jenlg Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 3:30pm
post #1 of

Hello group,

I have a question, not sure how to handle the situation. On July 9th I sent an email to a bride as a reminder of her final payment on her cake. The wedding is August 25th. She returned a message and said she would be mailing out checks in a few weeks to everyone due. Well that was 4 weeks ago and I have received nothing. The wedding is in 2 weeks and an hour away. Do I send yet another reminder? She has receipts with the amount owed so she can't say she doesn't know. I haven't had a problem like this before, and know it won't be the last, I'm just unsure how to handle it. Thanks for any help!

103 replies
BakingIrene Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 3:32pm
post #2 of

You email her and MAKE SURE to cc yourself.

Say politely that no cheque has arrived.

Say that the cake will NOT be made until the final agreed payment has cleared the bank. No further effort on your part is required.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 4:06pm
post #3 of

IMO you should call her instead of emailing. Ask her if she would still like her cake, as her order will be cancelled if you don't receive the check by whatever the due date is in your contract.

FromScratchSF Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 4:27pm
post #4 of

That's way past my drop dead date - but if I were you I'd call and ask for a credit card number, letting her know that final payment is past due, and unless she is in a position to pay right now you are not making her cake and any money she's paid this far will be lost.

I would NOT accept a personal check - money order, cashier's check or credit card is all I'd take. If you do take a check, make sure you cash it right away - as in, go to the back and exchange it for cash. Then deposit the cash. Just to make sure.

jenlg Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 4:47pm
post #5 of

Thank you everyone for the advice. As I don't know her work schedule I will email her instead of calling. It's just so frustrating. Hopefully this can be resolved quickly and calmly.

jason_kraft Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 4:52pm
post #6 of

Just remember that email is not a guaranteed form of communication, it might be held up by technical problems or may end up in the spam folder. I'm not sure what her work schedule has to do with giving her a call, if she doesn't pick up you can leave her a message.

BlakesCakes Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 5:19pm
post #7 of

Definitely CALL her ASAP, tell her that the balance must be paid IN CASH by 6pm, Sun., 8/12, 12, or NO CAKE, NO REFUND. PERIOD.

You're a business that needs to be paid up front for a consumable item. Either she complies with your terms or she doesn't have a wedding cake. It's really that simple.

Rae

AZCouture Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 5:37pm
post #8 of

Send an email but call too! People don't always check their email, or it might be a secondary account not checked often, or you could get bounced into her spam folder...no, you MUST call as well.

ibeeflower Posted 9 Aug 2012 , 7:18pm
post #9 of

I have an older phone because my last phone broke and I do not want to get a new phone or contract. So this means I don't get emails on my phone like I used to. I get home and I sometimes check it...sometimes don't. Send an email so you have it on record that you attempted to contact her and then follow up with a call.

jenlg Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 1:14am

Well I sent a message to her directly and was about to call her when she responded back. Here's most of what I sent:

I sent you a message on July 9th stating the balance due on your wedding cake. Payment has not been received and the date is now just 2 weeks away. Unfortunately, if payment is not received by the end of day Sunday your order will be cancelled. Deposit is non-refundable and order will be null and void. At this time checks will no longer be accepted. I'm sorry it has come to this but I will not start production and deliver cakes that are not paid for.

She responded:

Actually I was just sitting down to notify everyone that remaining balances were sent out today. Yours is check # 1158 for the amount of $185.00. I hope you receive it in time. I just spoke to heather at the legion and she has our reception starting at 3:15 and said that everyone can make their deliveries anytime after 9am on the 25th.

Then:

I just double checked my box and they are all still in there. So I guess based on your previous message i won't be needing you.

I told her If it gets mailed out tomorrow I won't have an issue with it. It's just difficult to full fill orders that are due in a short time that just aren't paid for. I don't like starting and delivering cakes that I don't receive payment for. I'm trying to cover myself because of previous problems I had upon delivering a wedding cake and was never paid. I vowed never to do that again. I'm sorry about this but I really thought payment would have been made already instead of 2 weeks away. Again, if it is mailed tomorrow that's fine. I will leave the final decision up to you. Please understand I mean no hostility in anyway, I'm just trying to run my business.

She in turn stated, Completely understandable. But as I was givin no final due date (she had it) from you I was simply paying you along with all my other payments. And I have already made other arrangements with a local person that was available. Again no hostility but when I'm told I won't have a cake I covered my basis.

Well, whatever. I have a free weekend now. icon_smile.gif

BlueRose8302 Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 1:25am

My honest response to this was "what a jerk." You did NOT say you were refusing to make her a cake. You were saying she needed to pay you. But, fine! You don't need to work with someone like that! I am sure that whatever cake she found only 2 weeks out would in no way be what she was going to get from you. Take the weekend (or the week that it would take you to make it) and do something for you! Get a massage!

costumeczar Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 1:26am

There's something really weird about that. She made other arrangements? Uh, okay. Well, whatever. Usually if someone is told their wedding cake won't be there they panic and pay you right away.

I'd also add that if this happens again take cash only, not a credit card. I had a bad credit card experience recently where a couple of beeyotches pulled a payment back, so if someone is waiting until the last minute to pay you there's a good chance that they don't have enough money to cover it and they're stalling.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 2:14am

I can see where the customer is coming from. Yes, she should have paid by the due date, but the message you sent after a month of no contact could have been interpreted harshly, especially the part about no longer accepting a check. Checks typically clear in 2-5 days and can take as long as 10 days, so 2 weeks is plenty of time time to accept a check.

I think people are too quick to jump to the conclusion that someone is trying to scam them. If there is still enough time before the event it's best to give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

DeniseNH Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 2:22am

I've seen this before and trust me the check never made it into the mail. She doesn't have the money. She's purchasing a cheap cake from the local grocery store instead - so that she can put it on her charge card. The only thing I don't understand is that she must have paid you something because you told her the balance was due. If you got some sort of payment, what are you going to do with it (a deposit to save the date)?

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 2:50am
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeniseNH

I've seen this before and trust me the check never made it into the mail. She doesn't have the money. She's purchasing a cheap cake from the local grocery store instead - so that she can put it on her charge card.



That seems like a convoluted and counter-intuitive plan. If she didn't have the money she wouldn't have paid the initial deposit in the first place, and it seems odd that she would abandon that deposit and choose a different baker to save money. It's more likely that this was done on principle, since it sounds like she interpreted the email from the OP as accusatory.

She may be expecting a refund of the deposit so I would make sure the customer is absolutely clear that the deposit has been forfeited. This may turn into a fight so be prepared for negative reviews.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 3:12am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jenlg

Well I sent a message to her directly and was about to call her when she responded back. Here's most of what I sent:

I sent you a message on July 9th stating the balance due on your wedding cake. Payment has not been received and the date is now just 2 weeks away. Unfortunately, if payment is not received by the end of day Sunday your order will be cancelled. Deposit is non-refundable and order will be null and void. At this time checks will no longer be accepted. I'm sorry it has come to this but I will not start production and deliver cakes that are not paid for.




I'm not seeing how this could be construed as accusatory or harsh. The OP is professional and straightforward, even apologetic at the end. She is just reiterating the terms of her contract. And I don't see why not accepting a personal check is harsh either. That's OP's policy, and it makes sense. Many businesses don't accept personal checks at all. We don't accept them less than 3 weeks out from the event date.

If she does receive a negative review from this person, it would not be due to any fault of her own. She's done everything correctly as far as I can see.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 3:24am

Personally I don't think it's accusatory but the customer must have thought so, with email it is very easy to misinterpret things (which is why I handle these conversations exclusively by phone).

The OP did institute a penalty that was effective immediately after a month of no contact (no longer accepting checks), set up a deadline on a day the mail was not delivered, and expressed disappointment in the customer's actions (I'm sorry it has come to this). If this conversation had taken place over the phone the OP could have worked with the customer in real time to reach a solution (such as the customer hand-delivering the check). Instead she lost the order and potentially created a PR nightmare.

Bluehue Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 3:49am

Just curious - do you in the States not use Electronic Transfer to be paid..

I forward my Bank A/c # - Branch # - Bank name and A/c Name to my customers via email - and when they wish to pay a deposit or make final payment - they just sit at thier pc and transfer the monies across.
It shows up with in 24 hours on my on line Bank Statement.

Perhaps because personnalised cheques aren't used much over her thats why we do it that way.
But then i have never accepted a personnel cheque.

Perhaps your banking fees are higher than ours....shrug

I pay roughly $1.00 per transfer.
When ordering supplies i just transfer funds from my account into the suppliers account for payment.
Its fast - guarented and a paper trail is always there for followup.
Even when i order from Australia to a company in the States - i pay via electroic transfer - never had a problem... so it is surely available for you all.
If you have a bank account - then it is available - so much easier than dealing/cashing cheques - m/orders and the like.

Just curious.

Bluehue

jenlg Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 4:03am

Thanks everyone for the advice. As for the deposit is was to save the date. She knew in the beginning that it was non refundable. Also, I was originally stating no check because she lives further away and it was not a local bank. However, I did offer for her to mail the check in the end. I was curious about her suddenly making other arrangements so quickly. I'm guessing the grocery store idea as mentioned by another post on here.

Like I said, a free weekend for me. icon_smile.gif

......Also, I have dealt with other family members of her's on different orders. Wasn't pleasant either, but we keep smiling and pretend. Afterall, they are customers.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 4:05am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehue

Just curious - do you in the States not use Electronic Transfer to be paid..



There are a few consumer-facing e-pay systems (PayPal being the biggest one by far), and some US banks do have limited offerings (like Chase ePay) but I think credit cards are the de facto standard for B2C transactions in the US. It wouldn't surprise me if Visa/MC were actively trying to stop the creation of a widely adopted e-pay system in the US, since it would undercut a good portion of their business model.

Quote:
Quote:

I forward my Bank A/c # - Branch # - Bank name and A/c Name to my customers via email - and when they wish to pay a deposit or make final payment - they just sit at thier pc and transfer the monies across.



Just about every major bank in the US has a similar feature in their electronic bill pay system, but in most cases it's just easier to use a credit card. It's also more advantageous to the customer to use a credit card since the money is not transferred right away.

Bluehue Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 4:28am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehue

Just curious - do you in the States not use Electronic Transfer to be paid..


There are a few consumer-facing e-pay systems (PayPal being the biggest one by far), and some US banks do have limited offerings (like Chase ePay) but I think credit cards are the de facto standard for B2C transactions in the US. It wouldn't surprise me if Visa/MC were actively trying to stop the creation of a widely adopted e-pay system in the US, since it would undercut a good portion of their business model.

Quote:
Quote:

I forward my Bank A/c # - Branch # - Bank name and A/c Name to my customers via email - and when they wish to pay a deposit or make final payment - they just sit at thier pc and transfer the monies across.


Just about every major bank in the US has a similar feature in their electronic bill pay system, but in most cases it's just easier to use a credit card. It's also more advantageous to the customer to use a

credit card since the money is not transferred right away.





Ohhh - as i said - just curious -
Yes Visa/MC used widely over here - just cheaper and quicker doing the Electronic transfer thing -
Thanks Jason -
Bluehue

FromScratchSF Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 4:38am

Blue its' not easy to do wire transfers - you have to go to a bank, and it costs money to do. Yes, it should be easy, but they make it very hard to transfer money from one person to another here.

There is zero wrong with asking for your payment. I don't know why people think this needs to be done with hearts and flowers, hat in hand, worrying about offending someone. Does the power company send you a virtual hug and a cookie when they want their payment? No. They send a bill with a due date. In fact, I can't think of a single business I write a check to every month that says "I'll be your bestie if you pay me, pretty please, don't be mad, OK?"

I send a reminder notice one week before the agreed upon payment due date with an address to mail the check or a digital invoice to pay via credit card. It has no hearts, flowers and hugs - and I do not go to the client hat in hand hoping I don't offend them asking to get paid!

If this person decided to cancel their cake with you then they obviously decided to go another way - like getting a sheet cake form Wal Mart - or you did not charge enough of a retainer. I do enough that it stops people from entertaining the idea of going somewhere else.

Bluehue Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:05am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Blue its' not easy to do wire transfers - you have to go to a bank, and it costs money to do. Yes, it should be easy, but they make it very hard to transfer money from one person to another here.

.



Really - and yet if you sent me your banking details i can transfer money straight away to your account from the comfort of my home.
Lollll - how much do you want transfered - just kidding lollll
Blue.

vgcea Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:09am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF



If this person decided to cancel their cake with you then they obviously decided to go another way - like getting a sheet cake form Wal Mart - or you did not charge enough of a retainer. I do enough that it stops people from entertaining the idea of going somewhere else.




^^ This. I kept thinking to myself, the retainer couldn't have been a significant enough amount for the customer to walk away from it like this.

AZCouture Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:16am

I'm pretty sure my deposits are more than most people's total amounts around these parts. icon_sad.gif

Bluehue Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:18am
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture

I'm pretty sure my deposits are more than most people's total amounts around these parts. icon_sad.gif




Very wise -
Bluehue

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:20am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

There is zero wrong with asking for your payment. I don't know why people think this needs to be done with hearts and flowers, hat in hand, worrying about offending someone.



False dichotomy. You don't need "hearts and flowers", but communicating with the customer about payment issues in a polite yet firm manner via a medium that minimizes misunderstandings is a good business practice.

Quote:
Quote:

Does the power company send you a virtual hug and a cookie when they want their payment? No. They send a bill with a due date.



The next time my power company is rude to me, I'll just get my power at the other power company down the street instead. Oh wait...

Quote:
Quote:

I send a reminder notice one week before the agreed upon payment due date with an address to mail the check or a digital invoice to pay via credit card.



If the OP sent a reminder notice to the customer last week this whole situation probably could have been averted. I also agree that the retainer was probably not large enough.

jason_kraft Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:27am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Blue its' not easy to do wire transfers - you have to go to a bank, and it costs money to do. Yes, it should be easy, but they make it very hard to transfer money from one person to another here.



This is somewhat OT but Blue is not talking about wire transfers, the closest equivalent in the US (besides PayPal) would be an ACH push to a third-party account. Chase QuickPay does this but it is not widely used.

https://www.chase.com/online/services/quickpay.htm

Addictive_desserts Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:35am

I agree regarding the deposit. It must have been something insignificant!
Jason, the OP did send her a reminder 4 weeks prior with no response.
How many times does she have to remind her? I think it's for the best not doing this! Although I also think the bride was quite calm for last minute changes.

scp1127 Posted 10 Aug 2012 , 5:43am

I do exactly the same as FronScratch. I have had it happen only once and I meant it when I said no contact was assuming a cancellation and that only cash was acceptable. The other time, not wedding related, was when the person showed up to pay for an emergency cake and her car was worth much less than the cake. If you think the price is a stretch and the person has no business buying that cake, get cash only, no exceptions.

If you cash the check at your bank, it can still be stopped at her bank and still charged against your account. You have to go to the customer's bank. This is more running than I am willing to do. They can run and get cash.

I think this comes down to something I have mentioned before. You must come across as professional. This means set policies, an industry-standard deposit, notices sent in a timely manner, and a professional persona. If you come across as a pushover, or maybe someone who is a better decorator than a businessperson, you will get this. Then when you become forceful, the customer is caught off guard. With those of us like me, FromScratch, and the others who are knowledgeable in business, from the first meeting, they know we are not the ones who will tolerate games. We are nice, but definitely not pushovers. We have no problem telling them the price with no hesitation, the deposit, policies, and what happens if payments are not made on time. It's like there are two piles of bills... the ones that need to be paid on time, and the pile where they put the ones that can be manipulated. It should be your goal to be in that first pile.

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