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You ordered the cupcakes, right? Right?
January 8, 2013 12:34 PM   Subscribe

For our son's 2nd birthday party, my wife ordered cupcakes from a bakery online for delivery to our son's daycare but they didn't show up. My wife was crushed and was understandably angry at the bakery, especially since she said she had paid for the cupcakes. But when I tried the online ordering form, there was no place to input any payment information. However, after submitting the form the company says it would get in contact for confirmation and payment information. It looks like the company didn't follow up with my wife, but also that my wife didn't follow up with the company. Is someone clearly at fault? How should I handle both my wife and the company?

I feel terrible for all parties involved. My wife is very, very disappointed that she couldn't provide a nice birthday party treat for our son, his classmates, and his teachers. However, she said that she paid for the cupcakes but really didn't; there were no charges to a bakery on any of our accounts. All she received were emails confirming that she submitted the form and saying that the bakery would get in contact with her. She placed the blame squarely on the bakery, in addition to giving them some other harsh words.

On the other hand, the bakery told my wife that they never received the order. The form that my wife filled out told her that the bakery would be in contact within a day or so, but never did. We both agree that if the bakery has an online ordering form, then it should be somewhat reliable to actually take orders.

Situations like this between my wife and small online vendors have happened previously -- there was an assumed action that she thought occurred or should have occurred and then she gets upset when things fall through. Because my wife is particularly upset about this, I'd like to approach this with her with some sensitivity and also try and prevent situations like this from happening in the future. I think that she should know what her mistake was without seeming like I'm a know-it-all or that I was trying to prove that she was incompetent; I just don't want her to be disappointed in the future.

I'd like to try to speak with the bakery as well. I'm not sure whether to apologize for the harsh words my wife gave, but I'd like to tell them that their online ordering system is clearly not working.

Is this all a huge miscommunications between parties? Is anyone clearly at fault? How should I approach each party?
posted by photovox to Human Relations (91 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
Why don't you just let her deal with it?
posted by randomnity at 12:37 PM on January 8, 2013 [26 favorites]


(or to phrase it a little more politely, has she asked you directly to help her solve this problem or this type of problem? how do you know she wants your help at all?)
posted by randomnity at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Show your wife some empathy. Let her know that you understand the situation sucks for her, and you'd feel bad if you were in her position. Then let her deal with it unless she asks for your help. You do not need to be Mr. Fixit here.
posted by jon1270 at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]


Generally, if there's no confirmation from the vendor and there says there should be, it is your responsibility to follow up to make sure everything gets done. I don't mean, like, legally or morally, but just practically. I deal with unresponsive vendors all the damn time, both at home and at work, and maybe 75% of the time if there is no follow-up, there's a problem with the order, and they're not telling me for some reason or another. I mean, sure, yeah, their online order form should be reliable, but you really do need to follow up on these things because, in the real world, nothing is as reliable as it should be.
posted by griphus at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish. This is a real life application of "flag it and move on." Your wife should have confirmed the order. The bakery should have followed through. It doesn't change the fact that there were no cupcakes at the party.

If you call and politely tell the bakery how disappointed everyone was, you may get them to send some cupcakes gratis as a gesture of goodwill.

If not, just arrange for some cupcakes from another bakery and have a do over at the school.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:41 PM on January 8, 2013 [35 favorites]


Your son is two, so obviously he won't have any problem getting over it. I would stay out of it and let your wife be mad. Since no money actually exchanged hands, there's no refund in it for you, so there's no reason to get involved.
posted by Think_Long at 12:41 PM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Er, obviously do not repeat that to your wife in the way I phrased it. But this can be one of those Couple Things where one person picks up slack for the other. Ask her to keep you abreast of whatever she orders, and follow up for her (unless of course that would piss her off.) It won't take a lot of time out of your day, and it'll save on potential future heartache.
posted by griphus at 12:42 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


And double-obviously, don't ever take the vendor's side on this with her. If you're on the phone with them, say whatever you need to say to get things done. But if you're consoling her and she didn't ask for practical advice, whatever, the stupid bakery screwed up and I am sorry you have to put up with this, dear.
posted by griphus at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's a bit much to expect a small bakery to efficiently and reliably use an online ordering form to process orders. A human touch is needed (eg, phone call).

Bakeries are small, are run on a shoestring, and employ people who think primarily about baking.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:43 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just don't want her to be disappointed in the future.

Mistakes will happen in life. It's her response to mistakes that's the problem - she's responding inappropriately, and needs to deal with that. In particular, she needs to not yell at people when the fault is partially hers for not confirming the order.

Suggest that she do things in person, or over the phone, or through more established websites. There will still be mistakes. The expression "don't cry over spilled milk" comes to mind.
posted by Dasein at 12:45 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


If your wife is the kind of person who isn't good with following up, and is quick to anger and to place the blame for a miscommunication upon the other party, you can't win this.

Clearly, most of us would have handled this differently. Calling to discuss the cupcakes, insuring that payment is correct, etc. Your wife is not this kind of person.

Frankly, your wife sounds like a flake, but I'm sure she has other endearing quailities and that she's a fine person.

I wouldn't touch this with a barge pole frankly. Stay out of it. Either your wife will continue to screw things up until she gets a clue, or she'll perpetually be that person on People's Court who leaves a message on a voice mail and assumes that the Prom Limo will arrive on time, despite having no further communication with the company.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:47 PM on January 8, 2013 [56 favorites]


I don't see any need to talk to the bakery. If your wife already gave them "harsh words," presumably they are aware that the order didn't go through for whatever reason. It sounds like you weren't witness to this event, so you can't even confirm that the form your wife submitted went through properly.

Mr. Payoto tries too often (IMO) to get things done by email/web when a quick phone call would take care of the issue much faster. When I see him getting frustrated by the silence or back-and-forth, I gently nudge him in the direction of the call. Sometimes I offer to make the call myself, knowing that he won't take me up on the offer but that this is a gentle way of nudging him without outright telling him what to do. Or I might play dumb and ask, "What did they say when you called?"
posted by payoto at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


There isn't any way for you to effectively prevent your wife from future disappointment, and indeed, if it were possible it would likely be a disservice to her. I hope it's not too forward to suggest that I suspect the real issue is that she's unpleasant for you to to be around in the aftermath of such a situation because of how much handwringing and gnashing of teeth you end up enduring.

Next time it comes up, you could try asking her, gently, "what can I do to help prevent this kind of situation again?" but be prepared for a non-answer.
posted by trunk muffins at 12:48 PM on January 8, 2013


You lost me at "ordering cupcakes online." I would not order cupcakes online, and it seems like your wife set herself up for failure.

I know that's not sensitive, but I can't see how to stop these ongoing online problems unless you can get your wife's expectations in congruence with reality.

You can call or email the bakery if you want, but you shouldn't bother. Their system isn't broken, they simply forgot to follow through and lied about it afterwards. For this, they don't deserve an apology. Plus, it's not like they can issue you a credit. I wouldn't want to eat anything they sent me as an apology, if they offered something like that, which I doubt.

I'm sorry. I just don't see any action to be taken here.

You or your wife could Yelp them for not contacting you once an order was placed. Your wife is at fault because she forgot to follow through on the initial contact or seek out another vendor when it became clear they were not getting in touch.
posted by jbenben at 12:49 PM on January 8, 2013


Sorry to thread sit...

Maybe what I didn't convey was that my wife doesn't know that money did not change hands. She thought that the transaction did go through but in reality it didn't. She thinks it's 100% the bakery's fault.

I'm not trying to fix it for her, I just want to let her know that she's at least partially responsible for the mishap. Or from the answers already received, should I even tell her?
posted by photovox at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2013


she's responding inappropriately, and needs to deal with that

...but you need to choose your battles, and this isn't one of them. She is an adult and will learn from this, you don't need to make her feel worse than she already does. Kiss, hug, buy cake elsewhere.
posted by superfish at 12:50 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand...how did she think she paid when there was no where to submit payment on the form?
posted by agregoli at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


my wife doesn't know that money did not change hands

How is this possible? Did she give her credit card information in the online form? It didn't sound like it from the phrasing of your question.
posted by Dasein at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Gosh, that's really bad form on the bakery's part. They must have a terrible online system. I guess next time we'll have to follow up if we don't get a confirmation from someone when we order online."

Nothing to say to the bakery, and no need to blame your wife to her face for this. It *is* bad form on the bakery's part, they probably do have a terrible online system. And you now know to follow up and also to go to other bakeries.
posted by jeather at 12:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


...but you need to choose your battles, and this isn't one of them.

Actually, this is a great opportunity to let her know that she shouldn't behave rudely when little things go wrong. Might save her from behaving rudely when something is at stake, like a long-term family relationship.
posted by Dasein at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


Does your wife not order stuff online often? It could be that if she isn't familiar with online shopping, she could very well have been under the impression that the money somehow magicked itself out of the account. It could simply be ignorance.

If so, teach your wife the standards of shopping online. Buy a couple of things together from different online stores. Point out how they all ask for credit card info, also point out the often asked for CSV number on the back.

If she's a tech savvy person who shops online a lot.. then I agree with others and say to just leave it be.
posted by royalsong at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I consider it almost 100% your wife's fault. If the cupcakes were so important to her that this has generated an Ask Mefi question than she needed to follow through and make sure the details were covered.

She didn't. Lesson learned. Move on.
posted by COD at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think maintaining a consistent, level-headed assessment of the magnitude of what occurred is the best thing you can do here.

- Your son is 2. He's forgotten the cupcakes and lives for the moment. You can get him a replacement cupcake any time and his face will light up just the same.

- The bakery lost out on business in a way that may indicate that they're losing more business. If they're aware that somebody dropped the ball, you probably don't need to do anything (and shouldn't). Nobody is entitled to having customers do their work for them.

- Your wife could use some help that doesn't focus on her part in the mishap. It's entirely fine to tell her e.g. "I find that enough businesses/people are unreliable that I just eat the 5 minutes on the phone to make sure there are no problems with an order or service. I know it's a pain in the ass but it'll save you more frustration later. I have a pretty good phone script already; I can show you if you'd like."
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 12:55 PM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Maybe I'm presuming something that isn't the case, but if your wife currently doesn't know the charge didn't go through, won't she know when she either looks at her transaction statements or else requests a refund? What is her current strategy on the money issue - if she thinks she was charged for something that wasn't delivered, wouldn't she be taking action to get that money back? I'm kind of confused about the whole thing.

Assuming that she will discover on her own that no money changed hands, then I would strongly urge you to give her sympathy/support if she wants it but to otherwise stay out of it. She's an adult; if she's had other online issues before maybe this will help her learn to be more careful in the future, and I really don't see how any sort of "see, this is what you did wrong" from you is going to come off as anything other than condescending or patronizing, no matter how helpful your intentions.
posted by DingoMutt at 12:56 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


She sounds like someone I know. And am related to. cough, oh hi mom love you!

Here is how you play it.

to wife: [outraged] What? That is just ridiculous. I can't believe they'd take your order and not deliver the cupcakes! I'm going to call and give them a piece of my mind!!!

to bakery: [conciliatory] Hey, so this thing happened. Looks like there was misunderstanding on both ends. Y'all need to clean up your online ordering system a bit, FYI. Looks like this turned into a bit of a cluster, huh? ha, ha, ha...

to wife: Honey, I took care of it. We will not be charged for the cupcakes! Next time we order, let me do it. I know how to handle these folks. [at this point, maybe flex or crack your knuckles]


Any way else you play this is going to end poorly for you.
posted by phunniemee at 12:57 PM on January 8, 2013 [63 favorites]


This is a great opportunity to model adaptive behavior ("just roll with it") for your wife, who sounds like she needs to adopt it and for your son, who is going to pick up cues from her and from you. As a parent, I can say that learning to be adaptive is the single greatest sanity saver, ever.

It doesn't matter who is at fault for the missing cupcakes. It also doesn't matter what day a two year old celebrates his birthday (can the boy read a calendar yet? Didn't think so). So, forget about all that and move on: suggest that cupcakes at day care next week sounds like an awesome idea and leave your wife some space to learn from her recent experiences on the nuances of ordering products for deadlines.
posted by jamaro at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I keep trying to come up with a way for you to explain it to your wife and have it still be like you are entirely on your side.

Because that's entirely how it should be and because, even if she was more in the wrong than she is, fuck this bakery and their seems-to-work, sends-an-email, don't-follow-up process... maybe she shouldn't have been so angry or directed her energy elsewhere but that's not really a huge thing you can fix this time. As ugly as it can be sometimes, part of an intimate relationship is just realizing that your partner is wrong and there's nothing you can do about it, and you should take her side anyway (within reason, obviously)

So, I'm trying to figure out how to explain it without losing sight of whose side you are clearly on. Then I realized the reason why I'm trying so hard is that I had this exact same fight with my partner earlier this afternoon. I tried to explain why he was wrong and they were right. And that's not what he needed -- both overall and in that particular situation. He was angry about a particular incident, and though this incident might have been reason for ire, it was also part of a longer problem where he might be more at fault. But it's very hard to thread that needle.

If there's a problem to fix, don't try to fix it using this example.

And my suggestion is that to avoid stuff like this in the future, volunteer to do the ordering yourself. There's tons of stuff my partner does better than me and that I do better than him and knowing where those lines are might be the foundation to a working relationship.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:58 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is it your wife is not aware that money did not change hands? And why is it that you haven't informed her/she hasn't found out?

Yeah their ordering system sucks, and from the sound of it they got an earful from her about it. But just for her future sanity's sake when ordering online, shouldn't she figure out when she's actually made a purchase? You don't have to be "on the bakery's side" to explain to her that she didn't actually do what she thought she did, right?

Your kid's forgotten about this entirely, and I'm assuming you all did something with him outside of daycare, so as far as he's concerned, better luck next year.
posted by asciident at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, it seems possible that she did enter payment information - were there any freeform text fields on the page? You wouldn't believe the way people can repurpose a plaintext field.

If there's a general problem where she is not good at making orders online, or just dealing with small businesses in general, then this should be a nice low stakes example to address (because as mentioned, your son and his daycare companions don't give a shit, so the only person who is disappointed is herself). It's up to you whether you want to take the 'let me handle this dear' approach, or figure out a strategy for her to do it better herself (screenshot copies of online order forms? habit of setting a reminder to call them 2 days later whenever she makes an online order?).
posted by jacalata at 1:02 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If she's not really great at ordering things online, why not offer to do that for her? But it seems like this is just an occasional problem, and not every mistake in the world is a "teaching moment." It's just cupcakes.
posted by xingcat at 1:03 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've seen my mother rip some assholes in my lifetime. My suggestion? Stay out of it. I don't think there's any light you can shed on this situation that a complete imbecile wouldn't have figured out on their own. So you may want to look at your own motives for bringing this up.

Try to figure out how to laugh this one off and come up with something better for the kid. If your wife is overwhelmed and that's why she's making mistakes, offer to help her out and do something nice for her.
posted by phaedon at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, so your wife thinks that the bakery has your money, right? When she yelled at them did she ask for a refund? What did they say?

Can you ask her which credit card she put it on, and have her look up the transaction? There must be a way to do it that isn't shaming.

(If it were my husband I'd just be like "dude, I can't find the transaction on any of our credit cards, how did you pay?" and we'd go from there. But he's kind of chill)
posted by gaspode at 1:06 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Call the bakery and explain that their system isn't working. They should be made aware of this. And yeah, if you can swing it to get free cupcakes, bonus.

Then explain to your wife that you talked to the bakery, and it seems like their website is all screwed up. The order/payment never went through, the site never told your wife that it didn't go through, and it never told the bakery either (because it sounds like this is exactly what happened, right?). You've checked the credit card and yeah, the money never came out. The bakery has said that they're [whatever they're doing to fix the site/sending free cupcakes/really sorry]. Technology sucks sometimes, amirite? Next time let's double-check by calling the bakery because you can't be too careful when it comes to cupcakes. Etc etc etc.

In other words, blame the website, not any person.
posted by specialagentwebb at 1:07 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think there is shared blame here. The bakery's order acknowledgement said that it would contact your wife for payment information and confirmation. They didn't do that, so there is fault there in the form of not running a properly-running website.

However, your wife received emails that the bakery would contact her. When they didn't, that should have put her on notice to call the bakery and ask, "did you receive my order?" Every day that passed without a call from the bakery surely would have made me increasingly nervous if I were your wife. The reason is that if I haven't received a call, that means the bakery isn't doing anything with my order. I would have called after 24 hours, if not sooner. I think she bears the large majority of the blame here.

To use a more common example, if your wife were to order a pizza delivery to your house, how long would she sit at home hungry before calling the shop back to ask, "hey, where's my pizza?"

"I think that she should know what her mistake was without seeming like I'm a know-it-all or that I was trying to prove that she was incompetent" makes me nervous. It makes it sound like you walk on eggshells.

Like several others have said, you need to leave this alone. I recommend that you and your wife leave the bakery alone regarding this matter. If I were you, I would have asked your wife, "when you didn't hear back from the bakery, why didn't you call them?" I disagree with the comments that you should just "let her be mad" or "let her deal with it". She's not dealing with it, where "it" is her lack of attention. If you do not address this with her (in a kind way, of course - remind her that not everyone is 100% reliable), you'll be back before long with something like this:

Dear Ask MetaFilter, my wife thought that she purchased airline tickets online for our vacation to Hawaii. However, when we arrived at the airport...

posted by Tanizaki at 1:09 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are many holes that you will fall into. But here is how I see it.

First and foremost: Your wife does have a right to have her feelings and be upset.
Secondly: She also has a right to be upset that a company has an online order system that doesn't work worth a crap. There is no way of proving if they got the order or not. You can't win that battle.
Thirdly: When SHE handles this and they tell her that they never charged her, then she will realize that she doesn't need a refund and can put this to bed emotionally and logically.

Finally: I can see plenty of situations where my wife could place and order with a store that she frequents, they never ask for payment (hell, Amazon doesn't even ask me anymore) and the assumption with the "submit" is that all is well. Don't treat your wife like a hysterical Luddite that needs someone to come calm her down and explain the ways of the world. You trying to walk the line of being on both sides isn't healthy. Your wife will think you are subverting her and telling the world that she is an unruly bitch. My assumption being that she ISN'T, but just a very loving and upset mother of a toddler.

I wouldn't touch this.
posted by LeanGreen at 1:14 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


But when I tried the online ordering form, there was no place to input any payment information.

Is it possible that they took it down after screwing up your wife's order and getting an earful from her about it?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:16 PM on January 8, 2013


Yeah I have people in my family like this too. Being the straightforward kind of person I am, I would probably not play games with it though. I would just say, well, I checked the accounts, and there was no payment made; they forgot to call us and confirm, in the future if someone forgets to call us an confirm something it's best to call them ourselves. And then something sympathetic about poor little Johnny's party and how to make up for it, and diffuse/distract if the conversation goes backwards.

I really feel like any further fudging of the truth is just patronizing and insulting to your wife, who needs to be able function in the real world as an adult. Don't criticize and lecture either, just let the facts stand, sympathize with her disappointment over the party (everyone makes mistakes, you really do not need to emphasize or debate whose mistake it was beyond an assessment of facts) and point out how good of an idea it is to double-check things like this simply because people tend to be flaky.
posted by celtalitha at 1:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If she's already pissed off, you don't want to be the one to tell her she never paid. Maybe you can help her discover that herself...

You: "Honey, I'm just as outraged as you are! Let me have the receipt, and I'm going right over there to get our money back."

Her: "I didn't get a receipt, I ordered on-line."

You: "OK, let's hit our credit card's Web site and get the recent activity." (1 minute later) "Honey, did you use a different card? I don't see any charge for the cupcakes."

Her: "I never gave them the card, they were supposed to contact me."

You: "Oh... wait, so did they get paid?"

Her: "Well, I guess not. But I definitely tried to order."

And then you can have the conversation about how their Web site isn't great, and what to do next, without putting her on her back foot.
posted by nicwolff at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure why there would be any sort of need to treat an adult woman as though she is a child and "teach her" that she shouldn't be rude, that she needs to call to follow up on online orders, etc.

You tell your wife, "I looked up the bakery order form and noticed it seems like there's no place to enter credit card info and that it says they will call to get payment information, but did you ever call to confirm it? [Because maybe she did, how would you know whether she had or not?] I'm guessing that's probably why the order never went through."

This seems to me more like a question about your difficulty in communicating with your wife, not about a logistical problem.
posted by so_gracefully at 1:19 PM on January 8, 2013 [42 favorites]


I just want to let her know that she's at least partially responsible for the mishap
Why do you want to do this? Nothing good will come from it. She will not become better at online ordering or be pleased that you pointed out her mistakes. I expect my husband to be 100% in my corner, no matter how wrong I am. He doesn't have to agree that I was right, but he doesn't need to point out the error of my ways. Do not try to enlighten her.
posted by Ideefixe at 1:21 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I disagree that you should stay out of this - it's a problem that is hurting both of you.

I've recently screwed up several on-line orders - partially because the websites were confusing, but partially because I didn't pay enough attention. I fully accept that I shouldn't call them up and yell at anyone.

I'm going to counter with a recommendation that you deal with it together, as a team. Tell her the money didn't go through, so while the bakery should've followed up, you're not out any money. Then ask her how she thinks the two of you should solve the problem.

Hint: if she says you should yell at the bakery more, or talk about blame, explore with her what that solves (nothing). If need be, suggest that maybe y'all order cupcakes for next week at daycare instead.
posted by ldthomps at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you tell her that no money came out of anywhere, so...

She can live in that "so..." however she wants. You shrug.

Either she learns a valuable lesson about confirmations or she doesn't. She'll be embarrassed or she won't. Not really your job to drive the point home, though you have now earned the right, next time, to ask if she confirmed her cupcakes.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:22 PM on January 8, 2013


You know your wife and your relationship better than anyone here. How do you think she would respond to any of these suggestions? Pick whichever one keeps you from having to sleep on the couch for an indeterminate amount of time and go with that.
posted by elizardbits at 1:24 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


And yeah, if you can swing it to get free cupcakes, bonus.

Please don't do this. If the bakery has a bad order form on the web, I'm going to guess that they're not that big an operation, and you'd be actively taking from them for something that is, charitably speaking, half your wife's fault. Even if they offer, just say, "Well, I'm still going to order those cupcakes for next week -- maybe give me one extra one?"
posted by Etrigan at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I just want to let her know that she's at least partially responsible for the mishap.

You absolutely do not. Either she already realizes this and is working through it by being all HULK SMASH PUNY BAKERS, or it's a lost cause and the end result will be still no cupcakes, and an even angrier wife, and now she'll be angry at you, as well.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


And I'm not sure why you're expecting to "handle" the company. Were you planning on suing? Are they holding you responsible somehow for your wife's verbal abuse? You can leave something on Yelp that their online ordering system sucks, if it makes you feel better. Either way, you might not want to order cupcakes from them again; never yell at somebody and then ask them to make you food.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you need to hear it from one more person: You describe your wife as if she were an arrogant, entitled, angry person with absolutely no sense of perspective who can't handle the world's WTF and must always find fault for every little failure, ensure it lies with someone else, and must make them feel bad, so bad, that they dared harsh her mellow. I don't know if this accurately describes your wife, but if it does, and you're okay with that kind of behaviour, then you should definitely take up arms under her flag and call up the bakery and shout at them.

Otherwise, shrug sympathetically and move on. Life's short.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I do a lot of online shopping and ordering and, often, once I hit that "submit" button, it's out of sight, out of mind for me. I also rarely read the confirmation email closely -- I generally take the presence of the email in my inbox as proof that the transaction went through. This is particularly true for an order for something that will be delivered some time in the distant future -- again, out of sight, out of mind, to-do list item checked off, what's next?

It may be that I would have taken note of these things in the past, but I am also the mother of a toddler, and frankly just don't have the time anymore. (See above about doing a lot of online shopping -- I do that because that's all I have time for.)

All that to say that I totally sympathize with your wife and can easily see how this might have happened.

HOWEVER, whether you need to be the one to step in and "fix" this is another matter. It's not clear from your question or followup if your wife is NOW aware that no money changed hands. If that's not the case, don't treat her like your two-year old, just tell her -- "Hey, honey, I understand you're upset about this. I don't see the transaction in our bank account/credit card history, so it looks like we weren't ever charged." And then let her decide what next steps she wants to take, if any -- or let her be angry if she wants to. Because sometimes, that's all someone wants -- to be angry, and to have their spouse support that anger.

(Also, bear in mind that her anger may be about something other than the fact that the online transaction went bad. This is one of those situations that seems almost designed to make a working parent feel like shit for falling short of what s/he "should" be doing. Your wife wanted to order cupcakes for your son's birthday to be delivered to his daycare so he could have a fun birthday party at school, and that plan got all screwed up, and now she feels like she's falling short of what Timmy's mom did, etc.)

Oh, and on preview, what Ideefixe said -- do not approach this as "honey, let me show you how this is at least partially your fault." Because that's just patronizing.
posted by devinemissk at 1:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Frame everything as an "us", so that the issue is shifted onto you both as a team.

1) "Yes, this sucks - they totally should have delivered to us!"

2) "Let me check our credit card activity -- wait a minute, looks like there are no charges"

3) "Can I take a quick look? Looks like they never asked for our payment information"

4) "Wow, they're pretty disorganized! Maybe we should check up next time or call them over the phone? It's not really our responsibility and it sucks that we have to but I guess that's what we have to do to deal with disorganized people."

5) "Anyways thanks a lot for being the person to order the cupcakes in the first place!"

6) "Why don't we do this fun thing with our son in the future? I'm sure he'll like it. What about - surprise cupcakes? etc. etc."
posted by suedehead at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Unless you have to sleep with the people who make the cupcakes, I'd be totally on your wife's side if I were you.

Now, if you're just curious as to what happened - I deal with small local businesses and e-comm all day long. The cupcake people people probably had some 16 year old "web designer" cobble together some kind of mail form to "take orders," and, congratulations, your wife was probably the only person to have used it in the 6 month history of the business. Because, seriously, who orders cupcakes from a local business online?

You're probably extremely fortunate that these geniuses of the information age didn't simply add the fields

Credit Card Number:
Expiration Date:
CVV2:

to their stupid mail-to form, because that has happened a lot in the past, and pretty much guarantees that the Russian mob would have gotten your CC info (and you still wouldn't have gotten any cupcakes, because the mail-to form goes to a Hotmail account that no one has thought to check for 3 months).

The only takeaway here is - pick up the phone or drop by when ordering baked goods in the future. There's no one really to be mad at here, unless you want to blame your wife, in which case I'm directing you back to my first sentence. Life's too short.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:30 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is she leaving negative reviews for the bakery on the internet? If so, I would find a way to encourage her to re-think how harshly she is reviewing them, and what criticisms are fair - it wasn't that the bakery was all "2 year old's birthday?! HAHA HELL NO, NO WAY, LET'S SCREW THEM OVER!"

But rather, there are issues with their online ordering system, and it would be encouraged to place orders (and follow up) with a live human to ensure that the order is received and fulfilled. That's a totally fair criticism, but going on an angry bender doesn't in any way answer the question: "How can this be avoided in the future?"
posted by raztaj at 1:31 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am pretty sure your wife is very, VERY aware that she's the one that's really at fault here. If this is common behavior on her part, she doesn't sound like she's someone who can handle criticism maturely or take responsibility for her actions. That's too bad.

If it were me, I'd have it out with her, but that's because I am confrontational and can't stand it when people blame others for their own carelessness and immaturity. Don't embarass her anymore than she already is for right now, because it will spell ill for your relationship with her. Maybe the kindest thing to say would be, "Honey, seeing you so distraught over what happened with the cupcakes makes me really sad. We can't really do anything about how the bakery runs their business, but we can at least get better at looking at online forms to make sure this doesn't happen again. Can you walk me through what to saw so I can see what made you think you'd already purchased the cupcakes?"
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:33 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe what I didn't convey was that my wife doesn't know that money did not change hands. She thought that the transaction did go through but in reality it didn't. She thinks it's 100% the bakery's fault.


Can you just show her the form on the website and point out there is no place for payment information? And show her your credit card statements? At least that will tell her that y'all are not out any money.

I'd then let the rest go. Your wife shouldn't have said harsh things to the bakery workers. But, unless she is going to continue on this rampage and harass them more, she can calm down on her own. Buy cupcakes from a different place (maybe calling this time to confirm), and bring them in to the daycare.

Because my wife is particularly upset about this, I'd like to approach this with her with some sensitivity and also try and prevent situations like this from happening in the future.

Since stuff like this has happened before, I'd suggest to her that she stick to online ordering from big time vendors, and deal with small businesses by phone or in person. As KokuRyu says, small businesses don't have the infrastructure for 0% failure rates. And they often aren't internet savvy. They have online forms because that's what you're supposed to have (whoever setup the site may have encouraged them to do it, and then left them to their own devices), but it's not their core competency. I agree it's not the best customer service, but you're dealing with human beings here, not big faceless corporations. So the next time she goes to order something from a small store, maybe you could bring up CupcakeGate 2013, and suggest she phone instead.
posted by bluefly at 1:34 PM on January 8, 2013


just tell your wife what you discovered about their website ordering form and that it looks like she was never contacted for confirmation of the order or payment and they were never paid. that's it. if you must remind her it's good to follow thru and check up on online orders. it's just cupcakes...no blood was spilled here, probably not even from any cows.
posted by wildflower at 1:41 PM on January 8, 2013


Agreeing with a lot of people about how the VERY MOST I would do is remark to her, all casual-like, that "Huh, that's funny, I didn't see any charge from that bakery/cancelled check from that bakery." Let her draw her own conclusions.

Trying to "point out to her that it's partly her fault" would be rubbing salt in an open wound. It sounds like she already feels bad enough about things; if you say anything at all, keep it to just an observation of that one fact and let her draw her own conclusions.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on January 8, 2013


"I'm not sure whether to apologize for the harsh words my wife gave"

When you use "harsh words" when speaking to someone, it's generally considered good form to apologise. Harsh words are rarely necessary. By "you", I mean "your wife".

It's completely OK to say that there's a problem. It's not OK to be mean to people.
posted by Solomon at 1:51 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know why people are saying to not say anything to your wife. If she is not savvy about online ordering she is at a much greater risk of being a victim of online fraud. She should become familiar with checking her bank account or PayPal or whatever after any online order. In this case, if she had checked it a few hours after the supposed transaction she would have known why she was not receiving a follow-up call and sorted it all out in time. I order immense amounts of things online from all sorts of small, independent businesses. Checking accounts, following up, communicating, are all part and parcel of responsibly dealing with online vendors. Perhaps you should draw a parallel to real-world actions: sending an email, even an order form, is just like leaving it on someone's desk when they aren't there. After a reasonable amount of time without hearing anything, you need to check if that person got the order, right? And if you've written down your credit card info and left that for a random person to make a charge with, you need to follow up on your end to make sure mistakes or deliberate fraud have not occurred.

You're both grownups, and I honestly don't understand why you can't have discussion about responsible online buying- if your wife is going to get angry about that, that means a deeper problem. You don't just ignore this kind of thing.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm a fixer. In a situation like this I'd have no problem going back to someone and saying "Yeah, so I checked our accounts and we were never charged for the cupcakes so I also checked out the website and there's no way to enter payment there. It does send an email after you submit the form saying they'll contact you for your payment info and to confirm. If they didn't do that I think, honestly, sorry to say I think you're half at fault here.". It's the truth and I don't think adults needs to be treated like babies.

But two caveats: 1) I am aware that 90% of the time the other person't doesn't want or need a fixer. They need a wall to vent against. So I try to keep my yap shut and let them vent. If it goes on and on I'll say "Do you want to vent, because that's cool, or are we trying to solve this?". I have a rep and people know this I guess. And 2) I get so many emails from "Other MaryLynns" who never seem to get their order confirmations or follow ups and it drives me mental but I've come to realize there are many people who apparently do not know how to fill out web forms and apparently continue to live their lives not giving one shit about getting these messages and it hasn't killed them yet.

So be clear: does she want a fixer, for real or just a venting wall?
posted by marylynn at 1:52 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Here is how you play it.

to wife: [outraged] What? That is just ridiculous. I can't believe they'd take your order and not deliver the cupcakes! I'm going to call and give them a piece of my mind!!!

to bakery: [conciliatory] Hey, so this thing happened. Looks like there was misunderstanding on both ends. Y'all need to clean up your online ordering system a bit, FYI. Looks like this turned into a bit of a cluster, huh? ha, ha, ha...

to wife: Honey, I took care of it. We will not be charged for the cupcakes! Next time we order, let me do it. I know how to handle these folks. [at this point, maybe flex or crack your knuckles]


This seems paternalistic and I wouldn't want a partner to treat me this way. It kind of seems like something out of I Love Lucy. If your wife thinks she did a thing and she definitely, provably didn't do that thing, she should know about it. It's not some moral wrong and lots of people lose their composure and yell at vendors when upset about things, so I wouldn't approach it as some sort of outrageous thing, but I think saying, "No, you actually didn't pay for the cupcakes, the form doesn't work properly, next time call and follow up if there's no way to enter your credit card information." Surely it's reasonable for someone to understand you need to provide credit card information to make a purchase? Otherwise what was the business to do, guess the card numbers?
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on January 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


I think people are missing where the OP said that this happens to the wife fairly often. Maybe someone just needs to teach her how to place an order online.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:01 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


This seems paternalistic and I wouldn't want a partner to treat me this way.

100% agree with that, sweetkid.

I don't really feel that there's anything you should do in this situation besides let your wife vent her frustration, then maybe say that it's a bummer about the miscommunication and say you guys might want to follow next time you order something. If she chooses not to, then she chooses not to. Sometimes it's irritating when people don't do what we want them to do or behave how we think they should, but you're two different people with different standards of what's embarassing or whatever.
posted by smirkyfodder at 2:03 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


>Situations like this between my wife and small online vendors have happened previously

"happened previously" and "fairly often" aren't the same.

Speaking on behalf of my wife of a two year old, with all the guilt of a working mother and the pressures of being the "perfect mother" -- especially in a celebratory situation -- she would be this upset too.
posted by LeanGreen at 2:03 PM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think your wife might have unrealistic expectations about the online expertise at small businesses. Honestly, a lot of them aren't that good, and I would need to order from a small business repeatedly and successfully online to not be double-checking either through a follow up email or a phone call.

If she has unrealistic expectations about the work of others in general she might be happier if she took a look at that and decided that yes, the world in fact does require that you check everything twice and it's actually ultimately less exasperating to just do it. This is a discussion we have on a fairly regular basis at our house, because both Mr. Llama and myself occasionally fail to have these aforementioned realistic expectations..
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:10 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just an anecdote on the importance of confirmation from the business side.

I just had this happen with a customer. We had gone through the customization process by email a month ago but I hadn't given her a quote or invoice yet as I was awaiting her final decision on the details. She mistakenly thought that I was working on the order already. It can be argued whose fault this was, but, really, that's irrelevant compared to the need being met at the end. Fortunately, she called to confirm two days ago, I apologized and mentioned that I had never received payment from her.

What she did was apologize as well. She didn't understand that we hadn't completed the order process, and agreed that she hadn't finished her end of it, even though she could have blamed me with valid reasons as well.

What happened, because we were both considerate with each other, is that I am rushing to get this order out for her on time and am gladly eating the overnight delivery fee for her.

This is for a funeral and it would break my heart for her to not have it on time and I am so happy as a merchant to be able to get this to her.

Also, if she was a bitch about it. I would just have let it go as a lost sale, and she would be unhappy as well.

The internet isn't perfect weird glitches happen all the time. If something is very important to you, you do need to take responsibility to see that all is going according to plan.
posted by Vaike at 2:18 PM on January 8, 2013 [21 favorites]


Of course you should tell her she didn't actually pay for the cupcakes. How will hiding the truth from her make things better? Is she operating with some kind of diminished capacity or something? Unless you are her dad and she is 5 saying "the big kids say there's no santa," your role is not to dole out the truth in small doses so her fragile psyche can handle it. Your role is to support her as an adult in ways that can help her accomplish more and feel proud and independent. She's an adult and your partner, treat her as such.

And although this company has a crummy ordering system, your wife is complaining about them under false pretenses. She thought she paid for something she didn't pay for ... and it isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened. It's hard enough for a small business to stay ahead of yelp when the complaints are legitimate, but she's complaining that a company didn't deliver a product she paid for, which is 50 times worse than having a crummy ordering system.
posted by headnsouth at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


How about
"Hm, I checked our account and there's something weird: Looks like there was never any payment for the cupcakes. Maybe there was a technical glitch or something? We don't seem to have paid for any cupcakes. That could also explain why they didn't log our order."
Do not discuss who was wrong.

I think that this is an ostensibly simple thing to solve, but the real difficulty is all this emotional mire underneath it.
Your wife is for whatever reason overreacting. Does she feel the need to shift blame because of guilt? Is she catastrophising that she ruined your son's Very Important Day? Does not understanding technology or gettingmake her deeply insecure? I don't know, maybe you have an inkling why.
The other thing is that I suspect you are also reacting emotionally when you want to make her understand that it is her fault entirely. If that's true, I get you. I mean, her irrational reaction would drive me nuts, particularly if this isn't the first instance of it.

But it's not going to help you to try to hit her with the clue stick of rationality. "See here, simple logic proves you are wrong, here is data from the bank account." There will be no moment of realisation because her need to act as she act is rooted in something deeper.

I suggest that if you want to tackle it, you tackle it at a time where she is not worked up. let her know that you are worried about the way she reacts to things that should be no big deal. Tell her you love her and that you want her to be happy. Name a few examples, ask her what she thinks. This is a time where you can mention whatever proofs you have.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:44 PM on January 8, 2013


Whether or not it's a small business, if they have an online order form on their website, I would expect it to work and be checked. So I would be pissed too, if I had ordered cupcakes and had received (some sort of) a confirmation and they didn't show up.

Should she have called to confirm? Maybe. But the bakery shouldn't have an online order form if they're not going to support it.

However, I don't understand why you haven't mentioned to her that there was no charge from the bakery.

On preview, I like omnomnom's first paragraph.
posted by leahwrenn at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Whether or not it's a small business, if they have an online order form on their website, I would expect it to work and be checked. So I would be pissed too, if I had ordered cupcakes and had received (some sort of) a confirmation and they didn't show up.

Should she have called to confirm? Maybe. But the bakery shouldn't have an online order form if they're not going to support it.


If I'm reading the situation correctly, that confirmation was merely a confirmation that the order was received, and that a human would be calling to confirm and finalize the order and take payment. 1) an automated reception confirmation does not say anything about whether a human has seen the order. 2) it's not confirmation of payment. 3) electronic things don't always work like they should, in spite of how much money has been spent on the system, or how large and professional the company. 4) if the confirmation says that the client would receive a phone call, when that client does not they should not assume that they will be getting a cupcake delivery, regardless of whether or not they think they paid. 5)online companies can't make people read and understand their confirmation emails; at that point, the client needs to take responsibilty for not doing their due dilligence.

This bakery had a backup system for their online order form: human contact in the form of a phone call. The client should have understood that when they did not get a phone call like they were told that something was wrong. This was the backup system working. At that point, the failure to communicate became the client's fault.

I understand that it is incredibly disappointing to have a birthday plan that does not come to fruition. However the failure point was with the client not responding to the (lack of) communication from the bakery that she was told to expect.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:04 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking on behalf of my wife of a two year old, with all the guilt of a working mother and the pressures of being the "perfect mother" -- especially in a celebratory situation -- she would be this upset too

This is a really good point -- anything that seems to me to represent mom-failure makes me utterly bonkers. Anything that disappoints my kid, or makes me worry that she feels she can't rely on me -- it makes me feel a kind of guilt that I can't even describe. It's not even exactly guilt -- it's the feeling of having let down my kid, and two years old or not, I'd feel pretty bad about undelivered cupcakes. That said, I would try quite hard not to take that feeling out on someone else.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:26 PM on January 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Unless you have to sleep with the people who make the cupcakes, I'd be totally on your wife's side if I were you.

You know, treating her like a child isn't a good way to run a marriage.

If your wife is unable to conceptualize the realities of payment (meaning: she did or did not enter payment information and that is the end of it) then you guys need to have a talk about how online payments work and she needs to understand it before she does something really clueless, like sending the credit card # and CVV2 to random websites in plaintext over ordinary HTTP. This is a simple fact.
posted by rr at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, the fault really rests with the website. I imagine that the bakery thought things were hunky dory with their website and had no idea that the order had gone through (and that they then needed to follow up with a phone call requesting payment) and your wife thought everything was hunky dory, that the order had gone through, and that somewhere along the line she had paid for it/would pay for it upon delivery.

When you're a small business and not tech minded, you just expect these things to work. When you're a customer and you're using these online forms, you just expect these things to work.

So, your wife needs to know that the website didn't work properly, the business needs to know their website didn't work properly, and everyone needs to have a cupcake and a good lie down.

In the future, to prevent things like this from happening again, your wife needs to be more proactive and follow things up immediately. Sometimes forms/emails/texts etc fail, and sometimes people are just slack. But if you want something done, sometimes you really have to double check things in advance to make sure they do get done.
posted by heyjude at 3:29 PM on January 8, 2013


The bakery is totally at fault and your wife has every right to be angry! They screwed up and should know how their online system works, or doesn't work, duh! You should tell her she handled it perfectly and the bakery owes her a refund and an apology.
posted by waving at 3:42 PM on January 8, 2013


She thought that the transaction did go through but in reality it didn't. She thinks it's 100% the bakery's fault.

I don't understand why she thinks this. It's one thing to submit your credit card number and billing info on an online form and fail to notice that your card was never actually charged. It's quite another thing to expect money to go through when you never provided any kind of payment anywhere, at all, ever. Either something is missing from your wife's version of events, or she needs to calmly re-examine what happened and take responsibility for her own part in the whole cupcake debacle.

I just don't want her to be disappointed in the future.

I think you should mention what you found, because she needs to understand that her expectations were not reasonable. Unreasonable expectations will lead to disappointment, each and every time. If your wife doesn't learn to view things more objectively, she will most certainly continue to encounter conflict and frustration everywhere she goes. I also agree with those who caution that your wife should learn some basic financial and online street smarts, for the sake of safety and security. This time there were some disappointed kiddies, but no one was out of pocket. Next time there could be much more at stake.
posted by keep it under cover at 3:49 PM on January 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking on behalf of my wife of a two year old, with all the guilt of a working mother and the pressures of being the "perfect mother" -- especially in a celebratory situation -- she would be this upset too

This is a really good point -- anything that seems to me to represent mom-failure makes me utterly bonkers. Anything that disappoints my kid, or makes me worry that she feels she can't rely on me -- it makes me feel a kind of guilt that I can't even describe. It's not even exactly guilt -- it's the feeling of having let down my kid, and two years old or not, I'd feel pretty bad about undelivered cupcakes. That said, I would try quite hard not to take that feeling out on someone else.


Yeah, I think this is a perfect example of a question where you need to look at the subtext. It's not really about ordering cupcakes, it's about MOM IS A FAILURE. Figuring out how to address how she feels about letting down her kid is the key here.
posted by medusa at 4:10 PM on January 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is a really good point -- anything that seems to me to represent mom-failure makes me utterly bonkers. Anything that disappoints my kid, or makes me worry that she feels she can't rely on me -- it makes me feel a kind of guilt that I can't even describe. It's not even exactly guilt -- it's the feeling of having let down my kid, and two years old or not, I'd feel pretty bad about undelivered cupcakes.

This, this, a thousand times this.

I'll bet you the price of the cupcakes that the emotion that she's actually expressing is not really (at it's core) anger at the cupcake place. It's embarrassment. She's embarrassed because she's THAT mom who forgot her own kid's birthday. So she's deflecting her ire onto the bakery so that SHE's not the one who forgot.

Just tell her she's a good mom, and hug her a lot. I suspect she probably realizes she never paid for the cupcakes.
posted by anastasiav at 4:17 PM on January 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm not a mom, but it seems to me as if lectures about IT and credit card security would feel like mansplaining.
posted by bad grammar at 4:20 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not a mom, but it seems to me as if lectures about IT and credit card security would feel like mansplaining.

I'm not a mom either, but it seems like the OP's wife -- based on what the OP has said here -- evidently doesn't quite understand the logistics of transmitting payment information online in order to have realistic expectations about commercial transactions. (Either that, or something significant has been left out of the story.) So doesn't she need something explained to her, by someone?
posted by scody at 4:39 PM on January 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


I'm not a mom either, but mansplaining is 'assuming ignorance on the part of the listener'. If the wife is saying but I don't know, they must have got money somehow!' then it's not really an assumption anymore, and at that point it's just regular explaining.

"Mansplaining", if you need to use the phrase, does not mean "men aren't allowed to explain things to women because it's patronising".
posted by jacalata at 4:49 PM on January 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah, I am guessing she realizes she is partly in the wrong and is now doubling down on the indignation. I worked at a place with an online ordering system and saw this kind of thing almost daily.

If this were my spouse, I would tell them that online ordering is iffy and that if they try it again, and it doesn't work out, I'm not listening to any complaints about it. I have in fact drawn this kind of line with my partner. Not in this exact kind of transaction, but close enough.
posted by BibiRose at 5:13 PM on January 8, 2013


I don't know why people are saying to not say anything to your wife.

I think maybe those of who are, are reading a weird tone into it that may not be there, at that - or, at least, shouldn't be there. Meaning - there's a difference between exhibit A:

"Huh. Hey, hon, it looks like we didn't get charged for the cupcakes after all, do you know why that may be?....Oh, wait, I see, there wasn't a space for you to enter in payment after all. Did you try typing it in somewhere else? Maybe their computer files that into a weird place and they never got the payment, and that was the problem."

and exhibit B:

"Honey, I was looking at the web site and it looks like there wasn't a space to type in the payment info - now, you really ought to be more careful about this, and it looks like maybe the baker wasn't entirely to blame."

I think the people who are saying "don't say anything" are more like "don't say it like exhibit B".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:21 PM on January 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I am guessing she realizes she is partly in the wrong and is now doubling down on the indignation.

For folks who thought my suggestion above was paternalistic (which, yeah), this is the situation I am envisioning (and have lived many, many times with the aforementioned person I know). If the OP's wife is that sort of person, the only way to come out of this with all limbs intact is to not counter her at all and just defuse the situation by whatever means necessary.
posted by phunniemee at 5:24 PM on January 8, 2013


For folks who thought my suggestion above was paternalistic (which, yeah), this is the situation I am envisioning (and have lived many, many times with the aforementioned person I know). If the OP's wife is that sort of person, the only way to come out of this with all limbs intact is to not counter her at all and just defuse the situation by whatever means necessary.

Hold it. So we can't even gently express the fact that she didn't actually pay, and where did she think she paid anyway? It's one thing, I think, when it's just between you two. I guess. If you're content that way. But when she starts being horrible and nasty to other people who don't deserve it, that needs to be pointed out and worked on. I think.

I'm not a mom but I really, really sympathize with the failing to live up to expectations thing. And I do feel really badly for her, for this reason. But I don't think that makes it ok to be a real jerk to strangers, and ruin someone else's day. And I doubt you want your kids to model that behavior either.
posted by Glinn at 7:40 PM on January 8, 2013 [11 favorites]


Pointing out all the ways she screwed this up isn't going to solve the underlying problem; which is that she feels like she ruined her kid's birthday in front of everyone.

No money exchanged hands, so there really isn't a problem to be solved. Be sympathetic to your wife's feelings, apologize to the bakery for the harsh words if you feel obliged, and get another batch of cupcakes delivered from someplace else next week.

Parenting a two year old is already overwhelming and exhausting. Try not to let this be bigger than it needs to be.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:01 PM on January 8, 2013


Pointing out all the ways she screwed this up isn't going to solve the underlying problem; which is that she feels like she ruined her kid's birthday in front of everyone.

No, flaking on the cupcakes was the symptom. The underlying problem was the OP's wife's inattention to the transaction with the bakery. After receiving the emails saying that the bakery would call to confirm the order and accept payment information, the wife was on notice to expect a call. Didn't she wonder why no call came? Like I said in my previous comment, how long would see sit home hungry waiting for a pizza to arrive before calling the shop to check the order's status?

Oh, wait, I see, there wasn't a space for you to enter in payment after all. Did you try typing it in somewhere else?

I think this suggested approach is a bit patronizing. OP confirmed that there is no place to enter payment, so where else could she have typed it? The browser's address bar? That suggestion only serves to make her look less competent. This is like something I did with my kids when they were three, "oh, you can't find your Lego man? Let's check behind your ear!"

OP says that situations like this have happened before. Presumably, OP and his wife would like to reduce the likelihood of incidents like this in the future. If so, they need to address the cause, the wife's inattention. I am sure he can do this in a way that is constructive and loving. Waving this away with "being a mom is tough!" as some people suggest does not solve the problem. A lot of people have tough jobs but probably manage to follow up with vendors competently. Yes, it's true that she "shouldn't have to" follow up with an inattentive vendor, but I shouldn't have to lock my doors at night.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:44 PM on January 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


OP says that situations like this have happened before. Presumably, OP and his wife would like to reduce the likelihood of incidents like this in the future. If so, they need to address the cause, the wife's inattention. I am sure he can do this in a way that is constructive and loving.

tanizaki, the OP was also seeking to "not sound like a know-it-all," which sounds like "the best way to be constructive and loving" is precisely what is being asked here.

I think what people are trying to suggest is that one good way to not sound like a know-it-all would be to wait until her emotions are a good deal less raw, that's all. And for my own part, the casual-observation "hey, I noticed we didn't get charged for this, you think maybe that was the problem" was an attempt to at least display an assumption of good faith in the wife's capability, because I've personally found that people respond much better to offers of help and suggestions if they feel comfortable that you do trust they have a brain - and they bristle when you take a lecture-y, "see, this is obviously what the problem is and you should have done this that and the other".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:05 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of people assuming your wife is some kind of luddite or nincompoop when it comes to online ordering. I suppose that could be the case, but I'm inclined to cut her some slack seeing how she's the mother of a toddler and possibly had her focus split to the point where she very well may have authentically believed she completed an actual transaction. If she was doing any other online purchasing at or around the time she tried to order the cupcakes she very well may have conflated some other checkout process with her visit to the bakery site. And her reaction may be out of scale for what the actual facts suggest, but from her perspective she probably feels totally justified.

But she doesn't know the facts as you understand them, and it seems as though she's not motivated to go back and figure it out on her own. So now you get to decide whether to correct her erroneous beliefs or not, and if so, how. Lucky you.

I'd like to try to speak with the bakery as well. I'm not sure whether to apologize for the harsh words my wife gave, but I'd like to tell them that their online ordering system is clearly not working.

You're not obligated to talk to the bakery. You didn't yell at them, you didn't place the order, and you're not their online ordering consultant. However, if you want to give them feedback on their online ordering system because you think they'd benefit from hearing about the experience, then by all means call them and have a polite, professional exchange with them about it. They might not give a crap, or they might appreciate your efforts. I'd try not to have any expectations going into such a conversation.

It would not be appropriate for you to apologize. You caused no offense. If they have an apology coming, it's from your wife (I would strongly advise you not to suggest that she apologize btw). If you want to smooth things over you could offer an expression of regret that the bad thing happened, but since you didn't cause the bad thing it's not for you to apologize for.

Is this all a huge miscommunications between parties?

The miscommunication itself is not huge, but it's big enough and it sounds like the impact was pretty big.

Is anyone clearly at fault?

The fault is shared. The apportionment is a matter of opinion. In my opinion fault is not really relevant anymore unless you plan to convince one of the parties to accept responsibility. I don't see that as a productive pursuit.

How should I approach each party?

I offered my advice wrt the bakery above. Wrt your wife, it's hard to say. What kind of outcome are you hoping for?

If your intention is to get her to accept responsibility for the failure I'd urge you to reconsider.

If you just don't want to be recruited to participate as she bashes the bakery based on an incorrect apprehension of the facts I'd stick with "Yeah, that sucked. Their order system is sicker than a broke-dick dog. We were never charged though, so that's good, maybe it had something to do with the order not going through. Hey, there's a new Cougartown on tonight!" I don't think you need to protect her from the facts and from her oversight wrt the non-confirmation confirmation email, but if she isn't inclined to seek out a deeper understanding of what went wrong I wouldn't press the issue.

If you want to prevent similar things from happening in the future, next time there's a special occasion that calls for mission-critical ordering you could offer to take on that responsibility to ease her burden, or you could remind her to follow up with vendors in a way that doesn't blame her for this time ("Hey, remember how that bakery screwed us? Let's not give these new guys the chance, can you call and get confirmation from a real live person?").

If it happens that your wife really is the complete numbskull with online ordering that some folks think she is, then maybe you need to do some online shopping with her so she can see how it's done. But that doesn't seem like the most likely scenario to me.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 12:12 AM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Your wife's behavior towards the bakery sounds, in my opinion, unacceptable. It sounds like she was rude and embarrassing. She'll also probably trash talk the bakery to anyone who will listen. This is all done on the basis that she thought she paid for a product she didn't receive, which would be maddening and she'd be entitled to a refund. But the bakery isn't giving her a refund because they never received any payment from her.

Because of this, I think she needs to know that payment was never taken from her. Wouldn't that knowledge have affected her behavior? I'd bring it up with my (not completely unreasonable) partner, anyway.

She probably won't apologize to the bakery but it might keep her from spreading lies (ie they took my money and never delivered the cupcakes!!) about them.

Also, I've had this happen to me. Online form submitted that I never received; it had been working perfectly as far as I knew but then, for reasons I still do not understand, broke (I do not manage the forms or website that it's on). I respond to these forms within 48 hours. When I didn't, a client contacted me and asked about the form which I apologized and apologized and apologized for never receiving and then did their work as quickly as I could. This also let me get the form fixed. Had he never contacted me, he simply never would have gotten what he wanted. Yes, the form should work, but if the promise is that you will hear back in 1-2 days and you don't then you need to contact the vendor. The bakery may or may not even manage their own website. Online forms are not a magic guarantee to produce what you want after you hit the submit button.

I wouldn't say that to your wife but I think her life would be less stressful if she realized that.
posted by Polychrome at 3:59 AM on January 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, fine, your wife's behavior was wrong. Yes, fine, your wife screwed up. Yes, fine, it's 90% her fault. You know this, now we allll know this.
If I was you I'd blame the bakery, take my wife's side, and make her happy. You have nothing to gain from making her feel like it was at all her fault. She'll be mad at you. What then? You have no cupcakes and a mad wife.
posted by Blake at 4:51 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what it benefits one either to make a big deal of something like this OR to sweep it under the rug/handle your wife with kid gloves. I think there's a lesson here-- always do business in person or at least on the phone. There is a reason why some people get so hyper about getting the names of people they are dealing with. (Which backfires if they are obnoxious about it, but they have a legitimate reason for acting that way in the first place.) Screw-ups occur. So, going forward, it behooves your wife to put some protections in place. Like, always speak to someone. Otherwise it sounds like she's going to get into a kind of loop where she expects things to go wrong, and they do, and then eventually she is the kind of customer from hell that employees deliberately screw with.

In my opinion, this is the kind of thing people can and should point out to their spouses. To your mother in law or your boss, maybe not. But to your partner, you should be a support but sometimes this involves offering a reality check too.
posted by BibiRose at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I made a mistake like your wife's mistake, I would fully expect my partner to call me out on it. I would certainly call him out on a similar mistake. It doesn't have to be done in a nasty way, but I would absolutely want to know if I was in the wrong.

I am a little creeped out by the paternalistic tone of some of these posts. Your wife is not a child and frankly I find it disturbing that someone would want to perpetuate their partner's ignorance in a situation like this. It taps into the stereotype of a crazy, irrational woman who doesn't know how to deal with technology and can never learn.
posted by RubyScarlet at 8:01 PM on January 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just came here to be the only person to say that in the past, I ordered cupcakes online for my daughter's second birthday party from a small baking business. It wasn't difficult and the cupcakes were delivered to my door just fine. The baker even put little monkey faces on them at our request for a negligible fee, and they were both adorable and delicious. I think I did communicate with the baker at one point by phone, but I don't even remember if she called me or I called her. I never worried at all about whether the online ordering process would work, and with good reason: it worked just fine.

So everyone in this thread implying that it is crazy to order cupcakes online from a small vendor seems a bit weirdly over cautious to me.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:45 PM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


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