Unhappy Customer, What Now?! Advice Please!

Business By MikeRowesHunny Updated 15 Jul 2008 , 1:34pm by MikeRowesHunny

MikeRowesHunny Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 6:44am
post #1 of 28

I have woken up this morning to this email, I'm upset because I always strive to give a perfect product to my customers:

I wanted to give you some feedback about the cake you delivered yesterday. Unfortunately, we were quite disappointed with the cake. The cake was very dry, almost hard I would say - it tasted stale. I am not sure what happened, I know that things don't always turn out when baking and cooking.

Also, it did in fact look nice, although the top was not as promised with a fondant ribbon and it was visible by the markings that something didn't go right there either.

I felt I needed to let you know. 120 euros is a lot of money to pay for a cake and then not really enjoy it.

A few points: the cake was not dry, it was fine when I torted it the day before and didn't taste stale, I tried a little of the levelled surface and so did my OH, it was moist and tasty.

The bow, yes, as some of you know, was a disaster:


Here's the pic of the cake I delivered, which at the time she said was beautiful (no mention of the bow to me and I was standing in her house for at least 10 mins!).


What do I say to her? Do I offer some kind of refund, discount on the next order, if so how much?! Help!

27 replies
karateka Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 7:37am
post #2 of 28

I would be tempted to ask for a sample of leftover cake. If you tasted it when making it, and it was fine, then there is a discrepancy that you need to investigate.

I do think I'd offer a refund of the bow. If you contracted for sugar and delivered satin, I think I'd be upset too. I charge a minimum of $25 for a fondant bow and I wouldn't pay a cake decorator that for a satin bow.

But I'm not so sure on the cake. I can't see how a moist tasty cake can be stale and hard the next day.

akgirl10 Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 7:51am
post #3 of 28

Maybe she's having a little cake buyer's remorse? I too think you should refund maybe 20 dollars for the bow, but your cake is lovely. If she has leftovers you can sample, then you can try it and go from there.

So 20 bucks off and maybe a discount on a future order?

MikeRowesHunny Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:15am
post #4 of 28

OK, so I offered 20 euros back and asked for a sample of cake if she has it, so I can try it for myself. My oven has been behaving irratically for a while, maybe that's to blame. We can't afford to replace it yet. I think I'm calling this whole business quits. I worked so hard on that cake (probably 12 hours in total), staying up until 2am to try and make a second gumpaste bow that also failed. I've just had enough - I don't think this business and I were meant to be icon_sad.gif. I have a couple more orders booked before we go on vacation, and I'll honour those, but then I'm done for the forseeable future.

akgirl10 Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:23am
post #5 of 28

Awww, don't give up, you have a gallery full of awesome cakes! Don't let one customer get you down. You had a problem with the bow and you have acknowledged that.

As for the cake itself, if you get a sample you can decide for yourself if it's up to par. Not everyone has the same tastes. If the cake tastes fine to you then stick to your guns. Don't apologize for a tasty cake.

amoos Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:40am
post #6 of 28

You can't give up!! Your cakes are gorgeous and it's not easy to find those style of cakes over here. I think the refund was right, but we're all human. Everything can't be perfect all the time. In the end the cake looked amazing even if it was slightly different from what you had in your head. Plus, she loved it in the beginning......I think the previous post was right, maybe a little cake buyer's remorse. Go on vacation and take a break.....come back with a vengence and be the cake diva you know you are! icon_smile.gif

karenm0712 Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 10:04am
post #7 of 28

I agree with the OP's - I would refund the money paid for the gumpaste bow and would ask for a sampling of the cake. I can't imagine that it went dry the quick.

Don't give up just because of this! Maybe you do need a much needed break, so take it, but not forever! I am thinking a couple weeks TOPS! icon_biggrin.gif

On another note, but same cake...what cutter did you use to make you butterflies? They are great!

MikeRowesHunny Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 10:09am
post #8 of 28

They are a medium cutter from the Patchwork cutter butterfly set. I don't attempt to cut them with the cutter, just press into rolled gumpaste to get the wing detail impression, then cut around with a little cutting wheel and dry them in the smallest flower former (but you could use a cereal box corner etc.

angel951747 Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 10:47am
post #9 of 28

Before you give up and let go of the business, you need to know that food service business is always difficult. From McDonalds to a 5 Star place, working there is never easy. Everyone will not be pleased. I am in the beginning of my cake decorating and I know the exact feeling you feel, but if this is your passion, let the criticism motivate you to do better. You make great cakes, I've never tasted them, but they are beautiful. some people expect the taste of box cakes. As you create cakes and use recipes, you may have to alter an ingredient or two.
Don't let one cake ruin all you have worked for. How many times have you stayed up until 2 a.m. with your back sore, eyes beginning to see double, feeling so sick of cake you have sworn it off only to do it all again the next day happily? Don't let one person take that away from you. I will pray for you and your decision. If no one else says it, I have faith in you and the success of your business

disneynutbsv Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 12:42pm
post #10 of 28

I think that cake is beautiful! I agree, refund for the bow and you had already asked for a taste of the cake that was left over so you can see for yourself.

You are so talented! Don't give upicon_smile.gif

poshcakedesigns Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 12:53pm
post #11 of 28

Beautiful cake. I too would just refund the cost of the bow. As for the taste I'd ask for a sample.

Don't give up - this is just one person that is complaining. It would be different if the last 4 or 5 cakes got the same sort of complaint.

robinscakes Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 1:03pm
post #12 of 28

I know how you feel--it is a tough business. Tons of work for not enough money. I think your vacation is the prescription you need. Don't call it quits yet. Take some time and relax. It will help to put it all into perspective. Good luck and I'll pray that you'll be lead in the right direction.

newnancy Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 1:28pm
post #13 of 28

You've got soo much talent (I looked at you photos) & do such a variety of cakes that are all beautiful......you make me jealous.....you'll never be able to give it up. I agree with the others, take a break & relax & come back with a bang. thumbs_up.gif

robinscakes Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 3:09pm
post #14 of 28

Okay, I posted before but I just looked at your gallery! You are soooooo talented! I'd hate to tell you not to quit, because I don't know what you truly enjoy doing (you may truly be burned out and ready to move on to a new career), but on the surface I'd say you should continue. Your wedding castle cake.......FRIGGIN' AWESOME!!!!! I'm not worthy!!!!

PieceofCakeAZ Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 6:06pm
post #15 of 28

Sorry that happened to you. Unfortunately unhappy customers are part of every business... as long as the happy ones greatly outnumber the unhappy ones, you're doing your job well. icon_biggrin.gif

I have to question all of the advice from others to get a piece of the cake so that you can sample it. Why? "Dry" is completely subjective. One person may think it's the moistest cake ever and another may liken it to sawdust. By requesting to sample the cake it says "I think you're a liar and I'm gonna prove it". Is there ever a time we want to send that message to one of our customers? Not me. If you know it was moist when it left and you aren't planning on altering all of your recipes, I'd let it go.

Best of luck!

summernoelle Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 6:42pm
post #16 of 28

Yep-Just refund the bow. Your cake was still adorable! Don't let one person ruin your wonderful ability to produce gorgeous cakes.

littlecake Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:28pm
post #17 of 28
Originally Posted by PieceofCakeAZ

Sorry that happened to you. Unfortunately unhappy customers are part of every business... as long as the happy ones greatly outnumber the unhappy ones, you're doing your job well. icon_biggrin.gif

thanks POCA...i needed that today!

i'm with everyone else BB....refund for the bow.

not every customer is going to be nice and delighted...it's just part of dealing with humans....after a few days the "sting" of this will wear off and you'll feel better...i thought my skin had gotten as thick as i needed until this week, i think we are all tired after may and june, we need a vacation....how's this for sucking...i missed an appointment today icon_redface.gificon_redface.gificon_redface.gif ...it was just a party cake, but if i wasn't so tired i'd have been more on the ball...i never miss appointments.

i feel like being like johnny fairplay and telling her my grandmother died...and then after hanging up say...20 years ago

MikeRowesHunny Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 9:31pm
post #18 of 28

Oh littlecake, that's awful! Hope your day gets better! Mine on the other hand, has not changed since this morning because I've had no reply to my email offering the refund (sent 14 hours ago now) - weird, she's a previous customer and is always very quick to respond to emails. So now I'm slightly confused as to what's going on! My OH said she's probably on her forum asking what she should get from me, whilst I'm asking what I should give her - on any other day I would laugh at that joke, but I didn't find that funny today! We'll see what tomorrow brings I guess.

Tashablueyes Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 10:06pm
post #19 of 28

I am just in the beginning stages of starting up a cake business, and I know that this kind of situation will be the hardest part, but any time you provide a service of ANY kind there will be dissatisfied people. People have a hard time separating themselves from their money and expect unrealistic results sometimes. I think refunding for the bow is enough and you need to just move on so that one overly critical person doesn't pull you down.
Your cakes are beautiful and if I can get to where you are in your talent I will be very proud of myself!

cakelady15 Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 11:10pm
post #20 of 28

I am so sorry that this happened to you. I know how hard it can be to deal with unsatisfied customers, especially when you put so much of your time and effort into their cake. I just wanted to comment on asking for a piece of the cake to try. This might just be me being paranoid, but you don't know what has happened to that cake since you delivered it. I wouldn't want to eat something that sat in someone's house for a few days when they were mad at me or thought I overcharged them. I'm not saying she did do anything to it, but I would be a little cautious about eating that. Just my opinionicon_smile.gif

cakedout Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 12:53am
post #21 of 28

oh my....reading your post brought tears to my eyes! How well I remember being in your position - several times! icon_cry.gif

I cried on my husband's shoulder, pouted for several days, took a "vacation" from cakes for several weeks, went to an ICES meeting and came home psyched again to do cake!

Good luck with your customer-I hope everything works itself out without major issues!

MikeRowesHunny Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 11:57am
post #22 of 28

So, here is her response to my mail:

I appreciate your response and offer of small refund. It is not necessary though, those are the kind of things that once its over, it is over. It is after all just a cake!

Ummmm, OK, so what was all the fuss about then?! I swear there are some people who just like to upset others and make them feel bad.

noosie Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 12:18pm
post #23 of 28

I think her initial e-mail to you as she stated was feedback on the cake and really not meant to make you feel bad. When I first started I always asked for positive or negative feedback when I delivered a cake. We can always improve our skills one way or another and as much as it stinks to get negative feedback it will only help us in the end.

I am glad it worked out the way it did.

Donnagardner Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 12:22pm
post #24 of 28

If she is letting by gones be by gones I would offer her a discount on her next order or make a goody basket and send to her so she knows you heard what she had to say and hold no hard feelings towards her. Most people will just not order from you anymore and you would never know why.

Kitagrl Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 12:23pm
post #25 of 28

The cake was adorable! I just wanted to say that there are some days I'm sure I'm done too....I get busy, I don't feel like spending time to do a cake when I have so many other things to do, or I do a cake that doesn't turn out how I planned....or I maybe over or undercharge somebody....and I feel like quitting. But even when I worked at an upscale caterers for a year there were complaints about the food or the cake, and they just dealt with it and went on. So I figure I will end up making mistakes, and I will have to deal with it and go on. I hate confrontation and would most of the time rather quit than fail...but we won't be perfect all the time unfortunately!

Please don't quit! Your customer sounded pretty nice as upset customers go, glad it worked out! She probably just wanted you to know for the future.

miss_sweetstory Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 1:06pm
post #26 of 28

I hope that you'll wait until after your holiday to make a decision about suspending business. Enjoy the rest, have some fun and maybe the business will have more appeal when you get back.

You are very talented, but have had a few challenges lately. The bow...and the crazy Dutch catering guy from a few weeks ago would have done any of many of us in. You are also living away from your home country, and trying to run a business; and that makes it all harder. (It doesn't matter how long it has been, it gets easier, but it's still hard.) So hang in there until the vacation, then enjoy yourself. I, personally, hope you stick with it. I think you add a lot to CC and are a great expat inspiration!

Trixyinaz Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 1:29pm
post #27 of 28
Originally Posted by Donnagardner

If she is letting by gones be by gones I would offer her a discount on her next order or make a goody basket and send to her so she knows you heard what she had to say and hold no hard feelings towards her. Most people will just not order from you anymore and you would never know why.

I have to agree with Donna. I would do the discount, rather than a goody basket, tho.

Good luck!

MikeRowesHunny Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 1:34pm
post #28 of 28

She is nice, and I do understand where she is coming from. I've told her that I'm going to put a note on her account to apply a 15% discount on her next order (if she ever orders again!), seeing as she won't accept a refund for the bow. I think it's the least I can do.

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