Customer Upset About No. Servings And Cake Design

Decorating By mireillea Updated 21 Sep 2010 , 2:02pm by cai0311

mireillea Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:22pm
post #1 of 59

Hi all,
I would really like your advice on aproblem that I have with a customer who believes I overcharged her: the cake was too small.
Two months ago, this customer booked a birthday cake. It had to incorporate the birthday of her son, aged 2, and of her father, aged 76. She ordered a cake of 35 servings and 15 cupcakes. I told her the price for the cake would be 140,- and for the cupcakes 37.50. She was fine with that.
It was difficult to find a theme for such an age difference. We e-mailed back and forth, and she ultimately came up with: Rodeo. Now, I am based in the Netherlands and know little of rodeo. The customer's father (an American) would celebrate his birthday in the Netherlands. She told me he is crazy about rodeo and would be pleasantly surprised, and so I figured it would be a good theme. She wanted the color red and cow skin somehow added to the cake. I said that was no problem.

So, I googled a lot and came across the horse cake of Jayne Cunningham and immediately fell in love with it. I decided to give it a nice 'rodeotwist' and also use other rodeo elements. I liked the cake and thought the customer would like it too. I used a 10", 6"" and 4"'(for the bathtub), WASC cake with raspberry filling.

Okay, today. The customer send her mother and stepfather to get the cake. The mother walks in and her mouth falls open and she is like "Ooh'. Not the "Ooh of enthousiasm' I can tell for sure. She says it is waáááay too small, absolutely not enough to feed 35 people. And then the theme! She is having serious doubts about it. It is not rodeo, it is cowboy. What a flop! Her husband said it was kind of funny, but all she did was shake her head.

She said she didn't have enough money (said her daughter told her a different price). She paid me part of the cake and said I had to make arrangements with her daughter for the remainder of the money, although she believed it was sufficient as the cake was very small. And then she left, still shaking her head.

Yes, I did give the cake, although it wasn't paid in full. I worked so hard on it! It was such a dissapointment that she didn't like it!

Now, I usually make wedding cakes and maybe I made a mistake in the serving sizes. I just found a website that says for a birthday cake: 10" serves 20 - 28 and 6" serves 6 - 8, and 4" serves 3-4.
If I take the smallest numbers, then the mother is right and I gave a cake that is too small. Should I forget about the rest of the money? Should I give a refund? And what about the theme thing?
My husband says: " you cannot please them all, it had rodeo elements in it." But now I am doubting that too. Was it more cowboyish then rode?

Please be honest in your advice. Thanks in advance!
I have added it to my photos, it is the last cake with the horse on top.

58 replies
mireillea Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:25pm
post #2 of 59

I don't know how to add the picture. You can see it here as well: >> gallerij >> taartsculpturen >> it is the one with the horse on top.

cplfernandez Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:34pm
post #3 of 59

How tall are each of your tiers? That makes a huge difference in how many they serve! Plus, I have found people just don't understand how much cake it is until they start cutting. They are used to large flat sheet cakes that are easy for them to figure out how much cake it is.

I would definitely contact the lady who ordered it, let her know how much she still owes on the cake, and tell her when she can bring your money to you.

Then, if she has a problem with the servings, she can bring it up to discuss with you. If anything, I would figure out using your servings how many you thought it was short and multiply that by your typical serving price and take that off the cost of the cake.

greengyrl26 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:36pm
post #4 of 59

Honey, that cake is PLENTY big enough to feed 35. In the US, the standard serving size is 1" x 2" x 4" high. This is compatible with the Wilton wedding cake serving guide. And going by that, a 6" & 8" round will serve 36!

I think the cake is adorable!
However, I would NOT have let her walk out that door without payment in full!

BethLS Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:37pm
post #5 of 59

Well, first let me start off by saying that is one adorable cake! I would be thrilled if someone thought to order me a cake and it turned out that way!

I am a seasoned rodeo gal myself...running barrels and poles.

Geez thats one hard thing to try and recreate! I think that is too much to leave to the imagination personally...? I think it's one of those things that each person would think of different things!

For me, rodeo would mean a bull, ropes (lariat) spurs, hat, boots, ect.

But I LOVE the cake and can't imagine they wouldn't either!

I think this is another unfortunate case of sticker-shock.

Wilton figures a 10" cake to serve!

mysweetsugar75 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:39pm
post #6 of 59

I like your cake, you did a great job. Sounds like they wanted to please the 76 year old father more than the 2 yr. old. I think it is perfect for both. It also sounds like they planned to not have enough money on them when they came to pick up cake, how convenient for them. You put a lot of time and effort into the cake. I say collect the balance owed to you.

mireillea Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:42pm
post #7 of 59

I always use the Wilton serving chart for the wedding cakes I do. My tiers are some 3.5 - 4" high (8 cm to 10 cm). But I hardly do any birthday cakes...

BethLS Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:44pm
post #8 of 59

I say, go get the money owed to you girlfriend!

Gorgeous cake, and they practically stole it from you!

lauriekailee Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:46pm
post #9 of 59

If you made the picture exactly as in the above link, and you had shown that to the customer, and she agreed, then no, I wouldn't refund any money. I'm thinking maybe there is a difference in how much people eat in your country as opposed to americans. (not meant in a bad way!) Maybe a serving in the US is more than a serving in your country. I would wait and see what the lady says that you made the contract with. See if she is happy with it. Sometimes people underestimate how much a cake is going to serve! Only after talking to your original contact, would I consider a price change.

Minstrelmiss Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:49pm
post #10 of 59
Originally Posted by mireillea

I always use the Wilton serving chart for the wedding cakes I do. My tiers are some 3.5 - 4" high (8 cm to 10 cm). But I hardly do any birthday cakes...

Birthday cake, wedding cake, Happy Tuesday's all the same in concerns to size of a slice. 1x2x4

Beautiful cake thumbs_up.gif

newmansmom2004 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:52pm
post #11 of 59

You did a FABULOUS job on the cake! thumbs_up.gif I live smack in the middle of rodeo territory - TEXAS - and it's hard to separate rodeos from cowboys because rodeos encompass all the skills that cowboys use in their daily lives of - what else - being a cowboy! I think your theme was perfect and if the family had issues they should have discussed very specifically what they wanted, not just a theme and given you carte blanche.

As for the cake servings - your sizes should have been sufficient. Never, never, NEVER let them have the cake without full payment!!! You did as they asked and they owe you the full amount for the cake.

BTW - your cakes are gorgeous!

Suzisweet Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 2:56pm
post #12 of 59

Wow, that is great! I was thinking that it would be, well...not so good but that is awesome! First I would have looked at the cake and cracked up as it is truely a funny cake (I mean this in the best possible way) then I would have snatched it from you and ran all the way home with it, not being able to wait to show everyone!!! Not sure what I would do about the money (some people have buyers remorse no matter what it is and say they are not satisfied as to cheat you...sad but true) If in your mind you know that you will not want to deal with this customer or people similar then demand your money! If you think that deep inside this woman (not her mom) is a kind respectable, possible return customer then let them go. It looks like you make a lot of cakes, so one bad apple out of the bunch is probably the norm.
Again though, do not question yourself over your cake and its design because it was great!!!

mireillea Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 3:04pm
post #13 of 59

BethLS and Newmansmom2004 it is so good to read that you come from the core of rodeo country, and still consider this cake okay! I understand from what you are writing (please tell me if I am wrong), that it is just as much a cowboy cake as it is rodeo cake, because the two subjects are so much alike...

Holly123 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 3:05pm
post #14 of 59

When they tell me how many they are serving I always make a point to tell them the serving size. That way they know ahead of time what size to expect.

cathyscakes Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 3:23pm
post #15 of 59

Your cake is awesome, I can't believe some people, you did a great job.

sandy1 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 3:37pm
post #16 of 59

I think you did a great job on the cake! If your customer wanted a bucking horse and rider she should have told you so. I love the horse's expression. You deserve to be paid what the two of you agreed on. If you don't hear from her fairly soon, call her and ask if she enjoyed the cake and when you can expect final payment. LOVE THE CAKE!

Kimmers971 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 3:47pm
post #17 of 59

Never ever let a cake walk without payment in full. You'll be lucky if the girl even returns your calls or e-mails at this point.

Your cake fits the theme requested is feed way more than requested.

She didn't get ripped off - you did icon_sad.gif

cutthecake Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 4:04pm
post #18 of 59

The cake is great! I think it fits the theme perfectly. They owe you money. If the charts say there was enough cake, there was enough cake.

Ruth0209 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 4:17pm
post #19 of 59

That is a very cute cake. You did a really nice job on it. It's DEFINITELY more than 35 servings.

It's too bad you let it leave without full payment. It sounds to me like the woman who picked it up was lying about not having enough money. The woman who ordered it knew the price. Why would she have sent her to pick it up without enough money? She just didn't want to give you the full amount because she thought it was too small.

It's hard to have the presence of mind in the moment to tell someone if they have concerns with the cake that you need to keep it long enough to talk to the person who ordered it and then you'll deliver it once that's all resolved. That would have been the idea response.

You should be very proud of the job you did on that cake.

sugarshack Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 4:42pm
post #20 of 59

That cake will feed more than 35 and it totally fits the rodeo theme in a humorous way. That lady is cheap and did not want to pay. period.

iluvpeeks Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 4:48pm
post #21 of 59

First off, I looked at all of your cakes, and you do amazing work! I thought that cake was adorable. As far as the cake not being enough, did they not have any other food at the party? That's alot of cake! The other thing that bothers me is why did her mother and stepfather come to pick up the cake, and not her? Also, I wonder how much influence this mom has on her daughter. The customer was happy with what you proposed to make, right? I think they're trying to pull a fast one! If she agreed to the design of the cake, then its too bad. Tell her to PAY UP!

CWR41 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 4:54pm
post #22 of 59
Originally Posted by mireillea

Now, I usually make wedding cakes and maybe I made a mistake in the serving sizes. I just found a website that says for a birthday cake: 10" serves 20 - 28 and 6" serves 6 - 8, and 4" serves 3-4.
If I take the smallest numbers, then the mother is right and I gave a cake that is too small.

According to the Wilton wedding serving chart:
for standard 1" x 2" x 4" serving sizes (8 cu. in.) the 10" serves 38 and the 6" serves 12 = 50 servings total NOT including the 4" top.

You provided more than 35 servings and deserve to be paid for the full amount that you quoted. It appears that you only charge $4.00 per serving for very detailed fondant cakes (35 x $4 = $140), which is a steal of a deal since most would charge a minimum of $3 - $4 for buttercream only cakes without the details and figures, IMO.

Your work is great, and it's also my opinion that you are worth so much more than what you are charging! If ANYONE says they don't like your cake... they are crazy!

mireillea Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 5:17pm
post #23 of 59
Originally Posted by iluvpeeks

The customer was happy with what you proposed to make, right?

Well, I didn't really propose this design. The customer wanted a rodeo cake with the color red and cow design and I told her I could work with that and that I would make a rodeo cake. That is basically where we took off.
I never said anything about the horse on top, or the cowboy boots, stars, etc. That's because I wasn't sure what to make exactly at that point. I always look for inspiration or something special that catches the eye and that research takes time. I do that research just to make it more than... well you know,.. your 'average three tiers with a little something cake'. I always try to make people happy, surprised with a cake, or at least satisfied.

Unfortunately I think the daughter is on the side of the mother. I just received an e-mail saying she received the cake and that she would contact me about it in the future. She mentioned nothing positive. Just that.

Ladiesofthehouse Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 5:20pm
post #24 of 59

I love your cake! I am a horse person and I would have loved to receive that for a birthday cake. I love the teeth on the horse!

Having said that, the 2 places that I see where this all kind of went wrong have to do with serving sizes and design agreement.

It has been my experience that it is a rare customer that understands the Wilton serving sizes. Most people (unless they order a lot of cakes) think of a serving as being more of a "wedge" of cake. Once you explain to them that the piece you are quoting for measures 1" x 2" x 4" they will understand that the slice is fairly small. There are places here on CC where people have actually printed pieces of cake onto paper that you can fold up into the shape of a slice of cake so the customer can hold it in their hands to get an idea exactly what you are talking about.

And design agreement--I never do a cake unless the customer and I agree on a design and I have the go ahead. My idea of a rodeo cake for a 70+ year old man and a 2 year old would have differed greatly from what you made. Not a put down, just a difference in imagination. They should have been way more specific if they didn't want a humorous cake, then you would probably have gone in another direction.

I would still contact them and at least work out an understanding about the cake. They took it and served it, so you really should get the balance on it.
Now why they showed up with less than the full amount for payment when they knew thew total--that is suspect and I would take that into consideration when pursuing the balance. It kind of sounds like they were manipulating you, which is pretty rotten.

Again, I thought the cake was super, but I can totally understand where things may have gone wrong on both sides. Good luck!

newmansmom2004 Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 5:33pm
post #25 of 59
Originally Posted by mireillea

BethLS and Newmansmom2004 it is so good to read that you come from the core of rodeo country, and still consider this cake okay! I understand from what you are writing (please tell me if I am wrong), that it is just as much a cowboy cake as it is rodeo cake, because the two subjects are so much alike...

You are correct - can't have a rodeo without cowboys (or cowgirls)!

Kitagrl Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 5:47pm
post #26 of 59

I use Earlenes chart which is larger than Wilton, and still a 10"/6" serves 38 according to her chart!!!! Should have been plenty.

I don't understand the horse in the bathtub part...but your cakes are beautiful!!!! I love your work. Maybe the customer should have been a little more specific in her instructions????

hbarberycakes Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 7:40pm
post #27 of 59

I too live in tx and think the cake is absolutely adorable! How can you look at that kind of cake and not think rodeo or cowboy? It is obvious the lady was picturing something else and just got shocked. So go get your money girl!

sberryp Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 8:08pm
post #28 of 59

Get your money. That cake was more than enough for 36 people

Momma_D Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 8:28pm
post #29 of 59

I, too, am in Texas. My nephew is a cowboy that breeds cattle. I believe he would LOVE this cake, just as much as I do! It is ADORABLE! While I don't think I would ever let a cake leave without full payment, I can't imagine what I would do in your situation. I know it must have come as a shock when the mother said she didn't have enough. I think I may have been flabbergasted and unable to think fast and probably would've done the same as you. But you do need to get paid. You did what the customer asked. And your customer was the daughter, NOT the mother. So call that daughter up and go get paid!

KayMc Posted 18 Sep 2010 , 8:39pm
post #30 of 59

Your work is fabulous! Oh my word! I wish I had your talent!

It sounds to me like the mother deliberately had too little money on hand. I would never have let her walk out the door without having paid. Can you imagine going to a grocery store and leaving without paying for the food? They intended for this to happen. I call it a 'scam' operation.

I love the idea of making up a paper piece of cake in the appropriate size. No questions after the customer sees that.

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