Guidance With Unhappy Customer

Business By sweetmandie Updated 10 Jul 2011 , 5:38am by JanH

sweetmandie Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 5:03am
post #1 of 18

Hi everyone,

I had a customer that picked up her cake today over 24 hours after the agreed upon pick up time in the contract. The cake was ready and waiting for pick up at 8am yesterday morning and she did not pick it up until 2pm today.

She called at 7pm tonight to tell me that she loved the design but the cake was dry and inedible. It was a nikon camera made out of vanilla pound cake covered in mmf, and was super moist (actually incredibly moist for pound cake) when ready for pick up. I still had scraps left over, so I know this for sure. I explained to her that the cake was prepared to be fresh at 8am the day before and had been sitting out waiting for her to pick it up for over 24 hours.

We tried calling her several times to get the cake but only received voicemail. She then asked why when she gets a cake at Walmart she can eat on it for 4-5 days and it still be moist, at which point I explained the difference between the two types of cake. And explained to her that I woke up and started working on the cake at 3am so that it would be moist instead of working on it the night before b/c I did not want it to be dry. Now she is threating to leave horrible reviews on Facebook, Yelp, etc. What should I do?

17 replies
scp1127 Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 5:35am
post #2 of 18

The cake would have still been moist 24 hours later if baked properly. In fact, many scratch cakes are best after at least twelve hours. If it started as a box mix, the preservatives would keep it moist for days. Only you can decide what to do. In the end, if she is that passionate, she may be telling the truth. If you don't take the time to help rectify the situation, she will do exactly what she said she will do.

My return policy is clearly stated on my site both in the "About Us" area and as a checked area on the invoice. If you don't have a policy, Do your best to make this person happy, then get one.

A piece of cake must be wrapped and stored according to stated directions and then they just need to call. I have never had a complaint, but I make it very simple to get a refund if it is warranted. And that idea that if the cake was eaten, no refund, is just bad business. The hostess had to serve her guests, even if the cake was not baked properly.

costumeczar Posted 20 Jun 2011 , 7:27pm
post #3 of 18

Was this a scratch cake? She might not be used to the denser texture of a scratch cake as opposed to the spongy chemical-laden texture of a mix icon_razz.gif , especially if it was a pound cake. I find that people can't really describe what "moist" means to them, they're actually thinking of the texture of a cake mix when they say "moist."

SCP is right, though, if the cake was baked right then it shouldn't dry out that fast.

I'd ask her to return the uneaten cake to you, if she kept any. If you can't have her do that, and you're really sure that there wasn't anything wrong with the cake, then I personally wouldn't give a refund. I find that people who are threatening like that right away with the bad reviews etc. are the ones who are the most likely to post bad reviews anyway. It won't help to give them a refund, they'll just post a bad review and not mention that you gave it to them.

If you're NOT sure that it was still okay, then some kind of refund would be appropriate.

The best thing would be to find someone else who was at the party who can tell you what happened. Can you look at her facebook page to see if anyone commented on the cake? Or was the party at a venue where you could call the manager and ask what happened? I once had a client who called to complain that the cake was super dry, but when I called the venue they said that it was fine, and she had been in the kitchen during the reception telling them to cut the pieces really thin because she wanted to take a bunch of cake home. A third party opinion is often helpful.

mena2002 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:48am
post #4 of 18

Try to work out something with her that you both can be happy with. Maybe a discount on the next cake she orders?

If it was a box mix or a scratch cake, after filling and icing, if the cake was moist to begin with it wouldn't go dry in 24 hrs. (In my experience anyways)

de_montsoreau Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 8:55am
post #5 of 18

As you covered your cake in fondant, it would not dry out in 24 hours unless it was dry to begin with (i.e. overbaked). Most cakes taste better after sitting around for 1-2 days as the flavours will develop.
I completely agree with costumeczar, very good advice.

Bri122005 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 11:28am
post #6 of 18

My first complaint came a couple of weeks ago. A customer got a pound cake for a baby shower Well, I knew this cake wasn't my best, but I had a lunch to cater and couldn't rebake.

A couple of days after the baby shower, I sent my usual follow-up email to the customer, and she said the cake was dry. She also said a woman at the party took a slice home and the next day it was hard as a rock. I had scrapes here and knew that her complaints were exaggerated.

Nevertheless, I emailed her back with lots of apologies and offered a 30% discount on her next order. She placed another order with me last week. She's been very happy with the customer service and has eaten my cakes before and knows that they are usually wonderful.

So, treat this customer well, and she will come back to you. If you start arguing about the quality of cake (which is mainly just to soothe your own ego), you'll lose a customer and gain lots of bad mouth advertising.

scp1127 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 12:04pm
post #7 of 18

My opinion... why should a customer pay 70% for a cake that was not baked correctly? If I was the customer, I would be more irritated. And so would the rest of you if you bought any item at a premium, expecting it to be executed at a higher standard, got it home, used it in a setting where it was to be the centerpiece of an event, and it turned out to be just barely acceptable.

It makes the hostess look bad. Then she gets mad that she spent $XXX and most certainly gets buyers remorse... not because of the price, but because the value did not match the price. She feels cheated and at the extreme, taken advantage of.

Change the industry and put yourself in the buyer's place.

Bri122005 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 1:21pm
post #8 of 18

I'm sorry my business practice does not seem to meet your standard. The customer I was referring to had a discount on the original cake because she was a first time customer.

I also offerred to make a free cake for her and the mom-to-be to make up for the dissatisfaction with the baby shower cake. she declined the freebies and felt her concerns were met by my response. I also offerred to make a small sample for her to taste with the next order before she serves it so she knows exactly what she is receiving on delivery.

Again, I'm sorry you would not be pleased, and if you were my customer, I would work with you further to make sure you were happy when you walked away from the dealing with me. However, the woman I was working with felt I did everything I could to please her and meet her concerns.

Have a wonderful day!

cakesdivine Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 4:16pm
post #9 of 18

Why are you making pound cakes? By nature pound cakes are dryer and much more dense than the typical cakes people associate with a custom cake. As a customer I would have been upset to get a pound cake instead of a light, fluffy regular cake. And yes scratch cakes are typically dryer than a box cake due to the butter solids creating a larger crumb, but pound cake has a totally different texture and moisture profile.

Now if the customer specifically asked for a pound cake then ok, but who actually does that for a custom cake?

costumeczar Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 4:52pm
post #10 of 18

I get a decent amount of people asking for pound cake...there's one bakery in town that pretty much does only pound cake on their wedding cakes, so some brides think that's what they have to have. I wouldn't say it's drier than other cakes, I agree that it's definitely denser by definition, though.

cakestyles Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 11:21pm
post #11 of 18

The OP stated that this was a Nikon camera cake...typically I would use a pound cake for a sculpted cake too as it carves better because of the denseness/tighter crumb.

I completely disagree that scratch cakes are generally dry(er). If proper procedure is followed the cake will be moist and delicious.


If a cake is over baked, whether it's mix or scratch, it'll be dry. Not saying the OP over baked, just using this as an example.

In this situation I would probably describe the texture of a pound cake, tighter crumb, more dense not "light and fluffy like the mass produced mix cakes she's used to getting from Walmart that are filled with preservatives."

You tasted the cake and I believe you when you say it was moist. If the cake was stored properly then 1 day won't dry it out.

Did you use butter cream under the mmf and was the cake filled?

Bri122005 Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 1:42pm
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Why are you making pound cakes? By nature pound cakes are dryer and much more dense than the typical cakes people associate with a custom cake. As a customer I would have been upset to get a pound cake instead of a light, fluffy regular cake. And yes scratch cakes are typically dryer than a box cake due to the butter solids creating a larger crumb, but pound cake has a totally different texture and moisture profile.

Now if the customer specifically asked for a pound cake then ok, but who actually does that for a custom cake?





My customer asked for pound cake with lemon buttercream filling.... Despite this instance, I actually have a really nice pound cake and get orders for it fairly frequently.

KASCARLETT Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 2:01pm
post #13 of 18

Pound cakes are not drier by nature, denser yes, but not drier, especially if you have a good recipe to begin with. I use pound cakes a lot, even with sheet cakes sometimes and I've always gotten good reviews. I find a lot of people actually prefer them because they are different than what you would normally get in a sheet cake. I guess it really depends on the location too.

cakenovice2010 Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 6:11pm
post #14 of 18

Send a polite note with an apology and an offer for a discount on her next order. Be sincere and sweet and she'll either return for more cake or she won't, but you can say you tried.

It depends what a bad review is worth for you? I use to own a retail store, usually it was much easier to just offer a full refund or replacement than argue with someone and receive a bad review that would haunt our business name for quite some time.

Sometimes things happen,I've seen someone bake a cake from scratch and four of us made the same cake...when theirs was cut and filled it was moist and perfect, after being covered and cut though 24 hours later it was dry and crumbling. It made no sense. Cake accidents happen.

It sucks to say "The customer is always right" because there are definitely some people out looking for a way to get a bargain but usually it's best to just suck it up and refund to save you and her both the headache.

cakecoachonline Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 9:42am
post #15 of 18

I would say that bad news will travel ten times as fast as good news regarding your business. The disgruntled customer will tell more friends she feels aggrieved than she would if she was delighted. So regardless of whether the cake was moist still or was dry, whatever the truth is, the lady has her own opinion - you will have to weigh up the cost of the refund - against the cost of the possible damage that a customer with a nasty attitude could do to your business! It's a tough one - but also a good list of terms and conditions on the back of a signed order form would help your position.

sweetmandie Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 4:57am
post #16 of 18

Yes, Ms Camera cake lady did leave her bad reviews even after I told her that we would make her another special order cake for free. Oddly when she posted her comments she did not state that she failed to pick up her cake until 34 hours past the agree upon pick up time.

As for the comments I know that the cake was fresh and cooked well. When it was ready for delivery it was perfect. I use pound cake for sculpted cakes because it has a tighter crumb and holds up well under the knife. I also know that from scratch pound cake, that has been carved, and is 2+ days old is not going to do well. Oh well lesson learned. Now there is a clause in our contract stating that pickup times will be followed or we are not responsible for the condition of the cake.

CupQuequito Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 5:25am
post #17 of 18

Now that you know she went ahead and make that comment, wherever it was; you can comment back. First apologize, publicly. Then let everyone know that she a) didn't pick up the cake, per contract date, b) what you did to try to fix the situation and c) she 'declined' your offers.

If it was on FB, I'd tag her in the photo, and that way, others (her friends) can see your response.

The nice thing about Yelp, is that you can leave a comment there, too. And your quick response will show dedication to your business.

JanH Posted 10 Jul 2011 , 5:38am
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesdivine

Why are you making pound cakes? By nature pound cakes are dryer and much more dense than the typical cakes people associate with a custom cake. As a customer I would have been upset to get a pound cake instead of a light, fluffy regular cake. And yes scratch cakes are typically dryer than a box cake due to the butter solids creating a larger crumb, but pound cake has a totally different texture and moisture profile.

Now if the customer specifically asked for a pound cake then ok, but who actually does that for a custom cake?




Quote:
Originally Posted by KASCARLETT

Pound cakes are not drier by nature, denser yes, but not drier, especially if you have a good recipe to begin with. I use pound cakes a lot, even with sheet cakes sometimes and I've always gotten good reviews. I find a lot of people actually prefer them because they are different than what you would normally get in a sheet cake. I guess it really depends on the location too.




I'm a fool for a good pound cake, it's my most favorite type of cake. And the ones I make are delicious: moist with a tender and fine crumb. The recipes I prefer contain cake flour, butter, cream cheese or whipping cream.

However, when I make pound cake for my twin sister, I have to use AP flour. She just prefers the larger/more open crumb that flour creates. icon_lol.gif

HTH

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