nhbaker Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 6:01pm
post #1 of

So I have a couple that booked me to do their wedding cake for August 18th (this was in March) I just received an email from the bride saying this:

"We have had a bit of change in plans! We are in the midst of selling our property here in [removed]and buying a new home in [removed]. We have decided with the timing of all this to postpone the wedding. Our closing date is Aug 15th. Here is our question.. Could you just keep our deposit and order until we chose a new date? We do not want to cancel it just put it off.. but possibly for another 9-12 months"

This is a new one for me (have had someonce cancel before, but never postpone. So my question is this - because she "postponed" so close to the wedding date, should I deduct any fee's from what she's paid so far because at this point there's no chance I'll fill that spot with another wedding cake, or just leave it as is ?

My initial reaction is to say that's fine but I cannot guarantee that the next date you choose will be available. But at the same time I can't help be feel like I'm owed something.

My contract states: "If cake is cancelled less than one month prior to event date, any monies paid will be forfieted to (my biz name)." but like she said... she's not cancelling, just postponing.

Thoughts?

30 replies
jason_kraft Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 6:32pm
post #2 of

Considering the bride did give you almost a month's notice I would apply the full deposit towards the new date without deducting any fees.

Depending on how big the deposit was, another option would be to offer to apply the deposit towards a smaller "housewarming" cake, then when they set the new date for the wedding they would pay a new deposit to hold that date.

nhbaker Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 6:51pm
post #3 of

they have actually paid the full amount - something they wanted to do at the time of placing the order.

SoFloGuy Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 6:59pm
post #4 of

Let it go and give them a new date. It's good Karma. Unless you are going to go hungry or homeless because of not making a wedding cake that weekend. Did you spend the money, did you put it in escrow, did you start baking , did you buy all the supplies for that cake?

Do what you would want done for you to do if the roles were reversed.

Lynne3 Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 7:05pm
post #5 of

I would happily allow them to change the date. My hope would be that the wedding cake would be the first of many cakes I do for them.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 7:09pm
post #6 of

Especially in light of the customer's goodwill by paying the entire amount upfront instead of just a deposit.

ApelilaRains Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 8:09pm
post #7 of

Since it's at least a month out (I) would accept their reschedule, but I would mention in writing that YOU require a minimum of 30 calendar days notice of the new date and CAN NOT guarantee they date they chose may not be available.

Each customer and situations always differ and I normally use my best judgement and sometimes over ride my contract for these special circumstances. At least it's a reschedule and not a cancellation.

Good luck.

cai0311 Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 9:06pm
post #8 of

If you allow the date to be changed and keep all monies paid so far (which is the entire amount according to one of your posts) then you need to decide what to do with the money if they pick a date you already have booked. Will you refund the deposit (doesn't matter that they paid in full, what would the deposit of been had they not paid in full?), all the money or none of the money. What you decide they need to know now so they know to hurry up and pick a new date you have available.

I would refund the money minus what the deposit would have been. I would explain that since they don't have a new date picked out I can't tell them if I can make their cake or not at this time. So, I will refund the money except for the deposit that will either be applied to their future order if they book within 1 year and I have the date available or forfeited if they don't book within 1 year or I dodn't have the new date available. I would explain that because the notification for postponement was less than 30 days, according to the contract, the deposit would not be returned no matter what but because of the circumstances (I would sound very understanding at this point) I would refund the rest of the money and allow the deposit to be applied to a future order according to the terms I just spelled out.

From here on out, you should have something in your contract about this.

kakeladi Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 9:21pm
post #9 of

If you decide to keep any of the mony alread paid to you I would make *sure* I put it aside and not spend it - just in case something else comes up with them in the future.
Many people book and pay for their wedding elements (cake, flowers, venue, etc, etc) as much as a yr in advance.

idgalpal Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 9:32pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoFloGuy

Let it go and give them a new date. It's good Karma. Unless you are going to go hungry or homeless because of not making a wedding cake that weekend. Did you spend the money, did you put it in escrow, did you start baking , did you buy all the supplies for that cake?

Do what you would want done for you to do if the roles were reversed.




I totally agree!!

jgifford Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 9:39pm

All they're asking you to do is change the date.

I wouldn't hesitate to do as they ask, just tell them to be sure and let you know ASAP when the new date is set. And I wouldn't even discuss contracts, deposits, refunds, penalties, etc. As far as they're concerned, the cake element of the wedding is all designed and paid for (which it is) and one less thing they have to worry about. Talk about a chance for some good PR! This is it and probably the best one you'll have for a long time.

nhbaker Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 9:52pm

Obviously from some of the replies I'm getting, people misunderstood my post.

I came on here hoping for some helpful advice and it certainly has fallen short of that.

All I was considering doing was charging her a small fee for that fact that I have had to turn down other business for that date because I was "booked". I am a one-person show and I only take on two wedding cakes per weekend so that I can be sure I have the proper amount of time to dedicate to them without burning myself out.

Though I run a successful home-based (LICENSED) business, it certainly isn't one that I can depend on for an type of real income, especially in my area. Hence, SoFlo, I don't spend what I haven't rightfully earned.

I can't imagine the venue, caterers, etc. are being so "forgiving" as far as moving the date. So to answer the question, if I were in here shoes, yes, I would feel bad for having to move the date and would expect that there might be some sort of penalty involved.

And since when is paying the full amount of the cake fee upfront considered "goodwill" -- this was THEIR choice, NOT my request.

nhbaker Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 10:01pm
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I would refund the money minus what the deposit would have been. I would explain that since they don't have a new date picked out I can't tell them if I can make their cake or not at this time. So, I will refund the money except for the deposit that will either be applied to their future order if they book within 1 year and I have the date available or forfeited if they don't book within 1 year or I dodn't have the new date available. I would explain that because the notification for postponement was less than 30 days, according to the contract, the deposit would not be returned no matter what but because of the circumstances (I would sound very understanding at this point) I would refund the rest of the money and allow the deposit to be applied to a future order according to the terms I just spelled out.






This was something I was also considering. Thank you!

jason_kraft Posted 19 Jul 2012 , 10:14pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by nhbaker

All I was considering doing was charging her a small fee for that fact that I have had to turn down other business for that date because I was "booked". I am a one-person show and I only take on two wedding cakes per weekend so that I can be sure I have the proper amount of time to dedicate to them without burning myself out.



You need to consider for yourself whether the opportunity cost of potentially not having a cake booked that day outweighs the positive PR chance you have here.

Quote:
Quote:

I can't imagine the venue, caterers, etc. are being so "forgiving" as far as moving the date. So to answer the question, if I were in here shoes, yes, I would feel bad for having to move the date and would expect that there might be some sort of penalty involved.



That's exactly the point of the "unhelpful" replies you've received in this thread. You have a chance to go above and beyond from a customer service perspective at a minimal cost to yourself, or you can do exactly what is expected for an average customer experience.

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And since when is paying the full amount of the cake fee upfront considered "goodwill" -- this was THEIR choice, NOT my request.



If the customer had the option of paying only a deposit or the full amount of the order and they chose the latter on their own, they were expressing trust in your business that you would take care of them and wouldn't run away with their money. I'm not sure how you can interpret that as anything other than goodwill.

ibeeflower Posted 20 Jul 2012 , 6:40pm

If your gut tells you to charge her a fee and some of the members don't agree, well follow your own gut. It's your business. But it is wise to take into consideration what people are saying. Yes, you may have had to turn down other events for her but if you decide to charge her a fee or not want to hold a spot for her then she may not come back at all. If that is business worth risking then by all means do it. I'm not judging you or attacking you. I'm just putting in my two cents and the decision is yours.
People have things in life that come up. Stable housing is important especially in this economy. I'm sure postponing a wedding wasn't an easy decision for them either. But, as mentioned before do what you feel is right. No sense in listening to others and fuming about it later on/.

Lynne3 Posted 20 Jul 2012 , 6:51pm

All I was considering doing was charging her a small fee for that fact that I have had to turn down other business for that date because I was "booked".

If you want to charge a fee or refund her then you should follow your feelings.

The way I see it, they were just 2 or 3 days short of getting their entire deposit back. You may or may not book another cake for that day. BUT you may lose then as customers and that an upfront "small fee" may not be worth the bad feelings it may cause.

I don't know if many of your customers are repeat people. Wedding turns into baby's first birthday etc. I also don't know id word of mouth is your main way of advertising. Do what makes you feel best about future business and how it could be effected.

cupadeecakes Posted 20 Jul 2012 , 7:34pm

As I was reading through all the "ah, let them slide" replies, I was wondering what the chance of the OP re-booking that day a month away from the event. And I GUARANTEE the other vendors are not going to let it slide.

I don't know if a contract was signed or what it said. I have specific clauses in mine that deal with just this sort of thing.

The OP is going to miss at least a partial paycheck on the couple's nixed wedding day due to their flighty planning. She should be compensated at least the deposit amount. If the OP has had a good summer and feeling particularly friendly, she could let it slide, but she is under no obligation. I would probably refund all but the deposit and say that you hope you can work with them again when the date is reset. Your prices might go up in 9-12 months.

And as far as future customers, I'm not so sure that someone that "cancels" their wedding a month out is a repeat customer I want.

Just offering an alternate viewpoint.

azchic Posted 20 Jul 2012 , 7:39pm

Personally I wouldn't charge them a fee, you said in your post you are not making a fortune making cakes in a small town. I would think any hard feelings from the bride and groom as yet another of their vendors punished them would have a more negative affect than just changing the date especially since you don't have anything in your contract about a situation like this. I also agree it was goodwill and trust to pay the entire amount upfront most people would love for all their customers to be like that. Life happens I think an extension of kindness on your part and a contract rewrite would take you farther. However it's your business and you don't seem happy with the responses you recieved here so if you feel it is best to punish them with a fee like the other vendors that's what you should do. Good luck with your situation

FromScratchSF Posted 20 Jul 2012 , 8:00pm

In my contract:

1. Non-refundable RETAINER (30%). This is the cost for me to turn down other business for that date. I never call it a "deposit". A deposit implies they are putting money toward the cake. They are not - they are buying that day and me turning down business for months leading up to that date. I have literally dropped the word "deposit" from my vocabulary when talking to people and I make sure I explain my "retainer" and what "non-refundable" means.

2. Postponement is handled like a cancellation. There is no guarantee I will be available for the new date. 30% non-refundable retainer is lost. I feel A-OK with this because they retained me to turn down business for that date and reserve it for them. I have only had this happen twice, the 1st time the client booked for a wedding that was 9 months out, then switched the date about 2 weeks later. I didn't feel right making them pay to change it since they had so recently booked and the date was so far away. The 2nd client changed about 45 days out, they had to pay the additional retainer and an additional delivery fee since the venue moved 30 miles away. They didn't like it, but they expected it.
a.) If cancellation is more then 30 days out, any additional money paid is refunded. I don't accept payments in full before 30 days (unless the cake is booked less then 60 days out) so this rarely a big deal for me.
b.) If less then 30 days, I choose how much, if any, to refund. I have probably already ordered supplies, made flowers, booked time in the kitchen that I get charged a fee if I cancel, etc.

3. If they choose to re-book they will need to pay another 30% non-refundable retainer to reserve the new date.

The reality is the client is most likely not going to go somewhere else for their cake. They have to pay full price at the new place, so why not just stay with you whom they have a relationship with? Handle it professionally, have it spelled out in your contract and you should be fine!

scp1127 Posted 21 Jul 2012 , 5:40am

I only have one thing to add. My business has just recently had the opportunity to expand. I was sought out and invited to take this opportunity.

While I am all for proper business procedure and policies, I must attribute almost all of my corporate, wholesale, and now storefront opportunities to goodwill. Goodwill is vital to growth and can be found as part of most successful companies' business plans and PR policies.

Learning about busines and gaining experience and education is important, but goodwill can take you over the top in a much shorter and less expensive path to success. Luckily for those who practice it, the majority of their competitors do not and never have any idea what is lost.

costumeczar Posted 21 Jul 2012 , 10:00pm

I see both sides of this, since the cancellation (they postponed the wedding but cancelled the cake for the date that it was ordered, so that would be a cancellation) is coming during the busy season for weddings, and that's when I count on making the bulk of my money for the year. If I had a client a week who postponed I'd be losing a lot of money if I just said no problem, go ahead and transfer it to another date.

On the other hand, if this doesn't happen all the time, and it won't be financially difficult for you, it doesn't hurt to let them postpone.

I've had people postpone before, and I tell them that the deposit is non-refundable, but that they can transfer it to another date if they tell me as soon as possible and the date is still open. If it isn't open at that point I can refund whatever would have been refunded for a cancellation based on the contract. I'd also say that they can only change the date once, and put that in writing somewhere so that you have a record of it when they postpone again, then cancel after that icon_rolleyes.gif

nhbaker Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 1:14pm

UPDATE ---

ok, so I took the high road and this is what I told her:

I understand your situation and will remove you from my calendar. I would prefer, however, to refund you the amount youve paid, less the $100 deposit, rather than hold it. The deposit will be applied towards your future wedding cake order, however, please note that this must be done within one year and I cannot guarantee the date you pick will be available. Should you not book another wedding cake within a year or your date not be available, your $100 will be forfeited.

TWO WEEKS LATER I had not heard back from her so I contacted her again and asked her to confirm she received my email (calling wasn't an option and email gives me a paper trail).

Today I received this from her:

Yes I got it. The check can be made out to me and mailed to XX .

We have not yet set anything in stone so as far as the other $100 deposit goes that will be there if we do set another date within a year? Now is that a year from now, the end of July or within a year of the original date?

Thanks, X
Ps- If we decided just to get the order we placed and have it delivered to our house warming party on aug 18th what would it cost to have them delivered to XX."
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Now for all of those wondering -- Yes, I do have a signed contract - here's what the first three lines of the terms say: "1.   Your initial deposit reserves your event date and is non-refundable. Deposit will be applied toward the cost of your cake. 2. Balance must be received by the due date indicated or contract is null and void. 3. If cake is cancelled less than one month prior to event date, any monies paid will be forfieted to (my biz name)."

So, as I said originally, technically I could keep it all but I'm not going to and more specifically the deposit should be forfieted no matter what but I offered to apply it to her next order. Now I feel like she's taking advantage. And no, I doubt there's any type of repeat business as she's not local.    

Thoughts?

costumeczar Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 1:24pm

I'd tell her it was 12 months from the date of cancellation, not from the original date. In her case that isn't such a big difference, so it shouldn't be such a big deal.

If she wants to keep her original order then fine, do it and get it off your books. Who cares if it's for a wedding or a housewarming, that doesn't matter. It would be easier for you to go ahead and do it than to have to hold onto her money and wait for her to get back to you.

HalifaxMommy Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 1:25pm

That is going to be a whole lot of cake for a house warming party.

nhbaker Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 1:42pm

That is going to be a whole lot of cake for a house warming party

lol! I agree -- I think it's just a way to not lose the $100 deposit.

Unfortunately I've already rearranged my schedule due to her cancellation so the only way I could do it is if she comes and picks it up (the place she asked to have me deliver it to is over an hour away, one way!) which I doubt she'll go for.

costumeczar Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 3:13pm

oh well, if you've already changed your scehdule then tell her that the date isn't available anymore since she cancelled.

FromScratchSF Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 3:41pm

So, wait. She wants you to make a small housewarming cake on the same day you were supposed to make her a wedding cake, and apply the deposit to it?

Man, people are slippery. But also another reason I don't call it a "deposit" because although that would piss me off, I can't see how to avoid applying the deposit no matter the size cake ordered unless your contract has a minimum amount of cake to order on the retained day. Because its a deposit on cake, not a retainer on your services.

I think all of a sudden being unavailable on that day is bad business. You are kind of stuck.

I bet you are rethinking the contract you use, huh?

costumeczar Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 6:33pm

But if she cancelled the cake then the OP is fine, and doesn't have to make anything that day. The contract was for the wedding cake, and if it was cancelled then that's done. The op was being nice, but the deposit is non-refundable

jason_kraft Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 7:02pm

Sounds fair to me. If they don't book the wedding OP gets $100 as compensation for turning away orders for the original date. If they do book the wedding the deposit would apply.

If they want the housewarming cake I don't see a problem applying the deposit to that cake, since the situation would be as if the order was never cancelled (assuming the customer can pick it up).

HalifaxMommy Posted 1 Aug 2012 , 7:11pm

I find the bride's story is hinky. Maybe it's the cynical side of me BUT . . . I find it odd that she is going to take the financial hit of losing deposits if not full totals on every vendor for her wedding because her closing date on a house is 3 days prior to the wedding and has to move; not to mention not considering people who may be flying in for the wedding, hotel, vacation time wasted, blah blah blah. Add in the factor she asks a few days prior to the cut off date of losing cake money about rearranging the cake details then sneaks in a house warming party cake the day of the original wedding day? Who the hell has an entire house unpacked and situated in three days or less to be able to host a house warming party?

I thinks she got sticker shock at the total price of her wedding day and is trying get some money back with her story.

Like I said, I have a cynical side.

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