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I want to kick this customer to the curb (sorry, long)

post #1 of 106
Thread Starter 
But I can't because she's a colleague of my DH and he views her as "good practice" for dealing with difficult people. Except that if she wasn't a colleage (notice I don't use friend) I wouldn't have done this for her.

She is having a 50th birthday party for herself on Oct 2. Back in March she came to me (us really because she roped him into helping her with music) because she wanted me to make her cake. Yet back then, she didn't care what it looked like and no one would eat it as there was lots of dessert. I questioned why bother, but she wanted it for effect. She had no idea what it might cost and didn't ask.

Over the course of a month I had no less that 23 emails between us with her constantly changing her mind on what the cake should look like. She kept sending me pictures that she liked. Finally settled on one that I hated. In any case, she's the customer... So because she's a colleague DH says that we will give her the cake as our gift but she will pay cost.

She has decided she wants a 3 tiered cake in black, red and white, with the flags of Canada and Trinidad in the place of bows on the original design and a red 50 topper. Still hate the cake with the flag but I go through everything and figure out the cost to her. The cake would be covered in buttercream with fondant accents in red and black, a gumpaste 50 on top and these two flags made of gumpaste. She wanted marble and went on repeatedly about fruit in the filling.

Calculating all required boards, dowels, cake and icing costs, I gave her a price of $200 for a 6/10/12. I think she fell on the floor because she asked if this was just for the cost. I confirmed it was, reminded her that the actual price for the cake would have been $430, provided a breakdown of the costs and asked her budget. $100!!!!!

At this point I wanted to tell her to find someone else but DH doesn't get it, and said 'good practice'. This was all based on her original date of Sept 25. When she had to change the date, I had a perfect opening to cancel on her but didn't. Stupid me. LOL.

So, she then said that two tiers were fine, no filling necessary, size didn't matter as there were other desserts and fondant wasn't necessary and she insisted she never wanted fruit (I quoted her email and told her the date she sent it)..

I provided her with pictures of 3 different cakes, two that were 2 tiered and one just a 12" square. Anyway, I sent her new costs based on all buttercream, fondant, 6/10 tiers, buttercream filling to meet her budget. And all seems well.

Fast forward to this week. We are now 4 weeks away from the party. She gives me the cash and starts asking me a) what are you putting on the top? (the cake in the picture had inedible foil stars and ribbons) b) what about a candle I have to blow something out and c) how big is it going to be.

I remind her about the 50 topper (she wants something more fun party-like), tell her the candle has nothing to do with me, that's her issue and c) that the cake will be about 7-8 inches in height when all done + the 50. She leaves and I think she's fine with it all. Until yesterday when I get an email and want to kill her.

Pam, how high are each cake, 4" standard size? Are they homemade cake? I do not want boxed cake at all. Would these not have the standard filling in the middle to join both cakes? I would like with the 50's on the cake the possibility of having canadian and trini flags as a decoration. I am not sure about the topper, I want something that looks different and fabulous.

I do like the toppers from the cake as it looks more like a celebration cake. If you only doing a 50 topper that would look a little boring icon_sad.gif. Please let me know what else you were planning for the top of the cake. Also how much would it cost to have a 4" cake added as another layer to the top? I would like to take that one home to enjoy the next day


My guess is that she's been talking to a friend. So now, she wants to know how much it will be to go back to a 3 tiered cake.

I tend to bake with a mix as a base as there can be more error with a scratch cake. Now she's talking "standard filling"...she has no clue. She's back to the friggin' flags again which I had told her did not fit the design. And I'm not planning anything else for the top! (Can you tell I'm pissed off? LOL)

Oh, and I made it very clear to her that I wasn't copying another decorators work. I could tell she didn't get this. She also doesn't remember that I said in my emails that I would not be copying but would use as an example of what her was look like.

So I've now spent several hours finding a vanilla cake recipe that I can make into a marble cake, and costing out the revised cake both with a cake mix base and with a scratch cake. I've also added in a contingency amount for the scratch to cover any failures that require additional materials.

I've attached the picture she liked. I can't find the original link as I stupidly saved the image to my hard drive not marked it as a favourite. icon_sad.gif

I can't find similar items at our local party supply store, and considered going to Michaels to see if they had. But now I'm thinking, 50 topper in red, and fondant/gumpaste stars on wires in red and black. I had thought originally silver using a shiny dust (not sure which one) painted on. But I so don't want to do the flags. I think it's not appropriate to the design and my name is attached to this cake.

Sorry about the long vent.
post #2 of 106
Thread Starter 
I'm having problems attaching a picture here.
post #3 of 106
First off-- don't stress about the box vs, scratch thing--- most people can't tell anyway.
Let her know that all your cakes have a box mix base--and so will hers. Who knows, maybe this is the perfect time to give her money back, since you don't do scratch! lol
Sometimes the men in our lives don't get it, do they.
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If you can't be good- be good at it.

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post #4 of 106
Your husband's right. This is good practice for learning how to deal with difficult customers. Drop her now. You've already wasted too much time dealing with her and your not even going to get a decent cake to add to your portfolio. If you had charged her normal price then you would be a little more in control, but since she's getting a cheap price with whatever design she wants then she's going all out. Unless she's in a supervisory position over your husband then just tell her something's come up and you won't be able to make her cake after all.
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post #5 of 106
SO SORRY THAT THIS HAPPENED TO YOU!! some people just dont get it!! but sorry i dont see a picture attached.
i think you tell her at this point you cant make any other changes and she need to make a final decision!! and i would never make a cake for her agian!!!

Let them eat cake

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Let them eat cake

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post #6 of 106
oh my word! Show her the door! ACK! icon_eek.gif
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"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
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post #7 of 106
If you make the scratch cake - I can hear her now - " It's dry" Make what you always make, don't change or you will be asking for more trouble from her. Explain to her, you use the box as the flour in your recipe. Good luck, remember, This to shall pass!
post #8 of 106
I'm sorry for all your headaches with her. But you know she is an expert at dealing with "difficult people". She is treating you the way she treats those difficult people and she "will" get what she wants, or so she is determined.

Only you know her game (job), and you can beat her at it and be happy. Simply tell her you will make her cake the same as you make all your other cakes, period. You are not going to risk a mishap by changing your way of baking.

You are the pro, and she needs to trust in you and your expertise. Tell her all this. Then decide, based on all you've done, heard, said...... what the design should be, TELL HER that is what her cake will be and again, she needs to trust you, that you know what you are doing and you want to make her happy, and by letting you, the expert, do what you do best, she will be happy with the end result.

And in the end, let her make some minor change to the design so she will feel as though she's won, and she will be happy.
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post #9 of 106
I think if it were me, I would have to tell her to take her "different and fabulous" idea to someone else. She could then drive them crazy, and be charged out the wazoo for not only the cake, but the trouble of changing her mind so much and being such a difficult person to deal with. As for DH, I would have to tell him that he should just stay out of the kitchen. LOL
"Everything looks impossible for the people who never try anything."
Jean-Louis Etienne
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"Everything looks impossible for the people who never try anything."
Jean-Louis Etienne
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post #10 of 106
RUN, RUN, RUN! Maybe if you tell her that you DO use a box cake mix as your base she will decide she wants to go elsewhere! icon_biggrin.gif

So sorry you have to deal with this difficult "customer"...
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post #11 of 106
Wow, I am tired just reading the email I can imagine how you feel! Sometimes I don't get how oblivious people are....sorry you have to deal with her, good luck! icon_wink.gif
post #12 of 106
I had a customer like this and I think it has something to do with turning 50! My sister is indecisive, and roller coaster like this too and she turns 50 in November. It's such a big deal to some people that it just throws them for a loop mentally. After my dealings with these 2 if it was me I would run the other way--the weirdness only gets worse! LOL
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post #13 of 106
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsmith

Your husband's right. This is good practice for learning how to deal with difficult customers. Drop her now.



icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif Love this comment.

However, if you are stuck with her, I like your idea of augmenting the "50" with some stars on skewers/wires, but also some of those swirly curley-cue fondant things. They are fairly simple for you to do, even in advance.

She seems set on the "flag" theme - but could you incorporate the colors. I just looked up the Trinidad flag and it's red, black and white, and since Canada is red and white the curley-cue things could be those colors two. Maybe instead of red stars you could do little red maple leaves.

Good luck though....sounds like a doozey!
post #14 of 106
I find it hard to believe she can tell a difference from a scratch cake to a modified box cake. Do what you know and make the modified box cake and don't say a word. She's saying enough all ready right?! icon_smile.gif
Good luck and we are all here for you!!
post #15 of 106
I would tell your husband how you intend to deal with overly difficult customers. I would send her to Flour confections in pickering. Out of curiosity I would send them an email and get a quote. As far as scratch vs. box just be honest and tell her what you do and charge accordingly. Part of dealing with difficult customers is showing them what your limits are. They can have the choice to deal with it or not. I would also consider charging for design changes. Who is paying you to answer all those emails? In the future I would consider having a deadline for design changes. I have found that if I give the customer a precise itemized list of what each detail costs helps them to understand better. Start with a base price for buttercream 2 tier cover with buttercream $$ 3 tier cover with buttercream $$ to cover with fondant add 30% (or whatever you wish to charge)
Price each detail separately
fondant stripes $$
Flag 3" $$ each
fondant this $$
fondant that $$
I usually include some buttercream decorating in the base cost but anything fondant and it goes up or if it is very detailed buttercream the price goes up
good luck
Lori
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Lori
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