How Can I Politely Reject A Cake Order? (Long, Sorry)

Decorating By maryak Updated 1 Jun 2009 , 1:55am by mombabytiger

maryak Posted 26 May 2009 , 11:55am
post #1 of 44

I need help please. I have an order from a lady who refuses to look at my website to see my previous work. She has an image in her head which she can't explain to me and I'm only an amateur cake decorator. She's ordered cakes from established cake decorators and has previously complained about pricing and I know that's the only reason she's come to me. She wants me to do a realistic topper (which if she'd looked at my site would see that I don't do that) of a chef with checkered pants, but they're not checkered. (Yeah that's right, try to figure that one out.) She wants the topper to be triple the size of what I normally know how to make.

I took a sample of the cake in to her boutique this afternoon (something I charge other people for) and her and her friend tried it. Not to sound egotistical but I know my cakes are extremely moist and she turned to me and said "it's a bit dry, can you make it moister?" Then she turned to her friend and said "Isn't it dry?" Her friend's reply was "It's beautiful."

I really don't want to do this cake. She only gave me the go ahead this afternoon (it's Tuesday here) and wants the whole thing by Saturday, so I basically have 3 nights (I work full time) to make it all from scratch and all for a price that I know is way too low.

Does anyone have any polite ways of getting out of doing this cake. I really don't feel comfortable doing it and I know she won't be happy with it. Please help!

Thanks
Mary

43 replies
Deb_ Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:03pm
post #2 of 44

Whew............well you could say.......

#1~~~~"I'm sorry but after checking my calendar I find that I am not able to fit in another cake for that day"

or

#2~~~"I'm sorry but after going back and forth with you about this cake, I find that you're too much of a *pain in my a$$* and I simply will not bake you a cake" icon_lol.gif

Personally I love #2, but that may not be received very well, so I'd go with #1. icon_biggrin.gif

HTH
Deb

crazycaker Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:04pm
post #3 of 44

Gosh, I am sorry you are in this situation.

You might want to argue the structural issue: "I am sorry, but my fondant/sugarpaste recipe is not suitable for the topper you'd like made. I'd be happy to suggest bakers X, Y, and Z.." Or, you could state you only make toppers if there is a color drawing (to scale) for you to replicate. No drawing, no topper. Be sure to draw up a written contract.

However, if you did agree to the cake (I am not sure from the wording of you post) I suppose you could have her sign a contract, stating you only do toppers of XX size.

I agree -- she does seem to be looking for a lowball price, and is quick to fault you for just about anything. icon_cry.gif

cakes22 Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:05pm
post #4 of 44

**cough cough** sniff** sniff** achoo***, I think your coming down with something, and it would be wise if you didn't spread your germs around. thumbs_up.gif

OR

OMG, my oven just crapped out! Repair guy can't come out until Friday, which would make it impossible for you to bake her cake.

OR

You could do the cake, and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Maybe it won't be too bad. But if your not comfortable doing this from the get-go, and are under time constraints, maybe you shouldn't have taken the order in the first place (not to be mean).

Good luck!

maryak Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:11pm
post #5 of 44

Thank you guys so much, I've got a few options to go with now!

dkelly I love #2 and wish I could use it, but I don't think I could.

crazycaker, sorry, my wording is how I'm feeling, a little crapola about the whole situation. I hate saying no to people but really and truly don't want to do this cake.

I think I'm gonna go with the I'm sick excuse or I really like the oven break down!!

Thank you so much for your help!!
Cheers
Mary

solascakes Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:20pm
post #6 of 44

I'm with cakes22 on this one,the best is that you are coming down with something,if she is that fussy she'll definitely not want your germs.Or your oven broke is another good one.Either way I wouldn't do the cake or else we'll be expecting another thread from you about how she wants a refund.

all4cake Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:41pm
post #7 of 44

oooor....

"After going over the various design elements, I don't think I'd be able to create a topper that size with that degree of detail in such a short time frame. There are several (if you're aware of any ) decorators who would be able to pull this off no problem. ( name at least one if you know of one ). I would be able to do this ( describe something you'd be willing to offer her and be comfortable with...if anything )....for the price we discussed. Would you like for me to do that or would you like to contact another decorator?"

aligotmatt Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:44pm
post #8 of 44

Yeah.... if you took the order and it's set that you are suppose to make it, with 3 days notice.... I think you should just suck it up and make it. I have totally felt that way before, so I can empathize with you and wish you could just cancel. If there was a few weeks and she was being such a pain, then I think you could find a way out of it. But the notice is just toooo short.

You have a website, you are obviously trying to get some business... they say it takes 20 positives to erase 1 negative and she sounds like the kind of person that could make things hard on you if you make hers a negative...

Maybe say something to her like, I'm really glad that you are giving me the opportunity to try something I have never done before, and I know the price you are paying is totally worth getting a practice cake! Then maybe she'll freak out about the wording and move on. Or at least if it isn't fabulous, she'll know what she's in for...

If you have a signed contract with the price, none of the next stuff will help...

You could tell her, The quote I gave you did not cover the oversized topper, I needed to finish up those details with you before I I told you the final price and it's xxx ~ then raise it up so that it's worth your time, and let her cancel if she wants to.

Or, I really do not feel confident in making this topper for you, but I am glad to make the cake for it.

If you haven't responded to her telling you she wants to go ahead with the order, you could tell her that she did not give you enough notice to create what she wants, sorry.

I had to do this one very recently, someone called me and we talked about an awesome sculpted cake. we emailed. then she said she was going out of town and would get back to me about it all. So like 2 weeks later I left her a message saying I had not heard back from her and at this stage in the process, she is not booked for a cake with me. she called *4* days before event saying she wanted the cake and I told her I am so sorry, the amount of details and sculpting necessary to create this amazing cake take more than 4 days and I cannot do it. She begged and pleaded, but it really just COULD NOT be done, it had a lot of gumpaste flowers and leaves and a tree around the cake... You can't sacrifice your work just because a customer is a slacker.

jammjenks Posted 26 May 2009 , 12:44pm
post #9 of 44

Just recently I had someone want a cake that I think is out of my league. I told them that I was not comfortable carving such a detailed cake and thought they may have better results calling around to bakers with more experience in 3D cakes. They were very appreciative that I was honest and I was glad to be off the hook. They weren't a PITA like your customer, but still...

Maybe you could approach it that way..."I am just not confident that I can make a topper that would be as you need it to be. Let me give you a couple people to call that can probably do it just like you want."

dahir Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:00pm
post #10 of 44

I would just tell her there was not enough time at this point to make the topper from gumpaste due to drying time.

You could do a edible image plaque (if she has a photo) and call it a day

You could charge her so much she just simply would not want to order.


Tracy

BREN28 Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:06pm
post #11 of 44

i agree with jammjenks,just tell her your not comfortable doing it. i always tell people,"im not a professional", so that they know right off the bat not to expect something totally awesome. they cant come back and say, well this isnt perfect or this doesnt look right,especially if they are not going to pay you what they would pay a "pro" to do it,they shouldn't expect something professionally done.

miss_sweetstory Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:09pm
post #12 of 44

Mary,
If you haven't signed contracts, just be honest: "I don't think we would work well together." You really don't need to provide any other reason.

I've always thought that one of the hardest things to remember is that the customer isn't just picking us... we are picking them too.

pianocat Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:30pm
post #13 of 44

All of this is going to be said with a smile--not meant to be mean. IMO only-you have led this lady to believe that you are willing to do this cake, you even took her a sample today. So to me it's too late to call her with an excuse real or otherwise. My opinion is since you didn't say no when you knew it was not in your 'comfort zone', then you are committed to do this cake---and do it to the best of your ability. Suck it up and give it your best shot, and learn from this that sometimes you have to just say no.

mackeymom Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:38pm
post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by miss_sweetstory

Mary,
If you haven't signed contracts, just be honest: "I don't think we would work well together." You really don't need to provide any other reason.

I've always thought that one of the hardest things to remember is that the customer isn't just picking us... we are picking them too.




VERY WELL PUT! I LOVE THAT!! I have never thought of it that way, but Miss_Sweetstory is right! I have the option to decline service! And this customer sounds like she is setting you up. You will jump through all the hoops and go above and beyond your confort zone, then after the event is over she will say she was not happy and wants the cake for free.

Dont do it!

terrylee Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:46pm
post #15 of 44

"I'm sorry but your expectations out weight my talents"

mbpbrighteyes Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:50pm
post #16 of 44

I too am an amateur decorator, and have been put into this position twice. Once I did the cake anyhow and it turned out great and they were pleased (but only after 5000 emails, scanning sketches, trying to explain that no- I can't put peanut butter buttercream on the bottom tier and regular on the top, tint them both pink and have them be the same color, etc etc etc) and it was a total PITA and absolutely hands down was not worth the business.
The second time I turned it down (despite feeling somewhat guilty), and landed up feeling a whole lot better about the whole situation and saved myself a TON of aggravation in the end!

-Tubbs Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:54pm
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by pianocat

All of this is going to be said with a smile--not meant to be mean. IMO only-you have led this lady to believe that you are willing to do this cake, you even took her a sample today. So to me it's too late to call her with an excuse real or otherwise. My opinion is since you didn't say no when you knew it was not in your 'comfort zone', then you are committed to do this cake---and do it to the best of your ability. Suck it up and give it your best shot, and learn from this that sometimes you have to just say no.



I agree with this. It's too short notice to send her off to other bakers when you know they'll decline too.

You do, however, need to get her expectations straight for both of you. She obviously has a clear idea of what she wants, and it doesn't sound like she's communicated it at all well to you. In my experience, not just in baking, but in life generally, lack of communication is the main factor when business relationships go bad. If you lay out to her what you're prepared to do for what you've quoted her, including drawings of this huge topper, she then cannot come back and complain afterwards that it wasn't what she wanted. You need to protect yourself, because she sounds like a pain... Good luck!

mixinvixen Posted 26 May 2009 , 1:59pm
post #18 of 44

since when are we made to take every order that comes our way?

i'm not trying to be mean, but don't start doing this as a business and taking peoples money until your backbone has gotten strong enough to say no and your fibbing skills have gotten top notch! icon_biggrin.gif

all4cake Posted 26 May 2009 , 2:02pm
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by maryak

She only gave me the go ahead this afternoon (it's Tuesday here) and wants the whole thing by Saturday, so I basically have 3 nights (I work full time) to make it all from scratch and all for a price that I know is way too low.


Thanks
Mary




I don't think it's too late to send her on her way as long as maryak didn't already tell her she'd do it. The potential customer didn't give her own self time to find another decorator. Say, for instance, what if she didn't like the samples...would she have had enough time to hunt another decorator? As long as the OP didn't already tell her yes, I would go with my initial suggestion.

DollyCakes Posted 26 May 2009 , 3:19pm
post #20 of 44

I would want to run away from it, too, but I really think it's too late for that. With just a few days left it wouldn't be fair to her to back out. You might just tell her that you are not comfortable making a topper that size and can't promise that it will be exactly what she wants unless it is smaller and she shows you a picture or something that gives you an idea of what to make - I mean, checkered pants, but not checkered - WHAT?!?!?!?

shelbur10 Posted 26 May 2009 , 3:26pm
post #21 of 44

I, too, am unclear on whether you've really committed to this customer yet. It sounds as if you have already agreed to do it. If that's the case, maybe you could tell her that you don't feel that you can make this cake to her specifications in the time allotted, that you will be happy to refer her to another baker (if you can) or you will be happy to do something less elaborate for her (if you will).

Melvira Posted 26 May 2009 , 3:34pm
post #22 of 44

I'm pretty sure that 'checkered but not checkered pants' if she is referring to a chef means houndstooth. It's a typical kitchen garb... black and white houndstooth pants. In many kitchens, everyone wears them. (Have you seen Ratatouille? They all wear them!)

Unfortunately I agree that if you've already told her you'd do it all you are somewhat stuck. If you had told her right away when she gave you the final 'go ahead' "I'm sorry, but you've put it off far too long, there just isn't time" then you'd be cool, but if you've said yes since that point, you are kind of stuck. I do not envy you trying to get this all done in a few days. Will you even have TIME for the figure? That might be one way to broach it with her and get out of the topper. She waited so long that it's impossible to complete it and dry it in time. Best of luck to you, sorry that she is probaby going to make you miserable!!

Peridot Posted 26 May 2009 , 3:49pm
post #23 of 44

I think that you are stuck with doing the cake. Don't mean to sound sarcastic but you knew right away that she was asking for something that you did not feel comfortable doing and you should have said so at that time - with one of the many reasons given above.

If I was the lady that ordered the cake and you backed out on me three days before I would be giving you plenty of negative comments whenever I had the chance. If you would have told me up front I might not have been happy but I would have appreciated your honesty and looked elsewhere.

Good luck and I hope that she appreciates all of your efforts and hope that your cake is s success. Please post a picture as I am sure everyone wants to see the Ratatouille pants.

catcreations Posted 26 May 2009 , 3:53pm
post #24 of 44

Hi I think honesty is best, letting her know that you would either need more time, or that you honestly do not feel you can provide what she is looking for. She may not be nice about it and may even be upset with you, but at least then she can find someone else to do what she wants. Good luck

Denise Posted 26 May 2009 , 4:30pm
post #25 of 44

You've already agreed to do it. That bites. I love taking on challenges but if someone said my cake was "too dry" so sorry...I would not be baking squat for them...because I can almost guarantee she is going to come back with complaints about the cake being too dry. I really have never had a bridezilla and just one customerzilla so I don't really have problems like that but that is why I would not accept an order from someone I thought was going to be a pain no matter what. Some people are always looking for something for nothing.

Do the very best you can and get her to sign off on it when you deliver it. Wish I could be more help.

Kitagrl Posted 26 May 2009 , 4:42pm
post #26 of 44

Sorry this had to happen! icon_sad.gif Sounds like you might have to try to pull it off. Unless you want to say something came up and you just can't and you are sorry, and refer her to someone else. She'll be mad, but...?

I won't take any orders that involve drying gumpaste unless the order is finalized over a week in advance...and if its too close to a week, I often require full prepayment, stressing that I have to make pieces ahead of time and the entire cake plan must be wrapped up and finalized NOW. If its not, I won't do that particular design, and possibly not even the cake as I don't like last minute cake orders anyway (and to me, last minute is a week ahead).

I did take a last minute (just over a week ahead) wedding order last week, only because I figured I could pull it off (slow week this week otherwise) and it was a nice chunk of change. thumbs_up.gif

mbt4955 Posted 26 May 2009 , 5:21pm
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by terrylee

"I'm sorry but your expectations out weight my talents"




I've used this one - it doesn't usually work, but my cakes are gifts so I've found that expectations aren't quite as high on a free cake. icon_biggrin.gif

maryak Posted 26 May 2009 , 9:26pm
post #28 of 44

Thank you all for your help. I think I will talk to her. I had initially agreed on making a cake in the shape of a chef's hat and having a small topper sitting on the edge. She threw me yesterday when she told me the cake was dry and then immediately asked for the over the top sized topper in front of other people in her boutique. I know this is a lame excuse but I kind of felt the need to redeem myself and said yes.

I will speak to her and let her know that it won't be enough drying time but I won't cancel the order. I do want to be considered professional in my business and always pride myself in my professionalism in giving people what they want to the best of my abilities.

I'll let you all know how I go.

Thanks so much
Mary

Melvira Posted 26 May 2009 , 9:30pm
post #29 of 44

Best of luck Mary!! Hope it resolves to your benefit, that's for sure!

lil_girl4 Posted 26 May 2009 , 9:48pm
post #30 of 44

Good Luck!! I hope everything turns out well.

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