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Bracing for first bad review.......

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I had a person contact me last month about a cake via FB. I asked her to call me. The next afternoon, I received a call from someone who said that I asked them to call. I could only assume (and we all know what that means) that she was the person who is ordering the cake. I gave her the run down and I started to receive pictures. We emailed each other several times and I agreed to do a 3 tier cake. I turned away several people with that in mind. (I only do this on nights and weekends as I have a 10 hour a day job)

At the end of September, she sent another email asking if we were still on because she had not heard from me. I called her number and asked for her and the lady who answered said yes, and started to talk to me about the cake. We finalized most of the design ( it was the one that she had wanted previously) but was not sure about some flowers on it. She said that she would have to get back to me. Never heard from her.

Several days went by and I called again. The same lady answered the phone. This time, she told me that she was not the lady, but actually her mother! The weather was going to change up some plans and they didn't need the same size cake. So I asked if I could talk to the lady to work this out. She said that she couldn't talk right now. Then I received an email (Tuesday) stating that she needed to downsize the cake and "oh, by the way, here is another design". She also said that she prefers email over phone calls but I need to have a conversation because at this point, I don't want to do a cake that there is no conversation about and especially not through a third party!

I sent her an email back asking her again to call me. At this time, there was no way I could do the second design because I did not have time to order the cutters required! Maybe there was something else we could do? She still has not called. I sent two messages yesterday. One in the morning and one in the evening asking again for her to call me that I will not be able to get her a cake if I don't have the correct information. No response. I sent out a FB message to her this morning. No response. I make contracts and make deposits based on a final cake design. Since I was still waiting on it, no deposit was made. She just told me twice that she wanted that date. Now I am out paying clients for the weekend and her daughter will be without a cake. I will get the blame for not providing it! I am so P*SSED that I let someone scam me that if she puts a bad remark out about me, I will go off!

I have had several people call and inquire about pricing and what not and even go so far as spending a couple of hours going over designs, emailing and calling and then just dropping off the face of the earth because they were baker shopping. But this one. This one has angered me to the core! I guess because it involves a child's birthday. I don't know. Thanks for the vent. I'm sure my husband will appreciate it so he don't have to hear it! icon_smile.gif
post #2 of 17
Here's another spin on this stupidity: you had no face contact and therefore no way to evaluate the body language to measure the sincerity of this potential order. I say "potential" because it ain't an order until a deposit clears the bank.

The person who never paid a deposit has absolutely no right to complain when you bent over backwards to communicate. This person was clearly living a fantasy that they could never pay for...the daughter probably would never have got anything other than a store cake anyway.

This is why I refuse to do business over Facebook or other social media--you have absolutely no way to verify basics. I worked for a few years selling products that have a high resale value. Meaning, that you might buy from the manufacturer and immediately resell at a 100% profit or more...When I processed orders that originated from unknowns, I would send a simple email detailing the terms and conditions of sale. The real customers answered with the right information and the speculators didn't answer at all.

So here's the same model for you: if the deposit is not forthcoming at least 6-8 weeks before the party date, forget it. YOU decide the timeframe of your orders and payments.
post #3 of 17
What she said!

You have gone above and beyond.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I have to learn not to bend my rules for anyone. It never pays to be nice anymore! icon_smile.gif
post #5 of 17
You do hours and hours of work without any payment up front?
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Usually on first timers, I require a deposit of 25-50% depending on the size. Repeat customers I don't. Wedding cakes require a deposit and final payment before they go out. There just wasn't much time on this one. It was simple, just big! I limit myself to 1-3 cakes a week depending on the size and design. I had a feeling something was up during our first conversation but I couldn't put a finger on it. I was stupid because I was trusting. At least I didn't bake or make the flowers! I just don't understand why people think it is okay to do this to people! That is part of my income and my family's income. I wish I could make her pay for all my time lost and lost income from people I turned away!

Let this be a lesson to others, don't be trusting even if you are helping someone figure things out at the last minute! I'm sure that it was just a troll now. She probably had 2 or 3 hanging on the line! One one of the conversations with her mother, she made the comment "your the one who needs the deposit on the stacker". Then continued with the plans like it was her cake! The person who wanted the cake wouldn't talk to me on the phone. (hairs raising on the neck) Stupid, stupid, stupid! I know. Thirty lashes with my apron strings......
post #7 of 17
I think you might want to upgrade your policy: same deposit and payment for ALL tiered cakes over 30 people (or so).

And maybe we can start a "Fantasy Tiered Cake" online game that might make us some $$$--because there's obviously an audience.
post #8 of 17
You know, it's pretty universal. People tend to take things a little more seriously (on both sides) when money has been invested and both parties are now accountable to each other.

You can tell me all day long how bad you want a cake and how you'll be there ASAP with a deposit! Until I see it, I'll treat you cordially and enthusiastically as all clients, but the boundaries are firm. No money, no workie. Now I might sketch some things up in advance of an appointment, but never to be emailed or Facebook messaged back and forth. And if they happened not to show up, or not book, well those sketches never see the light of day, or are certainly not just handed over.

I see so many decorators who knock themselves silly and complain about all the messages and texts they get from people about orders that never pan out, when they are the ones allowing it to happen in the first place.

I'm not picking at you OP, or anyone else specifically...just talking out loud. Maybe I've been doing this for so long I feel comfortable losing little petty orders or are quick to put the brakes on situations I can predict may be a headache.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by AZCouture

You do hours and hours of work without any payment up front?

Yeah, what do you think you are? A museum docent? icon_biggrin.gificon_razz.gif

James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

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James H. H. Lampert
Professional Dilettante

Web site: http://www.hbquik.com/jamesl

Flickr "baked goods" set http://flic.kr/s/aHsjvZvdTh

Reply
post #10 of 17
Think of this as a lesson learned that had minimal cost for you. Your only loss is the business you "may" have had.

Use the time, energy, and creativity that you would have invested in the cake order to go over all your procedures and contracts. Make this "lost weekend" a working weekend to organize all your supplies and materials. Put your cake business bookkeeping and tax paperwork in order. Make some gum paste flowers and decorations ahead. Order supplies if needed. Print out new contracts and flyers. Update your photos (crop, re-size, categorize, etc.).

If you do that, you will find that this customer may have served you well!

I worked in medical equipment sales for 30 years and do not have the artistic temperament (right brain thinking) that is apparently the standard in the custom cake community.

Why would you trust a stranger you've never met? Why did you "trust" this person"? You don't have to tell us online, but tell YOURSELF. Did you need the business? Were you unable to confront this customer (or other customers) and make rules for fear they will go elsewhere?

If you were a house painter, would you buy the paint and schedule the work and show up at the work site because you trusted someone who called you? Heck No!
If you sold tires, would you hold a set of tires for 3 months because a customer called and said they'd be in to purchase them? Would you tell 4 other customers that came to your tire store, "Sorry. You can't have those tires. Somebody called and said they were going to buy them. Even though that was 3 months ago, I can't sell you any tires today. Not even those tires sitting right there on the showroom floor."

What every single cake decorator who sells cakes needs to realize is that CUSTOMER'S DON'T CARE HOW LONG IT TAKES YOU TO MAKE A CAKE.
THEY DON'T CARE THAT IT COSTS MORE THAN $10 FOR INGREDIENTS AND SUPPLIES. ("It's only sugar and flour and eggs......")
THEY DON'T CARE THAT YOU ARE MISSING A WEEKEND/SCHOOL NIGHT/TIME WITH CHILDREN TO COMPLETE THEIR CAKE.
THEY DON'T CARE THAT THEY HAVEN'T PAID YOU YET.
THEY DON'T CARE THAT THEY HAVEN'T RESPONDED TO 5 E-MAILS AND 4 PHONE CALLS.

The only way you can make them care is to be business-like and get the deposit up front and the payment in full prior to cake delivery. Clearly stated expectations will yield a better business model.
post #11 of 17
Amen to that. $$ talks.
post #12 of 17
There are many of us who won't even do a 9" cake without money up front. I never even put something on my schedule without payment. On weddings, as soon as we talk numbers and have a sample, I get the deposit. If they want the date, the deposit comes before the sampling. My point... ask for the money as soon as you get a ballpark on the design and know that you can do it. Don't let them intimidate you. The ones who don't pay are the ones you never had.

If you know someone is looking at the same date as one of these clients, give a courtesy email or call and give them a few hours to respond. If no response, take the deposit of the one you really have.

Make sure you tell everyone that these inquiries are not on the books and can be booked by someone else anytime before a deposit is paid.
post #13 of 17
I don't think you have to worry about her daughter not having a cake...she just didn't have YOUR cake. She more than likely went to the grocery store.

If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

Reply

If I am ever on life support, unplug me...

Then plug me back in.  See if that works!

Reply
post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys! I know that I went off my policy and that was my first mistake. Most people I work with don't do a tasting unless it is a wedding cake. I know weird. I would rather work with people face to face and get it all taken care of.

This particular person already had our cake somewhere else. Contacted me twice about the date. It was still stupid of me though.

I am taking the time and having a girls day with my BF and my girls. I haven't done that in a LONG time.

I'm sure they found something for the daughter. I just worry that it will be one of those horrid stories "here it is my daughter special day and the baker screwed up!" "Oh how awful! Let's give a bad review about this awful person!" Everybody believes them and nobody knows what really happened!

I will be more strict on my policies. I already have an easier time saying no, so I guess if they don't like paying for a hold, well, that will get easier too. I am in no way desperate for clients, just too nice sometimes.

That's why I just love you guys on CC (even the blunt ones! LOL! ) you keep me grounded and focused on the bigger picture. It is a business even if it is part time. I shouldn't let people walk over me because in the end, it will only hurt me. I will revamp my policies to include a better idea on smaller cakes and not just wedding cakes. Those were great ideas! Thanks again!
post #15 of 17
and it seems like, if she gives you a bad review somewhere, if you've kept the emails, correspondence, etc., you have proof that she dropped the ball, not you. this is entirely her fault for not following up with you.
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