Dealing with the general public every day, I am astounded at the kinds of insane requests I get. I realise that to the person calling, the request is probably pretty normal - but to me, it's often amusing if not a little...insane. I realise that I purposely set myself up for this madness - after all, I run a company that prides itself on taking on the requests nobody else will touch, making the customer as happy as I can by giving them exactly what they want, and in general bending over backwards to ensure I've got a loyal clientèle. At the same time I've got to wonder, are these people for real?
Here are some recent requests or comments I got from clients:
- At 4pm on a Thursday night - "Can you make me a wedding cake for tomorrow morning around 8am?" "Sorry, no, we can't turn it around that quickly." "Oh but I only need to feed 8 people!"
- At 5pm on a Friday afternoon - "Can you make me a 3 tier birthday cake for Sunday morning?" "Sorry, no, we can't turn it around that quickly." "Okay then, how about a 5 tier?"
- "I need to organise a stunning wedding cake for 100 people and I've got a budget of $75. What can you do for that?"
- "I need to organise a wedding cake for my daughter/friend/sister/mother/cousin. She doesn't care what is looks like as long as it's chocolate, round, 5 tiers, covered in white icing, with pink roses but not too big, a purple bow on the side, a love heart on top in silver, with draping and quilting and some bling. She's not fussy AT ALL."
- "I need a cake for my daughter's birthday. She's 2 and is demanding a dinosaur cake, but I want a garden theme. What can you do with that? Can you do a French Provincial dinosaur of some kind?" (Actually yes I can and guess what? I did!)
- "I need a cake for a 50th birthday for 80 people. He loves anything Art Deco, giraffes, dolphins and his favourite colours are colours red, orange, and green. Oh, and it's for this weekend. As in tomorrow."
- "We've got 400 people coming for a function in two days and I've got a budget of $200 to give them all morning tea. What can you do for me?"
- "If I bake the cupcakes, can you decorate them for me?" "Yes, sure." The cupcakes then arrived BURNED - and I don't mean toasty, I mean charcoal. I begged her not to tell anyone it was us who decorated them for her. (Seriously!)
- "Every cake we've ever had has been dry and horrible and nasty. Are your cakes like that?" (What would they have done if I said, "yes"..?)
- "Which flavour would you eat if you had to? I mean which is a NICE one?"
- "The peach in the peach ribbon was too orange-y, we wanted it more pink-y. And also the ivory was not white enough. My guests had 3rd and 4th serves, totally loved it and said it was the best cake ever, but the ribbon situation was very disappointing."
- "I know this is probably a hard ask, but any chances of getting a penis cake for tomorrow morning? I've been left in the lurch by my other guy."
- "I'm supposed to make this cake for a friend of mine, but I'm no good at it. What will it cost me for you to make it, but don't make it perfect so she thinks I did it?"
- "I need a cake for this weekend - and I know it's Friday at 5pm- but what can you do for me?" "Well, we happen to have a spare 9" chocolate cake but that's about it, so if that's okay, we're happy to decorate it as you would like it.""Okay, well, what if I want it two tiers, in vanilla?...and can you go any better on the price?"
- "Can you make me a wedding cake for this afternoon?"
And then there are the clients which I take on even though I know they're painful, and I just shake my head at their funny ways - The "something simple" client whose design brief goes for 3-4 pages, the people who urgently need a cake for 9am but don't pick it up until the DAY AFTER (or in one case, TWO days later), the people who ask me for a price then ask if it's the best I can do, and when I say no they tell me they can do it cheaper themselves, or the people who request a quote and then say "But XYZ cake shop quoted me much less for the exact same cake!" (great, go and order from them- PLEASE!)
...and my most recent favourite client, who asked for a quote on a metre high, totally perfectly correct (eg lots of reference photos) 3D Eiffel Tower to feed a couple hundred people. I sent through the quote, to which she literally replied, " O.M.G. That's like $300 more than all the other cake shops I asked for quotes from. That's a CRAZY price. I just thought you might like to know that your price is INSANE, there is NO WAY I'd pay that, and you really need to know how far you are pricing yourself out of the market! I just HAD to let you know, that price is totally ridiculous and I'm not sure what makes you so much better than all the others, that's completely ridiculous." (The tone of her email was friendly enough, but she basically told me off.)
To which I replied, "Thanks for the feedback, wishing you the best of luck, hope your function is fabulous! Regards, emzee"
To which SHE replied, "What flavours do you offer? Can I book a time to come in and make an appointment with you to discuss my cake?"
Ahhh, the general public. Gotta love 'em.
(I did not give her an appointment. My time is worth more than she can pay anyway.)