Advise? Unhappy Customer!

Decorating By EE149 Updated 26 Jul 2011 , 7:46am by EE149

EE149 Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 4:42pm
post #1 of 20

This is my very first post to Cake Central, althought I have been snooping through everyone's pictures and posts for the last few months! My question reguards a customer I who complained about her cake. This is my first complain EVER and I have a knot in my stomach over what to do about it. I figured if I had to ask anyone...this is where I should go!

I was referred to this lady as a friend of a friend to complete her wedding cake. She wanted a 3 tier buttercream cake, with each layer around 6 inches tall. She requested raspberry and lemon filling. For decorations she wanted gumpaste roses and smaller gumpaste flowers to surround the roses. I thought it sounded perfect, and told her I would include delivery in the price. We discussed the delivery time and when I would arrive to set it up. I recommended 7:15, as they would be arriving to the reception hall around 7:45 to 8ish. The weather report was saying it was going to be 90 degrees and the idea of a cake sitting out in an not air conditioned hall was scary to me. She called me the next day and told me they needed me there at 6:20 to set up the cake because the close delivery time made them nervous and she thought they might be there early. I told her that if that's what she wanted then I could accomodate that.


Fast forward to arrival day...I get there at 6:20 and set up the cake exactly how she wanted it. I had put wires on each flower to give them stability. I get a phone call the next day asking me if I needed the cake stand back or any of the stacking plates. I of course asked her how the cake was, and she said she was "disappointed" because when they arrived at the reception hall at 8 (an hour and half after set up) a few of the flowers had slid off and some of the frosting was melty. I apologized my butt off and told her that I probably should have put the cake in the fridge until around 7:30 and then set it up.

What do I do??? Do I need to offer her a refund or a discount on her next cake? I feel horrible, but at the same time I had recommended a later set up time due to the heat, so I feel like I attempted to hold off disaster! I have had a yucky feeling since yesterday, and I really would LOVE some advice on what my next step is!

Thank you!!!

19 replies
Kiddiekakes Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 4:49pm
post #2 of 20

Well sometimes people just don't understand that a cake which is perishable cannot be left out in extreme heat etc..I'm sure the cake was still presentable and of course I'm sure they consumed it..That being said....You did what you could..you apologized etc but I would also add that you had suggested a later setup time for the reasons that were mentioned.I would not offer a refund...She knew the cake could possibly melt when you expained it to her...It doesn't sound like she is expecting a refund but admitting you were right in her disappointment...Offer another apology but please...do not run to give back money...Everyone always says to do this but I firmy believe when it is not your fault/doing...why should you have to take the loss...Maybe offer a small free anniversary cake or something.

jenmat Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:05pm
post #3 of 20

Well, it sounds like a learning lesson to me. It wasn't a disaster, and you did try to make it work for both them AND the cake.
Why wasn't the hall air conditioned? That just seems odd. What type of buttercream did you use? Was the cake refrigerated prior to delivery?
I'm so sorry this happened to you, but as a learning experience, you have now learned that YOU are the expert and YOU should dictate how the cake should be handled.
A few cupcakes, an anniversary cake, some small gesture would be nice, but do NOT beat yourself up forever and a day about it.

carmijok Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:14pm
post #4 of 20

Agreed. Do not beat yourself up. I can't imagine attending a wedding with lots of people in an un-airconditioned environment! Yuck! This is why I always deliver a very cold cake when I know it's going to be several hours before it's cut.

That being said you've learned what to do if faced with this situation again, so it's a good thing in the long run. I would have told the bride when she said the flowers had slid down 'I was afraid that might happen, that's why I wanted to deliver it later' just to remind her that you told her what might occur. But beyond that, you certainly have nothing to beat yourself up about.

I agree maybe offering her a free anniversary tier might be a nice thing to do--as long as you offer it as a gift and not a reimbursement for something you did wrong...because you did nothing wrong.

bakerliz Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:24pm
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiddiekakes

Offer another apology but please...do not run to give back money...Everyone always says to do this but I firmy believe when it is not your fault/doing...why should you have to take the loss...Maybe offer a small free anniversary cake or something.




I have to agree, you should have told her about the issues with the heat, but you did deliver a good cake, that they served to their guests. If I was the customer, an explanation, an apology, and an anniversary cake would keep my business icon_smile.gif

Cakeuhlicious Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:26pm
post #6 of 20

One of the best peices of advice passed around here is to remember that once you deliver the cake, it is no longer your responsibility. You recommended the appropriate delivery time and she chose not to go with your recommendations, which is her right as the paying customer. But, she got what she got because of it. That is no ones fault but her own. You are not a cake babysitter (unless she'd like to pay you the proper wage icon_biggrin.gif).

Since you have already apologized, I would probably call/email her back and let her know that to ensure an incident like that doesn't happen again, you're instituting a new delivery policy and that you'd like to offer her a small discount on her next cake (5-10%). You certainly don't OWE her anything, but this is a good way to let her know your recommendations are there for a reason and may help with her 'disappointment', to encourage her to order from you again and continue to provide positive word of mouth references.

If/when she orders from you again, it will be the perfect time to let her know your new stance on delivery to ensure the best cake presentation possible for her event.

aprilismaius Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:33pm
post #7 of 20

I can totally understand how it may not have been air conditioned! The power was out at the venue I delivered to on Friday. No power, no air conditioning, 96 degrees F. Horrible. We can't control acts of G-d and you did warn her. Apologize profusely for her misfortune. I don't think I'd offer a discount.

AnotherCaker Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:36pm
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by EE149

She called me the next day and told me they needed me there at 6:20 to set up the cake because the close delivery time made them nervous and she thought they might be there early. I told her that if that's what she wanted then I could accomodate that.




I do not let the client dictate delivery time to me, and especially not in heat like this. Yes, they are paying me, but since they are paying me a lot of money for their cake, I am going to insist that they let me do my job, and deiver at a proper time to ensure their money does not go to waste.

No, the customer is not always right, and does not get to dictate everything. It's 100 degrees + here now, and I tell them when I will bring their cake, which will be as late as possible, but before any guests show up. There's a lot at stake when it comes to heat and cake. And when a bride's money is mixed in there too, you need to set some rules. Your rules.

AnotherCaker Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:41pm
post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilismaius

I can totally understand how it may not have been air conditioned! The power was out at the venue I delivered to on Friday. No power, no air conditioning, 96 degrees F. Horrible. We can't control acts of G-d and you did warn her. Apologize profusely for her misfortune. I don't think I'd offer a discount.




Not knowing the specifics of what you did with the cake, in that situation I would have returned to base camp and cooled the cake off until I could find someone to get that air on. My reputation is worth the gasoline and two trips and some phone calls rather than...oh well, not my problem.

Ivy383 Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:55pm
post #10 of 20

Hi,

I only bake for my friends and family. I don't like to bake in the summer for the same reasons... HEAT icon_sad.gif I came across a video and I showed it to a friend who wanted me to make her a cake for next weekend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGB99v-7Yec&feature=player_embedded After the video she did not ask me again. lol I would offer some of the money back and take it as a lesson learned. People order cakes with pretty ideas in mind. It is the bakers job to inform them and bring them back to the reality of the cake world. Extreme heat and buttercream will never fall in love...It's like a bad blind date! lol icon_biggrin.gif

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGB99v-7Yec&feature=player_embedded

MikeRowesHunny Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 5:59pm
post #11 of 20

I would have shown her this (and recommend you show all future crazy summer brides this too!):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGB99v-7Yec&feature=player_embedded

It says it all.

FullHouse Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 6:07pm
post #12 of 20

Thanks for sharing that link! Love it! I teach Wilton and just posted it to my class Facebook page for my students. I can't count how many students have left their class icing in their parked car while going on errands or at work then wind up having to buy some Wilton icing just to use during class. Icing + heat certainly do not mix.

costumeczar Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 6:08pm
post #13 of 20

I have written in my contract that regardless of whether the cake is inside or outside, the bride is responsible for providing a climate-controlled area for it at 72 degrees. I also refuse to do buttercream cakes for outdoor weddings in the summer. If they want a melted cake they can get it from someone else.

Personally, if it was that hot I would have asked to leave it inside until closer to the time and have them move it out. If they didn't want to move it then they shouldn't be telling you when to bring it. Just remember that people are stupid when it comes to heat and buttercream, and stand up for yourself next time!

Ashleyssweetdesigns Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 6:09pm
post #14 of 20

You did the right thing. You voiced your concern about showing up to early. Ultimately the customer is always right so if she asked you to be there early you cant say no. I don't do buttercream cakes if its an outside summer wedding or especially if the hall is not air conditioned. Also I don't do gumpaste flowers on buttercream cakes I only use real flowers. Do not give her any money back!!! You made a cake that her and her guests enjoyed.

AnotherCaker Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 6:12pm
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashleyssweetdesigns

Ultimately the customer is always right so if she asked you to be there early you cant say no.



No, I'm sorry. This is where you as the professional politely explain that you need to do it another way. I'm really appalled at some of the replies on topics like these lately. It is really ok to tell a customer that they need to trust you on some things, even if they go against what the customer wants.

costumeczar Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 7:08pm
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashleyssweetdesigns

Ultimately the customer is always right so if she asked you to be there early you cant say no. .




I have to disagree with this too!!!

"The customer is always right" is an expression that isn't literal. Sometimes we, as the people who know better based on experience, are right and the customer is wrong, and if they hire us they're paying for our expertise along with the product that they're buying. Sometimes our expertise will require us to say "no" if things that the customer wants are not in their best interest.

pinkpiggie78 Posted 25 Jul 2011 , 7:26pm
post #17 of 20

Definitely take this as a learning experience! I delivered a fondant cake this week to an outside venue this past weekend where it was in the upper 90's with a heat index in the upper 110's. The bride contacted me earlier in the week stating that the owner of the venue said the agreed upon delivery time of 6pm wouldn't work for her and 4:30 would be better. I told the bride hell no... needless to say the cake was delivered after the rain and just in time for all the guests to get dinner and see the cake.

Ruth0209 Posted 26 Jul 2011 , 4:32am
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashleyssweetdesigns

Ultimately the customer is always right so if she asked you to be there early you cant say no. .



I have to disagree with this too!!!

"The customer is always right" is an expression that isn't literal. Sometimes we, as the people who know better based on experience, are right and the customer is wrong, and if they hire us they're paying for our expertise along with the product that they're buying. Sometimes our expertise will require us to say "no" if things that the customer wants are not in their best interest.




Absolutely! The customer pays for my expertise in all aspects of the cake she's buying, which includes things like its construction and when and where it needs to be set up.

If I get to a venue and I don't like the place they've designated for the cake, I simply refuse to put it there until it's fixed. If someone asks me to deliver the cake sooner than it should be outside, I just tell them it can't happen and why not. That's part of the total service you provide when you do custom cakes.

johnson6ofus Posted 26 Jul 2011 , 5:01am
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashleyssweetdesigns

Ultimately the customer is always right so if she asked you to be there early you cant say no. .



I have to disagree with this too!!!

"The customer is always right" is an expression that isn't literal. Sometimes we, as the people who know better based on experience, are right and the customer is wrong, and if they hire us they're paying for our expertise along with the product that they're buying. Sometimes our expertise will require us to say "no" if things that the customer wants are not in their best interest.



Absolutely! The customer pays for my expertise in all aspects of the cake she's buying, which includes things like its construction and when and where it needs to be set up.

If I get to a venue and I don't like the place they've designated for the cake, I simply refuse to put it there until it's fixed. If someone asks me to deliver the cake sooner than it should be outside, I just tell them it can't happen and why not. That's part of the total service you provide when you do custom cakes.




Right on ladies! thumbs_up.gif

A bimbo giving birth in the next bed from me was refusing a C-section. Doctor tried the "I'm the pro" pitch. No dice. The AMA (against medical advice) form came out (the baby could die) and only when GRANDMA screamed did the mom sign a surgical consent.

With food, not every guest signs off (on delivery times), and you are providing a product (think reputation here) for them all.

With the miserable heat this summer, many should understand....

EE149 Posted 26 Jul 2011 , 7:46am
post #20 of 20

Thank you so much for the words of wisdom from everyone! This was a BIG learning experience for me, and like many of you suggested, I will stick up for my recommended delivery time in the future. Also, I LOVED the link that Ivy383 posted...what an eye opener!

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