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First complaint EVER! How do I handle this?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I have been making cakes and cupcakes as a side business for over 8 years now. I have NEVER had a complaint from a customer until today.

Back story:
I made 30 cupcakes for a close friend's bridal shower. They wanted 1/2 with chocolate buttercream and 1/2 with pure white, so I made "Criscocream". The cupcakes were a hit, and a guest at the shower called to order cupcakes and a cake from me.

Order:
The customer called me twice while I was traveling back from a vacation. We were in South Carolina, and there is really sketchy cell service most of the way home, so I waited to call her back the next day. Already she seemed annoyed that she was "having a really hard time getting through" to talk to me. I explained why I didn't call her back the day before and apologized.

She said she loved the cupcakes at the shower and wanted 1 doz for her granddaughter's birthday the following Friday. She said she wanted the chocolate cake with the "white icing".

She also ordered an 8 inch round with chocolate cake, chocolate frosting on the sides of the cake and "white icing" on the top "to be different".

I always read back the orders to my customers at least twice to be sure I have everything they want.

She asked how much money they would be. I gave her a price and she asked if I could "do any better". I kindly told her I could not as I was already giving her a discount because she was a referral.

We spoke at least 4 other times in one week because she kept calling me to talk about delivery, delivery times, adding neon colored zebra stripes to the cupcakes, etc...

Delivery:
I delivered the cupcakes Friday at noon as requested. She loved them and said they were adorable. Her granddaughter would love them and all that jazz. She paid me then talked about the cake she ordered again that is due this upcoming Friday. I went over the details again. She confirmed and I left.

Today (Saturday):
She called me to complain that the cupcakes were not what she ordered. She didn't ask for that "white icing". It was supposed to be "chocolate with white on it and zebra stripes". (I have no idea what she has in her head...how is that possible?) She said they were horrible and really no one liked them at all. I apologized and said to her that I confirmed with her the order and that it was exactly what she had ordered. I also said she ordered white and chocolate on her son's cake for the following week.

In dealing with her these past two weeks, I feel more and more she's out to get something for free or cheap. She already didn't want to pay a discounted price of cheap. She also wants a Happy Birthday message on the cake, and she conveniently leaves out how to spell the name, which I always confirm. It's "Brion". Not "Brian" or "Bryan". A very easy mistake if not careful.

Am I crazy to not trust this woman? If she really hated the cupcakes so much, then why would she even want me to make a cake for her son still?

I seriously do not want to make this cake for her this week. I almost would rather give her check back for the cupcakes and tell her I am obviously not meeting her expectations and it is best she find another baker for the cake.

My mother has a different opinion. Keep the money. Make the cake. Never do another for her again

I don't make crappy stuff. It looks nice and tastes good. I supply cupcakes to a bridal shop weekly. I also just did a fundraiser where Top Chef Just Desserts Johnny Iuzzini was a guest and a judge for. I provided 12 doz cupcakes for the dessert. He ate all 4 flavors I made and said he "loved" them.

Sorry for the long post. Just not sure what to do in this situation. I know it is only one person in my whole career of doing this, but it would be nice to get some opinions!
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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post #2 of 29

It is not you.  You have a bad customer.

 

Either make the cake or tell her you have changed your mind.  You are being too nice, to have some one give you a hard time over icing!

post #3 of 29
Trust your gut.
post #4 of 29
I think your idea to not do the upcoming cake is a good one. If she really is out to get something for free or cheap and you do the cake, you could end up in the same predicament again. Not worth it.

The first complaint in eight years is great. Don't let this shake your confidence.
post #5 of 29

Better to give her back the money before you've spent your time and money making her a cake she's only going to whine about a refund for, especially if it was already discounted and you're barely making any money on it. Give her the number for Walmart, that's probably more what she had in mind. 

elsewhere.
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elsewhere.
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post #6 of 29

SO she looks at the cake and loves it and then later says it was supposed to be a zebra pattern? Lose her....

post #7 of 29

Save yourself a lot of headache and dump her!!!! Always go with your instinct!!!! You will always come across someone like this customer who wants something for practically nothing. Your gut instinct will never fail you!!!!

post #8 of 29

Yes, tell her as she was unhappy with your cupcakes you feel it is best for her to go elsewhere.

 

Also, always get an email string going, that way when she says you didn't do what she wanted you can send her the emails.

post #9 of 29
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thanks to everyone for their insight! I think I will call her tomorrow and tell her I feel it is best we parted ways before she is disappointed in another cake I make her.

I forgot to add in to my original post she said that wasn't the same icing she had at the bridal shower. She said the ones I made for her had marshmallows icing on it. I told her there wasn't any marshmallow in the frosting and it was the exact recipe I used at the bridal shower.

She's nuts! I wish you could hear the phone messages! She starts talking then stops in the middle of a thought and goes to something else. It's really weird!!
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Reply
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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post #10 of 29

If she's already paid for the cake,  I agree with your mom. I say this partly because it sounds a bit short notice to cancel. And also partly because if she's loosing her marbles due to something like Alzheimer's, you can afford to go the extra distance and be as kind as you can.

 

And when someone orders from me over the phone, I always send email confirmations and make sure I get a response back. May not have been possible in this case, but it's a good business practice.

post #11 of 29
I'd just give her a partial discount on the order she was unhappy with (like 25%) and then cancel the upcoming order. I wouldn't want to work with someone like that.

Also, I would avoid telling your friend about this as it would only make you look bad to gossip about a costumer. Even if the customer was crazy.
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandisBaked View Post

I'd just give her a partial discount on the order she was unhappy with (like 25%) and then cancel the upcoming order. I wouldn't want to work with someone like that.

Also, I would avoid telling your friend about this as it would only make you look bad to gossip about a costumer. Even if the customer was crazy.

 

I haven't mentioned anything to my friend about her at all. I had initially thought about just asking her what her thoughts were about this lady, but quickly was against that idea! 

:D

 

I really appreciate everyone's insight. I'm honestly hoping she calls me tomorrow and tells me she doesn't want it! haha!

Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
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post #13 of 29
It may be short notice, but if you aren't comfortable working with this customer then IMO you should cancel the upcoming order ASAP and provide a full refund of any deposit that was already paid. It shouldn't be too difficult for her to find a cheap birthday cake on short notice.

Based on what you've posted, no discount is necessary for any previous orders.
post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft View Post


Based on what you've posted, no discount is necessary for any previous orders.

Perhaps it's not necessary, but it is good business practice. I would never tell an unhappy customer "too bad". Either I would offer a discount suitable to the circumstances, or a discount on a future order. Since OP doesn't seem to want to work with this client again, I would opt for a partial discount on the original order.
Plank.
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Plank.
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post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

All of this was a total lesson learned. I will definitely require email confirmation or confirmation on my facebook page I have set up for people to browse and order. For any cake over $100 I will also require a signed contract. I have been working on one with a cancellation policy and payment policy gathered from numerous invoices and bakeries all over the web! Cakes aren't cheap to make, and I make everything from scratch - not saying boxed cakes are bad! I LOVE cake mixes!!!! It's just a lot to purchase when someone cancels, hates your stuff, makes changes, etc...

 

By the way...these are some of the things I have made. The zebra ones at the end were the cupcakes I made for the lady. I just rolled the black into the colored fondant, then I went over it with a somewhat wet brush to bring out the black more. It was really dull after the powdered sugar was on it when I rolled it out. 

 

I just don't want people to think I'm exaggerating and they were ugly or something! I in NO way think I am like Buddy Valastro, Sylvia Weinstock, Ron Ben Israel or any other professional baker who does this for a living! I know there are a lot more people out there and on this site with SOOOO much more talent than me! Talent I envy with skills I wish I had! 

 

I'm practicing hand painting on cakes, and my next venture is hopefully royal icing string work. It completely amazes me!

 

Thanks again to everyone! So glad to have this community!

 

 

Hi Hats - chocolate or vanilla cake with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream

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RN Cake - Nurse Graduation (I will be honest and say I took a lot of inspiration from Google images on this one!)

 

 

Cupcake Assortment for "Top Chef Lynchburg" - a fundraiser to benefit a children and family center. This is the one Johnny Iuzzini was a judge at. Glad he was judging the food courses and not desserts. That would have terrified me! haha!

Left to right: Mint Chocolate Chip, Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla with swiss meringue buttercream, Salted Caramel, and another Mint Chocolate Chip

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Zebra cupcakes from HELL!

...and by the way...i was nice enough to purchase cute pink and black zebra striped cupcake wrappers and spent another $2 on those just to make them cuter! Plus all her neon colors she wanted. I probably made $5 on these after I bought everything and delivered. :shock:

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Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Reply
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know."
Reply
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