Cake Central › Cake Forums › Cake Talk › Cake Decorating Business › First REAL complaint...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

First REAL complaint...

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

If you're like me, cake is everything. It's your life, it's what you eat, sleep and dream about. I went into business officially 3 years ago and have gotten maybe 3 "complaints" total. I follow up with every single person to make sure everything was good.

 

So like I always do on Mondays, I send out follow up emails to the clients from the past weekend. They are always good, thanking me for my service, "we loved the cake!" type of response. Well, I hadn't heard back from one person in 2 days (I usually hear back from clients within a couple of hours after sending out follow up emails.

 

Client request- last minute order (1 week in advance- I usually require a 3 week notice because I have a full time day job as well) $200 budget for all fondant covered/decorated 2 tiered cake, 30 servings (I start my fondant servings at $4.50 per serving) along with 2 dozen decorated sugar cookies. Did I mention they had a $200 (firm) budget? :?

 

By the way the communication (email) was all done during the day before (thurs), the day of and the day after Thanksgiving (friday), order was finally placed on that Saturday. I gave her my sketches with prices and other options that started at $350 and went up from there that included cake and cookies requests.

 

They decided to go with decorated cookies due to the budget. Ok, no problem- these can easily be done with a 6 day notice and within budget. I give them a call Saturday to take payment for cookies...then they change their mind as I am speaking to them wanting the cake instead and they are now ok with paying over their budget for a cake. So we finalize details, take payment. Several emails were exchanged from the day the order was complete to the Tuesday of- making sure I had the right color, asking me to add more candles, sending several pictures of the correct color they wanted.

 

I deliver the cake this past Saturday (by the way the wrong address was given to me), they were beyond pleased with the look. Mom proclaimed herself to be a 'mom-zilla' (I guess a joke between her and her friends) and was glad that I was able to deliver the design and colors exactly as they wanted.

 

In the email, they said the design/colors, my professionalism etc was perfection. However they said my cake tasted like cornbread and something was 'missing' and my chocolate cake was so crumbly that they couldn't cut it without it breaking apart. Also that they expected that the cake look as good as it looks- fair enough and I expect that too. I have never gotten any feedback close to these comments. In fact the only complaints that I ever got was BEFORE I went official and I was still perfecting recipes-back then friends and family said my cake were a little dry but still good. Since then I have dramatically improved my recipes and have gotten positive feedback on every single cake.

 

1. Yes it was my choice to take the order with just one week notice- after all I have business expenses to pay off! (don't we all!)

2. I had that little funny feeling after the payment was taken and the next day she sent me an email (again) with the exact color they wanted.

3. I taste test all my cakes as I'm stacked and icing them to make sure everything is ok- and like normal everything was ok and nothing out of the ordinary.

 

It's easy to read about this happening to fellow members on here, but when it happens to you, it's different. After I was able to calm myself down and take a deep breathe and look at this rationally. I tried to remember back to when I was mixing- did I forget any ingredients? When I was baking- did I bake the cakes too long? And I can honestly say that I followed the same procedure I always do. I thought I come here and ask for any feedback, opinions or advice...anything would be great!

 

P.S. I did offer a free tasting and 10% off her next order- I thought that was fair enough but haven't heard back from her yet.

post #2 of 28

It sucks when you have to learn lessons the hard way - from the sound of the very long list of red flags you gave, this lady is impossible to please and I'd hate to be one of her kids. 

 

Walk away from these orders in future, you could have done 3 shifts at Walmart and earned the same amount at the end of the day. I bet you worked way harder on this order than you would have done for minimum wage at Wallyworld.

elsewhere.
Reply
elsewhere.
Reply
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Yup, worked more hours on this cake than planned because the color kept changing. :sad:

post #4 of 28

I'm sorry this happened to you. I'm sure your cake was fine, some people are just difficult to please, some are looking to get money back ,and some are just used to boxed, overly sweet, chemical laden cakes and their palate just can't adjust to scratch cake.

Your client may have been all of the above.

Keep caking, you have a 99% satisfaction rating which is fabulous!

post #5 of 28

So, to clarify- you are 100% convinced that the cake was your standard product? 

Do you do from scratch or mix-based recipes?

 

There were a lot of flags raised in this order, but I'm not sure any were bright red. If she had gone the other way- from a big order to changing her mind to a small order to save money, I would be more convinced that she was scamming you. However, the way it went down, I'm not sure. 

 

Would you feel comfortable cutting and pasting her email complaint? 

 

I'm very sorry this happened to you! Sometimes when you try and go above and beyond for a customer you end up getting yourself in deeper than you thought! I've totally been there!

life is short, get a cakesafe.
Reply
life is short, get a cakesafe.
Reply
post #6 of 28

If you are satisfied with the taste of your cake and the 99% of your customers are too, then this is her own personal issue. Not everyone likes the same things.  She sounds so particular, that maybe when the cake didn't taste exactly as what she had it mind, it was decided to be sub par.

 

Sometimes people who order at the last minute are just so very grateful, but sometimes they are people who expect the word to stop, change directions and revolve around them and act like spoiled brats when it doesn't. The fact that she was trying to make last minute changes, makes her sound more like a self centered, inconsiderate person.

 

Maybe they were cutting the cake with a dull knife and maybe the vanilla tasted like cornbread because they were drunk as skunks. Who knows? If you are confident in your product and you tasted the cake, then be confident and operate from there. It's not your fault she ordered without enough time for a tasting.

 

In some people's heads, it's not a very long trip from "this isn't exactly what I wanted" to "I deserve a refund". I don't think she's intentionally trying to scam you.  But that doesn't mean she deserves a refund.

 

Anyway, if you stand by your product and since there was no time for a tasting, I would no have offered her anything. And you don't want her back as a customer, anyway.

post #7 of 28

Did you taste the cake when you put it together? If you did, and it was fine, I really think that I would just email back that I was sorry that your cake wasn't what she had expected, but that it was your normal recipe and you had taste tested everything when you put it together and it was fine then. I'd maybe not offer anything discount-wise. If you're SURE that it was fine, and she complained about both flavors, I'd suspect that it wasn't as bad as she was saying. What are the odds that both flavors would be dry and weird? Suspicious...I'd also be booked for any other orders she tried to place.

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

Thanks Melanie! 

 

Jenmat- I am 100% that it was my standard product and way of baking. I bake everything i make from scratch. I guess my whole thing is I'm trying to figure out if I handled the situation in a professional manner that was both fair to me and her...I agree, red flags but nothing that I would say "ok, NO, I'm not doing it". I don't feel comfortable posting her email, but she did in fact state that she would like to work with me in the future, but would like to know what would be the best way to communicate their flavor requests and expectations (as far as cake flavor goes) This is why I ultimately offered a free cake tasting if she decided to order with me again.

 

Howsweet- I asked her in my reply back if she used a dull knife or sharp knife because that's the first thing I thought of! But haven't heard back from her yet. It really is a confusing situation because I've never gotten these comments before. It baffles me!

 

costumeczar- yes ,I did in fact try a small piece of every cake layer. Everything was normal, tasted fine. Nothing was out of the ordinary and I know my recipes well enough to be familiar with how the batter should look like before and after baking. 

 

 

Just a little background on my recipes- I use a 'one bowl', almost fool-proof recipe for all my cake flavors. Whenever I held tastings everyone would always choose the 'one bowl' recipe over all the creamed method cakes made with the regular butter, sugar, eggs, flour etc. So based on this, I basically took that one bowl recipe which contains no butter and tweaked it (add/subtracted ingredients to make it work) to make a vanilla bean cake, chocolate cake etc. These new tweaked recipes are the ones that took me about a year to perfect. These are the recipes I serve- even IF i over bake the cakes, they are still moist enough to be good. I have baked these recipes at all different temperatures to see which temp was best, room temp ingredients vs. cold ingredients and the difference- I mean total science experiment for the whole year to see what factors I could and couldn't control and how to fix them.

 

So I guess that's why I took it to heart when she said my cake tasted like cornbread because of ALL the time and effort it took to perfect these recipes, these recipes are like my babies!- not once have I had someone say that the cakes were dry or crumbly! So that's why I was a little baffled at the comments!

 

I appreciate all of your feedback! I just wanted to make sure that I handled the situation as best as I could...

post #9 of 28

Maybe they were expecting more of a "box mix" flavor vs a scratch cake.

post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smallfrye View Post

Maybe they were expecting more of a "box mix" flavor vs a scratch cake.

I'm starting to think that this is what they wanted as well.... : /
post #11 of 28
I bet Smallfrye hit the nail on the head.
post #12 of 28

Probably...I've had people complain that the strawberry cake wasn't strawberry even though it has a cup of real strawberries in it because it wasn't bright pink. Scratch cakes are denser in general, so people aren't used to that anymore.

post #13 of 28
You'd be amazed at how many people think box mix cake is how cake is supposed to taste and feel.
elsewhere.
Reply
elsewhere.
Reply
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar View Post
 

Probably...I've had people complain that the strawberry cake wasn't strawberry even though it has a cup of real strawberries in it because it wasn't bright pink. Scratch cakes are denser in general, so people aren't used to that anymore.


I won't make strawberry cake because too many people want that pink cake with the red flecks from Pillsbury and scratch strawberry cake tastes nothing like it. And what's really funny is I will offer them a box mix, but they'll go with a different flavor because they think they don't want the mix. I just cant win with strawberry cake - lol

post #15 of 28
I'm so sorry this happened to you.

Honestly, she's lucky to have found someone to make a custom cake last minute. You didn't charge her a rush fee, you offered her a free tasting & a discount towards her next cake and she said she wanted to work with you in the future.

It sounds like you are very organized and good with customer service. You sound very passionate about your work and you seem to take it very seriously, what more can one ask for?! icon_smile.gif

It can be heartbreaking to hear someone wasn't completely happy with your recipes, especially when you work so hard on them. It can be very defeating. I imagine you started second guessing yourself after her complaint. As the others stated above, and you yourself said your recipe was the same. Sadly, many people think those flashfrozen, Crisco filled cakes are what cake should taste like.

Try not to let it get you down.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cake Decorating Business
Cake Central › Cake Forums › Cake Talk › Cake Decorating Business › First REAL complaint...