CLW Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 12:07pm
post #1 of

I have a customer who contacted me 3 weeks ago thru a friend of a friend of a friend. She came for a consult on a 3 tier blinded out birthday cake for 75 people and plans were made with pics and everything was finalized except for her downpayment. She said use didn't have a check or cash on her. She gave me nothing except the pic, phone number and her nickname, Dee. So since then she has texted me many times going over details and said she was referring other customers to me. I've asked several times when she planned to make her downpayment. She's always on the road and can't come by. (My shop is on her way home I just found out). So in anticipation of the order, I went ahead with plans and baked the layers, placing them in the freezer last Sunday. She calls Tuesday and wants to know the details on delivery for today ( Friday). I tell her to send me her address and we will deliver. Again, I ask for a downpayment. She's out of town. She texted again on Wednesday night showing me the toppers she has chosen and can't decide on which one. She's all excited. So I pull the cake on Thursday morning and begin. She texts me at 7:00 pm and asks what flavors are in the cake. I tell her yellow butter cake with buttercream icing just as her order states. She texted back, "OH NO! My DAUGHTER HATES YELLOW CAKE! SHE WANTED CHOCOLATE!" I told her I was sorry but this is what it is and can't be changed at this time. The cake is finished. (By the way, I still don't have an address or money). After several texts about how she doesn't know what to do now, I call her and tell her she doesn't have to take the cake. Its a beautiful cake and I can most likely sell it without a problem. ( I was so angry with her that I could care less if it sold at this time)But she says that her daughter wouldn't have beautiful birthday cake then cause it's too late to order somewhere else. ( she never asked if I could bake a chocolate in addition to the 3 tier, which I would be glad to do with her paying for it). That was the last I heard from her at 8:30, still not knowing is she was going to want it. She never said she wanted it or not. I asked again for her address and she said she'd send it. At 11:00, with no address, I called several customers and it sold within 1/2 hour. The lady gave me her CC and it's to be picked up today. So now get this...Dee texts me at 1:51 a.m. with her address and says she can't wait to see her gorgeous cake!!! She's all happy with smiley faces and LOLs. What do I do? I hate for this young lady not to have a beautiful cake for her 16th but feel like Dee wanted something for nothing. I think she wanted me to come down in price but I was so fed up with her, I didn't care.

26 replies
BakingIrene Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 12:18pm
post #2 of

No deposit means you should never have started making this cake. I'm glad you sold it so you are not out the $$$.

DO NOT wait for this original inquisitor (she is NOT your customer) to come by. Email her with a cc and say that there is no cake to pick up because she didn't pay your deposit on time.

I would bet $20 to a charity of your choice that she will come by with a cheque that will end up NSF when you try to cash it. Or that she will harass you after the party and demand a full refund for the "bad" cake...or any of the other recent scenarios posted here.

You are a business person and you have NO obligation to even continue the conversation until after a customer shows their intent to pay by providing a deposit that clears you bank. It takes about a minute to put a cheque in the mail if you are on the road...or call in a cc. I don't need to tell you that.

In future you have to be firm when you email "please pay a deposit before I go on with details" or "this is not an order until a deposit is made" or something similar.. NOBODY has the right to waste your time like this.

Norasmom Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 12:22pm
post #3 of

It sounds like she was scrambling to come up with the money. You can just tell her that since you didn't have her down payment, you sold the cake to someone who did. She can just pick up her daughter's cake at the grocery store....

CLW Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 12:31pm
post #4 of

Thanks for your input. I am just feeling so bad ( and guilt for some reason) for the young lady on her 16th but certainly not the mother. I knew I could sell the cake if she didn't get it, otherwise I wouldn't have pulled it and began on it. I have a clientele base of businesses that can always use cakes on the weekends. It is a beautiful cake and will be enjoyed. I agree on the backlash I could have received too. Bad checks, badmouthing, etc.,etc. I'm probably going to get much badmouthing anyway at this shindig when she doesn't have her cake. But..it's too late for me to do another even if she shows up with money in hand. I have enough orders without her headache.

BakingIrene Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 12:52pm
post #5 of

I'm sorry but I don't think this was about scraping together the deposit. A person in that position would say something like "can I please pay you $10 a week" and they would have paid in cash.

If this was innocent, then I think this was an over-the-top cake fantasy. But she kept at it---and that indicates something real fishy to me.

And I am dealing with my own fishy situation now--the same persistence for a custom order of my work from a person who saw fit to threaten me with bogus police actions a week ago. So I am being extra careful about the patterns of behaviour and which way they really point. Here's my fact: the person who made the threat also violated our labour laws.

costumeczar Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 1:26pm
post #6 of

Your first mistake was to bake the cake without being paid in full. I'm glad that you were able to sell it to a PAYING CUSTOMER, which the original woman was not. It isn't your fault that the daughter isn't getiing a nice cake, it's her mother's fault, so don't feel guilty.

Talking about ordering and sending emails with details is not the same as ordering. If I started sending emails to the furniture store telling them about the couch I was going to buy from them, they wouldn't make the couch for me even if I emailed them every day with details about it. Until I paid for it it's only speculation, not an order.

In the future, you might want to change you policy to a pay-in-advance scenario, and only cash three weeks or less before the event. And a time limit of how many days in advance things had to be ordered, or it can't be done. Also, if someone starts sending tons of emails like this lady did, just respond that until she's paid for the cake she doesn't have a spot on your calendar. No matter how many times she writes, just send her the same message. And don't bake the cake.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 4:49pm
post #7 of

The way I usually frame this with customers who don't give a deposit right away is by accepting the order, then after a week or so tell them their order will be cancelled in X days if the deposit is not paid. This really drives the point home that they will no longer have an active order.

KoryAK Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 5:17pm
post #8 of

I agree with all the pp's statements but I also think it was MANDATORY for you to send her a final text saying "if the cake is not paid by Xpm I will be selling it to someone else" and maybe even a "the cake has now been sold" after it was.

This entire game should not have been played for a multitude of reasons but the fact of the matter is that you DID play it with her so she had no reason to believe that you would suddenly stop playing and sell her cake to someone else with no (real and definitive) warning. As a customer, I would be livid. JMHO

CLW Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 6:15pm
post #9 of

I know that you didn't just blame me?!!! I SPOKE with her at 8:30 PM. SPOKE not texting. That was the last contact I had and she said she was sending her address right then.
I DID NOT play games with her and I resent you implying that I did. What you don't get is that the ONLY communication I've had with this crazy woman is by phone and the initial consult. I took her order and gave her the benefit of the doubt all along. I didn't change anything. She did. I don't owe her a penny, an apology or a text. I'm sure she is livid. I am also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

I agree with all the pp's statements but I also think it was MANDATORY for you to send her a final text saying "if the cake is not paid by Xpm I will be selling it to someone else" and maybe even a "the cake has now been sold" after it was.

This entire game should not have been played for a multitude of reasons but the fact of the matter is that you DID play it with her so she had no reason to believe that you would suddenly stop playing and sell her cake to someone else with no (real and definitive) warning. As a customer, I would be livid. JMHO


jason_kraft Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 6:24pm

To be fair, instead of asking when she would make her down payment, you should have told her that she does not have a confirmed order and work will not start until she makes her down payment. Considering she had texted you several times since the initial consult there should have been ample opportunity to do this.

At the very least, when you spoke with her at 8:30 you should have told her that the cake was being sold to someone else because she hadn't paid for it.

CLW Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 6:43pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

To be fair, instead of asking when she would make her down payment, you should have told her that she does not have a confirmed order and work will not start until she makes her down payment. Considering she had texted you several times since the initial consult there should have been ample opportunity to do this.

At the very least, when you spoke with her at 8:30 you should have told her that the cake was being sold to someone else because she hadn't paid for it.




I hadn't decided to sell her cake at 8:30! I gave her time to all she should have done!!!!!! Good grief!!!

jason_kraft Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 7:20pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by CLW

I hadn't decided to sell her cake at 8:30! I gave her time to all she should have done!!!!!!



That's my point...if you spoke with her the night before the delivery and she still hasn't paid (not to mention not providing a delivery address), you need to tell her right then that her cake will be sold to someone else. If you are feeling generous you could have given her an hour to drive to you with the cash if she still wanted the cake. From the customer's perspective you committed to delivering the cake, and while at least you didn't lose any money you'll probably get some negative PR.

costumeczar Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 7:35pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by CLW

I hadn't decided to sell her cake at 8:30! I gave her time to all she should have done!!!!!!


That's my point...if you spoke with her the night before the delivery and she still hasn't paid (not to mention not providing a delivery address), you need to tell her right then that her cake will be sold to someone else. If you are feeling generous you could have given her an hour to drive to you with the cash if she still wanted the cake. From the customer's perspective you committed to delivering the cake, and while at least you didn't lose any money you'll probably get some negative PR.




I kind of disagree with this...it sounds like the client had plenty of time to answer questions and put down deposits, and she chose to ignore that part of the transaction. With that kind of behavior there's a good chance that if she DID pick the cake up she would have arrived without her checkbook, and promised to pay later, which wouldn't have happened. Or if she DID pay, then she would have had something to complain about and wanted a refund. Just speculation on my part, but I see a lot of that kind of behavior happening recently to people.

jason_kraft Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 7:45pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

I kind of disagree with this...it sounds like the client had plenty of time to answer questions and put down deposits, and she chose to ignore that part of the transaction. With that kind of behavior there's a good chance that if she DID pick the cake up she would have arrived without her checkbook, and promised to pay later, which wouldn't have happened. Or if she DID pay, then she would have had something to complain about and wanted a refund. Just speculation on my part, but I see a lot of that kind of behavior happening recently to people.



I can see your point. It's a lose/lose situation either way, all the more reason to cut off the customer well in advance so these last-minute issues don't happen.

We've had customers show up for pickup without enough cash or a checkbook for their cake (we only require deposits for orders above a certain threshold), we kindly direct them to the closest ATM.

KoryAK Posted 19 Oct 2012 , 7:58pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by CLW

I know that you didn't just blame me?!!! I SPOKE with her at 8:30 PM. SPOKE not texting. That was the last contact I had and she said she was sending her address right then.
I DID NOT play games with her and I resent you implying that I did. What you don't get is that the ONLY communication I've had with this crazy woman is by phone and the initial consult. I took her order and gave her the benefit of the doubt all along. I didn't change anything. She did. I don't owe her a penny, an apology or a text. I'm sure she is livid. I am also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

I agree with all the pp's statements but I also think it was MANDATORY for you to send her a final text saying "if the cake is not paid by Xpm I will be selling it to someone else" and maybe even a "the cake has now been sold" after it was.

This entire game should not have been played for a multitude of reasons but the fact of the matter is that you DID play it with her so she had no reason to believe that you would suddenly stop playing and sell her cake to someone else with no (real and definitive) warning. As a customer, I would be livid. JMHO




I'm sorry that my post upset you so badly. I did not mean to say that you were playing games with her, more that she was playing games (ill intent or not) with you this whole time by giving you half the info, no payment, changing the flavor, etc. By not putting your foot down early on (you were giving her the benefit of the doubt) you did play along. Because that is the pattern you let be established, the customer has a reasonable expectation that the pattern would continue and she would be able to pay on pickup or whatever silly idea she had in her head of how this would end. It would have been the most fair (and the most cover-your-own-butt) to let her know in no uncertain terms that this transaction was over and the cake was being sold to another before doing so - or at the very least after doing so. Now you are faced with the unfortunate situation that she still expects a cake and will likely give you negative PR (because in her mind she is totally in the right).

crushed Posted 20 Oct 2012 , 12:03am

The people who've replied to you here have given you good advice about how to run your business. Yelling at them by using excessive exclamation points doesn't do any good. You'll learn from this and your business will be much better off. At the very least, you'll have a good idea of what not to do the next time.

Good luck. icon_smile.gif

Evoir Posted 20 Oct 2012 , 1:30am

I'm sorry this happened to you, and I too am happy you have clients that can take your surplus cakes at short order. It is amazing how much stress some clients can cause. A lot of the time it is because that is just how they live and run their lives; just 100% scatty, lots of talk and no action.

I think the more queries and meetings you have with people like this, the more cautious and firm footed you get in general. I believe you did more than enough to accommodate her, and ultimately made the right decision to end it. If it does happen again, previous posters have given you enough ideas on how to enact the principle of no money = no cake.

I remember the *one* time I allowed somebody to collect a cake without paying me the final $130 owing on it. The reason? We had just spent over $12000 buying custom-made furniture from her business, and I still had to pay the final payment of $2000 upon delivery of the last piece. I was operating on a mutual respect basis. I paid my balance, and she then ignored every email I sent her about her (cake ) balance still owing. My lesson learned: make your water-tight policies and stick to them icon_smile.gif It cost me $130 but I will never make her another cake or recommend anyone to her furniture business. (She has already asked me to make her a cake for a family member, actually. Ha!). Nor will I let a cake leave my possession without having all monies paid.

All the best to you and the business icon_smile.gif Hope you have a nice calm and relaxing weekend!

cakesdivine Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 12:12am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir

I remember the *one* time I allowed somebody to collect a cake without paying me the final $130 owing on it. The reason? We had just spent over $12000 buying custom-made furniture from her business, and I still had to pay the final payment of $2000 upon delivery of the last piece. I was operating on a mutual respect basis. I paid my balance, and she then ignored every email I sent her about her (cake ) balance still owing. My lesson learned: make your water-tight policies and stick to them icon_smile.gif It cost me $130 but I will never make her another cake or recommend anyone to her furniture business. (She has already asked me to make her a cake for a family member, actually. Ha!). Nor will I let a cake leave my possession without having all monies paid.




Evoir you should have accepted that cake order and tacked on the additional $130 she owed you, and then required payment in full upon order. If she accepted and paid, you would have had your $130 plus an additional profit on the new order. If she balked at the terms then you just don't make the cake which is what you decided anyway. Could have been an opportunity to collect what was owed to you...LOL! And just wondering, did you ever bring it to her attention that you paid in full for the product you purchased from her business and that you expect the same respect in return? Did you complete your purchase from her company before you made her cake? Only asking because if not you could have deducted the $130 from your final payment to her. Just some thoughts going through my head. I know it is all mute at this point, just curious.

CLW Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 3:51am

Thanks Evoir. I was so upset with this lady and the stress she placed on me. You message helped relieve some of that stress. I had an extremely busy weekend, had had very little rest time/sleep for the two days prior to her call and then she threw me a wrench. I listened to Oprah tonight as she was talking about releasing the stress in your life and turning away negative energy that comes around you. A new sign goes on my door tomorrow morning. It will state, " You are responsible for the energy surrounding you. Only positive energies allowed through this door."
Have a great week!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evoir

I'm sorry this happened to you, and I too am happy you have clients that can take your surplus cakes at short order. It is amazing how much stress some clients can cause. A lot of the time it is because that is just how they live and run their lives; just 100% scatty, lots of talk and no action.

I think the more queries and meetings you have with people like this, the more cautious and firm footed you get in general. I believe you did more than enough to accommodate her, and ultimately made the right decision to end it. If it does happen again, previous posters have given you enough ideas on how to enact the principle of no money = no cake.

I remember the *one* time I allowed somebody to collect a cake without paying me the final $130 owing on it. The reason? We had just spent over $12000 buying custom-made furniture from her business, and I still had to pay the final payment of $2000 upon delivery of the last piece. I was operating on a mutual respect basis. I paid my balance, and she then ignored every email I sent her about her (cake ) balance still owing. My lesson learned: make your water-tight policies and stick to them icon_smile.gif It cost me $130 but I will never make her another cake or recommend anyone to her furniture business. (She has already asked me to make her a cake for a family member, actually. Ha!). Nor will I let a cake leave my possession without having all monies paid.

All the best to you and the business icon_smile.gif Hope you have a nice calm and relaxing weekend!


lorieleann Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 4:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

Quote:
Originally Posted by CLW

I know that you didn't just blame me?!!! I SPOKE with her at 8:30 PM. SPOKE not texting. That was the last contact I had and she said she was sending her address right then.
I DID NOT play games with her and I resent you implying that I did. What you don't get is that the ONLY communication I've had with this crazy woman is by phone and the initial consult. I took her order and gave her the benefit of the doubt all along. I didn't change anything. She did. I don't owe her a penny, an apology or a text. I'm sure she is livid. I am also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KoryAK

I agree with all the pp's statements but I also think it was MANDATORY for you to send her a final text saying "if the cake is not paid by Xpm I will be selling it to someone else" and maybe even a "the cake has now been sold" after it was.

This entire game should not have been played for a multitude of reasons but the fact of the matter is that you DID play it with her so she had no reason to believe that you would suddenly stop playing and sell her cake to someone else with no (real and definitive) warning. As a customer, I would be livid. JMHO




I'm sorry that my post upset you so badly. I did not mean to say that you were playing games with her, more that she was playing games (ill intent or not) with you this whole time by giving you half the info, no payment, changing the flavor, etc. By not putting your foot down early on (you were giving her the benefit of the doubt) you did play along. Because that is the pattern you let be established, the customer has a reasonable expectation that the pattern would continue and she would be able to pay on pickup or whatever silly idea she had in her head of how this would end. It would have been the most fair (and the most cover-your-own-butt) to let her know in no uncertain terms that this transaction was over and the cake was being sold to another before doing so - or at the very least after doing so. Now you are faced with the unfortunate situation that she still expects a cake and will likely give you negative PR (because in her mind she is totally in the right).




i was in a similar situation this week. I engaged with the order speculation on a cake for this weekend starting a month ago. Then i didn't hear from the client for 10 days. Looking back at our emails i saw that i wasn't firm and specific in stating that payment in full two weeks prior confirms the order. So in her mind, it was 'ordered' even though it i had no delivery information or payment. I made the mistake on Monday emailing her with a vague, 'do you want to place an order?' and then opened the door for more correspondence that wasn't definite.

What I should have said was, 'If you would like to place this order (see attached invoice), I will need payment in cash by XX day. If I do not hear from you, I will consider the order cancelled.' When it drug on and on, I really wanted to pull the plug on her order, but when I look at it from her possible perspective, I didn't give her consequences (your order will be cancelled if I don't hear from you by XX time), so I didn't feel right about canceling her. I always try to remember the saying "you teach people how to treat you"...and it totally applied in this situation. I engaged with her on her style of communication (vague, open ended...) instead of laying out the firm guidelines and consequences of how i want to do business (which doesn't include 'last minute' orders not confirmed at least a week in advance). FWIW, i am naturally a bit laid back when it comes to orders giving people a benefit of the doubt as well. But this last scenario this weekend has been a good lesson as to why i need to be more by the book in the business. There are going to be the people who will take advantage of it.

Apparently, just like there are people who don't pay their electric bill until there is a disconnect notice attached to it (though they have the money), there are people who need strict rules when ordering cake.

CLW Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 5:50pm

Thank you. It's nice to hear that I'm not alone in this boat. icon_smile.gif I too, am a laid back person who does what she says she's going to do. I do not let people down and expect that from everyone else. I guess that was my trusting nature. I say was because as of yesterday, I have decided no more. Pay me when you order or there's no cake. I observed a woman ordering in Walmart yesterday. She had to place her order, take the ticket to the register and pay, then bring the ticket back to the counter or else, there's no cake.
My new policy. You pay me half when you order if the order is over $50 and the remainder 3 weeks from the date of the event. If the event is happening in less than 3 weeks, I require full payment.

cookiekisses Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 6:40pm

I used to have a customer who would have a standard order every week. She would just call and confirm at the beginning of the week. When a few weeks of back payment still didn't show up, I reminded her that it was before the holidays and I needed the money for my own use. She asked for a payment plan, which I agreed to. She then had the gall to assume that I would still bake for her every week, even while she was paying off her old debt, and was annoyed when I told her under no uncertain terms; I can bake for her again, when she is paid up. She has since made one order (it's been a solid 3 years) and I told her upfront that she would need to pay on pick up.

inspiredbymom Posted 22 Oct 2012 , 6:41pm

It happened to me a couple of weeks ago too. It too was a 3 tier only for a 6 year old. My saving graces was that I didn't even bake it. I was more worried that the little girl wasn't going to get the "special" cake. She did. I was going to leave her a not so nice message on her FB page. When I pulled it up, I saw her daughters birthday pics! I saw the cake and thought "awe, she must have attempted to make her daughter one herself. So sweet. She must not have had the money". I didn't leave the nasty gram. The a week later I was in a Walmart store (not the one I normally use) getting french bread. There, on the wall was a picture of the cake that her daughter had! Ugh. Wasted my time and efforts with all of the "I want my daughters birthdays to be special, no matter what.....blah blah". Okay, I'm still PO'd. I learned now to take deposits on ALL orders. Even the small ones! I don't want that to happen to me again. It was too stressful. However, my good friends on here kept me grounded and tactfully pointed out my failures LOL! Hope you de-stress and this doesn't happen to you again.

SugarQueenie Posted 2 Nov 2012 , 2:45am

AAny updates on this situation? Did she show up for the cake?

DreamConfections Posted 2 Nov 2012 , 3:51am

Trust your gut.  I had a wedding order and told them I needed the down payment asap (it was less than a month notice).  I waited and waited.  Finally, I checked the mail one day and the check was not there, I told myself I needed it by that day and no later...it didn't come.  I contacted the daughter who I have had good experience with and told her I would not be able to do it with no money seen.  She understood and told me that her Mom did not get her money.  I was waiting those days when she did not actually mail it.  If I wouldn't have made it that I would have drove an hour to deliver and maybe not gotten paid at all.  Trust your instincts!

cai0311 Posted 6 Nov 2012 , 5:05pm

So what happened the day the client wanted the cake?  Did she try to collect a cake?

Tails Posted 7 Nov 2012 , 11:30am

I'd love to know too :P

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