How Would You Handle This Customer

Business By mcjrix Updated 18 Jul 2010 , 2:30am by cheatize

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mcjrix Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 6:53pm
post #1 of 27

I'm new to making wedding cakes. I'm making my 2nd wedding cake this weekend. I told the customer that if she was paying by check I needed payment 2 weeks ahead of time, but if she was paying cash she could get it to me a few days ahead of time (I know I should have told her 2 weeks ahead either way). So she of course said she'd pay cash. Well last Monday she said she wouldn't have time to get bring me cash, so she'd just send a check. It was already less than 2 weeks but I let it go. Well I have still not received payment. I sent her a message yesterday and she said she had mailed it but would send another check. Now I'm worried though. If I do actually receive the check I'm nervous that it's going to come back NSF the following week and I'll be out of luck. How do you guys handle collecting payments from customers?

26 replies
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cakesdivine Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:00pm
post #2 of 27

I don't accept checks EVER! Call her back and tell her that you cannot accept a check at this point, that she must bring you cash or no cake and no refunds if she already paid you a deposit...You did get a deposit right?

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jenmat Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:03pm
post #3 of 27

tell her at this point, she has a problem. You have no money, so you cannot make her cake. You want a CASHIER'S check by XXX o'clock this afternoon or no cake. That way there will be no NSF, because a cashier's check guarantees money in her bank account to cover it.

Then, you need to have a contract for EVERY wedding client to sign that says "payment in hand by XX, or no cake and they lose their deposit." I even charge a 10% fee if they are late. I have had to do it, and when you get busy, you will be glad you had it all in writing.
No more fooling around with this gal. Her wedding is approaching, and she's only going to get more crazy as it gets closer.
Good Luck.

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catlharper Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:17pm
post #4 of 27

Absolutely NO checks. In my contract it says payment for a wedding cake has to be paid 1 month before the event or no cake. At that point I will take a day under that 1 month cut off and it's cash only. I would call her back and tell her that the only kind of check you can accept is a cashiers check and it has to be by close of business (you pick the time) today or she will need to find a new cake vendor.

Hard to be firm but you have to train your clients and protect yourself and your business.


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JaeRodriguez Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:23pm
post #5 of 27

Oh this has "RUN" written all over it! There are tons of past threads about CCers getting burned by accepting a check, or the client says it's in the mail and it never comes! I wouldn't take a check now, either a cashier's check or cash.

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cutthecake Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:26pm
post #6 of 27

No cash=No cake

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leah_s Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:28pm
post #7 of 27

Cash only. Around here it takes 3 weeks for a check to clear anyway.

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cfao Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:38pm
post #8 of 27

She never sent the first check, so you're not going to see the 2nd one either. No one says ok, you didn't get that one, I'll send another one right out. If she really mailed it, she would say she would get back to you after she called the bank and tried to track down the missing one. Been there, done that mistake when I first started out. You really want the business and try everything to be nice while they're making empty promises that the check is in the mail. Unless you don't mind doing her cake for free, you have to set the rules.

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cakegrandma Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:38pm
post #9 of 27

You could take her check, as soon as you get it, to her bank and cash it. If she does not have enough money in the account they will let you know right then and there. Or demand cash instead of the check, no dealing with a customer that is saying "The check is in the mail"

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tomswife Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 7:43pm
post #10 of 27

Okay, let's not get all freaked out here. I was accepting checks and it was always fine (at first I was taking checks the day of delivery). Now, with this lady, what I would do is NOT do the cake if that money is not in hand within a week of the cake order. But, if she can produce a check a week out or so, just take it to her issuing bank and cash it. Then you know you are safe. I really do recommend PayPal - which I use through my website, which I made on VistaPrint website. That way you kind of open a door for customers to use a credit card or an echeck. It also keeps things all in order.

I think that there is still a window of trusting customers, but if you have a website, or an invoice or contract that you always issue or email out with these specified stipulations, you don't have to worry.

What about considering a 50% deposit (non-refundable) to hold their date. I do that and people are very conscientious about paying in full and keeping their order. I also require final payment 2 weeks prior to the event.

I have never heard of cash only for cakes and quite frankly, I think that is very over the top and not necessary. It is going to limit the customers that you get.

Good luck with everything. I have had some people seem really shifty at the beginning and turned out to be really great, returning customers.

: )

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BlakesCakes Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 8:41pm
post #11 of 27

This customer has let you know that you are not at the top of her priority list. She never sent that "first" check.

Given that cake is an item that is worthless to you once it leaves your hands and/or is eaten, I think you have every right to know that when it's delivered it has been paid for in full.

At this late date, I'd tell her to either bring cash or have no cake.

It's no longer up to you to deal with her problems. She's handcuffed you as far as buying any special ingredients or creating any special elements for the cake. The longer SHE waits, the more basic the cake gets--if there's to be any cake at all.

If you were the caterer, the reception would already have been canceled. If you were the florist, the flowers would NOT be in transit. If you were the bridal store, there would be no final fitting and/or no dress..............


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MalibuBakinBarbie Posted 12 Jul 2010 , 8:42pm
post #12 of 27

Hi tomswife ~ In this case the cake is due this weekend and the customer previously agreed to pay cash. Upon being notified about payment still due, the customer now says no time to drop off cash but will send a check which has not yet been received. Could be no problem and just a misunderstanding of the agreed-upon terms (especially if nothing's in writing); but then again... (I am a business owner in a different industry, and I would be slightly concerned at this point.)

Hi mcjrix ~ I don't know if you did in this case, but in the future please be sure to get all terms and conditions in writing, and signed by all parties. It will save you a lot of headaches. I would contact your customer and tell them that due to the timeframe you must receive final payment in cash by <date/time>. (I am sure there is someone in this customer's circle who can deliver cash to you.) Best of luck with this project. I hope it all works out for you and your customer! thumbs_up.gif

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mcjrix Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 12:14am
post #13 of 27

Well I received the check in the mail today but she made it out to Christine instead of Christy. I told her how to spell my name. I don't know if the bank is going to have a problem with that. I'm going to send her a message and let her know that I'm going to take it to her bank to try to cash but if there is a problem, she will have to get me cash. I guess I learned for future orders. It's the sister in law of my husbands cousin, so the whole thing was pretty laid back and I didn't expect any issues. I hope it works out ok.

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CakeandDazzle Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 12:31am
post #14 of 27

they will cash it at your bank np....

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Ruth0209 Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 12:41am
post #15 of 27

"...the sister in law of my husbands cousin." In my book, that's a stranger.

You're wise to treat these kinds of transactions as business dealings just like you would any other member of the general public. It just keeps things clearer for everyone. If you don't have a written contract, get one before you do another cake and use it for ALL weddings regardless of familial relationship.

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KCC Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 1:34am
post #16 of 27

I worked at a bank and If you cash it at your own bank it can still come back NSF and they will take it out of your account.

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cheriej Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 1:50am
post #17 of 27

ok so here's my 30 years of banking experience advice: Unless you cash it at HER bank of account and only deposit it at your bank, yes it can come back non sufficient funds.

The ONLY way to make sure she has funds in accepting a check is to get a cashiers check. NOT a money order.

If it is drawn on a bank that has multiple branches, you could go to any of those branches and cash it assuming the local branch will accept your identification etc. . Theoretically, once they hand you the cash they have negotiated the instrument and that is the end of it.

I would suggest if you want the money, call the branch, ask if she has "sufficient funds" in the account NOW to cash the check. That only means that she has enough if you walked in the door the next second. Ask what you would need to provide as a non-customer (assume you do not have an acct at her bank) to cash the check and the run down there and cash it.

Actually the interbank transfers are now much faster and they should not take as long as they used to to clear checks. But I would not recommend you taking a chance on that to get your money.

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procrastibaker Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 2:09am
post #18 of 27

Well, I personally think the misspelling of the name was a way to prolong you trying to cash the check.

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Kitagrl Posted 14 Jul 2010 , 3:05am
post #19 of 27

I'm ok with checks for deposits. Usually a deposit is made far enough in advance to get it cleared. If its a last minute order, I just require they pay online.

For final payments I accept online payments or cash...on rare occasions I will accept a check from a faithful customer that I trust.

Also if I do get checks for a large amount that I don't know the customer enough to trust them (again, rare) I actually go cash it at THEIR bank, so that if it were to bounce, they have to deal with it and not me, cuz I got the cash.

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mcjrix Posted 15 Jul 2010 , 1:03am
post #20 of 27

I took it to her bank today to cash it and had no problem. What a relief. Thanks for the advice everyone.

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Bakingangel Posted 15 Jul 2010 , 1:17am
post #21 of 27

What a relief! Extra stress you don't need right now!
Good luck with your cake!

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Kellbella Posted 15 Jul 2010 , 1:21am
post #22 of 27

No cakey icon_sad.gif

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CoutureCake Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 2:27am
post #23 of 27

O.k. time to change your contract... Here's how my terms were.

50% non-refundable deposit for initial amount of cake contracted (they have the ability to change)..

final design must be determined 28 days prior to the wedding with guaranteed serving final payment made by this date by cash or check...

Payments less than 28 days MUST be made in CASH... NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

It takes my bank 21-23 days to shoot a check back to me so, yea, NOT going to chance it! No money no cakey!!! I also made it clear that the oven isn't turned on until the gas is paid for, so have those payments made on time so they can get the closest to their ordered design possible...

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mamawrobin Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 4:20am
post #24 of 27
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

"...the sister in law of my husbands cousin." In my book, that's a stranger.

You're wise to treat these kinds of transactions as business dealings just like you would any other member of the general public. It just keeps things clearer for everyone. If you don't have a written contract, get one before you do another cake and use it for ALL weddings regardless of familial relationship.

I agree with Ruth. Hopefully everything will work out and you will actually be able to cash your check. At this point having the check in my hand wouldn't make me feel any better icon_rolleyes.gif If I'd taken the check to her bank and they actually cashed it for me then I would feel better...but not just having possession of the check. I do hope you get your money and everything works out for you. thumbs_up.gif

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elvisb Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 4:51am
post #25 of 27

I do agree that not accepting checks will limit your customer base. 99% of the cakes I sell are paid for with a check, and I have not yet had one bounce. I do not accept credit cards. I don't feel I'm big enough to go that route, and in nearly 5 years I have only ever had one customer ask if I take plastic. I do have a contract for weddings which states a $50 deposit to hold the date. It is non-refundable. Most caterers around here ask for the final head count about 2 weeks before the event, so that's what I do too. They are supposed to call me 2 1/2 weeks prior and let me know if we need to adjust the number of sheet cakes or cupcakes based on their rsvp's and I give them their final balance which I expect to receive a few days later. Call me by _____ with your final guest count, final pmt is due no later than _____. No adjustments to the designed cake within the last month or they get charged an extra design fee for my time. And if the payment is not received by the due date, they don't get a cake. I'm not going to hassle with tracking someone down at the last minute and I make that very clear in my consultations. Never had a problem yet.

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indydebi Posted 17 Jul 2010 , 12:52pm
post #26 of 27
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

"...the sister in law of my husbands cousin." In my book, that's a stranger.


That could be: "my husband's mother's sister's daughter's husband's brother's wife." icon_surprised.gifdunce.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

I avoid using brother in law or sister in law because it's too vague to me and I can never figure out the actual relationship. A brother in law can be:

- your husband's brother .... OR
- your sister's husband .... OR
- your husband's sister's husband

That's too many relationships for one terminology to me! dunce.gificon_biggrin.gif

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cheatize Posted 18 Jul 2010 , 2:30am
post #27 of 27

You just cut into your profits by taking the time to go to her bank and cash it. Plus all the other little costs like wear and tear on your vehicle and such. Just sayin' it's something to consider should this ever happen again.

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