Okay, I delivered a cake to crazy woman last night. I did a cake for a baby shower where this lady was a guest. She called me the following day and placed an order for an anniversary cake. She called me everyday and drove me bananas about that cake! She just seemed a little off. I started thinking crazy thoughts about things people could do...could they say they got food poison, or they found a hair in the cake. I guess I was wandering if any of you have any legal documentation that does not hold you liable. I do cakes on the side...it's not my full time job, should I be worried or is this lady making me think crazy thoughts!!!
Gosh, I don't have any advice, but look forward to hear what others have to say on this topic. I have thought of that myself--just how liable are we?
Waiver forms, though handly and nifty, do not mean a lot when it comes to liability. These are forms that we give out in hopes that someone will believe it and not pursue civil litigation. The truth is, they tend not to amount to much in a court room.
Besides...Im not sure if I'd buy a cake that I had to sign a form to say I wont sue if I eat your cake and get sick and die.
Just tell Mrs. Crazy lady that you cannot do her cake. Make up a crazy reason...I've been abducted by aliens.....maybe she'll relate.
Just to be on the same side, I sould suggest that you have the customer sign a "hold harmless" form. You can still be sued (legally anyone can file suit against anyone, I think), but at least you'd have a leg to stand on...
A while ago a friend and I were considering starting a children's party business. One of the things that I was going to contribute were the theme cakes. We didn't end up doing it, becuase in our County there are very strict regularions about food - which is why I don't sell my cakes or cookies. But, when we were checkign into it, we were told that we should have a hold harmless agreement with every customer that stated that we are not liable for any accident or injury related to ANYTHING that we provided. This included food, party supplies, games, etc.
A "Hold Harmless" agreement or clause helps...if you are properly licensed for the business that you are conducting and not operating outside the scope of that business. If you are not...you'll get pound caked in court.
I agree with Dale. If you are not operating a legal business in your town, but are representing yourself as a business, you will be in serious trouble if you are involved in a legal action. You should have product liability insurance. Your attorney could also incorporate your business to eliminate personal liability. However, no document can prevent a lawsuit Your attorney still must Answer the Complaint, prepare motions etc. Legal fees alone, even if you prevail or settle, might be mindboggling. I would just let everyone know that cake decorating is a serious hobby. As far as obsessive customers go, I would give them a window of time when they can call. Any customers repeatedly going over that line are really not worth the aggravation. I would make up an excuse and decline the business.
This is a very scary thing for those of us who bake from home without a license. If some nut decides to sue us because he got food poisoning, or choked on a toothpick holding in a rose, we are screwed. They can go after us hook line and sinker. It is a risk we take, but liability insurance costs an arm and a leg, and you can't get it if you are not a legitimate business. Even then alot of businesses can't afford the insurance and keep their fingers crossed. I'm in the same boat, and keep fingers and toes crossed, which is a huge risk.
I think you just need to be selective as to the customers you make cakes for.....if you don't have a comfort level, then don't sell a cake to them. I had a "gut" feeling about this one lady and I just knew she would be a problem...I didn't listen to my instincts and sure enough, she is the only customer I've ever had that wasn't happy with my cake!! The cake was ordered for a lady's 90th birthday and she said do whatever...so I decorated it with a message and fondant balloons...she said it looked to childish.....hmm, imagine...balloons for a birthday cake....go figure!!
Thanks everyone for your comments..they really helped. I will do my best to stay away from "crazy" customers. This is the first customer I have done a cake for that was not connected to anyone I knew. I haven't heard from her sense...no news is good news!!!