Sorry if this is in the wrong section but I really need some advice. I'm at my wits end with a customer!!
Back in January a customer came to me and asked me to make a cake for her husbands 60th birthday. We sat for over an hour coming up with ideas of what she wanted etc. I gave her a price and she said she would drop a deposit off with me the following week. A few weeks passed and I heard nothing. Then I had an email to say could we change the decoration of the cake, I said yeah and gave her another price. Again she said she would bring a deposit and never did. I had only penciled her in so wasn't too bothered about the lack of money. I didn't buy anything in and wasn't planning on doing till I had a 33% deposit in my hand.
AGAIN a few weeks later another cake design was put to me, I never gave her a quote as I was getting quite frustrated with the amount of time I had originally taken to look at ideas with her and the quotes I had given her.
About 3 weeks ago she said to me she would bring a deposit and that she also wanted 24 cupcakes to go with the cake, that was when I told her I was no longer able to make a cake as I had 2 bookings for the same weekend. I told her cupcakes were a possibility as I could make the toppers in advance and 24 CC would be no problem. Last Monday she told me she would bring a deposit this week. 3 days ago she paid me £30. This was more deposit than I had asked for but she wasn't bothered. She had already told me exactly what she wanted and although I didn't have the mould for what she wanted, I was happy at spending £5 to buy them knowing I would get use out of them in the future.
Anyway, the following day she emailed to say she had changed the colour scheme. This annoyed me quite a lot. I told her it was going to cost more as I would have to buy in the colours and they varied in price a little. She was fine with that..
Today she asked me to send her a picture of what they were going to look like. (We had already discussed the design, all that was changing was the colours) I explained that I could draw up something similar, so that's what I did. She then went onto send me a link of some cupcakes with butter cream topping with small 60s on and some silver dragees, again, another colour scheme. I haven't responded as I am totally p*ssed off now. 3 times she has changed the cake, and twice the colour scheme of the cupcakes. I have spend £5.60 on stuff for the cupcakes and bought the cupcake stands she asked me to order which she paid me for. The £30 included the money for the stands which cost me £7.38. In total I have spent £12.98.
I'm in two minds to email her and tell her that she is wasting a lot of my time and that I have already purchased the odd few things and that I will be giving her a partial refund. I didn't state that the refund was non returnable and although some people would give no refund whatsoever, I am happy to partially refund. What would other people do in my situation.
Arghh sorry for the essay I am just really annoyed!!
Thanks in advance.
It sounds like she plans to pay you for the finished product, as she has already given a deposit. She keeps changing the design because she does not know why this can't be done. She sees herself as a customer who can make alterations. Is the money what frustrates you or the time you spend coming up with a design she keeps changing? Charge her for the design time, add it to the cost of the final product. This is a good lesson about difficult customers.
Also, cakes are a creative entity, where the possibilities are endless, so people let their minds wander.
AI tell clients changes can be made up until 30 days before the order. At that point everything is locked down. No changes are allowed at that point.
If an order is placed with less than 30 days notice I tell the client right then and there to make up their mind because no changes are allowed. Put your foot down.
AThis is where you have to educate your customers by setting deadlines. When I come across a customer that wants to change things multiple times the first thing I do is remind myself they are not my customer until I receive a deposit. They get minimal time before that point. I professionally acknowledge their thoughts and ideas but nothing more than sending an email with options, quotes, and a deadline. Once the deposit is paid and date is booked, I kindly acknowledge any requests and changes but set a deadline for 2 weeks prior to the event for final design ideas, 30 days prior for weddings. Once that deadline hits, no changes can be made. My deadlines are stated in the terms on my invoice.
I just needed a little kick up the ass. I've spoken to her and all is sorted, she's happy and so am I now :)