Help!! Unhappy Customer....how Do I Respond??

Business By YoCake Updated 21 Apr 2010 , 5:39am by mamawrobin

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 12:41am
post #1 of 35

I just received an email complaint from a customer, two weeks AFTER the wedding. I am at a loss, because I quite frankly, don't believe her. This is what it said:

"We recently purchased a wedding cake (April 10) and just wanted to let you know that we were disappointed. Although it looked very pretty, it was dry and the frosting did not taste like buttercream.

We saved the top tier for ourselves and it ended up in the trash because it was also extremely dry. As a baker myself, I understand that this can happen but it should not when I am hiring a professional."

I've been doing cakes for 6 years, and NEVER had a complaint that my cake was dry. I've always received many compliments on how moist they are (and I do use butter and whole milk in all my products). I go as far as to cover each cake with wax paper, as it is cooling so that the moisture stays with the cake.

I own a shop, and I am quite busy.....everyone is always satisfied with their cake flavors. If ever we were to receive a complaint, it usually centers on a mistake (such as a wrong color/size, etc). I realize that all businesses have complaints... I do whatever I can to avoid them, but they are inevitable.

Our buttercream is made with butter, powered sugar, pure bourban vanilla, and milk....it is a sweet buttercream, but tastes great and holds up to the decorating.

This is a first....please help!! If giving any type of compensation, I usually ask the client to bring in the portion of the cake so that I can assess what went wrong, but she put it in the trash. I am having a hard time believing her! We did not vary our buttercream or cake recipes since her tasting.

Please help!! I can admit when we make a mistake, but we are known for the care in our baking and the moist crumb of our cakes....so what am I supposed to say without a specimen??

Any thoughts would be so appreciated!
Thanks!

34 replies
Ruth0209 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 12:56am
post #2 of 35

What does she want from you? Is this the bride e-mailing you?

I don't think it's unusual for it to take two weeks for a bride to regroup after a wedding and tie up loose ends. But I'm also wondering if she kept the top tier, let it sit in the fridge for a week while she went on a honeymoon, then came back and expected it to still be fresh. If that's the case, I wouldn't consider a refund under any circumstances.

Also, did she have a tasting? Did she taste your BC beforehand? If so, she knew what she was getting.

I'd need more information before I'd know how to respond. Maybe give her a 6" cake iced but otherwise undecorated AT THE MOST.

tiggy2 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 12:58am
post #3 of 35

How long did they save the top tier before they ate it?

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 12:59am
post #4 of 35

Forget it! If she were for real she would have saved the cake to show you -- did she? NOOOOOOOO! Another thing, how did she freeze the cake? If you don't wrap them properly, guess what, your cake WILL dry out! icon_confused.gif She had a tasting and if you are standing by your product I wouldn't bother trying to appease her.

In fact, this has been a scam for a while now and I have in my contract that there are NO refunds given after the date of the wedding. I've had people ask why and I tell them because there are those who will pull stunts like this to try and get their $$$ back.

My response -- you give me the complete cake as it was delivered and I will GLADLY refund your money. icon_twisted.gif

KitchenKat Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:00am
post #5 of 35

I would tell her Thank you for her feedback but unfortunately since the cake was served and consumed and she cannot show proof of her complaint, I am unable to take any other action.

Didn't she have a tasting?

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:01am
post #6 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by KitchenKat

I would tell her Thank you for her feedback but unfortunately since the cake was served and consumed and she cannot show proof of her complaint, I am unable to take any other action.

Didn't she have a tasting?




Yes! What she said! icon_biggrin.gifthumbs_up.gif

sillywabbitz Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:01am
post #7 of 35

Did she do a tasting? If so then she knows what your buttercream tastes like. Dry to me is relative and if they ate a portion of a cut cake that they saved that would be dry.

Someone posted that they have it in their contract, for any issues or complaints, the uneaten portion of the cake must be returned within "x" amt of time for evaluation.

If you torted the cake when you filled it, you would know if it was that dry. If you don't believe her...say you're sorry she was unhappy with the cake...do NOT say you are sorry the cake was dry because that would validate her complaint.

Tell her any sort of compensation is only addressed when the uneaten portion is returned within 2 days of the event to verify the issues and then offer her a discount on her next cake. If she didn't ask for a refund etc...you don't even have to do the above. Good luck.

Ruth0209 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:04am
post #8 of 35

I think the fact that the main portion of the cake was served to the guests is entirely irrelevant. What were they supposed to do? Say, "Oh, sorry guests. We need to keep all this cake so we can get a refund because it doesn't meet our expectations. No cake for anyone." That's not reasonable.

bobwonderbuns Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:09am
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

I think the fact that the main portion of the cake was served to the guests is entirely irrelevant. What were they supposed to do? Say, "Oh, sorry guests. We need to keep all this cake so we can get a refund because it doesn't meet our expectations. No cake for anyone." That's not reasonable.




I've had situations (not many thankfully) where I wasn't happy with something and guess what -- I saved a good chunk of it to show the person so they wouldn't think I'm trying to scam them. This woman didn't do that. She has absolutely nothing to back up her claim. Nothing. She just wants a refund because she's suffering buyers remorse. icon_confused.gif

Ruth0209 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:18am
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobwonderbuns

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

I think the fact that the main portion of the cake was served to the guests is entirely irrelevant. What were they supposed to do? Say, "Oh, sorry guests. We need to keep all this cake so we can get a refund because it doesn't meet our expectations. No cake for anyone." That's not reasonable.



I've had situations (not many thankfully) where I wasn't happy with something and guess what -- I saved a good chunk of it to show the person so they wouldn't think I'm trying to scam them. This woman didn't do that. She has absolutely nothing to back up her claim. Nothing. She just wants a refund because she's suffering buyers remorse. icon_confused.gif




I doubt she should get a nickel back, either. I'm just saying I don't think you can expect them not to serve the cake at the reception. I think they're under a lot of pressure to do that, even if the cake is a disappointment.

cakesbycathy Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:19am
post #11 of 35

At this point I would just email her back "Thank you for your feedback." and leave it at that. If she sends you another email then you can get into whether the top tier was properly wrapped and stored.

spring Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:26am
post #12 of 35

Any chance you can talk to the person who cut and served the cake? Can you contact someone at the reception site who may have been on the floor during the reception? Personally, I would want to know if the guests ate the cake or did they take a bite or two and leave the rest on the plate. Was the cake cut and left to sit out before being served?

I have always found the banquet manager or wedding planner to be straight up when asked if there was a problem with the cake. As hard as we try for perfection sometimes we fall short and I definitely want to know if we sent out is a dry cake.

I would ask the bride is there anything you can do for her? Let her tell you what she wants and decide what you're willing to do.

Minette

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:30am
post #13 of 35

Thanks everyone.......I really got bent out of shape on this one. I agree that the cake has to be served at the reception. It is cut and passed around; there is nothing that can be done.

However, I don't understand the whole "trash" thing of the top tier, if it were so bad. I'd not throw it in the trash; I'd bring it back to complain if it were truly as dry as she says it was.

I realize they may have been on a honeymoon, but the person who brought back the rented cake stand last week told us they were very happy with the cake (a point I'd forgotten to mention).

I also know the chef very well at this particular venue where the cake was served....in fact, he orders all his cakes from us and even ordered one for this week. I am going to call him tomorrow and ask if there were any problems or complaints with the cake from his angle.
I am proud of our cakes...I am quite fat for a reason. I can take criticism, but not sure on this one...thanks for giving your input.

bbmom Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:39am
post #14 of 35

Hmmmm.....do you have to respond? She sent an e-mail and didnt ask for anything. the 2 weeks doesnt bother me, she was on her honeymoon. The fact that they already dug into their anniversary tier and then trashed it is what seems odd to me. I think I'd just let this pass, unless you receive another e-mail from her.

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:49am
post #15 of 35

I think I am going to owe her some feedback.... I would prefer not to have to deal with her talking negatively about our cakes. But that is a good point about the top tier....if she were saving it, why was it cut and how does she know it was dry? Anyway, here is a pic of the cake.
LL
LL

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:50am
post #16 of 35

OOPSS!! Not sure what I did...sorry for the 50 billion attachments of the cake!! icon_smile.gif

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 1:52am
post #17 of 35

I also forgot to mention that the other customers from that batch of batter loved their cakes.....(it was a slower week, so we did only did one batch of chocolate)

mamawrobin Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 2:08am
post #18 of 35

Yeah, I agree with Bobwonderbuns...she's suffering from buyers remorse. Why is it that people assume that we will just take their word for something like this without proof. If the cake was really dry I think she'd have saved that top tier to bring back to you. I also think that you'd of heard something before 2 weeks had passed if the cake was so dry that she threw hers in the trash icon_confused.gif . BTW why was she eating that top tier if she was "saving" it?

Since reading your last post and seeing that you are doing another cake for the chef this week I have a hard time believing her story. I can tell by your post that this has upset you. Try not to let it get under your skin. Since she did a taste test, you didn't change anything, so I'd say she's bluffing hoping to get a refund. Wedding cost too much, honeymoon cost too much, two weeks after the wedding she's wanting some of that money back icon_smile.gif

mamawrobin Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 2:16am
post #19 of 35

Just wanted to say the cake is really pretty and I love the bow!

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 2:19am
post #20 of 35

Thanks mamawrobin....I am thinking the same thing. Just hope I figure out what to say to her! I'll send an update.

mamawrobin Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 2:30am
post #21 of 35

You're welcome. Please give us an update after you speak with the chef tomorrow. I'm curious to see what they have to say about your cake. In my opinion when they called you to order the one for this week they would have mentioned if there was a problem with this bride's cake icon_confused.gif Right??

Anyway do keep us posted.

7yyrt Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 4:53am
post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by YoCake

I just received an email complaint from a customer, two weeks AFTER the wedding. I am at a loss, because I quite frankly, don't believe her. This is what it said:
"We recently purchased a wedding cake (April 10) and just wanted to let you know that we were disappointed.



Um... If they bought it on the 10th and it's now the 19th, that's only 9 days later, not 14.
Am I missing something?

ceshell Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 6:52am
post #23 of 35

I think what she meant by "saving the top tier for ourselves" did not necessarily mean FOR THEIR ANNIVERSARY, but just that they wanted to enjoy it on their own. I got two teeny tiny slices of my own wedding cake and was so bummed out that nobody thought to save us leftovers (if there were any)...it seems like they intentionally wanted ensure they could celebrate with their own cake.

That said, the claim still sounds questionable to me. I am not a professional baker, but I AM a consumer. I would never complain to a vendor about a product that I claimed was substandard, without backing it up, especially if I HAD the product in my possession. It's one thing to have served the whole cake at the wedding and have been disappointed with it/had the guests all say it was awful/whatever...but have no way to actually produce it because, naturally, it was served. It's entirely another thing to have brought the product BACK to your HOME, try it, decide it's no good and THEN "throw it out" rather than provide it as evidence. What the heck?

As a consumer I agree that you should stand your ground! Politely and kindly of course, but don't let them yank your chain. I like where you are already going with regard to compiling other positive feedback about the cake. Even if they are being honest about having personally felt that the cake was dry, if you can show that their opinion was rebutted by everyone else who came into contact with the cake, perhaps they will understand why there is little you can do.

JohnnyCakes1966 Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 8:45am
post #24 of 35

I agree with most here. If you ordered a burger from McDonald's and went back in WITHOUT the burger and said, "I didn't like it...Give me my money back or give me another burger!" they'd laugh in your face. It's ridiculous!

My guess is, you baked a perfectly moist, delicious cake...which is why they said everyone enjoyed it when they returned the stand. Whoever stored the top tier did so improperly - probably put it in an unwrapped box in the fridge - and it had dried out by the time the b&g got back from their honeymoon and cut into it 2 weeks later! Big surprise!

I would contact the bride. (You received a complaint and a professional has to address that. Otherwise, she won't only trash-talk your cake, but also that you didn't provide good customer service.) Ask what she didn't like about the cake. Stress that the person who returned the stand said how much everyone enjoyed the cake. ("I'm confused because....") Ask if it was only the top tier that she thought was dry. Ask how it was stored and let her tell you. Don't prompt her by saying something like, "Did you seal the box in Saran Wrap before putting it in the fridge?" because she'll say, Um....YES! I did! Just ask the question and let her talk.

But bottom line, I wouldn't offer ANY type of refund unless she asks for it. If she does, tell her that without a sample of the cake, unfortunately you can't offer a refund. NO company would do that! At most, I might offer to bake a 6" cake for her and the hubby to enjoy. You DO want a happy customer, after all...although you can't make some people happy.

Final thing: Every baker needs to have a refund policy written into the contract!! And make the customer initial it so they can't say they weren't made aware of the policy.

Bluehue Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 9:12am
post #25 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by YoCake


However, I don't understand the whole "trash" thing of the top tier, if it were so bad. I'd not throw it in the trash; I'd bring it back to complain if it were truly as dry as she says it was.

I realize they may have been on a honeymoon, .




Sounds to me as tho *someone* spent tooo much money on their HM and is looking at way to recoup icon_wink.gif

Throw it in the trash - icon_confused.gif
Hells Bells - if it was that bad they would of thrown it in the car and come seen you.

If you are responding just mention....
"how sad that you have thrown the top tier away - as i would have been very interested to see exactely what it was that you are complaining about*

Perhaps that same *someone* left it on the kitchen bench for 2 weeks and didn't eat it until returning from their HM. icon_rolleyes.gif
Refund = i don't think so.


Bluehue

neelycharmed Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 10:46am
post #26 of 35

no cake? no refund! plain and simple.
hope it all works out for you .
Jodi icon_smile.gif

icingimages Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 11:14am
post #27 of 35

Talk to the chef...then write her a letter or call . It is best to call unless you are an excellent letter writer and be sure someone not from your shop reads it to make sure nothing can be misunderstood. I find phone calls from the owner work better as it is much more calming to the other person.

She did not ask for a refund, she obviously is upset...over what, we dont know, may have absolutely nothing to do with you. You are obviously more upset that she threw it in the trash which I understand.

Apologize to her, state you have never had any complaints prior regarding dryiness of cake but explain to her that it would have been helpful to you to diagnose how the problem occured if she had saved the cake. Since it is an first time for you, you would want to figure out what if anything went wrong.

My guess is the top tier was not preserved well when she got back from her Honeymoon so she trashed it. Do not offer her anything unless she asks or you feel compelled to do so, but know what you are going to offer her before she asks.

Maybe recreate the top tier for her to save. As a bride, thats what I would want if I was dissatisfied, something to share with my new hubby. Do not offer money, if she does ask for money she is just trying to scam you.

At a wedding, at least 1 thing goes wrong. Mine, was that my decorator used HOT pink instead of the pale, pale, pale, pale, pink accents that I wanted. I looked at it, laughed and said there is the one thing that went wrong, but I am now married to the man I love and thats the whole point!

WendyB Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 2:41pm
post #28 of 35

The customer didn't mention a refund so don't talk to her as though she did. You could let her know that since her cake dried out while she was out of town that you're providing her a discount coupon for a future purchase so she gets a chance to enjoy your cake.

YoCake Posted 20 Apr 2010 , 11:50pm
post #29 of 35

Ok, update.....here is what I did. I called my cousin, who ordered a chocolate cake from the same batch of batter the bride's was baked from. My cousin said the cake was rich and moist, and her husband ate the whole thing by himself. I told her to be honest, and she said she was being honest about it. She said the buttercream was really good.

I then spoke to the chef at the venue. He says he was the one that cut the cake...that both he and one of the other staff members had a piece and it was "very good"....not dry. In fact, they ordered one for another customer this week.

So this is how I responded:
<< I am terribly sorry to hear that you were disappointed in your wedding cake. I assure you that we did not change any of our recipes since your tasting. I assure you that we put as much care into the baking and icing of your cake as we do for all, as any professional cake shop should. I am not aware of any negligence, but I regret nonetheless that you were unhappy.

It is a shame that your top tier was put in the trash. It would have been beneficial for us to inspect it so that we could assess what went wrong. As an aside, the other clients whose cakes were baked from the same batch of chocolate batter as yours were very happy with their cakes and mentioned that the crumb was very moist and the buttercream delicious. In fact, Mike, the chef from the Club who sliced the cake at your wedding, commented that the cake was very good, and ordered one for this week.
I am very sorry in your disappointment.>>

So that is it....hopefully, I addressed it professionally, but I am not going to bend on this one. I am sorry she feels the way she does, but I have a hard time believing (especially when a chef likes the cake) that it was horrible.

Something's fishy with it. Oh, and I'm sorry...it has only been 9 days since the wedding. When I was writing, I got the date confused with another wedding cake.

Thanks for all your help...it was very useful and appreciated.

Ruth0209 Posted 21 Apr 2010 , 3:43am
post #30 of 35

Very good response. I think you had just the right tone. Nice, but firm that you're not going to be offering any refund.

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