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m.o.b. Complaint (I never get these). How to handle this?

post #1 of 114
Thread Starter 
I will try to make this a short story but it won't be-

First--I use Sylvia Weinstock's white cake recipe, always have. It's great; I love it. Brides love it. Use IMBC and home made fondant (mmf).

Issue: I made my usual white cake torted and filled with 4 layers of IMBC lemon filling and freshly made fondant on a 3-tiered wedding cake last weekend (one of 3 weddings). Baked Wednesday, decorated Thursday, picked up Friday and driven at least an hour away (had them sign a disclaimer for that) for a Saturday wedding (100 degrees wedding day).

Heat and travel weren't an issue, thank goodness.

Today the m.o.b. emails me lots of exclamation points and all caps, to say that it was horrible, dry, no one wanted to eat it, it had no flavor except pure shortening (hello?? I don't use shortening in IMBC or the cake), no flavor to the filling and guests were complaining and didn't want to eat it, it tasted old, frozen, and dry (I actually was baking late that week because I missed Monday and Tuesday at work), and that she (using lots of all-caps) wants this compensated because it's a customer complaint etc etc. and that she will 'take it to the next level' if she needs to. icon_eek.gif (wth? seriously??)

I called her immediately because I find people are willing to be much ruder via email than they ever would in person, and told her of course I'm sorry to hear this (subjective) complaint, and that this recipe is an award winning cake that I serve thousands of times per year. I actually taste all the trimmings and fillings of every cake, and not only was there NO shortening used, except a bit to knead the mmf, but the filling had so much lemon added (I thought) that any more would have tipped it over into 'bitter' lemon flavor. ?? Since she said there's a lot of it left, I told her to have the bride wrap it up WELL, freeze it, and bring me what was left and I will see what needs to be done. (she's like "well of couse you'll say it's good" because it is.... but anyway)

Fortunately for me, I have a dozen cupcakes left from her actual cake batter AND a bunch of the imbc from that cake in the freezer still to, and I had one, and it's delish.

UNforutunately for me, I don't have a contract other than an invoice and a credit card transaction by phone. (I KNOW. I used to always do a contract but got away from them). I told her I'm not discounting half a cake because of a subjective complaint about a cake that had nothing wrong with it (seriously) other than possibly guests who were expecting bakery glop sweet icing and got IMBC. She said they asked her if I "used lard" in my icing. wth?

The bride just called and is bringing the leftovers in Friday this week, and I told them I then will decide what we can do, but I'm not going to roll over and give them half their money back because of a hearsay (guests-say) issue over a cake and icing that get RAVE reviews every other day of the year, which I personally tasted from start to finish.

Ok : go. what say you??

tick tock-- I need to have a definite plan by Friday.

Thanks you guys! I need your help on this one.

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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post #2 of 114
Is the invoice signed by the customer?

If you do end up giving a partial refund be sure to process the refund using the customer's same credit card, and have her sign a document indicating that she accepts the refund as full compensation and will not file a dispute with the credit card company (this would be the "next level" she alluded to).
post #3 of 114
Who paid for the cake?
post #4 of 114
I am sorry that this is happening to you!

Just curious--what did the Bride say? It sounds like it would have been heavenly to eat. I don't know how it could have been otherwise. Was there a tasting for this cake? Was the MOB there?

I might want to have a tasting of those leftovers with both Bride and her mother and see if any of these accusations come out face to face. Maybe also have a couple of those cupcakes and extra icing on hand in case "something happened" to the leftovers. It's hard not to finally break down and try to make the customer happy because she could hurt your reputation. Maybe instead of a refund, a credit toward a future cake? A free (small) anniversary cake?
post #5 of 114
Did they do a tasting? Or did they choose IMBC because it sounded good. To the average person raised on box mix and canned frosting, it can taste like sweet butter.

I'm no cake snob - I like a ring-ding every now and again. But I know the difference between the buttercreams. They may not. And what probably happened is one oaf of a relative said,"This tastes like crap. You got ripped off." and it started a whole mob mentality thing.

From what you say, you've got cake from the same batch and it's great. Find out what their expectations were. Did they know what they were getting? ie a tasting. If yes, then it's buyer's remorse. Either nothing or a token discount. If they didn't try your IMBC with the cake then there could have been a misunderstanding. Then, a more significant discount.
post #6 of 114
Thread Starter 
Thanks you guys! More details:

M.o.b. paid for it by card, by phone, so no signature. They signed a release when they picked it up for transport, FULL of instructions and disclaimers about traveling, storage, serving, etc etc. (but not a contract). I was worried about the 100 degree temp and an outside cake but certainly not a *dry* cake. I watch mine so closely that they barely get past *justdone* before they come out of the oven.

M.o.b. was there at pick up I believe (it was a group).

There was a tasting for the white cake; pretty sure the m.o.b. was there, but bride sure was. Same cake, same icing.

I had one of the cupcakes tonight (6 days after it was baked), which had been sitting in the fridge under just saran wrap, and it was STILL yummy. And with four layers of cake and three layers of filling, there's no way this cake was dry or hard to eat. (subjective complaint again).

The only variant I could show when the bride comes (should I though?) is to have a room temp cupcake with room temp icing on it, and a freezing cold refrigerated cupcake with freezing cold IMBC on it, and show them the difference. Cold = dry and hard. Warm = fluffy and yummy. duh

I'm not backing down on this one, because there was NOTHING wrong with this cake. (they did say it looked perfect -- which it did).

My wedding planner friend said this sounds like a classic case of buyer's remorse after the parents get home from the wedding.

...I need to get my contract out and add something to it about it being nonrefundable and NO subjective complaints will be entertained. >icon_sad.gif

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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post #7 of 114
Do guests at a wedding really complain to the mother of the bride about the cake??! I guess anything is possible.
I've been to weddings where the cake was pretty terrible and I never in a million years would have complained to anyone other than maybe my husband. It seems so rude!
Anyway, sorry this is happening to you. It does sound like it could possibly be buyer's remorse!
post #8 of 114
Sorry that this happened. I am not sure that a contract would have saved you. I have never had a cake paid for by credit card. Always cash or check. I would call the CC company and see what they saw about their charge back policy on food/cakes.
Also, it might be surprising how much cake really comes back. If they ordered four tiers for one hundred people, that sounds like a lot of cake. Maybe they had more cake than guests.
I don't blame you for not wanting to back down.
Let us know how this works out.
Making life sweet!

Lindas Just Desserts

Inspected and licensed commercial kitchen
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Making life sweet!

Lindas Just Desserts

Inspected and licensed commercial kitchen
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post #9 of 114
I agree with Pink--who would really complain?? Seems a bit far that "everyone" at the wedding would be talking only about how "bad" the cake is. Totally buyer's remorse! Wish you knew someone there to back you up!

Let us know what happens!
post #10 of 114
First - I don't always do a contract. I probably would for an event having that many servings, but still, as a merchant, no mater what the situation, it's your decision to give a discount or refund.

If they never tasted the cake beforehand and didn't like that it was IMBC and not criscocream, I'd understand their confusion. But they did, and if you delivered what they paid for, then for me... too bad. If the cake was 100% perfect (and it sounds like it was), I'd want the leftovers right NOW, not a week later - lord knows what they could do to it in a week! I have a 48 hour policy. If you don't like it I must have leftovers in my hands in 24-48 hours after the event to even consider a refund or discount. No way would I even make a determination 5 days or a week later.

Chargebacks are for claiming fraud - not "oh-I-didn't-like-what-I-bought-so-I-don't-want-to-pay-for-it". They have to claim the card was stolen or identity theft in order to claim a chargeback with their credit card company. You have a signature and written proof that they got your product - so if they are dumb enough to try and block the charge, you have lots of proof to show to your bank that they are liars. They will loose.

Good luck!
post #11 of 114
Thread Starter 
Sorry, 3 tiers for 74 servings. She says they have most of the top and the whole middle (8") tier left because 'no one wanted it'.

If the filling 'separated' from the cake when they served it, then they served it probably freezing cold (note the 100 degree temp warning I gave them, took too seriously I guess about keeping it cold), but other than that, at room temp, that cake is delish, and I have proof.

I get no complaints and have like 5 pages of Applause on the website from brides who love our cake... in fact I'm up for my third win as Spokane's BEST CAKES, (little old me thumbs_up.gif ) so when I get a nasty email like this one was, it just throws me for a loop. But at least this time I feel confident enough to say "No. I don't think so. There was nothing wrong with this cake."

And yeah...WHO THE HECK (*all* the guests?) complains about the cake???

either not true, or just...classless


Will let you know what happens, but it helps so much to have other cake biz folk to bounce this stuff off!!! You guys rock. icon_smile.gif *sniff*

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

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post #12 of 114
Sounds to me like they wanted the "big show" of a big cake, but certainly didn't need that much, so they figure if they pack it up afterwards, they'll get money back for cake they didn't need in the first place.

I've never known anyone to ever complain to a bride or any family member about a terrible cake, and I'm talking from the perspective of being a guest.

I wouldn't put the cupcakes out because I think it will incite them to more anger and more determination to fight you. There is no way they would ever believe it's from the same batch as her cake. I think that will come across as confrontational. If they pushed the conversation in the right direction you could always mention you have a few cupcakes left from that day, if they would like you to get one and you can try it together. But I'd be careful.

Good luck
"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
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"Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."
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post #13 of 114
Thread Starter 
and of course I need wording for a business-like email to send back after Friday stating basically this:
"Thanks for bringing your concern to our attention, but, as the uneaten cake that has been returned to us is exactly what you ordered after tasting the very same cake and icing; therefore, unfortunately at this time we are unable to offer compensation for your subjective complaint about texture and flavor." best regards, sincerely, etc...

but HOW to say that?

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

Reply

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

Reply
post #14 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

They have to claim the card was stolen or identity theft in order to claim a chargeback with their credit card company.


Not true. If a product did not perform as advertised, and the vendor is not willing to accept a return or work with the customer, a chargeback may be successful without having to prove theft.

Of course, if the chargeback is successful, that means they now have a balance due on their account and you can send a collection agency after them if they refuse to pay it. Whether or not the collection agency will be successful (or if you want to go this far in the first place) is an open question.

From Visa's chargeback management guildelines:
http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/chargeback-management-guidelines-for-visa-merchants.pdf

Reason Code 53: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise Definition
The card issuer received a notice from the cardholder stating that the goods or services were:
Received damaged, defective, not the same as shown and/or described
on-screen (for Internet transactions), as described on the transaction receipt or other documentation presented to the cardholder at the time of the transaction.
Not the same as the merchants verbal description (for a telephone
transaction).
Unsuitable for the purpose in which it was sold.
For this reason code, the cardholder must have made a valid attempt to resolve the dispute or return the merchandise. An example of a valid attempt to return may be to request that the merchant retrieve the goods at the merchants own expense.
post #15 of 114
Thread Starter 
Thanks Jason, that's handy info icon_smile.gif

It performed perfectly and apparently traveled well and looked great, and they signed for it when they picked it up (though not the actual invoice, just the disclaimer about pickup and transport). Her email does say it was beautiful and they loved how it looked.

I'm leaning towards the 'extra cake'/ money back theory and I don't want a confrontation either, but this m.o.b. is definitely the type threaten, however, I'm not a pushover just because someone uses all-caps and lots of exclamation points. I think she was surprised I called her up within minutes to ask her to explain herself IN PERSON, rather than get in a firefight by email.

BUT, if she wants to take it to the next level, though, I and my giant law-firm-partner personal friend are more than willing to see her laughed out of court over subjective dryness of cake and nonexistent shortening.

I've been around too long in business to not stand up for myself when there's a non-issue being complained about. Three of us at the bakery nibbled on this cake last week, and it was just as yummy as any of them ever are. I don't offer a 'satisfaction guarantee' (she asked me this), but really... after a tasting? are you serious?

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

Reply

Not doing cakes any more, moved on...

Now blogging about life after cake and other randomness here:  http://itsa-long-story.blogspot.com/

Reply
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