The Ethics Of Cakery?

Business By cuppypuppy Updated 22 Sep 2015 , 2:02am by ladyonzlake

cuppypuppy Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:00pm
post #1 of 23

Meet Client A. Let's call her Pita - she wants a tasting for a party with 25 guests - I told her I typically don't offer a tasting unless its a BOOKED event with x amount of people, typically wedding. Pretty straightforward. She falls off the face of the earth for a little over 2 weeks with no reply.

Of course, then she calls me out of the blue right when I'm surfing a wave of catastrophe (if you must know the dirt: I was slammed with my first flu my since babycuppy was born, high fever, hubs calling because his car broke down when he's supposed to be here to GET THIS MARVELOUS LITTLE BEAST OFF ME for five minutes so I can go die in the next room, mother calling, angry at me about something someone else did to her 7 years ago, and MUCH more! *queue upbeat infomercial music*) ----

so basically she called a few days ago to offer a soliloquy on why she is special and deserves "samples" - In my delirium I give in and say fine I'll do a tasting but I'm charging a $illy amount. I then email her to get something in writing - about the tasting and the booking - She says she is "totally fine with paying for the samples" (btw, wtf is this "samples" thing, I'm not Macy's handing out tiny eye creams, you freak) but NO word on actual commitment like totally glazes over the part where I get paid and just gives a "see you then!" Now that can think clearly I'm like wait, wth? The only time I had before her event date for a tasting is this weekend.

THEN to really kick it in the nethers, this morning, Client B, aka McDreamy appears from thin air. Desperately wants to book - a MUCH larger affair for the SAME date as Client A - doesn't have time or want for a tasting, just wants to know WHAT TIME SHE CAN POP IN TO GIVE ME MONEY TODAY and sign a contract.

I would honestly like to go back in time and punch sick-me in the throat and never have gotten myself into this bowl of turd ganache. I'd love to tell Pita to suck it and go with McDreamy, but since we have this tasting arranged so soon, it seems kinda wrong to just pass the date to the next guy. But then again I have no contract, no deposit from Pita. What is the correct thing to do??

22 replies
Snowflakebunny23 Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:12pm
post #2 of 23

That is a tough one but if the PITA hasn't paid for your consultation then I would just write to her and say that she hasn't paid (thus not confirmed the tasting) and the date has just been taken by another customer.  But I would make sure that you have that deposit in your hands before saying anything.

I usually say i will hold a date for a bride for 1 week following a consultation so she can make her decision.  If they do not book, then it goes back on general release.  If it's pre-tasting then unless i have had to leave a big delay between enquiring and making the consultation date because I couldn't do it myself, I would have little sympathy.  Go with your gut.  and good luck


oliviasbakery Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:19pm
post #3 of 23

Oh, horrible situation! Can you write her an email that basically tells "we need to have the deposit until XY otherwise the date gets to another customer. Or can you do both orders?

I've had similar situations and now my standard email answer contains a sentence about "safe the date". 

"We can reserve the date XY until <other date>. Because we get multiple requests we need to know until <repeat date> if you want to book that date. After that we can not guarantee a free spot."

Something like that, as I don't run my business in english that sentence sound kinda weird. but I guess you get the point.

good luck with that situation! Gr. Olivia.

costumeczar Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:57pm
post #4 of 23

No problem here at all. Pita didn't pay for the appointment, so she DOESN'T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT. Write and tell her that due to the fee not being paid you're assuming that she did not want the appointment, and that the date of her event has now been booked by a different client who has put a deposit down. Even if the second client disappears and you don't get a deposit, losing Pita is not going to be a bad thing. When (not if) she calls to yell at you, just repeat my friend's patented catchphrase until she stops "I'm sorry, it just isn't possible for me to do that."

costumeczar Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:58pm
post #5 of 23

And I wouldn't call this an ethical issue at all, it's a policy issue. If your policy is first-deposit=date-booked, then that's what it is. I've had to tell people who waited too long that their date was taken...They're never happy about it but it's not my fault if they can't send a contract or a deposit in. 

Norcalhiker Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 3:59pm
post #6 of 23

1. It sounds like you are looking to justify and blame client A for everything you did wrong; you sound like your are simply looking for a means to dump the client because a better paying gig walked in

2. Your failure to adhere to your business procedures, including your failure to obtain a deposit and contract is your failing, not the client's 

3. You doubled booked you calendar because something better came along; you're making this all about you, when in fact the adverse impact is on both clients--both who have no idea that you doubled-booked

4. Consultations and tastings are standard practice in the industry.  Why would a client book with no clue of product quality? And why would you book with no understanding of what the bride expects? The point of a consultation and tasting is for bride and baker to clarify and assess quality of product and types of products available; assess cake design and size; calculate cost, including any surcharges and tax; set appropriate budget; securing a deposit and signed contract.  

5. Your husband's car problems and breastfeeding your child are your issues--not the clients'.  If the demands of your life are so stressful they prevent you from properly operating a business, then perhaps you should pause your business until you resolve your personal issues  

6. No doubt many brides confuse cake consultations and tastings as a bridal celebration, instead of an business and event planning process. Establishing and maintaining the parameters of the business process is the responsibility of the business

Snowflakebunny23 Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:11pm
post #7 of 23

@Norcalhiker  I can't help but think you have misunderstood something here?  OP has done nothing wrong...she is just deciding how to proceed in a potentially difficult situation.  She isn't blaming client A for anything...she may be having a moan about an apparently difficult customer but haven't we all?  Her business procedures are her business and should always be flexible otherwise you risk providing bad customer service experiences.

OP has not double booked as far as I can tell (yet).  Client A has no booking if she hasn't paid for something for which payment is required.

Consultations are common in the industry but not a must.  And a tasting for 25 people is completely outrageous! That's a bridal party!

OK, managing your life around a business can be tough and that is your responsibility to manage, not your clients but again, haven't we all had bad days??

costumeczar Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:15pm
post #8 of 23

I agree and disagree with @Norcalhiker  I'll limit it to what I disagree with, which is the part about a consult being necessary to book a date. I've had plenty of people call and say that they want to book me for their wedding, give me a credit card over the phone and it's done. They're mostly out-of-towners who know that they want to hire me based on my website and referrals, but who know that if they wait their date might be booked by someone else. The OP said that the first customer wanted the whole "cake experience" for a party for 25 people. I've had people try to book tastings for small cakes and I've said no because it isn't cost-effective. When I started charging for tastings that kind of nonsense stopped really fast, too. 

As far as the policy stuff goes, I agree with that. She caught you at a bad time but you probably should have told her you were sick and you'd call her back. Regardless, if someone has put a deposit down for her date and she hasn't paid for an appointment to confirm it, she's out of luck. 

*Last edited by costumeczar on 11 Sep 2015 , 4:16pm
cuppypuppy Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:35pm
post #9 of 23

Costumeczar - you are so, so very correct. I am making notes of ALL your points - yes I absolutely handled it like garbage from the start and def. got myself into this mess, so thank you kindly for your help!!

Snowflake thank you for your advice and for stepping to a bully. It is appreciated. 

Olivia - no sadly I can't manage both events, they're an hour opposite each other at the same afternoon timeframe! Ouch that would have been the best way out though!

Norcalhick - There are many parts to my post that were meant to be humorous. Also, I never double booked anything, and I never said anything about breastfeeding my child. I wonder about people who act like such shit to a complete stranger on the internet. I will never understand people like you - I would not address you, or anyone, in such a judgemental, narcissistic and just plain disgusting manner, as you have decided to address my post. Exponentially so on a post where the inexperienced (PEOPLE LIKE ME) come to ask for guidance! Pathetic. 

-K8memphis Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 4:50pm
post #10 of 23

whoever gets there first with the money wins -- or like cc said to just cancel with pita no great loss -- it almost seems like norcalhiker is responding to the wrong thread except some of the facts are the same but i don't see the reference for several of her conclusions -- i agree with snowflakebunny there seems to be a misunderstanding?

and cuppypuppy, i'm sorry you're having a tough few days -- best to you et al

costumeczar Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 5:18pm
post #11 of 23

I'm going to defend @Norcalhiker  here...I think she misread the "little beast" part of your comment, which is obviously a joke (although I had the same thoughts when I was sick with a baby to take care of) as "breast" so that might be where the breastfeeding thing came in. I don't see a pattern of being a bully from her past posts AT ALL, but you're going to get straight talk in the business forum and without tone of voice it might come across harsher than it was intended.

Anyway, just thought I'd pipe in because I don't think the post was intended to be the way that you read it, @cuppypuppy  

Also, even if you COULD manage both events, you don't want a customer like #1 to deal with because she's the type who would probably harass you after the event too for whatever reason she had to complain.

Jinkies Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 5:31pm
post #12 of 23

Well, doesn't it figure that McDreamy shows up AFTER you given in to Pita!

So, a little confused with Pita...did you tell her she needs to pay for the tasting BEFORE it's booked?  If so, and she hasn't paid, just tell her someone else booked you.

If you've left it open where she can pay when she shows up...then, it's really just a matter of how you want to handle your business.  Obviously, it will look bad to tell her to take a hike now. But, then, she is a pita :)

 I think, if it were me, I would tell her she needs to pay up (non-refundable) asap or you have another client who wants to book.  Not just for the tasting but also a retainer for the actual cake.  Otherwise, she may not even order or pay you and you've lost McDreamy.

Hope you're feeling better.  It's tough when people badger you when you feel awful and can't think straight.

Pastrybaglady Posted 11 Sep 2015 , 6:37pm
post #13 of 23

The main lesson I'm taking away here is when you are not at your best do not entertain the ravings of a pita client.  People catch us off guard all the time, but we need to protect our schedules and sanity.  No they cannot have an answer until we are able to give them a well considered one.   No you can't have a "tasting" which sounds more like the reception!  No you're not booked until I've got money in hand.

@cuppypuppy  I hope you feel better and can find a good solution to your problem.  As far a the ethics question I do think it would help you to firm up your policies and stick to them.  In this case I think you should give pita first right of refusal as in If you are serious about ordering I will require $xxx by x:xx today or I will not be holding your date.  It sucks for you if she comes through, but you did give her your word on the phone, but look at it as a good lesson to take forward with you in your business.

johnson6ofus Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 2:50am
post #14 of 23

In strictly legal terms, any contract requires "consideration"--- that translates to CASH. 

You DON'T have a client/ customer/ booking/ PITA until and unless they PAY. 

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 3:41am
post #15 of 23

That's not accurate. Consideration is just an exchange of value, and a mutual promise (e.g., a promise to pay in exchange for a promise to perform) is sufficient to form a binding contract. There is absolutely no requirement of "cash-in-hand." 

Pastrybaglady Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 3:39pm
post #16 of 23

@cuppypuppy  So what did you end up doing?

Apti Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 4:27pm
post #17 of 23

Stepping in to defend NorCalHiker specifically, and "strictly business" responses/opinions [example:  no butterflies or unicorns or attempts to soften the advice to the reception range of the recipient] offered in general by others on the CakeCentral site. 

A public, anonymous, international forum and a post from a person regarding a business decision is open to wide interpretation.  Humor often does not translate into a written form. 

In the past 5 years of reading thousands of CakeCentral forum threads, there seems to be a common thread:  Question/opinion is sought in Business Forum by Stranger A.  Question is answered, opinion provided by Strangers B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K.....


If a person ASKS for answers/opinions, then a person will RECEIVE answers/opinions that are based on millions of variables such as life experience, business experience, cultural expectations, ad infinitum.   It is practically a given that some of the answers/opinions will sound reasonable to the person asking the question/opinion and some will not.

I re-read both the original post, NorCalHiker's response, and the entire thread several times.   I found nothing that warranted this response:

Norcalhick - There are many parts to my post that were meant to be humorous. Also, I never double booked anything, and I never said anything about breastfeeding my child. I wonder about people who act like such shit to a complete stranger on the internet. I will never understand people like you - I would not address you, or anyone, in such a judgemental, narcissistic and just plain disgusting manner, as you have decided to address my post. Exponentially so on a post where the inexperienced (PEOPLE LIKE ME) come to ask for guidance! Pathetic. 

In my opinion , the response posted by CuppyPuppy above, highlighted in yellow, just did address someone in  "a judgmental, narcissistic and just plain disgusting manner".

In my opinion [a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. 2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.]  I  believe that NorCalHiker should receive an apology. 

Further,  I personally found NorCalHiker's response/opinion to be based primarily on sound business practices.    Further, perhaps Norcalhick was a typo, or perhaps it was an attempt at disparaging humor.  Impossible to tell on a public forum.

*Last edited by Apti on 15 Sep 2015 , 4:35pm
-K8memphis Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 5:46pm
post #18 of 23

first of all -- there are internal and external customers and the same deference should be given to both groups -- whether there are unicorns or bull dogs doesn't matter we should always be kind when we can't be kind and generous we should be firm and fair -- then further we should give warning if someone is standing where we are about to shoot  --

so one thing that is wrong is that there is this assumption that one area or any special area of this board has different 'rules' than the rest of the world has and to compound that fallacy we then defend/applaud each other for our "honesty" -- which further aggrieves the situation and the person being honested on (sic)  (which somehow i believe our eternal spam issues have something to do with this but i couldn't prove it but it makes sense yes?) and the person being 'honested on' gets madder and madder --

on this particular thread one problem was that norcal did not seem to fully ingest the op's conundrum -- there are several conclusions drawn that do not match the facts not the least of which is breast feeding, but also is it any wonder op got singed by these words in the first three lines, dumping, blaming, failure, failure failing -- op was asking she didn't fail at anything --

oh she might have been a failure at norcal's idea of what a business should be but that's not op's problem -- it seems that some people (possibly norcal idk) cannot understand the process and where people (op) are at -- they must have their expectation met and it's in the dump blame fail fail fail  fashion -- not the best word choices for transfer of ideas aka good communication

THE ADVICE MIGHT BE GOOD THE DELIVERY IS POISON -- we see it every time and we want to defend it? i mean why oh why won't these people lay down and take a good licking -- i just don't know -- but they don't so why don't we try a new approach -- let's be courteous here as much as everywhere --

when anyone starts a post with dump blame fail fail fail -- it will rankle others -- seriously how could anyone doubt that -- there's a nice way to say dbfff  -- op is our internal customer and we have pissed her flat off  -- no bueno -- we see it over and over and over and over 

then in general:

when someone posts about their issue then for someone to filet them and rewrite it reading them the riot act it as if their initial post did not come first  it is belittling and demeaning and it is right for op to be pissed -- as if the op was blissfully unaware that a problem existed -- that is indefensible --

-K8memphis Posted 15 Sep 2015 , 5:46pm
post #19 of 23

but we could debate all that all day long -- suffice it to say this absurd policy that 'other rules' of etiquette/diplomacy/ behavior exist for this one area of the board will ALWAYS draw the ire of the ones who are unaware because it is not honest --- how ironic

*Last edited by -K8memphis on 15 Sep 2015 , 5:47pm
Nancylou Posted 16 Sep 2015 , 6:15am
post #20 of 23

I agree K8Memphis, the delivery was very harsh.  I hope we didn’t scare CuppyPuppy off, I really enjoyed her humorous slant on tough situations.  

At the same time, I have read a lot of Norcal’s posts and this is not at all typical of her.  I wonder … didn’t she mention living in Napa Valley?  Do you think we just caught her at a really stressful moment as she and her community are surrounded by these seemingly never-ending fires?  I hope she is OK.

*Last edited by Nancylou on 16 Sep 2015 , 6:18am
mccantsbakes Posted 21 Sep 2015 , 1:56pm
post #21 of 23


i have been thinking a lot about norcalhiker......I even sent a message to see if she was okay as she did mention that she is from the Napa valley....

Nancylou Posted 21 Sep 2015 , 9:26pm
post #22 of 23

I just saw another story in the news about the fires in that area - they said that it is now ranked as the third worst in California's history.  I hope we hear from her soon.

ladyonzlake Posted 22 Sep 2015 , 2:02am
post #23 of 23

A similar situation happened to me.  I had a wedding planner contact me in February with a client(bride 1) who wanted to book xx date in September for her wedding.  Since the planner had worked with me her client said she trusted her and didn't need a tasting.  I asked for a deposit and signed contract to hold the date and didn't hear back until May.  Now she wants a tasting and we go back and forth for about 2 months and then nothing.  July rolls around and she books a tasting date in August.  In the mean time I booked another tasting (bride 2) for the same requested September date a day before I was to meet with the bride 1.  Bride number 2 booked the date and paid in full.

I contacted the wedding planner and told her what had happened.  My talks.  If there's no money and no contract then the date is still open.

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