You Know When You Have A Gut Feeling About A Customer...

Business By bellaudreycakes Updated 10 Aug 2011 , 6:06am by Mamasan

bellaudreycakes Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 5:50pm
post #1 of 29

I had a customer come in to my store and order a wedding cake, the groom actually found the place and really had more to say about the cake than the bride, which was a bit unusual but who knows maybe he likes cake. So they give me a picture of the cake they like, and they pick out one of my cake models (which is in my pics, the 4 tier fondant with purple ribbon and flowers), ok sounds good, they were providing me with the real flowers, topper and the ribbon they wanted to use.

The week of the wedding they come in to pay remaining balance give me the ribbon, which was not enough to cover all tiers, and told me they would bring me the real flowers the day before or leave them at the reception. The day before they did not show up, so I figured they would leave them at the reception. The ribbon they gave me was barely enough to cover all tiers, the blue I had to cut so it just barley went around the layers and with that black I had to actually go to store and luckily they had that, and bought more. I ususally put a piece of double sided tape to attach the ribbon together in the back but with the skinny black ribbon I had to put a piece of tape on top to keep them together, no big deal, figured I would have flowers to cover any tape showing.

so we get to the reception and there are no flowers to be found, we ask the family members there and they try to get ahold of the groom, he comes and says they had no flowers to put on, in the meanwhile we had flound some left over artificial flowers and went ahead and put them on the cake so it had something on it, there were only 4 of them so we put the back of the cake where the tape was showing to the wall where no body could see, the groom said it looked good but the look on his face made me think he was not happy, even after he and his friend said the cake looked great along with another family member walking by. So my helper and I asked him once again, are you sure everything looks ok? he said yes, so we left but I had this gut feeling like it wasn't, so I wait all weekend thinking I will get an email or something, nothing, I come in Tuesday morn, we are closed sun and mon, and I have a msg from him left on saturday saying he wasn't happy with the cake and it "didn't look professional" not like they cake they had looked at ( the purple cake model)and they would be in Monday to talk about it.

I am so confused on what to do now, I posted a pic in my pictures, its the one with teil and black ribbon. I tried to call both him and the bride today but got their voicemails, so I left a msg, I know the bride seen her msg because her son must have been playing with her phone and she actually called us back but it was her little kid on the phone and she picked up and said sorry my son was playing with my phone and hung up, so I know she is not on a honey moon or anything. Its almost 2pm and we called this morning and have heard nothing, I know they will be in because they still have our cake stand they rented, I just don't feel like we owe them a refund when the groom was there saying the cake looked good, and obviously it got eaten, they didn't return it, but it makes me sick to think a customer is dissatisfied.

Has anyone else been through something like this, what is a good way to rectifiy the situation?

Sorry so long

28 replies
m_willford Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:25pm
post #2 of 29

Okay, I understand that they didn't leave enough ribbon for you and that there weren't any flowers. But just looking through your photos... and if the purple cake was what they thought they were getting but with teal and black ribbon and different flowers?

On your purple cake, the edges are crisp and the ribbon is smooth. But their teal/ black cake has bulging sides, rounded edges, and the ribbon is all squinched up. That's probably why they aren't happy. You can let them know about the flower and ribbon situation, that wasn't your fault that they didn't provide what they said they would and you had to work with what you were given. But the backdrop of cake wasn't the same as the picture they had seen.

I'd offer a small discount on a future cake, a free anniversary cake, or small refund if you are concerned about keeping them happy.

KoryAK Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:28pm
post #3 of 29

I'm not gonna lie to you, hon. If I saw something like your "purple wedding cake" as an example and received the "blue wedding cake" quality, I wouldn't be happy either. The ribbon isn't on the cake smoothly, it looks wrinkly and there are a few bulges (see right side of top tier) where it almost looks like the ribbon was cinched and the cake poofed out. Some of the cakes in your photos look great, and some seem to be of the caliber of the wedding cake in question or worse. I know this must be a huge blow to your ego but weddings are a BIG DEAL and you need to make sure your skills are up to par before you venture into that world.

I don't think that the problems the couple are going to point out will have anything to do with the ribbon they brought you or the flowers. (in the future, provide the ribbon yourself or let them know exactly how much you will need - and then some - and I always insist on getting the flowers the day before the wedding cause I have played that game too many times! icon_smile.gif ). I also don't think it's unreasonable that they served the cake unless they want to argue flavor and that it was inedible. Conservatively, a wedding cake is 50% looks and 50% flavor so you could refund based on that (see what they would like as compensation first)

CalhounsCakery Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:31pm
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_willford

Okay, I understand that they didn't leave enough ribbon for you and that there weren't any flowers. But just looking through your photos... and if the purple cake was what they thought they were getting but with teal and black ribbon and different flowers?

On your purple cake, the edges are crisp and the ribbon is smooth. But their teal/ black cake has bulging sides, rounded edges, and the ribbon is all squinched up. That's probably why they aren't happy. You can let them know about the flower and ribbon situation, that wasn't your fault that they didn't provide what they said they would and you had to work with what you were given. But the backdrop of cake wasn't the same as the picture they had seen.

I'd offer a small discount on a future cake, a free anniversary cake, or small refund if you are concerned about keeping them happy.




I agree. They wern't quite the same as far as the edges go. A small discount or free cake is what I would (and have) done. Sometimes, cakes just don't work the way we hope they will... Good luck with them icon_smile.gif

mariacakestoo Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:33pm
post #5 of 29

Those two cakes are night and day difference. I would be seriously cheesed if I were them. Is that purple one a dummy?

carmijok Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:49pm
post #6 of 29

You probably had better be prepared to make some kind of refund, or you may not see your stand again.

I agree that there are issues on this cake as opposed to the purple cake. I do agree the groom might have said something at the wedding and at least prepared you for what's about to happen.

Your issues with the ribbon and flowers I understand. But this cake should have been able to stand unadorned and look elegant. I think your purple cake could have. And there is where the problem lies.

Good luck to you and I hope you get this resolved and get your stand back. These people sound a little scatterbrained to say the least.

mariacakestoo Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 6:50pm
post #7 of 29

Purple cake a dummy?

bellaudreycakes Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 7:06pm
post #8 of 29

yes the purple cake was a dummy cake which they knew that and the picture they gave me looks just like the cake I did, the fondant is smooth but the edges are not real crisp more rounded and that was what she wanted me to go off of, they just referred to the dummy cake as the product they had seen in my store. I wish I could post a pic of the cake she gave me but I can't find the email right now. Maybe I will just give them a discount off a future cake, if they ever call us back. Thanks for the constructive critism, ones that were constructive anyway and not plain mean.

cakestyles Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 8:35pm
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellaudreycakes


Has anyone else been through something like this, what is a good way to rectifiy the situation?





No, I've never had this situation, but you asked what a good way to rectify the situation would be?

In my opinion, you need to refund a portion of the price of the cake. I agree with the other post that 50% of the cake is visual and the other 50% is taste.

Assuming they served the cake (and it sounds like they did) and if their complaint is only about the appearance and not about the actual taste of the cake, than you owe them some sort of refund. (50%)

I'm not saying this to be mean I'm being honest, I would want you guys to be honest with me if/when I'm ever in this same situation....the 2 cake pictures side by side aren't equal. They were expecting the quality to be similar to the purple dummy cake, right?


Sorry you are going through this. I also hope you get your silver plateau back because those things are expensive.

I edited because I want to make sure my post is strictly professional and not an attack...I hope you take it the way I meant it.

AnnieCahill Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 8:57pm
post #10 of 29

I'm sorry you are going through this too. No matter what the situation, it sucks to hear that you disappointed someone on such a special day. It seems that sometimes when we do our best everything works against us. That's why with wedding cakes you have to practice as much as you can!

I agree with the 50% refund and a free cake voucher.

Not sure if you are looking for help, but if you are, may I recommend Perfecting the Art of Buttercream by Sharon Zambito (sugarshack). I just bought it and even though I've been decorating for 12 years I have gotten a lot out of the video and it has helped me tremendously.

I noticed that you are experiencing some bulges where your filling is (looked at your damask cake as well). In the DVD I recommended Sharon addresses that issue and shows you a good technique to prevent that. She also has a fondant DVD which I do not have but I have heard great things about it from other decorators.

Overall, you do a great job with your designs. A little more practice and you will be great in no time. Keep your chin up and keep decorating!

bakerliz Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 9:07pm
post #11 of 29

I wish you the best. I do not think that the quality of this cake equaled the quality of the sample, because of that, I would give a partial refund and perhaps a complimentary anniversary cake. I hope this works out well and is a good learning experience for you.

mariacakestoo Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 9:34pm
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by bellaudreycakes

he wasn't happy with the cake and it "didn't look professional" not like they cake they had looked at ( the purple cake model)and they would be in Monday to talk about it.


Sorry if my comment was a bit harsh. However, to save face, and salvage your reputation, and just be right with the cake Gods everywhere (that we all depend on) please do not argue that with him, because he is 100% correct.

xoxoemilyrae Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 9:34pm
post #13 of 29

I don't do wedding cakes because I just don't think my skill is there yet. I'll do wedding cupcakes, but then I believe I'm really good at them.

But, if I was expecting Cake Purple and got Cake Blue, I would be upset. If she showed you Cake C and Cake Blue's edges looked like Cake C, it's the brides fault for not specifying she wanted Cake Purple's edges, but Cake C's overall look. But really, I'd have to see Cake C's picture before I could really criticize or not criticize the cake.

I don't know what to say in regards to compensation. Because while others are saying a cake is 50% look and 50% taste, I disagree. Just because I served the cake at MY WEDDING doesn't mean I was satisfied. You have to serve something. A bride cannot not serve a cake. (If that made sense) Even if she liked the taste of it, since she thought it looked "bad," it quite possibly ruined her day. Cakes are 99% of the time, the centerpiece of a reception. If I was the bride, I wouldn't want an offer of a free cake in the future because if my wedding cake was wrong then why would I ever trust that another cake would be right?

And again, I'm not being mean. I'm just offering my opinion. This is why I don't ever use dummy cakes. Because I simply cannot offer dummy cake looks on a real cake. Because hello, real cakes just dont have hard solid edges like a dummy cake.

Ashleyssweetdesigns Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 9:40pm
post #14 of 29

I have to start out by saying I feel bad for you I really do but just by looking at the photos of the two cakes side by side it looks like two different people produced those cakes. If she wanted the rounded edges then she shouldn't be complaining about that however the sides of the cake look like there bulging out too much. The ribbon looks like its squeezing the cake.

With that being said. I dealt with an unhappy customer not too long ago and I remember the stomachache I had. Im pretty sure I lost that customer but its okay because she was so unreasonable but if I cared about keeping her business I def would of provided her with a new cake or a discount. Don't be too hard on yourself.

OhMyGanache Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 10:05pm
post #15 of 29

There is a difference in quality, but I think it's magnified by the bad photo - the bulges on top look worse than they are because the background creates a bit of an optical illusion. I do think a small refund is in order, but nowhere near the 50% mark. I would likely offer 10% cash refund and a 20% discount on a future order, so you have the chance to make them happy in the future.

mariacakestoo Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 10:07pm
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by OhMyGanache

There is a difference in quality, but I think it's magnified by the bad photo - the bulges on top look worse than they are because the background creates a bit of an optical illusion. I do think a small refund is in order, but nowhere near the 50% mark. I would likely offer 10% cash refund and a 20% discount on a future order, so you have the chance to make them happy in the future.


I think by comparing the other tiered cakes that aren't dummies, it's not a far stretch to see that it is off the mark, and it has nothing to do with the photo. Just need some practice before offering wedding cakes.

bakingatthebeach Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 10:46pm
post #17 of 29

I had to read all the responses again to see if there was any mean spiritness (and I have read alot of mean on this site lately) and I think everyone was just being honest and trying to give you good advice. Ive been into cake decorating for 23 years and only did my first wedding cake in fondant this year, thats after lots of practice on birthday cakes. My friends would want me to do their wedding cakes in fondant and I would tell them that was a big H to the no!!! Not til I got it down pat. With birthday cakes I could cover up flaws with stuff. When I was able to cover a birthday cake with no ripples at the bottom or tears, I braved the white fondant wedding cake with blue draping. Now I think its easier than smoothing buttercream! But I did see the pics prior to their removal and I agree that a partial refund is in order. Another thing, I dont use tape as a backing when the ribbon is going on fondant, that might help with the rippling on your ribbon.

OhMyGanache Posted 9 Aug 2011 , 11:13pm
post #18 of 29

I didn't see any mean responses either. Critical? Yes - but isn't that what you asked for? Honest opinions?

I do think the bad photo perhaps made some think the cake looked worse than it actually did. A photo from a different angle or with the background removed would have probably helped.

sadsmile Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 12:31am
post #19 of 29

You covered the dummy/display cake neatly, but handling cake is a bit different. They saw the display and then got something not as nice. They really aren't comparable. The finish of the display cake is quite misleading as compared to where your skills are at with decorating real cake.

So then to the customer the display cakes you have done are not an accurate depiction of what you can/did produce in real product.

Practice, practice, practice.

Until your skill level with actual cake compares to the dummies you can do, I would suggest only using pictures of cake you have done as a true representation of your work and what you can offer, to show to customers to avoid future issues just like this one.

MamaMia808 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 1:38am
post #20 of 29

I don't see the picture. Is it the blue and white one?

cakestyles Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 2:19am
post #21 of 29

Unfortunately the OP deleted the photo of the cake in question.

QTCakes1 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 2:19am
post #22 of 29

I don't either. I do think people were just being honest, not mean. I do think you should give 50% back. This is not just any cake, but a wedding cake. Also, practice does make perfect. I have seen sharp fondant edges on a cake, as sharp as a dummy cakes edges. Don't give up.

love2makecakes Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 2:55am
post #23 of 29

I really hate when people ask for advice, but then do not like the advice and decide to forget they asked... I also hate when one deletes cakes in question.

Oh well, I've done cakes I have not been so proud of in the past too... I think that making wedding cakes is a huge responsibility, we have one shot to make them a tasty and beautifully decorated cake. With that adds a lot of pressure, I get worked up before and after every wedding I do from the shear stress of making someone happy.

Chin up.

m_willford Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 3:20am
post #24 of 29

See, now I feel bad because I was the first one to comment on her question. I hope you, OP, don't think I was being overly critical. I'm not perfect myself, my edges aren't perfectly crisp and whatnot. I wasn't talking about a 50% refund or anything...

I do think your stand is gorgeous though! I need to build up some inventory of awesome stands to rent out, that would really up the quality of my cakes. Sorry you felt the need to delete the picture of the cake, although it looks like you deleted some others as well. icon_sad.gif

gatorcake Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 3:21am
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by love2makecakes

I also hate when one deletes cakes in question.
p.




Really what's the point? Why do you have such a intense reaction to this? (Hate is a fairly strong emotion). The OP received more than enough comments about the quality of the work--why do you feel you need see the pictures to?

They were only put up there to give others an idea of what the cake was like so they could offer advice. The advice has been given, the same point has been made by more than one person. There is simply no reason for the OP to keep the pictures up just to satisfy the curiosity of others who came to the thread late. There is no unwritten rule that the author of a thread has to leave their pics as long as someone on the forum wants to look at them.

And yes I was interested in seeing what people were talking about and the pics were being taken down as I was reading through the thread so I did not see them.

southerncross Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 3:33am
post #26 of 29

I didn't see the cake in question but I don't ever think it's a good idea to use a dummy cake as an example of your work. Dummy cakes are a great way to practice decorating techniques but unless you are really really accomplished, it will look different than a real cake.

scp1127 Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 3:54am
post #27 of 29

I spent time trying to figure out which cake it is only to find it deleted?????
That is a waste of our time.

I just want to point out that what a customer says during the event is not somthing that should be used against them later. Few people, including me, want to debate quality when there is nothing that can be done. They have an event to oversee. But if it were me, you would hear from me later.

olleharr Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 4:12am
post #28 of 29

I agree with scp1127. I'm sure the groom did not want to show his dispeasure on such a very important day. He was probably just trying keep his special day as stressfree as possible for both himself, bride and guests. That was not the time to argue about cake. Discussing it afterwards is a better option than creating a scene.

I'm real sorry things went so wrong with this cake. I'm still a nervous wreck every time I make a wedding cake so I have made very few. Things can go wrong so easily and it can be devastating for both the couple and the baker. I wish you the best of luck in resolving such a tough situation.

Mamasan Posted 10 Aug 2011 , 6:06am
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Quote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorcake

Quote:
Originally Posted by love2makecakes

I also hate when one deletes cakes in question.
p.



Really what's the point? Why do you have such a intense reaction to this? (Hate is a fairly strong emotion). The OP received more than enough comments about the quality of the work--why do you feel you need see the pictures to?



Because the OP stated: they pick out one of my cake models (which is in my pics, the 4 tier fondant with purple ribbon and flowers),

I have a msg from him left on saturday saying he wasn't happy with the cake and it "didn't look professional" not like they cake they had looked at ( the purple cake model) and they would be in Monday to talk about it.
I am so confused on what to do now, I posted a pic in my pictures, its the one with teil and black ribbon.
Has anyone else been through something like this, what is a good way to rectifiy the situation?


They were only put up there to give others an idea of what the cake was like so they could offer advice. The advice has been given, the same point has been made by more than one person. There is simply no reason for the OP to keep the pictures up just to satisfy the curiosity of others who came to the thread late. There is no unwritten rule that the author of a thread has to leave their pics as long as someone on the forum wants to look at them.

And yes I was interested in seeing what people were talking about and the pics were being taken down as I was reading through the thread so I did not see them.



Why were you interested in seeing the pictures if the question had been answered, several times, by others?

Is there really a need to debate over using the word hate? The OP specifically posted both pics looking for advice so why take them down now?

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