step in my area.

Costumeczar, I didn't offer a refund or partial credit because this group couldn't hurt my business no matter how much they bad-mouth. They are the kind who if they showed up to clean your house you would tell them never mind. I don't think we know the same people.

Jenise Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:16am

Please be aware of your local laws. In my are you MUST send a certified letter before any further action can take place. It can then be forwarded to the local PD for criminal action and they have to pay at the criminal level. If you decide to go small claims, be aware there also, in my state it is treble damages up to $500 plus court costs and they have 30 days to pay, if not it is then handed over to the sherrif for collection. But everything has to be completed in order for either court to award. Good Luck!

kelleym Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:21am

Here is the number for the County Attorney of Bee County. I'm sorry that this website is somewhat lacking in information. This office will be able to tell you what to do.
http://www.co.bee.tx.us/ips/cms/countyoffices/countyAttorney.html

Here are the procedures in my county. They are not messing around.
http://www.wilco.org/CountyDepartments/CountyAttorney/HotChecksDivision/tabid/224/Default.aspx

step0nmi Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:29am

wow! i just wanted to say ditto to everyone else and i'm sorry this has happened to you. it does make it slightly worse that it's during your anniversary. but, PLEASE make sure to get a certified letter out that you are aware of what she's done with receipts of everything. the certified letter will be sent with a confirmation that they received it and if no response, then you do what the others have said with all of your evidence. screen shots are really easy and can definitely be used in any kind of case.

WOW! good luck

cakesbycathy Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:42am

And for the future...
either do not accept personal checks or
Final payment is due 2 weeks before cake is due or if it's past that time then cash or money order.

Then make sure you cash or deposit that check the day after you get it.

Sorry this happened. Let us know how it turns out.

vgcea Posted 15 Jul 2012 , 12:44am

Don't forget to save a photocopy of every document you mail to her.

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