Just Grumbling About Work

Lounge By angesradieux Updated 1 Oct 2019 , 2:59am by SandraSmiley

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angesradieux Posted 27 Sep 2019 , 3:44pm
post #1 of 7

I decorate cakes at an ice cream store franchise. As far as jobs go, it's not bad. But ugh, sometimes people are so stupid! So I'm just grumbling a little bit.

Generally, the people taking the cake orders just don't know what we're doing. When I started, the owner had a policy that cakes should either be standard decorations or from the decopac book, because that way we could always be sure we had the necessary supplies to get the cake done. Occasionally, I would make exceptions if, and only if, it was a design I discussed with the customer and knew I could do, and if I made sure I was the one who was going to decorate the cake. Well, apparently the owner has relaxed the policy, and people have decided to run with it. The problem? They're not the ones who have to actually do the cake.

This week, I had an order for a half sheet cake. In the instructions for decorating, there was a super helpful note "customer has a picture." Well, by the time I came in for my shift, the customer had come and gone. I was told by the person who took the order to just text the customer for the picture. That was never going to happen, because the store phone is a landline, and I'm not keen on customers having my personal cellphone number. So I called from the store phone asking them to e-mail the photo. But, it took two days and four phone calls to get the customer to actually email the photo, at which point it was my last shift before the cake was due. What finally got a response was leaving a voice mail warning that if we didn't get the photo by that afternoon, we might not be able to do the cake. The following day was a day of the week we don't typically have a decorator on the schedule, and we had a decorator on the schedule for the evening shift, but she often refuses to do half sheet cakes and leaves those orders for someone else, and she also doesn't always actually come and decorate when scheduled. In the last two weeks, she showed up for two out of four of her scheduled shifts, and when she did come, she spent both shifts finding things around the store to clean instead of decorating cakes. So obviously I couldn't rely on her to get the order done.

Well, when I finally get the photo, it's a fondant cake. We're an ice cream store chain. We have whipped bettercream frosting and that's about it. The order never should have been taken, because we don't have the supplies to replicate the cake. I called the customer and they insisted that they wanted the cake done, but in frosting. They'd already paid and the order had been accepted a few days ago, so it was too late for me to reject the order, so I said I would get as close as I could, but the finish wouldn't be the same. They're picking the cake up this weekend. I won't be there when they do, so I guess I'll just cross my fingers, hope what I did was enough, and assume that if I don't hear anything about it, everything was fine? The cake is also a Disney cake, so technically a copyright violation. The order also should have been rejected on those grounds, but by the time I got the order, managed to get the customer to return my call, and saw the photo, the cake was already paid for, due in less than 48 hours, and there wasn't much anything I could do about it if the customer insisted and wouldn't cancel or change the order, because someone else already promised them we'd do the cake and taken their money, and there wouldn't have been time for them to order a custom cake from somewhere else at that point.

It just annoys me. If a customer shows a photo, how hard is it to look at the picture and think about whether or not it's actually achievable with the resources available at the store? But I guess people think "Eh, I don't want to get yelled at by angry customers when I say 'no,' and I don't have to decorate it, so not my problem!" Or maybe they actually didn't realize that the cake fondant and not frosting. I don't know. But also, if a customer pulls up a picture on the phone, how difficult is it to ask that they e-mail it to the store so I can just come in, see what they want, and get started instead of having to either hunt customers down or, failing that, try to read minds?

And then later that day, about an hour before my shift ends, an order came from our online system for another half sheet cake. We don't stock that size. All of those have to be made to order. We have to soften the ice cream to put it in the molds. It takes 1.5-2 hours to refreeze. The decorator coming in that night was the one who often doesn't show up, and also tends to refuse to do half sheet cakes, and I wasn't on the schedule again before the cake was due. I called my boss and told him I didn't think we would get it done, explained I didn't have time to do it, and told him that I wasn't sure if the other decorator was coming, or if she'd do it even if she showed up, and told him we should refund the online payment and decline the order. The cake was due in less than 48 hours from the time of the order. And to my mind, you lose more business by pissing people off making promises you can't deliver on than you would by being upfront and saying we need more notice for these kinds of orders, thereby giving them the opportunity to go elsewhere for this occasion, and maybe next time they need a cake, they'll come back and place an order a  bit further in advance. My boss refused to let me issue the refund. He told me that the other decorator should do it, and that I should just accept the order, make the cake, and we'd figure out who was going to decorate it later.

It came time for the other decorator to come in. She wasn't there, I was supposed to be leaving, and the cake wasn't hard enough to take out of the pan and decorate it yet. I called my boss again to let him know she wasn't there, and he insisted she'd be in soon and I should wait to ask her if she could do it. Well, I waited. Twenty minutes into her shift, she wasn't there, so at that point I knew she wasn't coming. I texted one other person to ask if she'd be able to decorate the cake and never heard back. Rather than leaving it to chance and hoping he was able to get someone else to come in for it the following day, and risking a potential panicked phone call asking me to come in on my day off, I ended up just staying late and doing the cake.

People are just so dumb! Like, don't take orders if we don't have the supplies for the design, but if you do, make sure you at least get the photo of what the customer wants, or give a detailed description instead of just leaving me a note about some picture that I have no access to. And at this point, I'm the only full time cake decorator and pretty much the only one who reliably shows up when scheduled, so I do the vast majority of the cakes for the store. So maybe trust that I know what we can and can't get done, and trust me when I say as the schedule stands, it's impossible to fill an order instead of telling me it's fine, and then putting me in a position where I have to either work late or come in on my day off to avoid a customer coming in and finding out that we don't have the cake they paid for. I know my boss likes to think my life revolves around work, but I do have a life of my own, and there will be times I have other obligations and won't be able to either stay late or come in at the drop of a hat because someone accepted an order they shouldn't have, or another decorator either didn't show up when scheduled or came but decided to refuse to do one of the orders.

If you've read my whole wall of text, thank for listening to my rant. Just wanted to grumble about stupid people doing stupid things.

6 replies
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SandraSmiley Posted 27 Sep 2019 , 4:54pm
post #2 of 7

The problem is your boss.  The decorator who only comes in when she feels like it and refuses to do half sheet cakes (who gets to decide what they will do and not do on the job???), should be fired, pronto.  There should be hard and fast rules for what type orders will be accepted and when.  It sounds like your boss has come to rely on you too much and is taking advantage because that's easier than dealing with the real issues.

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angesradieux Posted 27 Sep 2019 , 5:31pm
post #3 of 7

Yeah. She claims the half sheets are too heavy for her to deal with, so she leaves them for other decorators. But, unlike me, she is never in the store alone. If she's really having trouble getting one out of the pan, she can ask someone to help her with that part. Once it's on the turn table, the work station is literally right next to the freezer. I'm pretty sure she could carry it for the five steps it takes to get it to and from the freezer if it needs to go back in for a bit while she's working on it.

I complained to my boss and said her not coming in with no notice puts me in a really bad position, because I have to do almost all the orders, and he also wants to keep 100 cakes in stock in the display at all times, and most of that falls on me, too. In addition, two days a week he has me in the store alone, so every time someone comes into the store wanting ice cream, I have to stop whatever cakes I'm working on and deal with that, too, and I just can't juggle making stock cakes fast enough to keep the displays full, doing all the orders, and running the store by myself 2-3 days a week. He dances around the issue, giving me the whole "well, this person was sick today" or "that person had a family emergency," and insists it won't be an issue next week. But there are four decorators, me and three other part time employees. One hasn't shown up in almost a month. The other won't do half sheets most of the time, only showed up 2/4 days the last two weeks and spent the other two cleaning instead of decorating, and so hasn't decorated anything in two weeks. And the last is in high school, so she only works 2 or 3 days a week, works very short shifts, and is almost always late and frequently calls out. She also admitted to taking longer than necessary to finish things just to avoid having to do anything else. It's been weeks of me trying to keep everything afloat with very little help.

There should be a maximum number of orders we can take week, but when most of the time orders are taken either online or by people who aren't decorators, they aren't paying attention to orders piling up. If I'm in the store, I can decline orders and say we need more notice because my boss isn't there and can't stop me. But when the orders come online my boss sees them, and then even when I try explaining that it's just not feasible, he can't bring himself to issue a refund because he's so terrified of losing sales. So he would never approve a cap on the number of orders each week, no matter how much sense it makes.

But the store's been running for nearly twenty years, and I've only been there since the end of June. I assume cake orders were filled before then, which just makes it even more annoying, because it feels like it's become a conscious decision to leave everything for me instead of typical, par for the course disfunction. If this was how things have always been we would never get orders because we'd have a terrible reputation for not producing the cakes people paid for.

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SandraSmiley Posted 30 Sep 2019 , 7:28pm
post #4 of 7

I encourage you to start putting out feelers for a new job.  Making cakes at a grocery store or Walmart would probably pay as much as the ice cream store and be a whole lot less stressful.  If you boss persists in pushing you to unreasonable limits, be ready to walk away.  No job is worth that kind of stress and disrespect.

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kakeladi Posted 30 Sep 2019 , 10:57pm
post #5 of 7

Your boss needs to become a BOSS and stop being a whassss :(  YOU can be in BIG trouble if any of the copyright holders come after you, HIM, and the store/business/franchise.    Yes, they will and YES YOU will be sited along with him and the business.   A meeting of everyone in the store needs to be held so that everyone knows what is acceptable and what is NOT.

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angesradieux Posted 30 Sep 2019 , 11:13pm
post #6 of 7

I plan to start looking. I hate to leave now because I've only been here for a little while and I don't want it to look like I can't hold down a job. But in the continued saga of absurdity, I requested Saturday off. I spoke to home about it in advance, so it wasn't like I called out at the last minute and it was a surprise. Well, Saturday I got several panicked phone calls. On Friday night, someone accepted an order for an airbrushed, decopac cake and the decorator on the schedule Saturday didn't know how to use the airbrush. So I had to go in early on Sunday to do another order that never should have been accepted.

I told my boss this isn't fair to me and I won't ways be able to just pick up extra hours on a moment's notice. He just said "oh, well tell me when you're overwhelmed and then we can start declining orders." But I've told him the issue is we need consistent restrictions on orders. Two days in advance for any customs and five to seven days for more elaborate cakes. But he doesn't want to hear that, so he gave me a list of other nonsense he's doing to "help" me. Like ordering some predocorated stock cakes and calling to make sure the decorator who hasn't been showing up actually comes. But unless she consistently shows up when scheduled, her being there one or two times doesn't help and half the predocorated stock cakes come damaged and it takes as much time to fix them as it would to decorate cakes from scratch. The big issue is the orders and his refusal to decline them when we clearly don't have time to do them.

Unless we implement a firm 2 day for custom and 5-7 for more elaborate cakes limit, I'm still going to have to come in early and stay late for these ridiculous requests.

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SandraSmiley Posted 1 Oct 2019 , 2:59am
post #7 of 7

By taking another job, it would not make it appear that you cannot hold down a job!  That is the way the corporate world works, if your present position is not acceptable, you look elsewhere.  If you were not acceptable to the boss, he would certainly be looking for someone else!

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