"Given all of the discussion of common assumptions held by the general public (it's just flour and water) and the impact of cake shows, it is poor business practice to assume that potential clients are knowledgeable about the industry generally and what sets you apart from other non-low cost specialty bakers. If you are not educating the client as a way of building value (and along with it trust) you are facilitating conditions where customers will make decisions solely on price.
Finally, the O.P. should have discussed her brand and not engaged in a sweeping generalized smear campaign (this is why there was little educational value to the email and why it thus unprofessional). Now maybe this was done at the initial meeting, if so, it was not effective as the O.P. states she felt the client assumed she was being gouged. But the "information" provided is not based on the particularities of the unknown competitors and seems to be predicated on the idea that the only legitimate business is one where which enables the owner to make a living. Not much educational value here. Rather than besmirching the competition with generalizations and assumptions that may not account for the low-cost competitor, the O.P. should have been focused on developing trust with the client by emphasizing what sets her apart and how she generates provides value to her clients.
Would this have made a difference? In this case it seems not as it seems the client's financial situation influenced her decision. Then again she make have been more willing to make other sacrifices. Point is it is poor business practice to act as if the specialty cake business should be immune to the pressures of low-cost alternatives. And if you only become interested in educating clients after they have opted for low-cost alternatives, you will continue to lose clients to low-cost alternatives."
So the take away point for me in this quote and the entire thread; is to educate my potential customers when giving a quote. To be pro-active instead of reacting after the fact. That's where a lot of us (definitely me) go wrong!. Almost all the time someone is sending me a quickie email or a quickie phone call looking for a quick quote/estimate of some sort. I/we need to slow this down and not let the excitement of a prospective order impede our responses.
So often the prospective client comes to me with absolutely NO knowledge at all. They don't know what they want the cake to say, how many servings they want, what time of day they need it, etc... Yet alone Anything about the average pricing (of a non-grocery store cake). It takes me multiple emails just to get all their details out of them. Too often I let them lead the conversation. I think I'm being polite by doing so. There's times when I can tell the client is over whelmed on the phone with all my questions and they can't wait to correspond threw email. They want a quick answer with-out even giving us all the details (how much?).
I don't think anyone here is interested in price fixing! That's silly, every market around the country and world is different we could never work that out. BUT when we talk here in threads we do educate ourselves and others (who don't post) which does make our industry better! I remember when I first registered here, no one was baking anything from scratch. I didn't see any threads where I fit in or topics I was interested in talking about. The average level of conversation was totally at a beginner level. Today, the average skill level I see around here is more intermediate. So we really are learning and making things better for ourselves.