SweetAsLemmons Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 2:16am
post #1 of

Hey everyone.

 

So here is my little problem-O.

 

I have a client with a cake due in the next two days. The order is fully paid off, but she has yet to sign and return the contract. (This is a client I have served in the past, many years ago before my contracts were born). I have been very adamant about obtaining it, and have told her that I will not make her cake unless that paper is signed and emailed back to me. She agreed to send it this morning.

 

Weeeell it is now evening and still no contract. I have explained to her thoroughly why I need it, I have sent her 2 emails and 1 text reminder today, and had an actual phone call about it earlier.

 

My question here is regarding actually cancelling her order due to her lack of cooperation. We all know she will want a full refund, to which I would laugh at the thought of. However, what do YOU GUYS feel is reasonable in terms of a refund (if any). How would you word it to not sound like the jerk every fiber in my body wants me to be? 

 

Here's how I view this:
-I have already spent time researching the theme, sketching designs, emailing back and forth, dealing with phone calls, bla bla bla.....
-I have turned down another client because this is a rather complex design and I can only accommodate 1 cake per day. 

-I am giving her a deal so good that it makes me question my sanity, but hey, gotta keep the lights on!

 

Thanks to all. =)

30 replies
handymama Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:25am
post #2 of

I'm wondering why it's imperative to have the contract if she's paid in full. Do you expect a problem?
 

Pyro Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:54am
post #3 of

Since we don't know how much this cake is worth ( on cakes with low value most ppl won't use a contract ).

 

You could:

1) Do the cake and let it go, alternatively putting this client on your NO CAKE FOR YOU list.

2) Do the cake, give the client the contract when they pick it up and if they don't sign, refund and no cake. ( if you can take the loss ).

3) Tell the client because the contract was not returned signed, the order was canceled and apply whatever policy your business uses ( money paid goes to future orders, refund ).

Norasmom Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 4:10am
post #4 of

That's weird.  I would never pay for a service before I signed a contract, because it would potentially mean losing all of my money to a shoddy contractor.  When home repairs are done, no one pays everyithing up-front and a contract is signed saying payment will be given in full at the end of the project.  So keep her money and don't do the cake...

or...just do the cake.  You have her money.

jason_kraft Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 4:34am
post #5 of

AYou probably shouldn't have accepted the money without a signed contract. As it stands, you have no legal agreement for a transaction, so if you cancel the order you really have no choice but to return her money.

Just like no deposit = no order, no signed contract = no order.

SweetAsLemmons Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 5:13am
post #6 of

I sent her a copy of an invoice along with the terms and conditions and specifications that I needed a signature. Since she is a bit far from my location, she deposited the amount directly into a business account I have for these purposes (although she had notified me she about the deposit AFTER it had been made). I again told her, I NEED BOTH PAYMENT AND SIGNATURE or the order is not valid.

 

Conveniently, she also ASKED for specific changes to be made on the invoice itself, but "just so happened" to overlook the Terms page, claiming she never saw it. I re-sent it to her in two formats and she was very hesitant to sign it, claiming "she trusts me" and she would never go "after me". It is a $400 order.

 

And the reality is, I have no idea what intentions she may have. She very well may be a trustworthy client who won't pose a problem. Then again, she may be the type to complain about some mundane issue beyond my control JUST to get a free cake. There is no certain way to tell. So I choose to cover my butt, regardless. 

Cakechick123 Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 7:11am
post #7 of

when she collects the cake have a copy ready for signature. Let her read all you conditions in front of you and get her to sign it. If she refuses then she gets no cake! Butt covered icon_biggrin.gif

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 7:54am
post #8 of

I would probably go with what cakechick said, I've never been in a similar situation though, so it's not something I've given a ton of thought to.

I will never, ever, under any circumstances let a cake go out my door without a signature, I would prefer to lose the time and money making the cake and not giving it the customer.

The catch is, I don't accept money until the contract is signed, my contract has a section covering payment details, and it protects both me and the client from any sketchy business on either parties end.

Jess155 Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 12:19pm
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cakechick123 

when she collects the cake have a copy ready for signature. Let her read all you conditions in front of you and get her to sign it. If she refuses then she gets no cake! Butt covered icon_biggrin.gif

 

Agree.

Crimsicle Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 2:14pm

Cakechick's approach makes sense to me.  It seems that because you accepted her payment in full, you agreed to an "implied contract."  i think it would be kind of tacky of you to take her money and not produce a cake.  But, I do understand your need to cover yourself if there are problems.  Just canceling on her at this date seems wrong, somehow. 

gmfcakes Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 2:53pm

AI would call and send her an email stating that your business policy is to receive a signed contract before you fulfill any order and unfortunately since you have not received the signed contract from her that you cannot fulfill her order. Let her know that she will be receiving her refund in the mail. I have to get retainers signed by clients all the time and when I let them know that the attorney will not be appearing for them because we didn't receive their signed retainer, they send it right away. Good luck.

AZCouture Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:10pm

AYour.cancellation of the job because of her not returning the contract would ever be honored in a court of law. She gave you money, you need to give her a cake. We need to be as "by the book as possible" whenever we can, but make the dang cake. Do as suggested above, and have one waiting for her.

AZCouture Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:13pm

AWhen I send off an electronic invoice, I include a statement that essentially says payment of invoice constitutes acceptance of terms listed in contract. Might not be waterproof, but I makes me feel better. Usually they return contract, sometimes they don't. I don't worry about.

AZCouture Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:14pm

AExcuse errors and missing words, my phone likes to play dumb sometimes.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 8 Jun 2013 , 3:42pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

When I send off an electronic invoice, I include a statement that essentially says payment of invoice constitutes acceptance of terms listed in contract. Might not be waterproof, but I makes me feel better. Usually they return contract, sometimes they don't. I don't worry about.

This. Our order form that we send out for every cake (even the smaller, simple jobs) has this in the fine print. So if they pay us, we have an order, and we proceed with the order.

 

Sometimes people just have a hard time getting the signed order form back to us (computer issues, whatever) so we tell them to respond in an email with "The order form is correct" or something to that effect. Again, may not be waterproof, but at least we have it in writing. This actually saved us some grief with a customer recently who tried to complain that the design wasn't made according to their specifications. All we had to do was refer them to the order form and their email in which they stated that the form was correct. 

Sweet_Cakes Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 11:44am
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoveMeSomeCake615 

This. Our order form that we send out for every cake (even the smaller, simple jobs) has this in the fine print. So if they pay us, we have an order, and we proceed with the order.

 

Sometimes people just have a hard time getting the signed order form back to us (computer issues, whatever) so we tell them to respond in an email with "The order form is correct" or something to that effect. Again, may not be waterproof, but at least we have it in writing. This actually saved us some grief with a customer recently who tried to complain that the design wasn't made according to their specifications. All we had to do was refer them to the order form and their email in which they stated that the form was correct. 

How can this not be waterproof? Will this really not hold up in court?

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 1:39pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet_Cakes 

How can this not be waterproof? Will this really not hold up in court?

I believe it most likely would when it came down to it. 

jason_kraft Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 1:49pm

A

Original message sent by Sweet_Cakes

How can this not be waterproof? Will this really not hold up in court?

It may hold up in court but it's certainly not waterproof...for example, the customer could claim that they did not send the email saying the order form is correct.

KoryAK Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 7:52pm

What did you decide to do?

 

And FTR I'm in the "she paid you have to make it or give a full refund" camp.

Lovelyladylibra Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 8:21pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture 

When I send off an electronic invoice, I include a statement that essentially says payment of invoice constitutes acceptance of terms listed in contract. Might not be waterproof, but I makes me feel better. Usually they return contract, sometimes they don't. I don't worry about.

This is what I do also. Most of my customers are pretty far so its easier for them to pay online

lorieleann Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 8:32pm

just adding in that when I don't get a contract back, I will ask for an electronic statement/signature to the effect that "I have read the contract and agree to the terms and conditions."  

 

For some people a $400 wedding cake may be one of their biggest purchases and it scares them silly and they will return that contract and have 100 more questions.  Other people could easily drop $400 on a pair of shoes or a purse any given Tuesday, and therefore not think twice that a little cake at that amount would require a contract--even if it is for their protection as much as the seller's. 

 

I personally think that it would be seriously shooting yourself in the foot NOT to find a way to work with a customer who has a more laid back way of doing business. Every now and then a customer is more high-maintenance and needs a little hand holding.  I don't think sticking to your personal business rules in this case is worth losing the business and tarnishing your reputation. 

sweettooth101 Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 8:48pm

If you were not going to make the cake due to the contract not being signed, I think you should have informed your client a month ago AND refunded her money. Two days does not give her time to find another baker and puts her in a spot.

costumeczar Posted 10 Jun 2013 , 11:26pm

Does your contract say that if the customer refuses the cake she still has to pay for it? If she refuses to sign the contract when she comes to pick it up what would you do?

 

Personally, I'd call her and tell her that unless you get the signed contract tonight you'll be refunding her money and not doing the cake. I understand about not wanting to put her in a difficult position, but it sounds like she's being shifty about it for some reason, and it sounds like you've given her plenty of opportunity to return the contract.

 

Edited to add: You'd be surprised how fast people will follow instructions when they realize that you really won't be doing the cake unless they do.

Sweet_Cakes Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 10:26am
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar 

Does your contract say that if the customer refuses the cake she still has to pay for it? If she refuses to sign the contract when she comes to pick it up what would you do?

 

Personally, I'd call her and tell her that unless you get the signed contract tonight you'll be refunding her money and not doing the cake. I understand about not wanting to put her in a difficult position, but it sounds like she's being shifty about it for some reason, and it sounds like you've given her plenty of opportunity to return the contract.

 

Edited to add: You'd be surprised how fast people will follow instructions when they realize that you really won't be doing the cake unless they do.

From the time that I have started to get on this website, I know that a contract is there to protect the clinet AND the cake designer. What is the point of doing a contract when you are not going to stick to your guns and ask for it back before you do a cake. For this reason, I agree with costumeczar.

costumeczar Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 12:46pm

what happened? Inquiring minds want to know....

bittersweety Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 1:23pm

just curious, if shes already paid in full, whats the huge need for the contract? obviously she should have sent it to you, but isn't that payment in full the most important part?

AZCouture Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 2:24pm

AI also believe that sometimes you need to just let things go. Is it worth the fight this airhead that probably just really forgot, might put up? Reminds me of a thread in here once where someone was holding their ground on a quote they gave, something like $1200 for a cake and cupcakes, whatever it was. And the client said they could do $1100. Everyone told this small homebaker to stick to her guns, and not back down, if they weren't willing to pay, then too bad, blah blah blah. Someone else then came in and said "well, now you won't get $1200 OR $1100, but yay you for "holding your ground", which should be read very sarcastically. The point is, it was probably very foolish to look $1100 in the face and turn it down.

AZCouture Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 2:27pm

ACan you bend and fkex and make exceptions for everyone? No, but most people aren't out to make you have to bend and flex. For the one or two dopes that come along, work around it.

jason_kraft Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 2:36pm

A

Original message sent by bittersweety

just curious, if shes already paid in full, whats the huge need for the contract? obviously she should have sent it to you, but isn't that payment in full the most important part?

Without a signed contract (or at the very least confirmation that the contract has been read and agreed to) you have no grounds to enforce your rules for the transaction. The only time this isn't a problem is when you don't plan on actually enforcing your contract.

Cynita Posted 11 Jun 2013 , 3:52pm

To make a rash decision 2 days before the cake is due is not business like, especially when this decision could have been made early on.  Because the cake is paid in full and you failed to cancel the order in a reasonable amount of time, I believe that you are obligated to make the cake.  In the future, if the contract is not signed in a reasonable amount of time, after you have given them a deadline to sign, you should not have any problems at cancelling the order.  If you require that your customers sign a contract, especially for large orders it should be done so at least 2 weeks before the due date.  If the contract is not signed 2 weeks before the due date cancel the order.  Refund the money minus any cost that are not refundable.  Good luck in the future with customers who do not cooperate, with those type of customers we have to stay on top of our game.

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