How Far Do You Go Out Of Your Way To Please A Customer?

Business By bakemeenchanted Updated 11 Aug 2015 , 10:32pm by bakemeenchanted

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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 2:52am
post #1 of 34

Hi, everyone!

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) 

33 replies
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costumeczar Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 3:00am
post #2 of 34

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!

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sleaky77 Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 3:17am
post #3 of 34

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.

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Gingerlocks Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 3:19am
post #4 of 34

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.  

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jgifford Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 4:11am
post #5 of 34

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.

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Pastrybaglady Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 4:37am
post #6 of 34

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!

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abi78 Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 4:48am
post #7 of 34

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. 

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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 5:03am
post #8 of 34

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. 

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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 5:29am
post #9 of 34

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!

Customer: Hello, How are you? I have a small request and some question i would like to ask. Please let me know when your available. Thanks so much in advance!

Me: Hi! I'm always available, lol! Ask away

Ok Great :)O
I would like to order a cake
I would like to surprise someone with a Birthday cake. Will this be possible please?
I don't live in _______
I really want to do this..

Me: Well depends where they live. If they live somewhere that I can deliver to, then definitely! 8)

OH thank you so much
I would like the cake to be delivered to his job..  (address)
He works under the hotel at a electronic store. Its called ____ Electronic
His Birthday is on August 12th
and i would like to surprise him on his birthday.
Is this address close by you?
or possible?

ME: Hmmm well this is a little bit far from my location, but i think i can manage to deliver there. Let me just make sure and get back to you. Also, do you have a land line number for his house or workplace or something? I can tell the exact location from the area code.

I have his cell phone number
Thank you so muchhhhhh smile emoticon
Would you like his cell phone number?
How far are you from that location?

Me: Hi there! Sorry, I'm on my way to a wedding so I was mad busy today. That's why I didn't reply earlier. Anyway, I researched some delivery options, and since the location is in a different city more than one hour away from me, I'll have to take a delivery charge in addition to the cake cost. It'll cost you between 50 to 100 riyals, depending on the situation. If that's ok with you, I can do it.

Hi Thanks so much for getting back to me. I really appreciate that you took some time in your busy life and i know your heading to a wedding.
I have no pblm to pay for the delivery charge... I totally understand its' in a different city.. i am just happy that your willing to do this
After this we discussed designs, flavours and payment. She asked me about flowers and balloons once, and I refused.
And then this is our final exchange:
Is there anyway you can pick up some fresh flowers on the way? And when do you need the final orderror by?
Me: Hi! Like I said earlier, I'm not the one who's going to make the delivery. I can't ask the delivery man to pick up flowers on the way. Sorry about that 8( Party/event supplies are not a service I provide, so it's difficult for me to arrange that. I'll need your final order by the 5th. And since this is an online order, I would also prefer to be paid in advance, by the 9th at least. I hope you understand!
Yeah I totally understand... and of course I will pay you in advance. What is your name? And ok I will confirm with you on the 5th.
Thanks so much
Awesome, thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you then 8D My name is __________, and I live in ______________.
Oh and please mention the following in your order:
1. Design and shape of cake. 2. Cake and frosting flavour. 3. Message to be written in cake, e.g. Happy Birthday. 4. Name of recipient 5. Delivery address 6. That I will include a card mentioning it's from you 7. Any other special point you want me to take care of.
8) 8)
And then early this morning, the 4th, 
Hi.. I would really like to place the order tomorrow and send over the money. I am happy with everything just upset over the fact that the flower arrangements can't be made.. and trust me I totally understand that this is not a service you provide you only deal with bake goods. But as you can understand my situation I am in the ____ trying to surprise someone for their birthday.. and just don't want to send the cake alone. I would like to send some flowers along. I doubt there is any other services that provides flower delivery alone. Is there any exception you can make in my case. I will forever be greatful to you. Please let me know. If not I will try to find some other services for cake and flowers. frown emoticon sorry about this.
Just want to let you know I really appreciate the fact that you agreed to have this delivered for me even though it's a far away location smile emoticon
I understand where you're coming from, but this isn't easy. In any case, let me see what I can do. I'll have to look around and make some inquiries, and then I'll get back to you as soon as possible. I can't guarantee anything though. But just to let you know, if I can manage the flowers, it will also cost significantly more. I'll let you know the cost if it works out.

Thank you so much for understanding. You have no idea how much I appreciate this. The flowers don't have to be anything exotic. Just Buchanan of roses is fine..or any kind of flowers from the flower shop.. please let me know as soon as possible. If everything works out I would like to send you the money tomorrow during my lunch break from work. And please send me a copy of your passport or any I'd card so I can see your name and address to send money. The name and address has to be 100% a cute no mistake. Or else they won't give you money. Thanks again.
Sorry for the auto correct. I wrote Buchanan don't know what that means lol but I meant Bunch of roses. And I meant the name has to be 100% accurate.. not cute lol..
And that's the last message so far. I haven't replied to her yet. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna refuse though.

*Last edited by bakemeenchanted on 4 Aug 2015 , 5:35am
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Pastrybaglady Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 6:06am
post #10 of 34

Oh my goodness NOOOOOOO!  She cannot be serious.  Passport or ID, suuure...  And florists don't deliver, right?

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Claire138 Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 7:51am
post #11 of 34

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.

Happy baking!

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.

*Last edited by Claire138 on 4 Aug 2015 , 7:55am
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Webake2gether Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 12:15pm
post #12 of 34

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 :)

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-K8memphis Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 12:20pm
post #13 of 34


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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 12:40pm
post #14 of 34

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!

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stephsweetreats Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 1:10pm
post #15 of 34

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.

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-K8memphis Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 2:11pm
post #16 of 34

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

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Apti Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 3:30pm
post #17 of 34

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.

*Last edited by Apti on 4 Aug 2015 , 3:31pm
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-K8memphis Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 3:33pm
post #18 of 34

apti, pictures on her fb page just click on her name

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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 5:08pm
post #20 of 34

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.


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Webake2gether Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 5:14pm
post #21 of 34

@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!! 

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bakemeenchanted Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 5:24pm
post #22 of 34

So I can't get the pictures to post for some reason. Don't know what's up with that. 8( But the cake in my extremely-badly-cropped-and-I-just-can't-get-the-site-to-change-it avatar is one I made. 

@pastrypet  that article is hilarious!! Totally made my day!! Lolol!

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jgifford Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 9:21pm
post #23 of 34

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 . . .

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costumeczar Posted 4 Aug 2015 , 11:05pm
post #25 of 34

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

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bakemeenchanted Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 2:18am
post #26 of 34

@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! 

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bakemeenchanted Posted 5 Aug 2015 , 9:29pm
post #27 of 34

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

Oh man..this will be messed up if I left with nothing
I don't have anyone else
Please please help me...
If you don't have time to make the cake please don't worry .. I don't mind a cake bought from the store.. and delivered
I just want to surprise him..
I think I asked and dreamed of too much.. that's why this is happening to me.. please help me.. I will pay you same price..just buy a cake from store and have it delivered
Please let me know I can send over the money
I hope you won't turn me down...I am sorry for putting in so much trouble
Needless to say I just about absolutely lost my crap!!
I'm sorry that's totally not possible. You're asking a BAKER to BUY a cake from SOMEONE ELSE and then deliver it? I am NOT A COURIER. I am a baker, and unfortunately I do not have the time or resources to fill your order. You still have a lot of time before the birthday. You should focus on finding a bakery in Jubail, especially if you're okay with store bought cake. You said you'd been planning this surprise for months. I'm sure you have some other options. Otherwise why don't you just go with the other baker? Why would you prefer a store bought cake over a custom made cake, at a reasonable price, with the flowers that you really want, from people who are more willing and able to deliver than me? I'm sorry but I really can't help you. Take care, good bye.
And then she started apologizing for offending me and going on and on about how much she needs this. She's like oh I'll pay you in advance! (that was part of our initial agreement anyway) She kept going on and on and sending me screencaps of her conversation with the other baker. I don't know what she was trying to prove, other than that the other baker is a very nice lady who was agreeing to her every demand.
 So I sent her one last message, saying it can't be done, and that I'm leaving town for the weekend and can't be contacted till Monday. Which is also true.
I think she finally got the message because she replied with ok, sorry if I upset you, please pray for me that my surprise turns out well yada yada yada.
And so I hope this is over.  

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Gingerlocks Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 12:07am
post #28 of 34

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. 

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costumeczar Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 1:45am
post #29 of 34

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.

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Apti Posted 6 Aug 2015 , 3:32pm
post #30 of 34

I repeat:  BLOCK THIS FROM YOUR EMAIL/FACEBOOK.      Do not engage in conversation.

If you let a crazy person get you riled up, then you have let the crazy person have control.

*Last edited by Apti on 6 Aug 2015 , 3:32pm

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