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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I am a cake maker involved in a dispute with a customer. She

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I am a cake maker involved in a dispute with a customer.
She ordered and paid for the following.
wedding cake
dessert table to serve 190 guests - I provided 300 pieces of pastries but customer claims was not enough to feed her number guests.
birthday cake for groom
190 pieces of wedding favours
40 cupcakes for hen/stag party.
All items were delivered but wedding cake was not to what she wanted which I completely agree and have agreed to pay her a full refund for it.
Customer however is not happy and wants a full refund on the wedding cake, dessert table as well as birthday cake.
She is not entertaining any more questions from me as to why I should also refund the birthday cake and food consumed from the dessert table.
Customer has threatened legal action and say that I have the nerve to argue with her when I raised these issue.
What advise can you give me
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
It depends what you want to achieve. Obviously there are unreasonable people about. Some people are reasonable but become unreasonable about certain topics such as their children or the manner of their driving and quite often their wedding day. When dealing with those people, it is not likely you can please them. The only way to satisfy her is to pay in full and then she will probably still sit on Mumsnet and complain about you to all and sundry.
In terms of what a court would enforce, it does depend who is believed. However, on your account, you have complied with the contract save for the wedding cake and you have offered a refund. She isn't going to get anything more than that unless she can show specific breaches.
In terms of volume of food, if there was food left over then clearly there was enough. That is a bit of a game over situation.
If she has paid already then I would just offer and pay the sum you accept owing and then just ignore her.
If she sues defend on the basis that there has been no breach. Probably she won't sue because she will have to start writing cheques of a non rubbery nature and people don't like that. It is very easy to threaten legal action and a lot harder to take it.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.

Customer claims that hotel agrees with her that there wasn't enough food for the dessert table.

She refuses to answer as to why I should refund the birthday cake.

Apart from legal action, she has in emailed this and I quote word for word

I'm saying no more your'l hear from my solicitor and I will making sure you don't have any more bookings. You actually have the nerve to argue about anything after what you did.

My bank details should you realise and di the right thing is you have till tomorrow

do I have any ground to stand on when she in a way has threatened me with this?
I wouldn't worry about that.
If they hotel agree then they can make a witness statement.
If she says anything adverse then send her a solicitor's letter threatening to sue her for defamation. This barrister
is public access registered and has a fantastic defamation template.
With stroppy customers like this you have to turn it around on them and that usually keeps them quiet. Obviously she is entitled to her opinion and she isn't going to have a favourable one of you but what she can't do is say things that aren't true in order to affect your business.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Her total bill was £2185 and I am refunding her £900 for the wedding cake and out of good will £100 for the dessert table.

Is this fair? and as she made 2 instalments to pay her bill, do I have the right to make 2 instalments when it comes to her refund? ANd must I comply with her threat of 'by tomorrow'?

If you accept the wedding cake was inadequate then you need to refund in full.
A good will payment can be any amount. You need to offer that on a no admissions basis and you probably need to say the whole thing is offered in full and final settlement.
You can pay it as you wish.
However, if you want to make a full and final settlement offer then it needs to be one cheque.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

the £900 is the full price of the wedding cake.

As I mentioned everything else that completes her order amounting to £2185 was delivered as agreed with the exception of the dispute that the food provide for the dessert table was not 'enough'.

Is the £900 not suffice for the issue of the cake?

Yes, if that is the price agreed.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am going to send her an email now that I will refund her the total price of her wedding cake and dessert table and birthday cake as she requested, but if she does not respond to this email to acknowledge this offer and brings an issue of it in the future, what grounds do I have to retaliate?

Well, I wouldn't do that. It doesn't achieve anything.
Just send her a cheque in full with a letter that says that the cheque is offered on a no admissions basis in full and final settlement. Write full and final settlement on the cheque and take photographs of both sides of the cheque.
Then if she cashes it she is at game over.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

if I do as you advised, does this mean I do not have to entertained anymore of her emails?

And should I word the letter as you said?

note: she is looking for the funds to be transferred into her account...

Well, she look all she wants. I would do the opposite of what she wants just to show you won't be controlled by her.
It doesn't much matter if you vary the wording a little as long as you make clear it is full and final and be in a position to prove it.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

should I emailed her to say that I have posted her a cheque, so that she won't go to her lawyers if the money isn't in by tomorrow?

No. Just ignore her. It depends how you want to play this really. I would ignore her just to give her an extra few days of high blood pressure. She won't get to see a solicitor tomorrow if she hasn't booked an appointment already and anyway she isn't going to spend money on advice.
Even if she does she cannot claim it from you so it is her problem.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am taking your advise and waiting a couple of days before I post customer the cheque and not communicating my intentions.

As she has threatened that I have until today to respond to her demand of transferring funds into her account, my question is if she decides to slag me on social media before the cheque arrives, what can I do?

If she says anything adverse then send her a solicitor's letter threatening to sue her for defamation. This barrister
is public access registered and has a fantastic defamation template.
With stroppy customers like this you have to turn it around on them and that usually keeps them quiet. Obviously she is entitled to her opinion and she isn't going to have a favourable one of you but what she can't do is say things that aren't true in order to affect your business.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have sent a cheque to customer as total refund for the items she requested: wedding cake, dessert table and birthday cake amounting to £1300 and wrote clearly full and final settlement. Cheque was received but has not been cashed. Instead customer has sent me this email.I have now sought legal advice in regards ***** ***** failing to create the agreed design of my wedding cake and replacing it with an amateur substandard alternative abomination which completely ruined a big part of my wedding day. The cake was a centre piece of the wedding and I was completely embarrassed by it's disgraceful, basic, cheap and tacky appearance. Legal representation has informed me I will have no problem at all in the Small Claims court in winning their maximum levied amount of £3000.00, monies paid to you and added compensation or I could go to the next level of prosecution out of Small Claims into Civil and would be able to sue you for a much greater amount especially when they took into consideration your letter of complete admission of your failure to create and deliver the agreed wedding cake which was one of the major aspects of my wedding which was spoilt due to your total lack of professionalism and business acumen. Due to the embarrassing replacement you provided the memories of my wedding day will be forever tainted and spoiled.
I received the cheque you sent me for £1300.00. This obviously does not even cover what I paid you, let alone any compensation I am most certainly in my rights to claim for. Taking into consideration the stress and upset you caused me not only on my wedding day itself but in this past week and I would presume for a long time to come when I think of the total abomination of the cake you had the audacity to supply I would prefer to have no further dealings with you to remind me further of this exceptionally despicable failure you delivered in this instance if you refund a further £700.00 making it a total of £2000.00 I will not take your evidential failing through the courts and sue you for all monies paid along with the compensation I have been legally advised I would be absolutely eligible to claim for and with collected evidence against you most certainly win.
I await your response, forthwith.
Mrs. ***** *****.
What would you like to know about this please?
I am happy to continue with this but please leave feedback for my answer.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

do I have a leg to stand on if I do not give in to her demand of the further £700. If she were to take this to court, what would be my chances?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I sent you a reply but have not received an answer

The letter that she has sent doesn't change the answer above.
Where ever she got that information from it wasn't an accredited source.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Jo,

Are you saying in your opinion that the latest letter she sent me with her claims that based on the legal advise she received she will certainly win in court even after I have refunded the monies paid to me for the WEDDING CAKE, DESSERT TABLE AND BIRTHDAY CAKE, as per her initial request in her second email?

Has she any grounds now to demand the further £700? Pls note that as of today, the cheque of £1300 has not been cashed by her.

Thank you

No, she hasn't cashed it because she isn't accepting in full and final settlement which is a view she is free to take.
I'm not sure what she thinks the £700 is actually for. For what specific loss?
£3000 isn't the limit of the small claims court anyway so she is obviously not acting on instructions. Further we don't 'prosecute' in the civil court and a small claims court is just a civil court anyway.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for the reply.

Basically by paying her the extra £700, I would then refunded her the full total of the bill paid minus the cupcakes. For £2000 in total, she would then been refunded the 190 wedding favours (which she did not demand a refund for in her 2nd email, and which she has not raised any complain about).

What is your advise to me? Stick with the £1300 I have refunded and and wait for her to take me to court?

I wouldn't pay her anything at all beyond the refund for the cake.
The tone of her letter seems to be that she is seeking compensation for disappointment which you can sometimes get for weddings but she is going to get the amount she is claiming.
It depends how much risk you want to take. If you want to put this to bed then make an offer. If you are prepared to fight it then refuse.
It would seem to me that if you do pay her what she is asking then you won't have made anything at all from this so it is not really sensible unless you cannot face going to court if necessary.