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The friend/customer who made me quit (a long story)

post #1 of 108
Thread Starter 
I've been a hobby baker for years. Occasionally I make a cake for a friend. Recently the cottage food bill passed in TX, and I started considering starting a home bakery business. This past weekend totally changed my mind. There's no way I can deal with stress like this on a regular basis.

Two weeks ago, a neighbor who I don't know very well stopped by the house and asked if I would make a sweet sixteen cake for her daughter. I told her I hadn't really gotten my business started yet, and she asked if I could just make the cake as a favor, if she bought the ingredients, because they had planned a big party and then run out of money for the cake and the food. I was thinking, "Okay, a free chance to practice," and I told her I would. I told her the ingredients for what she was wanting might run about $100, and that she'd have to drive me and the cake over to the venue so I could set it up, because I didn't have transportation on that day..

Two days later, she called and asked if she could bring her husband by because he wanted to meet the person he would be handing his money over to, because he didn't feel comfortable otherwise. I said sure, and they came over. He had a flash drive full of pictures from Pink Cake Box and a head full of big, fancy ideas. We settled on a design and then they also wanted another, smaller cake for their other child whose birthday was also that day, and 50 decorated and bagged cookies as favors. And then the husband said, "Oh, and the extra cake and the cookies, we can get all that for the original price of $100, right?" I explained that it wasn't a price, that was the cost of the ingredients and that with the bigger cake and extra stuff added, there would be more ingredients.

I didn't hear anything from them for a couple of days and I was happy with that. Then she emailed and asked if I would go shopping with her for the cake ingredients because she didn't want to just hand me money. At that point I should have backed out of the whole thing, but I had already started making the gumpaste pieces and felt like I had time invested in it. We went to get the ingredients (five hours to go to two stores that were ten minutes from the house) and then she ran out of money for some of them and said she'd get them the next day.

The next day she called and asked if I really needed the rest of the ingredients. I said yes, of course. She came by to bring some of them that evening when I was making the cookies, and stayed to watch. I gave her a brush and let her put pearl dust on the cookies, but she kept breaking cookies. Then she gathered up the broken pieces to take home, since (as she said) she had paid for the ingredients. She also insisted on taking the cookies home with her right then "so nothing happens to them."

The next day she called to ask if I really had to have the rest of the ingredients. I said yes, but hang on, let me get the cakes out of the oven. Then she said, "So you can bake the cakes without the rest of the stuff, I guess I don't need to get it." I told her I'd started baking the cakes I had enough ingredients for. She brought the ingredients and pointed out that my kitchen was messy (some flour on the counter and measuring cups in the sink, I was halfway through an entire day of baking) and that my house was ugly, that she could have had a house like mine but couldn't stand the builder, and said she was going to take cake lessons from me so she could make some good money. I told her I was on my way out the door to get the kids from school and she'd have to leave for now.

The next two days, she kept calling me every couple of hours. "Are you working on my cake? What are you doing right now?" I finally quit answering my phone or replying to texts because she was driving me nuts.

The day of the party, I called to ask what time she was coming, and she said her husband would pick me up when he had time. She said she didn't want us to stay for the party because the Mariott said they couldn't go over the occupancy for the room, but she would like me to come back later on to cut and serve the cake. I told her to clear out the entire back of her van, and reminded her that I had to bring my kids with me (because I'm not paying for a sitter for a free cake) and that we would need a ride home after we set up the cake. The party was starting at 7 and he didn't pick me up until 6:30. Their van was full of other party things and he didn't know how to fold down the back seat. I folded it and loaded the cakes, then he had to stop by his house to get more stuff, which he wanted to put on top of the cakes and which ended up going on my kids' laps.

I set up the cakes, took a couple of pictures which didn't come out very nice because the cake was stuck in the back corner of the room under one of the dj's speakers. One of the neighbor's friends was already there and she came up and said, "I heard that N--- helped you with most of the work on the cake." I looked at her like What? and she said, "She already told me she did most of this, so don't try to take credit for her work." The room was very small and crowded and hot, and I was done setting up the cake and was ready to go home, but the neighbor's husband couldn't drive us because "the limo is about to arrive. Don't you want to watch them arrive in the limo, and stay and cut the cake?" Hell no. I got my carseat from him, told him I hoped his party went well, and the kids and I walked off down the street, even though it was dark and a bad part of town.

At no point did these people ever thank me for the cake.

I've decided I'm just not cut out to bake for people who aren't friends or relatives. Even money wouldn't have made this acceptable.
post #2 of 108
OH!! Reading your story just made my blood pressure go up. ha! icon_mad.gif I too am a hobby baker and have made a few cakes for non-relatives, but I never had a difficult situation like this. I believe it would make me want to quit too! But...your cakes are beautiful and it would be a shame for you to quit something you love because of a bunch of crazy folks. icon_lol.gif
post #3 of 108
My mouth just hung open wider and wider while reading this, I'm surprised my jaw didn't unhinge! I CANNOT believe the nerve of these people!!!

Ran out of $ for food and cake???? What imbecile hires a DJ & LIMO without first figuring out their budget???

Quote:
Quote:

Two days later, she called and asked if she could bring her husband by because he wanted to meet the person he would be handing his money over to, because he didn't feel comfortable otherwise.


You should have run for the hills right then. If they can't trust you with such a generous offer, then let them go to Wally World.

I would never expect a PAYING customer to treat me this way, never mind someone I'm doing an enormous favor for. Please don't let this deter your from selling your cakes. You are incredibly talented and there are people out there who will appreciate your talent.

I do find that the people who pay me for cakes are the ones who really see the value in them, after all they are forking outer $ for a custom item, so it must be important to them. Sometimes, the ones are get it for free or almost free, don't understand or respect the true value of it.

They could not have done this if it were a paid cake. You would have had a contract, deposit, final payment and either delivery fee or they would have to pick it up themselves. Either way, they couldn't have had the opportunity to abuse your kindness. The shopping would have been on you, they would just write the check. Oh, and no in person meetings for non-wedding cakes.

Don't give up. I would venture to say that they are a rare type.

Hugs.
post #4 of 108
Actually, this experience points out why you should WANT to start a paying business.

With a paying business, you wouldn't have been begging for the money for ingredients....
With a paying business, you wouldn't have had the woman hovering over you at the grocery store or at home while you're baking.
With a paying business, you never would have allowed her to touch those cookies....
With a paying business, you never would have hitched a ride with DH
With a paying business, when someone claimed that the mother had done most of the work on the cake, you would have loudly told her that she was dead wrong.....

With a paying business, you'd never, ever, have to tolerate beggars wanting to be choosers...

With a paying business, you would have heard the words "not enough money left over for the cake" and you WOULD HAVE TOLD HER TO GO ELSEWHERE FOR HER CAKE.............

This will sound harsh, and it's not meant to be but I don't know how else to put it.......you have every right to be angry with these people, but you can only be taken advantage of by others if YOU allow them to do it. You did, and I'd imagine that deep down, you're angry with yourself right now. It's natural & it's OK. Learn from it.

Once they ASK you for the cake, YOU are in the driver's seat and YOU need to stop the bus the second they try to grab the wheel.

Rae
I love you, but your emergency is not my crisis!

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.--Terry Pratchett (b.194
Reply
I love you, but your emergency is not my crisis!

They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.--Terry Pratchett (b.194
Reply
post #5 of 108
Rae, yours was one of those posts that makes me really wish CC had a LIKE button. thumbs_up.gif
post #6 of 108
Thread Starter 
I think I'm really just done making food for other people. Time to go back to school and have a career, now that my kids are in school all day. I'll still make cakes for my kids' birthdays, but that's about it.

And yes, I did get myself into the situation and I realize it.
post #7 of 108
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlakesCakes

Actually, this experience points out why you should WANT to start a paying business.

With a paying business, you wouldn't have been begging for the money for ingredients....
With a paying business, you wouldn't have had the woman hovering over you at the grocery store or at home while you're baking.
With a paying business, you never would have allowed her to touch those cookies....
With a paying business, you never would have hitched a ride with DH
With a paying business, when someone claimed that the mother had done most of the work on the cake, you would have loudly told her that she was dead wrong.....

With a paying business, you'd never, ever, have to tolerate beggars wanting to be choosers...

With a paying business, you would have heard the words "not enough money left over for the cake" and you WOULD HAVE TOLD HER TO GO ELSEWHERE FOR HER CAKE.............

This will sound harsh, and it's not meant to be but I don't know how else to put it.......you have every right to be angry with these people, but you can only be taken advantage of by others if YOU allow them to do it. You did, and I'd imagine that deep down, you're angry with yourself right now. It's natural & it's OK. Learn from it.

Once they ASK you for the cake, YOU are in the driver's seat and YOU need to stop the bus the second they try to grab the wheel.

Rae



thumbs_up.gif x 10 000 no one can say it any better!
post #8 of 108
Texas Rose, I notice you have a Facebook link. Why don't you post her cake on your page and we can all go over and post comments on there about what a fabulous job you did, etc. Tag her in the picture so she can see that everyone will know you did the work, not her icon_wink.gif
post #9 of 108
This is EXACTLY why you should press on and get yourself set up as a cottage baker.

But first, take a few minutes and evaluate the situation, those b-holes took advantage of you and you should set up some strict rules to make sure it never happens again. I had a guy tell me one time (not in the bakery biz, but at work) that "We teach others how to treat Us"... and I have to say, I hated him for it because it was like saying I told you so. But after my blood pressure went down and I had a handfull of M&Ms (Chocolate does a body good), I thought about it and he was exactly right. Sometimes in my quest to be an awesome and sweet person, I let other people take advantage of me. I only hobby bake for my friends and family, but I have had quite a few folks "who love me" that have taken advantage of me and guess what, I let them... shame on me. It seems like they just can't get enough of me and I am a real superstar...until the event is over. I have always taught my kid that I won't let all those b-holes change my desire to give unselfishly but I gotta tell ya since I have hit the over 40 crowd, I don't tend to take near the crap I used to.

I like to try out all the "new" techinques and I tell folks, okay this is what I am volunteering to make for you... I will go by your basic "wants" and the artistic part is up to me. If you want a specific cake and what not, there is a bakery on main street in my town and I have her cell phone number if you need it... but her minimum prices are $150.00 and it only goes up from there. But you know that bakery on main street has a whole list of rules that she goes by-- deadlines for the money, extra charges for delivery, extra charges for the extras and if you don't like them you are welcome 24 hours a day at WallyWorld.

Don't let this discourage you but do let it educate you. Your cakes are beautiful, and I suspect that you are a caker for the art and not just the dough (did you get that pun? :{0 ) so don't let this bad experience change who you are... just let it change how you operate...

Sorry for your experience but just turn that frown upside down and keep on caking!!!! icon_sad.gificon_smile.gificon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gif
post #10 of 108
First of all, don't let anyone stop you from doing what you love! You do great work. Secondly, these people just sound looney and believes the world revolves around them. They obviously heard that you do great work or they would not have came to you in the first place. I'm sure they will need you again. Or should I say want to use you again, but I know that won't happen.
post #11 of 108
You are either ONE HELL OF A GOOD STORY TELLER or have one crazy ass neighbor. Go after your dream whatever it may be
post #12 of 108
Yeah, none of that would have happened if you had a business. Don't let one psycho ruin it for you before you can even get started. icon_smile.gif
post #13 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullHouse

Texas Rose, I notice you have a Facebook link. Why don't you post her cake on your page and we can all go over and post comments on there about what a fabulous job you did, etc. Tag her in the picture so she can see that everyone will know you did the work, not her icon_wink.gif



That's nice of you...she's not on facebook though.

I was really upset about her taking credit...but I know 100% that I will never make another cake for her, and I'm sure her friends will be asking her for cakes now that they've seen what she can do icon_rolleyes.gif so she'll be explaining to them later on.

She's one of those people who has a whole list of things they supposedly do...in her case, caterer, beautician, recruiter, etc...while not actually doing any of those things.
post #14 of 108
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaDear

.

I had a guy tell me one time (not in the bakery biz, but at work) that "We teach others how to treat Us"...



I'm going to print that out and stick it on my fridge.

I have a history of letting people take advantage of me and I need to outgrow that.
post #15 of 108
Why in the world did you think you needed to practice on a neighbor that you don,t really know . With all the pics of cakes you have on here ,etc. i don,t see that you needed to practice or do anything for her and him like you did and get insulted. If i think i need to practice, it will be on a close friend or family member.Cake decorating is hard , time consuming, etc. to do it for cost of ingredients. Keep it up!!!!
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