Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Pesty Customer Story For Your Amusement

Some people are very persistent and seem to have the ability to ignore everything you say. I know that we all feel like we're the only baker who attracts "interesting" customers, but I was going through my email, and I thought other people would appreciate this.

Now keep in mind that I have an email folder full of these gems...I keep them for future reference and for my own amusement. When enough time has elapsed I feel safe in bringing them into the harsh light of day to share them with other people who might appreciate their weirdness. Enough time has passed for this one, so here you go!

The backstory is that this person had called and asked me if I would do a smaller wedding cake for 65 people, on a relatively short schedule. I said sure, and told her that it would be three small tiers based on her guest count. She asked if she could have samples on a day that she would be in town, and I told her that someone could pick some up on a day that I was already going to be doing them, but I couldn't do them at random times. This was a very long conversation with a lot of verbal meandering on her part.

I also said that I couldn't promise to do the very specific flavors that she was asking to try.

She then went on to ignore me and ask again if there was another day that she could pick up those specific flavors. I told her no, it wasn't a matter of the day.  I do extra of the flavors that I'm making that weekend for samples, so I can't guarantee that there will ever be a day that I'm making everything someone wants to try. There are a few flavors that I don't do for samples unless I happen to be making them for that week's cakes, and even then I probably don't do them. For samples I try to make things very general and I can't cater to one person if I'm doing samples for ten.

I asked her to email the friend who would be picking the cake up and to copy me on it so that I had her email address. This is what I received:

Please see attached wedding cakes that I like.  My color theme is hot pink & baby pink and the cake is for 40 guests.

Preferable flavors: Chocolate Raspberry, Orange blossom, Strawberry and Banana Truffle.

Feel free to call myself  or my friend Suzie Q  for further information.
Suzie Q,  Kara is willing to prepare the above flavors and ready to be picked up on  Sunday.
Please call her to coordinate a time.


Okay, what? 40 guests? She had said 65. And I had told her that I was NOT willing to promise those specific flavors. I'd told her a few times.

This is what I wrote back to her and her friend:
 he smallest three-tiered square cake I can do will serve about 50 people.
Suzie Q, you can call me to arrange a time to pick up the samples. I can try to do as many of the flavors as I can but I don't usually do fruit and chocolate combinations for samples. I also need to know what day you can pick them up. The dates that I have tastings scheduled are the 3rd, 23rd, and 24th, I live relatively near you, and my office where I do the tastings is off of 295 near Innsbrook, so if you're coming from church in Mechanicsville you could either pick them up after church, or come pick them up at my house later in the afternoon. Let me know which day is better for you and I'll box some samples up for you.

Now that's pretty accommodating...So then I get this:

Thank you for your response.
I would like cake for a maximum of 40 guests as I'll only have 26 guests.
Also I am sending you some pics of the cake I really really love.


All right, more cake pictures, that's fine. I don't take that seriously until the final design is on the contract anyway. But the guest count is shrinking pretty quickly, and she's ignoring the serving count I had quoted for three tiers. So I wrote back:

I can't do three tiers for 40, so would you be fine with two tiers?

She responded:

Yes two tiers should be fine.

I am just waiting for my friend to come and taste the flavors and then we can take it from there.


The friend emailed me and said that she'd be there on the 23rd. Guess who didn't show up? Naturally. She emailed during the appointments and asked if she could come on the 24th instead. Whatever, I had the samples boxed up anyway. Vanilla, chocolate and lemon with raspberry. Plus some extra raspberry so she could put that on the chocolate cake.

So she picked up the samples and I didn't hear from them. Fine, no problem, I have other things to worry about...And I was going on vacation a few weeks later, so I was ready to go to Disneyworld! Woo hoo!

So three weeks later we went on vacation, and in the middle of it I decided to check my phone messages. She had left three messages in one day, after no contact for three weeks. I wasn't happy to be hounded, so I sent her this:

I got your phone message this morning. I'm on vacation and I'll be out of town until next week, and I'll send an email then.

Pretty clear, or so I thought. I'm out of town and will deal with business NEXT WEEK. I guess I wasn't clear enough because I got this email from her an hour after I told her I'd email when I got back to town:

Thank you for the response I was thinking of two flavors chocolate with raspberry butter cream and vanilla with vanilla butter cream however; Suzie Q hasn't tasted the chocolate with raspberry butter cream.

1) Can you please advise when can she pick-up that flavor so that I can decide accordingly

2) Please see attached pic of the cake that I would like the top tier to be the second tier can be plain I mean without flowers. Your thoughts on it?  (My Color theme is baby pink and hot pink).


Oh hell no...Did I mention that I'd already given her samples of chocolate and raspberry? Are those such exotic flavors that you need to try them twice? And more pictures of different cakes? At that point I didn't want to say my thoughts on her cake, so I wrote this to her, then I enjoyed my vacation more than before:

At this point I'm unable to do your cake that weekend. You might want to try (Insert name of person I don't like here) to see if they can help you out, they have a larger shop than I do so they accept more orders per weekend.

So the moral of the story is to refer pesty people to businesses that you don't like...No, not really. But if someone chooses to have selective hearing or reading skills from the outset you might want to cut them loose. It isn't worth the effort of trying to keep up with whatever reality they've created for themselves.



Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC,  online cake supplies at  www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com

3 comments:

Jenniffer said...

No matter where we live or what style of cakes me make, our customers are all the same! I have referred a bad customer to bakers I don't like, but I'm especially grateful when another baker calls me to give me a heads-up about a cake-zilla client!

Kris Chinalski said...

We just went through this with our home repair business. Somehow my husband putting new windows into a rental turned into removing the woodstove, replacing the kitchen flooring, painting the ceiling and fixing the roof. We had a signed contract for windows and windows only. No matter how many times he responded that he was only doing the windows, the response was always how excited she was to see all of the remodel work done!! She even went so far as to ask him which day she should purchase her plane tickets for so she could be sure and get there for the full impact of delight after all of the remodel work is complete (out of town home owner) Emails were useless, it's like she read them backwards or something. He finally had to call her and use some pretty string language to get the point across. I still have the sinking feeling that she is going to show up in town expecting a brand new home even though she has only paid for a few old windows to be replaced :-/

Kara Buntin said...

Jenniffer, I've called to warn people too! And Kris, I would say that you have to be making that up, but I know you're not. I think that some people just think that if they say something enough times it will make it true.