First Unhappy Customer, I Need Prevention Advice...

Decorating By lovetofrost Updated 27 Jun 2008 , 10:25am by Mike1394

lovetofrost Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 11:53am
post #1 of 40

I had a first time customer call and ask for a birthday cake. He asked me what were my prices, I said my smallest cake is a 6" round for $15 (not even worth my time, and have since changed to a minimum order price) he said ok that is what i want. He didn't even let me get to the other sizes. I asked how many he needed to feed and he said about 4. So he comes to pick it up and has a funny look on his face when he sees it and says "i guess i was expecting something bigger. i guess we all will only be eating one piece". I explained to him that that was what he ordered a 6" round. He still complained about how small it was, even though he admitted it was his fault b/c he did order that size but had a picture of a walmart cake in his head about 9-10" big. I wasn't sure what to say as this was my first time having to deal with an unhappy customer. He said the cake was pretty and what he wanted (it is in my picture gallery, the one with the roses), but it was just very small. I guess he didn't know how big 6" was. So I didn't want to leave him an unhappy customer and gave him $5 back. So I only made $10. Should I have given him money back? Also, what do you guys do as far as a minimum order or to make sure you at least make enough money to bake and decorate a cake. I also feel like my prices are too low. I would appreciate if any of you have any advice on them, they are on my website.

But, after I say ALL that, he did order a cake the next week and it brought in $90 for a full sheet cake. It was 2 11 x 15's put together. It is also in my pictures (the picnic cake) I don't like the way it looks, but that is what he asked me to do. Does that sound right?So maybe it was ok?

Thanks for reading and for the help and advice.

39 replies
MikeRowesHunny Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:07pm
post #2 of 40

I fail to see how it was your problem that the guy is an idiot and doesn't know how big 6in is!!! That was more than enough cake to feed 4 people - it would comfortably serve 8-12!!!

I have a minimum charge - $60, and I don't care if it's only for 4 people, tough noogies, it isn't worth the effort to turn the oven on for any less IMO.

I'm all for customer relations, but not when it comes to ignorance or stupidity!

Tiababe Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:16pm
post #3 of 40

Well, as you said, he decided on the 6 inch round without hearing his other options. And even after he saw it, he acknowledged his own mistake, but still took the cake. I think it was extremely nice of you to give him some money back; however, I didn't think it was necessary. You did discuss serving size with him; if he wanted to feed four people more than one slice of cake, he should have ordered more cake. This is probably a lesson learned on his part, which seems to have turned out to be a good thing since he ordered another cake from you.

Manna4 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:30pm
post #4 of 40

I agree with the others, $10 for any cake is ridiculous. Add the amount of time that took you to make the cake and frosting, set up and clean-up, the cost of your oven electricitty and the materials...It doesn't make any business sense at all. Unless you are just like Food Lion with a freezer full of cakes and buckets of pre-made-colored frosting, you are just wasting your time and will burn out in no time. Don't be afraid to charge for the quality of your product, your time and talent. If you don't people will not value what you do.

indydebi Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:46pm
post #5 of 40

I read this to my hubby who said, "Men have been lying to women for years on how big six inches is ..... sounds like the tables were turned and now this guy knows how that feels!" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

For the next time .... when someone asks "How much are your cakes?", your first question needs to be "How many servings are you needing?" And if you do just start in with a list, never start with the smallest .... always start with the biggest.

Ever go into a portrait studio for family pics? When you're looking at proofs, they NEVER start with the $24.95 package..... they always tells you about the $299.95 package FIRST! THEN they work their way down to the $24.95 package!

And no, you should not have given him any money back. Being an idiot should not be rewarded.

lovetofrost Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 12:47pm
post #6 of 40

thanks, is 15 ok for a 6" if i sell it with something else to make up a minimum order of $35. or is either one of those prices still too cheap? I'm just starting and feel like i'm not making any money and i think it is b/c I don't charge enough.

KathysCC Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:03pm
post #7 of 40

I've given money back in the spur of the moment when I get a complaint (hit myself). In the future you shouldn't do that just because they don't like the size. But he IS a returning customer and that is what matters. He obviously liked your first cake.

When people ask my prices, I say I have a $35 dollar minimum. I then ask how many they want to serve. I probably would not even suggest a 6 inch round unless they wanted it for 2 to 4 people and I would tell them how small it is. You've learned that yourself though.

So my suggestion is to set a minimum price that you don't budge from and that is for a simple small cake that serves 20 or less. Then ask how many they are serving and go from there. You are in the south like me and if you are in a rural area I would say $2.00 - $2.50 per serving on simple buttercream and add extra for fondant work, royal work, figures, 3-D etc. You don't have to give them details, just quote a price after they've told you what they want.

aligotmatt Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:06pm
post #8 of 40

Debi, I should swallow my coffee before I read your posts! lol!

lovetofrost, you should up your minimum, it feels like you aren't making money because you aren't.

If you used a DH box mix from walmart (83 cents), 3 eggs (47 cents), veg oil (22 cents), grease your pan (9 cents). Then use your electricity and bake it, make a batch of buttercream ($3.15), put it on a board with some fanci foil or contact paper, maybe a ribbon on it, put it in a box (1.05), you probably used some paper towels, dish soap... $5.81 for your 6" round, unless you made a different cake or better filling... but we didn't account for the gas and time to go buy the ingredients, the time to mix it, put it in the oven, torte, fill, ice, make the roses... So after your refund, you probably averaged 50 cents an hour.

playingwithsugar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:07pm
post #9 of 40

I don't think pricing is the real issue here.

Of course, I do not think that you should have given him any money back, but that's between you and him. You did what you felt was right, at the time.

I have learned in my many years of dealing with men is that there are certain things that many of them will not or cannot do -

They will not ask for directions

When looking for something, they will not move something over or pick something up to see if the item they want is behind or beneath something else

They are not good at what they consider "woman things" - buying gifts, grocery shopping, buying cakes.

When my Son-IL calls me and orders a cake for his home, the first thing I do is ask how many people he plans on feeding. And then, since it's usually mostly men (card game or sports on TV), I double the amount, because they don't eat slices of cake, they eat chunks.

Perhaps you should also consider increasing the minimum size of your cakes. Baking a 6" cake is a big waste of time to me, and I would never consider baking one for someone else, unless it was the top tier of a wedding cake.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

aligotmatt Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:11pm
post #10 of 40
Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

When my Son-IL calls me and orders a cake for his home, the first thing I do is ask how many people he plans on feeding. And then, since it's usually mostly men (card game or sports on TV), I double the amount, because they don't eat slices of cake, they eat chunks.

you are so right about the chunk eating. my fil, bil... take 2 pieces! They won't even start with one,when the cake is cut they just slap 2 ont he plate. Jethro Bodine...

playingwithsugar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:14pm
post #11 of 40

Hey, watch what you say about Jethro. I had a crush on him when I was a kid (his character sure was dense, but Max Baer Jr. was a hottie in his time!). icon_lol.gif

Theresa icon_smile.gif

wgoat5 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:44pm
post #12 of 40

Umm men and sizes...

mgdqueen Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:54pm
post #13 of 40

I think the fact that he ordered another much larger cake almost made up for it, but I agree that was a waste of time and energy. He didn't need any money back and you were very generous. My husband and I both had a good chuckle from this post. I understand how a man could get confused about how big 6" actually is. ROFL!

wgoat5 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 1:59pm
post #14 of 40

the promises they make when you first start dating and the product they come forth with is 2 TOTALLY different things... I feel sorry for this guy.. LMAO

playingwithsugar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:01pm
post #15 of 40

mgdqueen -

I know you said that with all the nicest intentions, but I just could not help busting out laughing! icon_lol.gif

Theresa icon_smile.gif

costumeczar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:12pm
post #16 of 40

Indydebi---The first thing that I thought when I read the original post was that men have been lying to women about how big 6" is for years, so to hear you say that too just cracked me up!

Also, I had to laugh when the guy commented that "I guess we'll only eat one piece each." DUH...What did he think when you asked how many servings he needed? Maybe you should ask how many Pig-Slices they need next time...

costumeczar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:17pm
post #17 of 40

Okay, I just told my husband about this because I'm still laughing, and he said "6 inches? Guys don't know how big that is. He probably thought that's really big."

KathysCC Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:21pm
post #18 of 40

Leave it to indydebi to get everyone's mind in the gutter on a Saturday morning!! icon_lol.gificon_lol.gificon_lol.gif This discussion left "cake" a long time ago. icon_confused.gificon_lol.gif

playingwithsugar Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:22pm
post #19 of 40

That's part of her job description. icon_lol.gif

Theresa icon_smile.gif

wgoat5 Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:24pm
post #20 of 40

cake? What cake? icon_lol.gif

aligotmatt Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:26pm
post #21 of 40

every time I make a 6" cake I'm going to think about this...

KathysCC Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:29pm
post #22 of 40

Guess there will be no lawns getting mowed this Saturday morning!! icon_lol.gif

-K8memphis Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:34pm
post #23 of 40

I just wish we/me could just get this one thing straight.

I just wish giant lights would flash and big bells and whistles would sound when someone even thinks about giving back money. Don't do it!

Some folks are gonna love you and some folks are gonna hate you and there's everyone else in between. Handing back money will not change any of that and ultimately makes you feel bad. Because you earned it fair and square and then allowed your work to be devalued by giving it back. Oh you don't like it? Yeah you're right it does suck. Here's a monetary gift from me because apparently I agree.

Please believe in yourself/myself.

And that's as much to me as it is to anyone else, 'cause we've all been there or are on the way, just came back.

I manage a bookstore and I have dealers on consignment. This one dealer was disappointed in her monthly check. I gave her five dollars from my own pocket. icon_rolleyes.gif

But back to cake--I have enough burn-out aroma hovering ever near me (envision Pigpen of Charlie Brown fame) that I can usually hang onto all the money I'm given the odd time I do agree to do a cake.

But I'm glad he ordered something else. He was jonesing for a sweet fix and he knew that little 6" wasn't gonna cut it. Cool.

lainalee Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:36pm
post #24 of 40

Any time I makea 6" cake I'' have to chuckle. Thanks, I needed a good one today! icon_wink.gif

mbelgard Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:47pm
post #25 of 40

I wouldn't have given any discount, a 6" cake would serve at least 8 if not more. Unless of course you're feeding piggy men and that shouldn't be your problem.

Originally Posted by playingwithsugar

I have learned in my many years of dealing with men is that there are certain things that many of them will not or cannot do -

They will not ask for directions

When looking for something, they will not move something over or pick something up to see if the item they want is behind or beneath something else

They are not good at what they consider "woman things" - buying gifts, grocery shopping, buying cakes.

Do you know my husband by chance? Because you just described him perfectly.

milissasmom Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:48pm
post #26 of 40
Originally Posted by indydebi

I read this to my hubby who said, "Men have been lying to women for years on how big six inches is ..... sounds like the tables were turned and now this guy knows how that feels!" icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

This was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the OP!!!! lol...Even my 10 year old neice knows how to use a ruler and can tell you what the heck 6 inches is!! Notice I didn't say my 15 year old nephew does because OBVIOUSLY this would be a LIE!! lol...too funny icon_smile.gif

MikeRowesHunny Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:51pm
post #27 of 40

Indydebi, you are so funny!

On the other hand, some of you people are seriously worrying - if you are suggesting that 6in double layered cakes only serves 2-4 people then you need serious help icon_confused.gificon_lol.gif ! I'm a self-confessed sugar junkie, but C'MON, even I would feel sick after 2 wedding sized pieces!!!

ladyellam Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 2:59pm
post #28 of 40

So I have to chime in with my little story. There was a group of teenagers at Home Depot trying to figure out how much wood they would need for a skate ramp. They kept looking at each other with blank expressions not knowing what to do. They turn to me and say "Miss, six inches is a foot right?" I replied with my best womanly smile and replied "only to men".

They had NO IDEA what I was talking about!! I ended up telling them the right measurements and I thought to myself "they are going to be using power tools!!" Heaven help them!!

BTW you shouldn't have given any money back!

bakerboi Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 4:18pm
post #29 of 40

We just had our first unhappy customer a few weeks back. It was for a last minute wedding cake (mom of bride tried making it herself, but finally gave up and called us). Because it was last minute and she wasn't local, we treated it as a normal order. I e-mailed her a copy of the invoice with date, time place, order, etc. Well, apparently we had a miscommunication on the date (the actual date of the wedding was HS graduation weekend--Memorial Day weekend--and we were already booked pretty solid and I'm pretty anal about dates and times).

Got a call that they were at the reception and waiting on the cake...whelp, not much we could do, we didn't have any spare cake. Oh...did I mention that the parents of the bride are small business owners and should know how to read an invoice.

Get a call from the MotB 7:30 tuesday morning (I don't answer the phone before icon_cool.gif. She left an angry message with the statement that if she did not hear from us that day she was going to her lawyer. Timing couldn't have been worse since that same morning we had to have our one dog euthanized.

I was originally going to offer her a free cake in addition to a full refund until I heard the word 'lawyer' in the very first communication because we screwed up her "only daughter's only wedding" (yeah right, call us in a few years when she gets remarried...divorce rate in uber-religious OK is 75%). In my experience, that's code for 'we won't be happy no matter what'. Sent her an e-mail explaining we had a death in the family and that we would be refunding her money (I was in no mood to speak with her) and never made the offer of a free cake.

A week or so later Khris answered the phone and it was her again...she wanted us to pay for the topper and service set, Khris said no, she said that she was going to her lawyer. Haven't hear a peep probably told her it wasn't worth it and that we could counter-sue to cover our legal and out-of-pocket expenses.

Moral of the story: Don't be intimidated by clients who scream 'lawyer' in their very first post-event's a scare tactic.

Unfortunately, we turned around and screwed up the very next wedding cake we did. It was supposed to be flavored and ended up being all white. OUR BAD!!!! Having just lost one of our beloved kids were still in a tail-spin and didn't completely have our wits about us.

Fortunately, they didn't yell 'lawyer'. We've been playing phone tag however. We've offered a partial refund, plus remaking the top tier in the appropriate flavor, offering a 50% discount on their next cake purchase, and doing a free cake for their 1st anniversary. Since they weren't able to afford a groom's cake, we are wanting to try to incorporate that into the remake and/or anniversary cake (he wanted a dragon cake).

To make up for it all, I delivered two cakes for a couple's 68th (!!!!) anniversary yesterday afternoon. Got a message yesterday evening (we had stepped out for a few minutes and missed the call), but the daughter-in-law (who ordered the cakes from Houston a few days ago) was absolutely RAVING about how great they looked..oh, and they were delicious too (LOL!). The guests couldn't believe that she had gotten the cakes here in Stillwater, so she was spreading our name around.

So made up for a horrible month to hear that!!!! (I also just found out that my job position is being terminated at the end of month because the prof I worked for took a position at another university--"sorry for the short notice"--sigh, if it ain't one thing, it's another...I'm really getting tired of relying on other people for a pay check.)

All Y'all have a good 'un.


bakerboi Posted 21 Jun 2008 , 4:26pm
post #30 of 40

Oh...and some of us men DO know how to measure and do math. I'm amazed at the number of 4th year Veterinary Students (female as well as male!) who can't do simple dose calculations or figure out IV fluid rates or determine electrolyte deficits...Ugh! it's not like we're doing Linear Algebra or Differential Equations, I shouldn't be having to teach them remedial math when they have less than a year before graduating from a post-graduate professional program.

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