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Customer Complaint

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

I've never posted anything on here so hopefully I'm under the right area. Anyway, I just did an order of high heel cupcakes. I delivered the order with little problem. When I got there, a border on one of the shoes had a smudge so I got my piping bag out and piped over it. The back part of the heel was leaning a little bit so I made sure it was straight. I let her check out the product before she took them. I even have a few pictures of how they looked and they looked great. I knew they were traveling far for the party so I gave them a little extra melting chocolate in case any of the heels leaned or fell off as they traveled or transferred them to the plate. I said they are delicate and when you are traveling with any baked product, mishaps can happen. I said I always travel with an extra cake kit, so I'll give them one, too since they are going to far.

 

Then we went to put it in her car. We had met somewhere and they brought a small two door, one-row of seats truck. I told them there are two large bakery boxes and they won't fit. They insisted it would be fine, shoved the first box in the little compartment behind one seat and put the other box in her lap. Before this, they saw the cupcakes, approved them, paid me, and drove away. A half hour later I got a call saying I ruined them, they were made completely wrong, I ruined the party and now they're not sure I should cater their wedding. She said they live 3 minutes from the meeting place and they didn't even hold up during the short drive. But I traveled 20 minutes with them and they were fine. Even so, I gave them their money back and apologized that happened to them. I said this has never happened to me before so I can't imagine what might have happened. Once I agreed to the refund she became nicer, said not to worry, that I still had the wedding, and they'd see what they could salvage. My question is this: How do I protect myself from this in the future? Obviously it feels very personal and I am devastated- I've never had a complaint before. Do you see anywhere I can make changes to prevent this? Has anyone experienced this before?

 

Any feedback appreciated. Thanks!

post #2 of 27

I am not sure I would do that wedding...

 

You informed her about the cupcakes travellng and she chose to take them in her truck anyways.  You didn't ruin her party.  You were even specific about how fragile they were.

 

I liken transporting cakes to transporting a newborn from the hospital.  :-D  Cakes are delicate and need care when handled.

 

I always deliver my products because the few times I have let customers transport cakes, some of the cakes have not done well, even with support systems.  People don't realize you need a flat surface and a car with AC.  

post #3 of 27
Contracts! They sign off on a contract, stating that their order was fulfilled and they are satisfied.
Then they sign a line that states that whenever their cake leaves your care, you are no longer responsible for damages.
post #4 of 27

Why did you give them a refund? If the place was 3 minutes away why didn't you just take it all the way?

"Taste your words before you feed them to people."
www.sugaredsaffron.co.uk
www.facebook.com/SugaredSaffron
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"Taste your words before you feed them to people."
www.sugaredsaffron.co.uk
www.facebook.com/SugaredSaffron
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post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

A contract would have been great! Do you have everyone sign it saying that, or just the people who transport it themselves in any way?

 

She's already paid the entire order off and we signed a contract, so technically if she backed out, I would keep the first half of the money she put down on it. The problem is, it's all small towns around here and everyone knows everyone, and if she's willing to come at me like this, I fear the fallout. My business is word of mouth mostly and I'm just one year into this so I feel she has me by the throat a little.

 

This is the first time it has happened to me, so I figured it was worth just giving the money back in order to keep the business. It is a big wedding for me and I guess I didn't want to lose it. Plus, she told me that was half-way for her. I didn't realize she only drove three minutes to get there because I originally offered a home-delivery as I'm more comfortable with that. I always deliver to home unless they are far away and don't want to pay the "over-15-miles delivery charge". She said we could meet half way and named that town so I agreed. It all seems just weird to me. I don't know why she insisted on meeting....

post #6 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SugaredSaffron View Post
 

Why did you give them a refund? If the place was 3 minutes away why didn't you just take it all the way?

 

Exactly.  I would tell them that after having to give them a refund for their carelessness, you are no longer interested in catering their wedding.

 

Liz

 

P.S.  You shouldn't have refunded anything.

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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post #7 of 27
Thread Starter 

Well I guess I have a lot of learning to do. I'm a people-pleaser but I need to push that aside. The only problem is, she said they weren't put together well and since they were traveling far, I should have put them together stronger. I don't even know how to dispute that.

 

Does anyone have a contract I might be able to see? I don't want to leave anything out and make sure I have ALL bases covered!

 

Thanks everyone for your feedback so far. I obviously need to learn how to handle this better but it makes me feel better to know others have experienced this and know how to deal with it.

post #8 of 27

You shouldn't feel bad - there is no way to make a delicate cupcake high heel cake "stronger" - that is just what the customer is saying to bully you into a refund.  She shouldn't have ordered something so delicate if she couldn't be careful enough to get it there in one piece.

 

You will learn when something is truly your fault and under your control, and when someone is just playing you.  It takes a little experience, but you will get there.  Just move on to the next customer. :)

 

Liz

Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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Follow me on my Twitter handle: @Sugar_Iowa

Or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SugarFineBakedGoodsAndConfections

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post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBug View Post
 

Well I guess I have a lot of learning to do. I'm a people-pleaser but I need to push that aside. The only problem is, she said they weren't put together well and since they were traveling far, I should have put them together stronger. I don't even know how to dispute that.

 

Does anyone have a contract I might be able to see? I don't want to leave anything out and make sure I have ALL bases covered!

 

Thanks everyone for your feedback so far. I obviously need to learn how to handle this better but it makes me feel better to know others have experienced this and know how to deal with it.

 

In addition to a contract, on delicate or intricate decorated cakes and cupcakes, in the future, you might decide to insist on delivering them yourself.  It's your name and reputation on the line!

Let's eat grandma. Let's eat, grandma. Punctuation saves lives.
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Let's eat grandma. Let's eat, grandma. Punctuation saves lives.
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post #10 of 27

If you do a search on this website for 'sample contract' you will find several examples.  I agree with Liz, you should back out of the wedding.  If you chose not to, make sure you have a good, signed contract so that once the cake is delivered (take pictures) and everything is fine, you are no longer responsible.  That way she can't do the same thing to you trying to blame it on the construction.  If you traveled 20 min with no problem, it seems unlikely that another 3 min would have caused such damage had they transported it correctly.  Likely had little to do with construction.  As an enabler myself I would encourage you to get in your business frame of mind so that you aren't taken advantage of.  Good luck and don't let this discourage you.

post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone! This helps. And I will definitely seek out the "sample contract". That will be very helpful to make sure I'm protected and not bullied again. I appreciate the feedback

post #12 of 27

If you do the wedding cake do not let them pick up cake but you need to deliver it to the venue yourself. I do not think this was your fault that the cupcakes fell apart. And as everyone else stated you need a contract. Good luck!!!

post #13 of 27
Contract law can vary in different areas. A sample contract is a good starting point, but make sure you read through it carefully, understand every clause (and can explain every clause to a customer), edit it to your specific needs, and have it looked over by a local attorney.
post #14 of 27

Did she try to trick you into delivering the cake pretty much all the way by claiming that meeting point was halfway when it wasn't?  Or did you charge appropriately for your travel?

 

A contract is good to have, but I can't get customers to read my website or even emails I send them, let alone a contract. If there's something I want them to know, I write it in on the receipt and have them initial it. Rare is the customer who wants this to happen. If you're charging appropriately and doing high end cakes, "rare" changes to nonexistent.

 

What you want to do is prevent this from happening and the ways to do so are things like going over proper driving in detail, proper handling of the package (eg level, can't be left in the car), and warnings on how delicate the cakes and decorations are. I tell my customers to pretend they are driving an 18 wheeler and that they can't come to quick stops.  If they look like that even slightly goes over their head, I explain.

 

When they're ordering, don't be afraid to insist on appropriate design details that are more travel friendly and let them know it's because you're not delivering.

 

Make sure you're involved in how everything is loaded up. If someone is holding the order, be sure and let them know exactly what his/her job is and what a difference how they handle it can make. If they want to set the cake in a certain spot and you think it's would be better elsewhere, speak up. I'd say for about 75% of my pick ups, I have the customer move some item that could slide or fall onto the cake.  But that's partly because, when possible, I have the cake ride on the front seat passenger floorboard.

 

I even sometimes position the direction the cake faces with certain toppers.  On Friday I ran back and caught a customer after I realized the cake should be turned 90 degrees. It had a shoe that was top heavy..well, I had my reasons... and the cake had a 3.5 hour journey ahead.  Anyway, I tend to make a bit of a show to let them see I take great care and concern about a traveling cake. I'm setting an example.

 

On a side note: don't know where you live, but it's very hot in my area and chocolate is never something I use to attach anything to a cake or use to try and hold things together. The chocolate doesn't literally melt, but things can give or bend.

post #15 of 27
So she told you that they had to travel "far", and because of that, you should have made them stronger. Yet she told you she only had to drive 3 minutes with them, and they fell apart that quickly.
Don't do that wedding. Seriously.
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