So I'm new here, and this is my first post, but I've been a lurker for quite a while! Nice to meet you! 8)
I'm in a bit of a tricky situation and I need some advice handling it.
So I've just started taking orders for cakes and cupcakes about a month ago, and I've just received my first official order (that wasn't from family and friends lol!).
This customer is actually overseas and wants to have a cake sent as a birthday surprise to someone here. I don't plan on offering delivery as part of my services, except for nearby locations within the city. But since she's my first customer, I decided to make an exception. The delivery location turned out to be 2 cities away, about an hour and a half's drive. It's a tiny little store that doesn't show up on maps and has no website or way for me to contact it. So I would have to do a bit of searching. To compensate for that, I'm charging quite a hefty delivery charge. About triple what a taxi would take for a round trip. Do you think that's fair or am I overcharging?
Then she asked if I can pick up flowers and balloons on the way. I politely refused her, telling her that flowers and balloons are not a service I provide.
Just to give you a bit of background, I live in a country where women can't drive, and I can't ask the men in my family to make a 3 hour round trip on a workday. There aren't really any courier services or such that I can use, so I'm actually sending a company driver to deliver the cake for me. And to arrange for flowers, I can't just have them delivered to me and pack them up along with the cake. I would have to drive into the city to buy them, and then ask the driver to deliver them. Something that is just not part of his job description, you know?
She asked again if I could arrange just the flowers. Again I politely refused her, and I explained to her that I won't be making the delivery in person, so I can't stop to pick up flowers. She emailed me back saying that she's happy with my services and would love to order, but she's really keen on the flowers, so can I please make a special exception for her? Otherwise she'll have to look elsewhere for the flowers AND the cake.
So now comes my question. Do I give in and arrange the flowers? Or should I stick to my policy and refuse the order?
I can arrange the flowers, but it's honestly quite a hassle and I would be inconveniencing people other than myself. In exchange though, I would charge her for more than just the cost of flowers.
So what should I do? My instinct is to refuse, but it's my first order, you know? And honestly, since I'm just a fledgling, it's not like I have a line of orders waiting after this one.
Sorry about the long rant and I hope you all can make sense out of this. I'd appreciate any advice you guys could give me. Thanks in advance! 8)8)
You're right to refuse the flower delivery. If something happened to the flowers on the way it's your fault even though you're not going to be the one to drive, and you shouldn't be responsible for someone else's products. If she's basically threatening to extort a delivery service from you it isn't going to be a bad thing to refuse her order. Others will come along and you don't need to learn to stand your ground with customers or they'll run all over you!
That is not something I would do. You are already going way above and beyond to get the cake there. I know it's hard to say "No" to your first order but you are a baker not a courier. A nice polite " Sorry I can't help you" and move on.
Having read that story; it actually seems like a paypal/ebanking scam. What they will do is send a fake confirmation from "paypal" making it look like you have received the money..and might even overpay for the flowers and you will have to refund her the difference. It just seems like they might be trying to get your banking info. I'm sorry to play devil's advocate, but it's not a uncommon occurrence; it just seems fishy that the delivery is 2 towns away to an address/business you can't find and there is a ton of pressure to buy extra for her or else she will withdraw her whole order. On top of that there must be a custom cake place in this town she wants delivery to..I'm sorry but this customers story just doesn't add up, be careful.
If she's threatening to go elsewhere for the cake if you won't arrange the flower delivery for her, something's up. You don't need this kind of hassle on your first order. I know it's disappointing, but bite the bullet, say no and hope she goes elsewhere. As Gingerlocks said, this sounds like a scam.
I was thinking along the same lines as Gingerlocks and jgifford. There are a number of different scams. Could you post their initial request so we could see? The scams have certain things in common: bad English, a weird aspect of time or other special request that will require extra money and will ultimately require you to send them a check or something and they steal your identity. Be aware and listen to your instincts, is anything off or scary? If it makes you uncomfortable at all don't take the order!
I agree with Gingerlocks and the others. It's very exciting to get your first order but don't let it blind your judgment. I'm convinced it's fishy and I hope I'm wrong. but the distance it's a red flag to have you deliver and the customer not even local . Sorry to say but it stinks. If I were you I would let the customer go. sorry don't mean to sound harsh but customer being pushy for a reason. Not a good one. all the good luck.
Thanks for your quick replies everyone!
I was worried about giving her my banking information, specially since I'm new to this, so I asked her to pay me via Western Union. I figured all I need to give her is a name and a city, right? Nothing really seemed fishy. She even offered me the phone number of the recipient.
But she messaged me just now and asked for a copy of my passport or ID so she can get my name and address right. Now that is just way too suspicious for me! You don't need my ID to write down my name. Gingerlocks, I think you're right, and something is up.
Pastrybaglady, the order and conversation is pretty long and convoluted, but I'll try to post the important stuff.
Costumeczar, sleaky77, jgifford, abi78, thanks for the honest advice! I know not every order works out, I just needed someone to tell me it's ok and that I'm not being a fool for refusing.
I'm not really clear on the etiquette of posting RL conversations online, so I'll just remove names and addresses. Hope that's okay!
Ok Great :)O
OH thank you so much
Oh my goodness NOOOOOOO! She cannot be serious. Passport or ID, suuure... And florists don't deliver, right?
Bakemeenchanted, I feel for you. When I was first starting out I also got one of these "orders" I was really happy and excited. The penny dropped for me when I said I would be out of town for the date they wanted and they said they would change the date of the wedding for when I could make the cake (!). Anyway, no bank details changed hands so just be happy you've dodged this bullet and move onto real clients.
Regarding delivery, every baker does what works for them. I personally don't offer delivery, when people offer to pay whatever I want I tell them to send a car service which they do. Traffic is horrific here and there is no way I could calculate how long it'll take. I could be and have been stuck in traffic for hours on every day errands, the stress of delivering a cake bumper to bumper would not work for me.
I smelled a scam from your very first post. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths people will go to and the elaborate stories they come up with to scam people. I wouldn't even respond any further or if you do politely say I'm sorry but I am unable to fulfil your requests thank you for your inquiry and move on as quickly as you can.
Just a side note I kind of thought it was odd to press for flowers for a mans birthday. Do men like getting flowers??? I'll have to ask my husband lol :)
Wow I have never received such unanimous advice in my life! I love it! 8D 8D
Okay, so I do think I'll reply to her and plainly refuse. I'll tell her I can't do flowers under any circumstances, and delivering just the cake is already very difficult for me, so I encourage her to find another option.
Webake2gether, now that you mention it, flowers are pretty odd! That too at his work place! Lol! My brothers would kill me dead if I tried that 8P
Anyway, thank you so much for the help, you guys! I don't even feel bad anymore 8)
Thanks for saving me from a potential scam!
Scam, scam, scam! I have had a few of these pop up and I've only been open a year and a half. Both of my scammers have tried to order for a relatives wedding (only a week before the wedding!). They then want to send a cooling van to pick up the order and pay be for the vans services and they then want me to transfer the money here and there. The first time it happened I thought it was odd but it took me a few correspondences to for it to really get fishy..when they started wanting to pay me for the van and money and information exchanges. The second time I caught it right off the bat. The pickup cooling van once again! Both times I reported phishing through my email. I encourage you to do the same so they can be stopped.
just in case doubts creep in and you start second guessing yourself -- you really don't want to attract any more business that far away and you sure don't want to work with anyone this brittle and demanding -- this is the exact type of customer to avoid even if they were legit --
best to you
Quote from OP's post:
"Okay, so I do think I'll reply to her and plainly refuse. I'll tell her I can't do flowers under any circumstances, and delivering just the cake is already very difficult for me, so I encourage her to find another option."
Every single post above has said S.C.A.M. Even if they didn't all say SCAM, this SCREAMS "Oh good God, NO. Just NO." You don't have to be polite, you don't have to "encourage to find another option", or explain about the flowers or anything. BLOCK THIS FROM YOUR EMAIL. Do not engage in conversation. Would you politely argue with a thief who has his hand in your purse taking out your credit card? No. You kick 'em to the curb and call the police.
Glad you came on the forum instead of continuing to lurk! Now, just for fun, we'd love to see a photo of one of your cakes to leave everyone with a lovely, sugary high after the SCAM nastiness.
apti, pictures on her fb page just click on her name
Apti, that's a great way to put it! That is exactly how I'm gonna think about it.
And yes, most of my work is on my Facebook page. I am very, very new at decorating, so I'm currently just making sure that my cakes look good and taste fantastic. So my designs are still pretty basic, but I'm getting better as I go. Of course, I make sure that any clients know this, and I never accept an order I'm not 100% sure I can do.
And I've seen new bakers reamed here for unhygienic practices, so let me assure you that my work surfaces are cleaned before and after each use. No pets, no children, no carpets, hair tied up, clean apron, gloves on, and climate controlled kitchen and storage area. Just wanted to throw that out there, hehe! Let me see if I can put up some pictures.
@pastrypet Loved the article you shared!! Too funny I love how she messed with them so bad lol. Great idea. My husband gets at least 1 usually more phone calls everyday from "US Pharmacy" and he answers the phone "Decatur Police Department how can help you" they hang up lol. He's tried everything to get the calls to stop but they don't and I have no idea how they got his number. Scams are everywhere these days!!
You did the cake in your avatar? So stringwork is "pretty basic"? I'd give my right arm if I could do piping like that - it's beautiful! Of course, then I couldn't do it but I can't anyway, so . . .
See, I'm the one who wrote the fun with scammers thing and it didn't even dawn on me that this could be a scam. Until they want your passport information, what the heck? Usually the scam is that they want you to pay a courier that they'll send, then they use a fake credit card and a couple of weeks later the bank notifies you that the payment was fake and pulls the money out of your account, so the scammer ends up with your money. I've never heard of them asking someone to deliver a cake...
If she keeps writing to you after you tell her that you wont' do it, send the emails to me and I'll take care of her for you, heh heh heh
@costumeczar you are a funny, funny, person! I just had the most enjoyable half hour reading all your posts to that topic. Epic! I love how you beat them at their own game, it's awesome!
I honestly didn't think anything was suspicious either until she asked for my personal info. What could she possibly do with that? Unless, you know, I've made some mortal enemies over the years and this was all just an elaborate scheme to lure me to an abandoned electronics store and murder me. And then eat my cake. But guess what guys? I wasn't even gonna be the one to make the delivery anyway! Hah!
@jgifford thanks for the compliment! This cake is honestly my most elaborate one and it took me forever. The rest of my work is much simpler. And speaking of arms, let's trade! I would kill to have such a perfect finish on my cakes. And those birds! Exquisite!
Well guys, just wanted to update you on the ending (hopefully) of this sad little story. And also vent some rage.
I replied to this female flat out refusing the entire order yesterday. (This was before apti made me see sense 8( )
She didn't reply to me for a whole day, and I figured that was the end of that. Then she messaged me out of the blue on Facebook. She said she'd talked to another home baker on FB and they'd agreed to deliver the cake and the flowers. And she sent me a screenshot of this conversation. However, she says, I'm much more comfortable working with you, and so I'll send you the money in 2 to 3 hours.
Now I know I probably should've just ignored her, but I just couldn't resist rejecting her flat out once again. So I told her that since she hadn't bothered to acknowledge my mail for a whole day, I'd assumed that the order was cancelled. So I'd booked another order for that day, and cancelled the delivery service. (Which is sorta true, since I did just happen to score a legit order yesterday for a day after her event. Yay!) So too late, sorry, buhbye.
And then she has the nerve - THE NERVE - to send me this:
Oh noo.. please try to do something if possible
I don't want to work with them she is not responding to email. She is having Internet issues she said
I think you just need to stop replying; this woman is trying to commit identity fraud against you (at least I'm 99% sure that's what her game is) and by engaging her, it's just fueling her into thinking she has you 'where she want's you' so to speak.
Stop replying to her. This sounds less like a scam to me (other than the passport thing, which is totally scammified) then a really persistent annoying person. I've had clients like this who don't take a hint, won't take a direct no, and just won't leave you alone. You have to just stop communicating with them entirely.