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First Complaint - :(

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Hello fellow cakers, could really do with some second opinions. A bit long, but I hope not too much. Apologies if it is.

 

We received an order for a chocolate golf birthday cake with one weeks notice. We have a 7 day notice policy so this customer just got the order in time.

 

The original quote was for £55 for a fully decorated cake with topper. She stated that it was outside her budget, so we redesigned the cake to make it doable for £40. There were several emails back and forth (each more helpful than the last) and she submitted her payment via our online paylink to confirm the booking. On receipt of receiving her order invoice she then informed us that the delivery is to be outside our free delivery zone, which would be an additional £5. As an act of generosity we decided to wave the fee.

 

Fast forward to the delivery, and we have a nightmare of a day. As the chocolate cake is to be delivered between 2-4pm and we had a delivery at 12noon which got rearranged to another venue last minute, that we were not told about until we got there. Which resulted in the chocolate cake arriving 40mins late. As we were out of office and had no contact number we decided to drive flat out and try to make the delivery as soon as possible. Ideally a courtesy call should have happened, but the customer would not supply a contact number. I was prepared to offer a discount on her next order but she appeared happy and glad to receive the cake.

 

I then received the below email.

-------------

Customer email:

 

" I am really sorry to have to write to you again but am seriously upset with the level of service received from you, the lack of communication and then to find out from my brother today, who the birthday cake was for, that the whole thing was actually inedible. The staff in the restaurant had trouble cutting the cake itself and the simple chocolate sponge was so dry it was rock hard and not a single morsel was eaten. The cake was left at the restaurant and my brother apologised to the restaurant owner after asking him to dispose of it.
 
I sort all my family birthday cakes out and thought that I would try a small local business rather than a large chain, unfortunately I will have to rethink where I go next.
 
I do look forward to hearing from you ref the above.
 
Regards 'one unhappy bunny' "
-------------
We have never received a complaint with our chocolate cake and always have had great feedback. However, this does not mean that this cake was just as good and it could well have been below our standard. What I do find strange is that the none of cake was not eaten, yet was said to be inedible. No remains of the cake have been left for us to see or inspect as it has been disposed. I am planning on emailing the customer in the morning to arrange a talk over the telephone as I would like to find out:
1) how long was the cake left from delivery to being served?
2) how as it kept?
3) Restaurant that decided not to serve the cake, (as I will be contacting them)
4) Why was the cake disposed of instead of kept to show us?
 
I do feel she may be trying to pull a fast one as without inspecting the cake, its only going on hear say. Her payment should have been released to us Friday but it is still pending. The funds have come out of her account and should have been released to us on friday. This may change tomorrow but if it hasn't, it means that she had stopped the payment on Friday. But this is not yet certain.
 
Any opinions or advise would be greatly appreciated.
 
Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 30
I would absolutely call the restaurant. I want to speak to the person who said try couldn't cut it.

www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
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www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
Reply
post #3 of 30

Well, I'm sorry that this happened.

 

I would ask the restaurant to confirm in writing the condition that the server found.

 

And one question for you: do you own a commercial refrigerated delivery vehicle? do you check the chiller setting against actual temperature?  Is it possible that "rock hard" was a fact of refrigeration? (which is not a bad thing at all...merely something that a late delivery could not correct by simply letting the cake sit at room temperature).

 

But in future, please remember that the potential customer's dislike/refusal of the quoted price has come to be a sure and true red flag in other Cake Central threads, and this has been followed by stopped payments, demands for refund etc.

 

And we have agreed that the only form of payment is a CLEARED payment: cash at the time of delivery if a credit card transaction or transfer has not cleared YOUR bank.  In this day and age, money transfers for commercial transactions happen all 7 days of the week. The timing of the stopped-payment order can be documented by your bank. The total absence of a contact phone number meant that you could not have contacted her about this failed payment...feeshy...very feeshy...

 

So next time you will not accept a deposit without a phone number that you have called to make sure, right?  As well as a complete street "billing" address?

 

(edited: I took down the CBC link because they only allow their funny stories to be listened to by Canadians)


Edited by BakingIrene - 2/3/13 at 4:50pm
post #4 of 30
Umm 12 min I I that podcast & while humorous, no mention of cake delivery icon_sad.gif

www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
Reply

www.VeryDeliciousDesserts.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Delicious-Desserts/207874222593145

 

It's never "just cake!"

 

You may get a cake for $way to little but you won't get this cake!

Animal
(4 photos)
 
Reply
post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeliciousDesserts View Post

Umm 12 min I I that podcast & while humorous, no mention of cake delivery icon_sad.gif

Oops.  The funny story is only available inside Canada.  Dang.  I downloaded that story because it had me in tears the first time I heard it.

 

Hapless next door neighbour of cake decorator gets stuck in elevator with a cake decorated with a golf course and 4 players (retirement party).  He is stuck in elevator for 9+ hours and eats most of cake to keep from starving.  Emergency phone in elevator is not manned except by a kid who can't find the building among the dozens of phones on that service. Fire department chops down antique door while owner away on vacation, to rescue hapless schmuck...


Edited by BakingIrene - 2/3/13 at 4:46pm
post #6 of 30

I am so sorry that you are having this issue with a customer. I would also call the restaurant and speak to the person who was actually there when the cake was presented.How would anyone know if the cake was dry unless they cut it and tasted it first? This story sounds like another person who wanted a cake for free. 

 

I agree that if a person does not have a phone number then you should not do business with them. I am hoping that when you call the restaurant that they will tell you what the customer told you is not true!!! Please keep us posted what happens when you contact the restaurant. I hope you will get your money for their check payment but we have seen this time and time again from customers who would complain for no reason just to get part or all of their money back. /Mary

post #7 of 30

I would speak with the restaurant before making contact with her.

Sounds to me like the lady with the small budget may not have had a budget at all and would like a free cake.

So sorry this happened to you.

post #8 of 30

Oh my!!!! that is just AWFUL!!! I do agree with most of whats been said here, as soon as I started reading about your client there were red flags coming up, why would she not give a phone number!!?? you had given her a total of 20£ ( I think) of a discount already between redesigning the cake and not charging for delivery!! I think she's just chancing her luck for a free cake!!

I really would contact the restaurant and find out what happened from someone else before I spoke to her.

If you have never had any problems with that same cake before I would find it extremely strange that it would be inedible, it might not have been to their taste(everyone's different) or a bit dry etc but definitely NOT inedible!!!

But at the end of the day I think if you have to lose the 40£ it might be well worth it to save on the headache,and bad mouthing, and we learn from everything!!

NEVER take an order without a phone number, anything can happen that would make you need to contact the client.

If they don't want to pay for delivery explain that they could have someone pick up the cake.

Do keep us posted as in what happens

Wish the best of luck and everything resolves OK for you, as they say here......It takes all sorts!!!! ;)

post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies. The contacting of the restaurant is one of the first things I would like to do. However, I do not know which one it is. So I will have to contact her first to get the details and the rest of the info then get back to her.

 

The issue with the payment was a bit close. The funds were withdrawn and received by the online payment company  on the Wednesday and were scheduled to be released to us on the Friday. I was hoping that like previous transactions it would have cleared by lunch (hence the scheduled afternoon delivery), when it hadn't I assumed it would be cleared end of day. If it hasn't gone through by today that means she stopped payment on Friday before the inedible cake was delivered.

 

BakingIrene - Our delivery vehicle is a standard family car and was only in it for 20-25 minutes at temperatures of Frosty January England weather. As we didn't take her cake with us on the previous delivery (to prevent it drying out or getting damaged) we had to drive back to pick it up and go straight there.

 

As the delivery was to a well known tourist spot in the area where she worked the lack of phone number did not seem out of place. But we will be demanding it in future.
 

I have a feeling that the cake has been left uncovered/refrigerated for 3 days before being served. Which means, as we bake from scratch and use no preservatives or gumming agents will make the cake lose moisture and dry out.

 

i'll keep you posted

post #10 of 30

I wouldn't bother going to the hassle of finding out which restaurant.

 

I once had something similar with regards to the cake....

 

As it happens, a mutual friend (ie my friend and friend of the customer) was at the party, and she told me how lovely the cake was (taste-wise)

 

 

I sent the customer an email along the following lines.

 

Dear X

 

I am so sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the cake.  This is the same recipe that I have always used and have had many compliments.  Indeed, I have never had a complaint about it before.

 

Unfortunately, as you disposed of the cake, I'm sure you understand that I am unable to investigate your complaint further.
 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Did I understand correctly that the delivery was 3 days before the party?  Why did she want it so much earlier than the event?  Also, a cake can take HOURS to come back to room temp before serving...  I doubt there was anything wrong with your cake.  Probably something wrong with your customer! icon_wink.gif

Inside this fat body, there's a thin woman screaming to get out...... but I can usually shut her up with chocolate!
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Inside this fat body, there's a thin woman screaming to get out...... but I can usually shut her up with chocolate!
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post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Relznik View Post

I wouldn't bother going to the hassle of finding out which restaurant.

 

I once had something similar with regards to the cake....

 

As it happens, a mutual friend (ie my friend and friend of the customer) was at the party, and she told me how lovely the cake was (taste-wise)

 

 

I sent the customer an email along the following lines.

 

Dear X

 

I am so sorry to hear that you were unhappy with the cake.  This is the same recipe that I have always used and have had many compliments.  Indeed, I have never had a complaint about it before.

 

Unfortunately, as you disposed of the cake, I'm sure you understand that I am unable to investigate your complaint further.
 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

Did I understand correctly that the delivery was 3 days before the party?  Why did she want it so much earlier than the event?  Also, a cake can take HOURS to come back to room temp before serving...  I doubt there was anything wrong with your cake.  Probably something wrong with your customer! icon_wink.gif


Thanks for your response Relznik, From what I can tell from her email I am only assuming the cake was for the Sunday. That is why I would like her to clarify when it was due to be served. As it was baked Wednesday evening, decorated Thursday for Friday delivery.

 

Your email extract is pretty much what I had in mind to tell her when she finally responds. Without having the cake back, our hands are tied. I can't see giving a discount off her next order being an option.

post #12 of 30

What a horrible situation - but I'm certain this is just a manipulative, brass-necked scrooge and the likelihood of it being your fault is minimal in my opinion!!

 

 

I think you really have two options - 1) roll over and give her what she wants to make her go away and next time she orders you are always fully booked. This is (unfortunately IMHO) common in customer services and she has probably received such treatment before and gotten away with it which is why I personally prefer option 2) State that without a sample stored in an appropriate manor and returned to yourself promptly you will not be offering any recompense.

 

If you are confident in your recipe; stand by it and politely ignore the fireworks when they come.

 

Have you considered a cake contract outlining a ‘displeasure: sample return policy’ etc? I’m just about to post a thread asking if an emailed contract is sufficient as it’s more convenient than a hand signed one for my business, if so that might be something you could look into for the future?

 

Best of luck, don't let her bully you out of your money!

post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCakeShopUK View Post

Thanks for all the replies. The contacting of the restaurant is one of the first things I would like to do. However, I do not know which one it is. So I will have to contact her first to get the details and the rest of the info then get back to her.

 

The issue with the payment was a bit close. The funds were withdrawn and received by the online payment company  on the Wednesday and were scheduled to be released to us on the Friday. I was hoping that like previous transactions it would have cleared by lunch (hence the scheduled afternoon delivery), when it hadn't I assumed it would be cleared end of day. If it hasn't gone through by today that means she stopped payment on Friday before the inedible cake was delivered.

 

BakingIrene - Our delivery vehicle is a standard family car and was only in it for 20-25 minutes at temperatures of Frosty January England weather. As we didn't take her cake with us on the previous delivery (to prevent it drying out or getting damaged) we had to drive back to pick it up and go straight there.

 

As the delivery was to a well known tourist spot in the area where she worked the lack of phone number did not seem out of place. But we will be demanding it in future.
 

I have a feeling that the cake has been left uncovered/refrigerated for 3 days before being served. Which means, as we bake from scratch and use no preservatives or gumming agents will make the cake lose moisture and dry out.

 

i'll keep you posted

Well don't bother about the restaurant.  We all assumed that the delivery was to the venue. 

 

Regardless of where the venue was: Once the customer has signed receipt of the cake, it is HER job to keep it fresh if she chooses not to consume it on the day she revceived it. Maybe an information sheet from your business on the shelf life and proper storage of your cakes would help in future.

 

The truly important issue is that this customer stopped payment on the day that she personally took possession of her custom cake. That's called THEFT.  

 

Talk to your bank.  They may seek a  release of those funds to you when you show them a signed receipt from the customer. 

 

You should also be able to contact the online payment company to advise them of the signed delivery so that they can release the funds.  If this customer has a track record of stopping payments, they cannot tell you so but they can certainly flag her account...and call merchants in  future when another stop payment order is issued.

post #14 of 30

If I read everything correctly you baked a cake for a Friday delivery assuming the cake would be eaten that same day. But the client didn't serve the cake until Sunday. So, the cake was delivered to the client who then kept the cake for two days. The client's brother then had a restaurant serve the cake which was supposed to be discovered as hard and dry.

 

My 2 cents...

Did you ask the date of the party or just for a delivery date?

Was there anything in an email, on your website or contract telling the client cake must be returned to be inspected if they request a refund?

It sounds like the client bought the cake but wasn't at the restaurant when the cake was served, that she is getting the info from her brother and not first hand. If that is so, did the brother know that the cake needed to be saved to get a refund?

Did you give the client specific instruction s as to how to store the cake? If so, did the instructions include storage for several days?

 

Personally, I think bakers assume people will save left over cake to show bring back but if I buy something that doesn't taste good I pitch it. And a cake might not be discovered as unedible until after it has need completely cut and served. What should a host do, go around taking the slices back from guests so she can return them?

 

Since you don't know the restaurant that served the cake I don't think you should ask the client for the name. You will basically be telling the client you don't believe them and want a second opinion. If you already knew which restaurant, then I would suggest calling them before you replied to the email.

 

You may want to consider a refund. Between the cake being delivered late and the cake being made early (early because I am assuming only a delivery date was asked for and not the servue date)  I would refund the money and be done with it.

"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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post #15 of 30

Now, if she stopped payment before she received the cake - or really served the cake since her complaint is the cake and not the late delivery - that is a whole different story. If that is the case I would point it out to her and ask what is going on. I am all for holding someone's feet to the fire if they are lying and I can prove it.

"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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"who says you can't have your cake and eat it too?"
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