First Complaint- How Do I Handle This?

Business By susieq76 Updated 30 Mar 2009 , 8:49pm by susieq76

susieq76 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 4:56am
post #1 of 44

Okay, I delivered a cake this afternoon for a harvest party tommorrow morning. The mom liked it, paid and did ask why it didn't say "happy birthday". I explained that on a "realistic" pumpkin it would not have looked good. She agreed and paid me.

At 11:48pm tonight I get an e-mail from her saying how disappointed she is in the cake- the lack of happy birthday and that now the icing is running and she wants me to rectify this immediately or she will bad mouth me to the web community she found me on.

How the heck am I suppose to rectify this at midnight???????

43 replies
Ariginal Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 5:02am
post #2 of 44

Ohh crikey you poor thing... sorry i cant help but i feel for you

TC123 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 5:13am
post #3 of 44

Hmmm.... What kind of icing did you use that it would be "running" now? Is it possible to touch it up for her later this morning? Also, about the Happy Birthday writing, I know what you mean about shaped/themed cakes. Sometimes you just don't have a spot ON the cake for it. In those cases, I write the message on the cake board, in front of the cake. I will sometimes off-set the cake on the board to leave more room for the message.

Hope this helps! Good luck and I hope there's time to make this a positive experience for everyone.

FromScratch Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 5:25am
post #4 of 44

How nice of her to threaten you. icon_confused.gif What a shrew! I usually make a little plaque to put the birthday message. I make it from gumpaste and either write the message with edible paints or pipe with royal.. just an idea for next time. icon_smile.gif I really don't like writing on a cake at all so this is my way of doing what the customer wants in a way I think is tasteful.

There's nothing you can do right now, but perhaps tomorrow you can see what's going on? She can't expect you to do something at midnight.. call her in the morning and get the scoop.

pugmama1 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 6:03am
post #5 of 44

I find it rather shocking that she would call you at midnight. Calling anybody after 10pm, unless it is a family emergency, is inconsiderate not just to you but to your family. Perhaps she had been stewing all day so why didn't she call earlier so that you would have time to do something? Where is the cake that the icing would "run"? In the oven? I think the best you can do is offer to look at the cake and see what you can do to help in order to show your integrity. A refund is not in order I don't think because she accepted the cake. And honestly, where have people's creativity gone? With a computer you can generate an amazing birthday greeting that she could have placed on a stick and stuck it in the cake! People just seem to want to complain and gripe and get something for nothing. I must be tired because I don't usually talk like this either1

pugmama1 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 6:10am
post #6 of 44

okay- I am tired. I see it was an email instead of a call. But sometimes I don't check my emails for a couple of days so how were you supposed to really know what was going on with her? Maybe in the morning she will be happier- too hopeful???!!!

susieq76 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 1:14pm
post #7 of 44

The cake is iced in buttercream- and I couldn't put anything on the cake board b/c she wanted it covered in fall colored leaves (which it was). Its 9am now and I have no way of getting there before the party (its a 45 minute ride from here and the party is at 10am!). If the buttercream is running then she has to have it in a really hot place (I made this cake on Thursday- so the bc has been fine on it for 22 hours when I delivered it). I also did her a favor and delivered the cake (no charge) since I visited a friend in her area anyway (not that that matters its just an extra pin in my side).

Does anyone have any suggestions on what to write to sound nice but still not give her what she wants- my guess is money since she left me with no time to "fix" it?

michellenj Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 3:05pm
post #8 of 44

I'd want to see a pic of the "running" BC. When you took the order, did you know she wanted it to say "Happy Birthday"? She was being unreasonable calling you so late and telling you that she would badmouth you.

kelleym Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 4:36pm
post #9 of 44

If her first impulse was to email you and threaten you, then I would hazard a guess that she's going to go ahead and do it no matter what action you take. If you rush out there and try to fix whatever might be wrong in her eyes, the badmouthing will just be slightly less.

This may sound weird, but my first impulse is not to give in to this BS. "Dear Wicked Witch of NC: I am sorry the cake did not meet your expectations. I wish you better luck with the next custom baker you choose to hire." icon_twisted.gif

TC123 Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 4:48pm
post #10 of 44

susieq76, I'm sorry about what you're going through. Definitely not the way you want to start your day (having been dealing with this since around midnight!)... I'm sure you will get some good suggestions on how to word something in an e-mail from people who are in the business.

If you had the cake sitting for 20+ hours with no problems, then she absolutely had it sitting in an area too warm for a cake. I hope she had the sense to put it in the frig to firm up. It sounds beautiful (I can't wait to see it), one that would understandably be difficult to write Happy Birthday on... I do like jkalman's suggestion about the plaque, which could be colored or decorated to match the theme of the cake. I have also seen candle sets that are letters spelling out Happy Birthday. They're small, not the big, bulky ones. I might have seen them at Wal-Mart. (This for future orders, of course. I know it doesn't help you now.)

Anyway, based on your initial post, she obviously did not give you the opportunity to rectify the situation. It might have been possible if she notified you earlier. But at midnight? Also, JMHO, she had no right to bully you and threaten your reputation like she did. Sounds to me like she had a mini-meltdown.

I hope that today's party went well for her, that everyone loved and enjoyed your cake, and that she was able to see all this for herself.

Deb_ Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 5:40pm
post #11 of 44

Hi Susie,

Since her only attempt to contact you was an e-mail that you read at midnight, she had to know that there wasn't much you could do at that point.

I would normally respond to a client with a phone call, but in this case, I think an e-mail is sufficient.

Dear PITA (just kidding) icon_lol.gif

I received your e-mail at 11:48 p.m. concerning the cake that you purchased from me. I wish that you would have contacted me earlier in the day. At this point there isn't much that I can do to rectify the situation as I'm sure that the cake has been eaten.
It's puzzling to me that you said the icing was ruined since it was fine when I delivered it. The only time icing will run and melt is if the cake is not stored properly and is kept in a hot environment.
I hope you can see that it is truly unfair for you to threaten to "badmouth" my business, since I was not given the opportunity to see the damaged cake or to rectify it for you.

Sincerely,
Susie

HTH
Good luck!
Deb

MaisieBake Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 6:22pm
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

it is truly unfair for you to threaten to "badmouth" my business, since I was not given the opportunity to see the damaged cake or to rectify it for you.




Thing is, she kind of did have the opportunity to rectify it, and she chose not to.

Looks to me like the order was for something that said "happy birthday," the decorator decided that "happy birthday" would compromise the artistic integrity of the cake, the customer complained about the no "happy birthday" when she saw the cake (there's the opportunity) and the decorator told customer that it wouldn't work on the cake.

Let's hope the email was just a threat.

Momkiksbutt Posted 11 Oct 2008 , 6:35pm
post #13 of 44

Well I think two things about this:

First of all, she accepted it at delivery and paid you for it, so it's her's to worry about now. HOWEVER, if she is claiming running icing, she needs to prove it TO YOU. Don't go rushing anywhere until she can. Make her send you proof if you think you should. I wouldn't, but you can if you like.

Second of all, The only way BC can start to "run" is if you have it in an extremely warm place to store it in. BC is pretty tough to melt otherwise. The only time I've ever had a problem with it was this last July on my twins birthday cake, and that was in 100 degree, straight in the sun, weather, and even then it was only a slight "melt" and not "runny". Again, proof is key here.

If this lady thinks that it's ok to threaten a person to get her way, then let her do what she wants, its her that's going to look like the fool not you. I imagine that she treats others that way as well, not just you. How sad that this person is a parent....her kids don't stand a chance...

Chin up, and let her do her worst....your work speaks for itself and you do great! Witches be damned! thumbs_up.gif

One more thing real quick, get the pic of your cake up here for us k? And if she does post on CC to badmouth you....you can be sure we will all be sending her our "how dare you" responses in return....she'll be feeling very foolish in very short order....

Lisa

Deb_ Posted 12 Oct 2008 , 9:12pm
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaisieBake

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

it is truly unfair for you to threaten to "badmouth" my business, since I was not given the opportunity to see the damaged cake or to rectify it for you.



Thing is, she kind of did have the opportunity to rectify it, and she chose not to.

Looks to me like the order was for something that said "happy birthday," the decorator decided that "happy birthday" would compromise the artistic integrity of the cake, the customer complained about the no "happy birthday" when she saw the cake (there's the opportunity) and the decorator told customer that it wouldn't work on the cake.

Let's hope the email was just a threat.




OP stated that the customer agreed with her about not putting Happy Birthday because of the cake design, and she then accepted the cake.
Customer than e-mails her at 11:48pm, when the party is the next morning, 45 min. away..........to tell her the icing is running and she better rectify it immediately.
Do you really think she should have driven over there immediately at midnight to fix runny icing? That's truly unreasonable.

indydebi Posted 12 Oct 2008 , 9:44pm
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

Customer than e-mails her at 11:48pm, when the party is the next morning, 45 min. away..........to tell her the icing is running and she better rectify it immediately.

Do you really think she should have driven over there immediately at midnight to fix runny icing? That's truly unreasonable.




And that's assuming that someone is still up and checking email at midnight .... and that they didn't get up and go to church or something first thing the next day without checking their email.

All this women did was set herself up to be able to tell all of her little friends how ".... I told her to come over and fix it and she just ignored me!" ... without telling all of her little friends the details of telling the cake maker at MIDNIGHT before a 10:00 a.m. party!

MaisieBake Posted 12 Oct 2008 , 11:53pm
post #16 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaisieBake

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkelly27

it is truly unfair for you to threaten to "badmouth" my business, since I was not given the opportunity to see the damaged cake or to rectify it for you.



Thing is, she kind of did have the opportunity to rectify it, and she chose not to.

Looks to me like the order was for something that said "happy birthday," the decorator decided that "happy birthday" would compromise the artistic integrity of the cake, the customer complained about the no "happy birthday" when she saw the cake (there's the opportunity) and the decorator told customer that it wouldn't work on the cake.

Let's hope the email was just a threat.



OP stated that the customer agreed with her about not putting Happy Birthday because of the cake design, and she then accepted the cake.
Customer than e-mails her at 11:48pm, when the party is the next morning, 45 min. away..........to tell her the icing is running and she better rectify it immediately.
Do you really think she should have driven over there immediately at midnight to fix runny icing? That's truly unreasonable.




The customer asked not once but twice-- once when she ordered, once when the cake was delivered. And the decorator blew her off twice.

How many women do you know who would go in for a third time with a vendor who's already demonstrated that she doesn't particularly care what the customer ordered? How many would engage in the confrontation (maybe in front of friends and family) when they'd been just been refused?

(We see all sorts of "what a beeyatch" complaints here about difficult customers. If the customer had gone for "ACTUALLY, I ordered a birthday cake and your ART needs to say happy birthday regardless of how you feel about your artistic integrity" you and I both know that we'd be reading about this latest beeyatch here.)

Deb_ Posted 13 Oct 2008 , 12:44am
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by susieq76

Okay, I delivered a cake this afternoon for a harvest party tommorrow morning. The mom liked it, paid and did ask why it didn't say "happy birthday". I explained that on a "realistic" pumpkin it would not have looked good. She agreed and paid me.

At 11:48pm tonight I get an e-mail from her saying how disappointed she is in the cake- the lack of happy birthday and that now the icing is running and she wants me to rectify this immediately or she will bad mouth me to the web community she found me on.

How the heck am I suppose to rectify this at midnight???????




As soon as this mom said she liked the cake, accepted the cake and paid for the cake all bets are off.

"She commented that it did not say Happy Birthday" isn't asking for Happy Birthday to be written on it. She liked it at delivery, but was disappointed with it at midnight? Sorry maisiebake the customer is "not" always right. If she didn't like the cake she shouldn't have paid for it, said she liked it and accepted it.

I think the woman had "buyers cake remorse" and a touch of PMS apparantly, and that's why she sent off a rancid e-mail at midnight. Some people are only comfortable confronting others by e-mail.

meganmo27 Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 1:47am
post #18 of 44

I am so sorry that you're having to deal with a complaining customer! That is always stressful when someone complains about something that you've done for them.
My suggestion is that you call this customer. Be very non confrontational and polite. Make it about you and not her ie...I am so sorry that you weren't 100% satified with your cake. Perhaps there was a miscommunciation and I misinterpreted what you said. What can I do to make this right with you? I understand that you were upset however my policy is that once a cake is in the customer's posession any damages to the cake are not my responsibility. I'm sorry if I didn't make that clear to you initially but I am now. However I would like to offer you a discount on your next order for the inconvience of the miscommunication.
Something like that. And then to avoid this sort of issue in the future I would put, in writing, the disclaimer of once the customer has the cake in their posession any damages are not the responsibility of the bakery.
Hope this helps and hopefully this is the first and last time you have to deal with this kind of situation again! icon_biggrin.gif

stephaniescakenj Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 2:08pm
post #19 of 44

did the customer actually order a cake that said "happy birthday" or did she just say it was a birthday cake and assume it would be written? Honestly if I were in the customers shoes, I'd probably be too shy to speak up and pursue it but then I'd let it eat at me through the rest of the night until I was pretty pissed. If there were even the slightest bit of problem later to compound it, I'd probably react in the same manner by email. I don't do well with confrontation but i can put together a good email getting my point across so maybe she is that type of person.
The other thing that kind of erks me here is that alot of people will deliver a cake that has a had a problem, maybe one of the tiers collapsed but was still edible so they referred to it as a kitchen cake or its not quite what the customer ordered and the response from everyone here is, well they accepted the cake therefore they deserve no refund... what were the customers options? Not to serve cake at the party? You're putting the customer in a position where they have to take what's given to them but its still not what they ordered, why should they not be compensated for that?
Sorry I'm off topic, I know. I'm not saying thats what happened here, it's just been a pet peeve of mine. I would say a kind email would be the appropriate response too. The other thing I might have done is responded last night and said sorry it wasn't what you expected, site miscommunication, whatever. Can you take a picture of it for me, I don't know if there's anything I can do at this point since it's so late, but I would like to know exactly what's going on. I would have also called her early this morning and offered to try and do something, if it was 8:00, you could have been there by 8:45 if there really was a problem. If it was the customers fault that the icing melted, you could have said, well i can come fix it, but bear in mind it's a far drive for me so I'm going to have charge $xx to come take care of the problem. This might just be a pain in the butt customer that nothing would have worked to satisfy her but that's my two cents. I hope everything works out. Let us know how it goes!

Deb_ Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 8:57pm
post #20 of 44

I really believe that there are people out there that will always try to get something for less or for nothing.

At work today (in my hair salon) I had 10 minutes before my next client and I picked up a magazine to thumb through it. One of the articles was "How to not pay full price for just about anything". It went on to give examples of how "we" as consumers should never pay the asking price for just about anything, even at Walmart. I didn't have time to read the entire article, but as a business owner I was appalled. Needless to say the magazine went into my bag ( I don't want to give my customers any ideas), and I'll finish reading it tonight.

We used to be very good friends with a couple (notice I wrote used to be), every time we went out to dinner with them, they would complain and get at least 1 entree price taken off the menu. Sometimes I would order the same exact dish as the one they would complain about, and there would be nothing wrong with it, but I swear they got a high off of doing this. It was so embarrassing that we finally decided these were not the type of people we wanted to be associated with.

If a client is not satisfied with a cake and they aren't completely honest and upfront about it, they can't expect us to read their minds. This woman should have said, "I want you to write Happy Birthday on this cake for me before I pay for it, I don't want it without those words". She should not have agreed with the baker that it looked better without it, if she didn't think it did.

You can't go through life ASSUMING others know what your feeling or thinking. If you don't speak up for yourself nobody else will either.


I think the OP was put in a very difficult position by this client. When she left the cake, there was no reason to believe that the client wasn't satisfied. The cake was in perfect condition and the client told her she liked it, and she paid her.

indydebi Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 9:09pm
post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by stephaniescakenj

.... If it was the customers fault that the icing melted, you could have said, well i can come fix it, but bear in mind it's a far drive for me so I'm going to have charge $xx to come take care of the problem.




The following is from another bakery's website that I saved from some time ago (it's no longer on the site as the bakery has closed it's retail operations. It shows that charging a fee to go fix a cake is not unusual and the price should be pretty hefty:

- Customer requests us to come on site to repair the cake. Fee: In zone, $100.00 plus $2.00 per mile, prepaid via credit card prior to us leaving the bakery. Out of zone, this service is not available.
- Customer may bring cake back to bakery for repair, and repairs will be done at rate of $150.00 per hour, minimum $50.00.

Mike1394 Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 10:07pm
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Quote:
Originally Posted by stephaniescakenj

.... If it was the customers fault that the icing melted, you could have said, well i can come fix it, but bear in mind it's a far drive for me so I'm going to have charge $xx to come take care of the problem.



The following is from another bakery's website that I saved from some time ago (it's no longer on the site as the bakery has closed it's retail operations. It shows that charging a fee to go fix a cake is not unusual and the price should be pretty hefty:

- Customer requests us to come on site to repair the cake. Fee: In zone, $100.00 plus $2.00 per mile, prepaid via credit card prior to us leaving the bakery. Out of zone, this service is not available.
- Customer may bring cake back to bakery for repair, and repairs will be done at rate of $150.00 per hour, minimum $50.00.




Debi, I wonder if this is one of the reasons they are now closed.

There is a very fine line between pleasing a customer, and becoming abused by said customer. I don't believe there is a hard line either way. There certainly is a stopping point of service, but that line isn't drawn hard in the sand.
My .02 today anyways LOLOL

Mike

indydebi Posted 16 Oct 2008 , 11:12pm
post #23 of 44

Mike, no it's not. They are a very successful business and they just closed their retail operation. They have a HUGE wholesale business and sell in almost all 50 states. Their baking operation facility is 25 times the size of mine! I pretty much want to be just like them when I grow up! icon_biggrin.gif

Laura102777 Posted 17 Oct 2008 , 4:12am
post #24 of 44

Maybe it's because I'm a night owl and a bit of a smartass, but I think it would've been hilarious if you had turned up on that lady's doorstep at 1 a.m., ringing her doorbell with icing bag in hand to fix her horribly disfigured cake. LOL......Okay, yeah, that's probably a bit over the top, but I still think it's funny.

Mike1394 Posted 17 Oct 2008 , 7:42am
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

Mike, no it's not. They are a very successful business and they just closed their retail operation. They have a HUGE wholesale business and sell in almost all 50 states. Their baking operation facility is 25 times the size of mine! I pretty much want to be just like them when I grow up! icon_biggrin.gif




Sounds like my dream plan also. I hate the public LOLOL

Mike

Candybrat Posted 31 Oct 2008 , 7:49pm
post #26 of 44

Maybe if you didn't post other people's cake pictures and act like they were your own creations, you wouldn't have people complaining.
Why did you do that? You know that is illegal and just wrong.

Mike1394 Posted 31 Oct 2008 , 8:30pm
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Candybrat

Maybe if you didn't post other people's cake pictures and act like they were your own creations, you wouldn't have people complaining.
Why did you do that? You know that is illegal and just wrong.




OH My as the cake plate turns.

Mike

indydebi Posted 31 Oct 2008 , 8:46pm
post #28 of 44

troll alert!

timhenk Posted 1 Nov 2008 , 2:57am
post #29 of 44

So, can you please tell us how this was resolved? Thanks!

adunfag Posted 1 Nov 2008 , 3:34am
post #30 of 44

Can't we all just get along? I hope the issue gets resolved amicably.

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