Customer Is Making Me Ill

Business By splymale Updated 14 Sep 2009 , 9:30pm by cakesbycathy

splymale Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:13pm
post #1 of 22

I made a cake for this customer. He loved the decs, said the cake was too dry, looked & tasted as though it had been sitting out for days. I have never had a customer complain about dryness, and I think he probably has never had a homeade cake. I respond with I appreciate feedback & I assured him the cake was baked & decorated the eveing before the delivery. (Which was next day am). Thought it was done.

He emailed me again & complained even more, was very insulting & threatened to write to the local paper. I really don't think it was that dry, but what if it was? My husband told me to think about it scientifically, the chemisrty of baking. There was no way it was dry. But what if i messed something up? I would be inclined to refund him to get him off my back, but should I respond to a threat?

I don't know what to do, but I could barely sleep last night & my stomache is in knots. I don't know if I'm cut out for this business anymore.
Jess

21 replies
Caths_Cakes Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:25pm
post #2 of 22

I would always say never respond to some one who makes threats, Really, they cant be that stable to go that far, really, its only cake after all , and i know to some its a big deal, but to make threats over it is a bit pathetic isnt it. im afraid i cant give you any advice other than that as ive never been in such a situation.

jillmakescakes Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:27pm
post #3 of 22

there will ALWAYS be a customer that can find something to complain about. Were there any scraps from leveling the cake that you sampled?
Have you asked him what he is hoping to gain from telling you it was dry? Is he just sharing for your benefit or is he hoping for a refund? Sometimes, when put on the spot, they will simply say "I just thought you should know." BUT, be prepared for him to ask for a refund.

Now, to refund or not: My DH explained this to me in a great way. If you refund the money, is he still going to badmouth your business? If not, then you may need to suck it up and refund it as a marketing expense (at least that's what makes my head feel better about it!)
If you give him the money back and he's still going to tell everyone how awful your cake is, then why be out the money? You've gained nothing and your reputation is still taking a beating.

I know I'm giving more questions than answers, but hopefully these will help you decide thumbs_up.gif

MikeRowesHunny Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:30pm
post #4 of 22

Something I've learned the hard way, is that you will never please 100% of the people 100% of the time, not matter how good you are. As long as at least 95% of your customers are happy, you should be happy too. I know it sucks big time to get a bad review, but taste is subjective, and we all have different ideas of what is 'dry' and what is not. If it was so bad, why didn't he bring the cake back to you? No use complaining after the fact. If he had a complaint, it should have abeen addressed when it could be proven.

As for going to the paper, give me a break! They will, no doubt, treat him with the ridicule he deserves. Dry cake is hardly headline/breaking news!

I know it's hard, but if he is threatening you with defamation of character, and he can't prove his 'claims', then you have the much stronger leg to stand on. Let him throw his toys out of the pram, at this point I think you need to start ignoring him, but keep all his threatening emails etc just in case it goes further.

Best of luck!

all4cake Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:51pm
post #5 of 22

Dear Sir,
If writing the paper would take care of the situation and make you feel justified in receiving what you feel was a dry cake, by all means do so. As of yet, you've not mentioned how best I can make it better. Your complaint was that it tasted old, I assured you that it was made and decorated fresh...the evening before it was due. I know the matter can be handled amiably and without further threats if given the opportunity to do so.
Please, to get the matter taken care of as soon as possible , simply return the cake and I'll be more than happy to refund your money.

Sincerely,

_____

minicuppie Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 12:59pm
post #6 of 22

I agree with OP..it won't help this time, but in the future taste a bit of your cake and frosting together. Perfect way is to keep a bit when you tort. No chef lets a plate leave the kitchen without tasting at least the sauce.

LaBellaFlor Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 1:13pm
post #7 of 22

i think he's trying to get you to offer a refund. To hell with him.

sugardaze Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 1:32pm
post #8 of 22

My teacher had a great way with dealing with customers who complained about the dryness of the cake:

In order to verify whether a cake was dry or not she would request the return of the cake and the refund was based on the quantity of cake returned:

She offered a full refund if 100% of the cake was returned.
She offered half a refund for the return of half a cake.
No cake no refund.

By the return of the cake she can gauge whether the cake was dry or not.

emrldsky Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 1:43pm
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugardaze

My teacher had a great way with dealing with customers who complained about the dryness of the cake:

In order to verify whether a cake was dry or not she would request the return of the cake and the refund was based on the quantity of cake returned:

She offered a full refund if 100% of the cake was returned.
She offered half a refund for the return of half a cake.
No cake no refund.

By the return of the cake she can gauge whether the cake was dry or not.




But what if the cake is cut up, and each piece had a bite taken out of it, but it was returned? Would she refund the entire cost?

I only ask because it can get sticky if someone cut up the servings, and each person was given a piece of cake and then took a bite within a short time frame. There wouldn't be a reason for someone to be suspicious about the cake right away, so people would tear into it and THEN it would be known it was dry.

Just wondered about that, that's all. icon_smile.gif I was at a baby shower once and everyone grabbed a YUMMY looking cupcake, only to find out that each person bit into it to leave the rest on their plates. They were SO dry, and over-baked. But each person took at least one and bit into it.

miss_sweetstory Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 1:52pm
post #10 of 22

Although I wouldn't expect 100 percent of the cake back, I would expect enough of it back so that I could verify the issue (in the case of dryness, I would need to see it pretty quickly to ensure that it hadn't occurred because of time). If he can't produce anything to substantiate his claim, and you don't have any previous experience working with him (reason to believe in his credibility), I would tell him (nicely) to make like a drum and beat it.

matthewkyrankelly Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 2:04pm
post #11 of 22

Honestly, it could have been dry. It could have been perfect. Even if he had saved it, it would definitely be dry by now!

What to do? Put yourself in their shoes. How often do you really want to get something for free just by complaining? It is a lot of work to complain. Do you give him his money back? I don't think you have to. Could you offer him another cake in the future at no charge? That seems like a reasonable solution.

I work in a customer service situation. Most complaints are legitimate. Reasonable solutions make sense. I would apologize and ask what was the problem. Was it dry - inedible or dry - scratch cake? Could you have mixed for an extra minute? Really, I don't think there is an excuse for either. If your scratch cakes are dry, this customer just saved your business. Fix it.

Now, you won't know right away, but a habitual complainer(2-3 times) you drop. But what if the customer was right and the cake was a dud? You need more info from an open dialogue with the customer.

sugardaze Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 2:09pm
post #12 of 22

If the cake is dry than a customer deserves a refund as it is not their fault but the baker's. My teacher would have it drawn up in her contract so that customers would know that the cake (or leftovers of it) would have to be returned for "dry claims" in order to get refunds. Also, the cake would have to be returned the next morning to counteract the effects that time has on a cake.

Refunds are based on the amount of cake returned. It's not the best measure, but at least it is some sort of measure in dealing with clients.

For example, when you return a dress to a retailer store you would get a 100% refund within a 2 week time-frame and after 2 weeks a store credit. Would you get any type of refund if you only returned half the dress or no dress at all? At least her refund policy is a bit better than some retailers.

all4cake Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 2:33pm
post #13 of 22

I would say, if they ordered a cake for 24 and there's a considerable amount left, whether half eaten pieces or not (that there would show signs that it wasn't just a matter of taste but an actual issue). I'm sorry, I wouldn't just refund money without some portion of the offensive product returned. I don't doubt that every cake I make has the potential of not being satisfactory....I do taste a portion of EVERY CAKE I make...if it took three, four, 10 batches to make the cake, that's how many I taste....I know I can get distracted......geeeeeez....lose count ...miss a step...add a step....

Texas_Rose Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 2:52pm
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewkyrankelly

What to do? Put yourself in their shoes. How often do you really want to get something for free just by complaining? It is a lot of work to complain. Do you give him his money back? I don't think you have to. Could you offer him another cake in the future at no charge? That seems like a reasonable solution.

I work in a customer service situation. Most complaints are legitimate. Reasonable solutions make sense. I would apologize and ask what was the problem. Was it dry - inedible or dry - scratch cake? Could you have mixed for an extra minute? Really, I don't think there is an excuse for either. If your scratch cakes are dry, this customer just saved your business. Fix it.




I have to disagree here, there are people who complain about EVERYTHING in hopes of getting it free. It's pretty easy to complain enough to get something for free...every time I email Walmart about an issue with a product or with customer service, they call and offer me something for free. I don't take it, because that's not what I am after, I want them to know about the problem and correct it.

I've dealt with plenty of customers who just wanted something for free...not in a cake business, but other things. And I would say that about 25% of them had a real problem and the others were just trying to get something for free. Most of the time when you stand up to them and ask for proof, or explain how you know that your service couldn't have caused the problem they were experiencing, they back down. For example, I had a customer at a dry cleaners who screamed at me for 10 minutes about how we had left spray starch spots on his wife's wool slacks, and how we owed him free dry cleaning for that. I let him go through his whole spiel, including threatening to call his lawyer and the news stations, and when he ran out of steam, I told him that we didn't even use spray starch in our plant, and that our liquid starch was never used on the dry cleaning items. Then I just stood there looking at him, and finally he paid the $3 to have the pants cleaned. But he was willing to lie and make an ass of himself for $3.

Anyhow, it's not at all unreasonable to ask for proof of a defective product.

splymale Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 3:24pm
post #15 of 22

You people are wonderful, thank you for all of the advice!
I am already feeling more secure about the situation & what I should do.
This is a terrific websiteicon_smile.gif
Jess

LaBellaFlor Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 3:42pm
post #16 of 22

I so agree with Texas_Rose...and thanks for the funny story by the way. Here's the thing about cake complaints. We do custom cakes that are expensive. People absolutely LOOOOOOOOOOVE custome cakes...but they don't want to pay or them. They throw a party and the first place they want to recoup there losses is with the cake lady. Now, if you have complaints on a regular basis from different people, then your cakes are probably the problem.

KHalstead Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 3:47pm
post #17 of 22

I just had a bride tell me that her cake was undercooked/raw and other tiers were burned!! She wanted her $500.00 back that she paid for the cake. I said, no cake , no cash.......I've offered to forgive her the delivery cost of 26.25 (she still owed that) and offered to give her a coupon for 20% off future orders, and agreed to still give her back the 30.00 deposit on the cake plates.

Then I spoke with 3 people from her wedding (one that was the cake cutter), they said the cake was fabulous and perfect and that not only did the bride brag about it all night but she gave my number out to multiple people that wouldn't stop talking about the flavor!!!!

Needless to say, the bride returned the plates and I sent her a check for $4.75 which was the remainder of the 30.00 deposit once the delivery charge was taken out .........I told the bride about my conversations with the people at her wedding and she said "I'm sorry, the cake was find, you're very talented...it just wasn't what I wanted, good luck in the future" and said she didn't need the coupon either.

Be very careful.......ask for all of the cake back......if they served/ate the cake then no cash refunds!!! We all make mistakes, and it's possible the cake was dry......but if he ate the whole cake, then NO MONEY!!! Offer a coupon or something for a future order.........no more!

LaBellaFlor Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 3:50pm
post #18 of 22

Like I said, the first place they try to recoup their losses is at the cake!

catlharper Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 4:19pm
post #19 of 22

I have to agree...working in the restaurant business I have come into complaints about food and each and every time if one or two bites were taken of the dish then it was either replaced or taken off the check, bit if more than half of the dish was eaten (and we had people as for it to be removed from the check after they had eaten ALL of the dish) then they don't get anything replaced or taken off the check. So, no leftover cake to substantiate the claim then no refund.

I do agree with everyone who said to taste the trimmings of your cake before delivery. This is something I do each and every time, whether it's cakes or cupcakes, I have a little bite to make sure the taste/texture is up to my standards. I also taste the icing/fondant each time as well. Lastly, I warn my clients who have cakes with dried fondant pieces on it that while it IS edible, it probably wouldn't taste as good as fresh fondant. No complaints yet.

Good luck!

Cat

littlecake Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 5:03pm
post #20 of 22

these whiley rascals do this everywhere...and it usually works......if you start giving money back with no proof that something is wrong....the word will get out and all their friends will pull the same crap and you'll be out of business fast.

this happened at one bakery i worked at....got a new green ass. manager.....didn't know how to deal with these peeps started giving cakes away at every complaint...soon we were giving away more cakes than we were selling.

people are really creepy...it's sad. the burden of proof about the cake being dry is on him....even if it was dry, he didn't bring any back.....

forget this creep and get some sleep tonight!

splymale Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 6:35pm
post #21 of 22

I'm thinking about just not responding, unless he contacts me agian. I'm a little nervous he is going to show up at the market I sell at on Tuesdays, but we'll see.
I will then respond by saying I truly believe the cake was perfect at the time of delivery, or I would have never delivered it. I am sincerely sorry he did not enjoy the cake and I will be happy to offer him a discount on a future order. However, I do not condone his use of insults and threats.

In the future I now know to have a secure policy of return the cake to proove accusations, then give refund. Hopefully I will not need to use this policy very often, this is my 1st time in this situation.
Regardless, this is certainly a learning experience for me.

Jess

cakesbycathy Posted 14 Sep 2009 , 9:30pm
post #22 of 22

If he does show up and is threatening you or trying to intimidate you, use this phrase in a assertive (not aggressive) manner: "It is not okay to talk to me that way."

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%