First Complaint- Feel Sick!

Business By LoveMeSomeCake615 Updated 18 Aug 2011 , 6:27pm by jules5000

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 6:59pm
post #1 of 44

We just got an email back from a customer who was not happy with the cake we made for her on Saturday. Below is the email she sent. What should we do? She didn't ask for a refund, but I'm wondering if we should offer her one?
I feel horrible! icon_cry.gif

"I'm sorry to say but I was very dissatisfied with my cake I thought the decorating was good it was bumped a little on the dots for some reason it did not come in a box which I find unusual. The cake it's self was very dry and lite in color for a red velvet cake, which should be deep red devils food in color, it's almost like you forgot an ingredient in the cake when you made it.
I wish this wasn't the case was looking forward to using you several times for other occasions. I 'm just not happy with the taste."

43 replies
Price Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:05pm
post #2 of 44

I have seen red velvet in all different shades of red depending on the recipe. As far as being dry - did you level the cake and taste what you trimmed off, if so, did you think it was dry? If you feel like you want to give her something maybe offer a small percentage off of her next order, but I don't think I would give her a refund.

Eisskween Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:06pm
post #3 of 44

If she didn't ask for a refund, the cake must've been eaten, but just did not appeal to her palate. Regardless of what did or did not happen to the cake, good customer service dictates to try and make things right. I made an error a couple of years ago on a birthday cake (actually it was a typo in the email on the customer's part on the child's age, but hey.) Anyway, I apologized profusely and offered her 50% off on her next cake and took full responsibility. Two years later, she's still a regular customer.

Stuff happens, the difference is, the way we handle the situation. Of course, it's up to you. However, she did say she was looking forward to using you again; so it might be a good idea. icon_biggrin.gif

Marianna46 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:12pm
post #4 of 44

I know this can be a kick in the stomach, especially if this is your first complaint. You try so hard to please each and every one of your clients, but it's not always possible. Of course, you want to ask yourself whether the complaint was justified or not - not so that you can answer her, but just as a check to see if there's any way you could improve your cakes in the future.

If you're convinced that the cake was indeed moist and up to your standards, you'll just have to chalk it up to experience and realize there's no accounting for taste (or lack thereof). She's not asking for a refund, so I wouldn't offer one.

If you're interested in keeping her as a client, you might offer her a coupon for a free 6" cake in that or another flavor with a nice note saying you value her as a customer and you're sorry she wasn't happy with her cake. That way she can see that you're doing your best to please her. Otherwise, take a deep breath, count to ten, relax and go on to the next one. Sorry it had to happen to you!

Marina Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:14pm
post #5 of 44

To me, red velvet doesn't have a good flavor...I think it's the icing that maybe makes it taste good. Personally, I don't care for it.

jules5000 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:28pm
post #6 of 44

I would try to offer her either a % of the cost of the cake for a refund or like the others suggested offer her another cake(small) for free or a nice %off coupon for another cake and apologize again that you are sorry that she didn't like it.

I had a customer a couple of months ago that wrote me a letter and told me she was so dissappointed in her cake. She made lots of little stabs at it and I was wondering what to do to make it right. I tried to call her and let her know that I would be willing to make a partial refund and I am sorry that she was dissappointed in the cake, but her answering machine cut me off and I did not get to finish my message. After I left the message I could. I realized that there was nothing that was going to make this particular customer happy.

I think that your customer is worth trying to bring back. Mine wasn't because I could tell there was nothing that would make her happy. It is hard to know how to tell those things, but sometimes it is just gut instinct. Sometimes we just have to rely on that instinct. Good luck.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 7:55pm
post #7 of 44

Thanks everyone. I was already having not the greatest day, and this just hit me like a ton of bricks. I think we will email her back, apologize, thank her for bringing it to our attention, and then ask her what we can do to make it right. Of course if she makes an unreasonable demand like a full refund, we won't necessarily do it, but we at least want to show we listened and we care. Does that sound good?

Eisskween Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:02pm
post #8 of 44

I think that shows that not only are you interested in keeping her business, but also that you care about the quality of your product. Sounds excellent. In my experience with customer service, it doesn't exist. That's why I go out of my way to keep my clients happy and in turn, they keep coming back. icon_smile.gif

KarolynAndrea Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:15pm
post #9 of 44

I got a complaint a while back...she said there was an eggshell in the cake (how embarassing) and couldn't believe straws were "baked into the cake". (I told her when I dropped off the cake that there are straws and dowels in there for support, guess she didn't remember that!) She told me she had pictures and would send it to me. She said the cake was a "mess on the inside". So, I apologized and told her I would do a free cake for her next event. She said she was having a benefit the next week and I could make something for that. I was overbooked that week, but I made it work. I feel like it is worth a little time to make them feel better. She emailed me after the benefit and said it was a huge hit. Redemption!

cakestyles Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:18pm
post #10 of 44

Anything within reason to show that you "hear" their complaint and want to make it right will go far.

Whether that be a partial refund on this order or a percentage off of her next or a small free cake in the flavor in question. The point is to leave a positive impact on the client so they'll hopefully order from you again.

Good luck!

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:30pm
post #11 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Price

I have seen red velvet in all different shades of red depending on the recipe. As far as being dry - did you level the cake and taste what you trimmed off, if so, did you think it was dry? If you feel like you want to give her something maybe offer a small percentage off of her next order, but I don't think I would give her a refund.




Sorry, just realized I hadn't answered this! Yes, we did level both layers and tried them. They both seemed fine to us. This one is one of our scratch recipes, so it is more dense than our white or yellow cake, for example. I don't know if maybe she is used to a lighter, fluffier cake? As far as the color goes, like you say I think that just depends on the recipe, but doesn't necessarily effect the taste if it is bright red versus the brown-red some red velvets are.

Annabakescakes Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:37pm
post #12 of 44

She is DEFINITELY only had red velvet from a box. It is moist as all heck, and red as blood, yeck.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:50pm
post #13 of 44

Yeah, I wondered if that might be the case, Annabakescakes. Here is the recipe I used, if anyone wouldn't mind taking a look and tell me if anything seems off about it?

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/grandmother-pauls-red-velvet-cake-recipe/index.html

Other than this though, we have gotten really good reactions to our RV so far. I'm so confused! I hate this, because now I don't know if it was just her personal taste, if I just screwed up this specific cake, or if the recipe just sucks and I need to find a better one???

ShandraB Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 8:52pm
post #14 of 44

I would decide what you are willing to do to make it right instead of asking what she wants. If you ask her what she wants and she says a full refund - you will be in conflict again.

I think the offer of a free 6" dessert cake is a nice idea - and it will give you a chance to win her over on the taste of your cakes.

brenda549 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 9:44pm
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMaster2009

Yeah, I wondered if that might be the case, Annabakescakes. Here is the recipe I used, if anyone wouldn't mind taking a look and tell me if anything seems off about it?

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/grandmother-pauls-red-velvet-cake-recipe/index.html

Other than this though, we have gotten really good reactions to our RV so far. I'm so confused! I hate this, because now I don't know if it was just her personal taste, if I just screwed up this specific cake, or if the recipe just sucks and I need to find a better one???




I started using this recipe for cakes and my own variation of it for cupcakes. I love this recipe because it doesn't feel greasy like the box mix does. It is my most widely requested cake now that I use it.

Most people only know what a box red velvet tastes like.

pastrychef101 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:26pm
post #16 of 44

This sounds like a personal preference regarding box versus scratch rather than you doing something wrong.

I DISAGREE and don't think you should offer any sort of discount or freebie. A scratch red-velvet cake is not dark if your recipe starts with a yellow base, and it is dense. It sounds like your client is used to a box cake (or grocery store) for taste and color and doesn't like scratch...again a personal preference.

Was this a wedding cake or a party cake? Has this client tasted your cakes before? In my opinion, this is no different than going to a restaurant, ordering something from the menu, and not liking the taste of the dish as much as you expected because it doesn't suit your pallet. The restaurant certainly wouldn't give you a refund or a discount on your next meal.

Again, I don't think you should offer any type of discount because the client doesn't like scratch red velvet cake. My first impression was that this is one of those clients that you will never be able to please. I would cut this one loose unless it is someone you want to see is a long-term client.

Otherewise, I suggest focusing on tweaking your scratch recipe or experimenting with a doctored mix.

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:29pm
post #17 of 44

Thanks brenda549! Everyone else who has tried it loves it, and we have had brides order it for their wedding cake after tasting it.

Here's the email we sent in response. I hope it at least communicates that we care:

Dear (name omitted),
We are very sorry that you were dissatisfied with the cake. We appreciate the feedback, and want to improve upon our product in any way we can, as we strive to maintain excellent taste and quality in our products. Was the flavor of the cake okay, or was it just the texture and moisture content that didn't meet your expectations? On many custom cakes we are not able to provide a box because of the size. In this instance the size of the board the cake was on due to the bow, and the height with the graduation hat on top did not allow for use of a box.

We would like to rectify this situation to the best of our ability. What would be an acceptable solution to you? We could give you a complimentary 8 inch cake in the flavor of your choice if you would like. We value all of our customers and would love the opportunity to work with you in the future.

Best Regards,
(Name omitted)

jules5000 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 10:56pm
post #18 of 44

If that doesn't bring your customer back then you really haven't lost a customer. You not only told them that you wanted to come to fix the problem you gave them the opportunity to say what would fix it for them and made a suggestion. Very nice. If she does not respond favorably or with reason to this then you will never be able to please her. God bless.

CakeDiva101 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 11:35pm
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

She is DEFINITELY only had red velvet from a box. It is moist as all heck, and red as blood, yeck.




I don't know what kind of red velvet cakes the client had before but I don't use box cakes and my red velvet are moist and very red. So don't assume because a cake is moist and very red that it is from a box. thumbs_up.gif

CakeDiva101 Posted 14 Aug 2011 , 11:43pm
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMaster2009

Thanks brenda549! Everyone else who has tried it loves it, and we have had brides order it for their wedding cake after tasting it.

Here's the email we sent in response. I hope it at least communicates that we care:

Dear (name omitted),
We are very sorry that you were dissatisfied with the cake. We appreciate the feedback, and want to improve upon our product in any way we can, as we strive to maintain excellent taste and quality in our products. Was the flavor of the cake okay, or was it just the texture and moisture content that didn't meet your expectations? On many custom cakes we are not able to provide a box because of the size. In this instance the size of the board the cake was on due to the bow, and the height with the graduation hat on top
did not allow for use of a box.

I think this is a very professional response. Shows you care. I like the fact you are asking her opinion. Many people don't want to hear it but that is how we learn and grow. You are the baker and you tasted your cake before you sent it out so I don't know what to tell you other that different people have different taste.

P.s. I'm sending this from my iPad so this message may be in between your message.

We would like to rectify this situation to the best of our ability. What would be an acceptable solution to you? We could give you a complimentary 8 inch cake in the flavor of your choice if you would like. We value all of our customers and would love the opportunity to work with you in the future.

Best Regards,
(Name omitted)


thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

lutie Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 12:36am
post #21 of 44

...after reading the reviews on Food Network of PD's recipe, I decided to look elsewhere and found the best one ever right here...I love (as do all my clients) the one I found here on Cake Central several years ago...it has become a great 'referral cake'...every time someone eats it, I get fabulous referrals!

http://cakecentral.com/recipes/7366/chef-stefs-southern-red-velvet-cake

gatorcake Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 1:04am
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeDiva101

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

She is DEFINITELY only had red velvet from a box. It is moist as all heck, and red as blood, yeck.



I don't know what kind of red velvet cakes the client had before but I don't use box cakes and my red velvet are moist and very red. So don't assume because a cake is moist and very red that it is from a box. thumbs_up.gif




thumbs_up.gif

scp1127 Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 1:33am
post #23 of 44

Your cakes must taste good to the general public. If they like the ingredients or the flavor, then you have an obligation to deliver a good cake that is satisfactory to the public.

And I totally disagree about people who don't like scratch cakes because they are used to box. People don't like bad scratch cakes. I have never had mine compared to a box.

I have a total satisfaction policy. When someone spends a premium price for a cake and it isn't good, you will never get that customer back and they will tell people that your cakes are not good and your customer service is bad. You will lose this one on so many levels.

I have had many cakes in my life at events and most are not that great. Prices of cakes are up and the quality needs to match that premium price.

There are plenty of people offering cake... more every day. The product must be at a higher level of quality due to the added competition.

Darthburn Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 2:11am
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lutie

...after reading the reviews on Food Network of PD's recipe, I decided to look elsewhere and found the best one ever right here...I love (as do all my clients) the one I found here on Cake Central several years ago...it has become a great 'referral cake'...every time someone eats it, I get fabulous referrals!

http://cakecentral.com/recipes/7366/chef-stefs-southern-red-velvet-cake




This is the recipe I use. In fact I just used it for a cake I made Saturday. There is no chance of this one coming out too dry.... I even asked in a thread about anyone having issues with this particular recipe being too oily. I changed it to 1 cup of oil and 1 T of cocoa powder. And the colors did vary... one cake was brighter red, while the others were darker.
Sorry I know that was off topic.... I'm just excited to have something to write! icon_smile.gif

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 3:35am
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darthburn


This is the recipe I use. In fact I just used it for a cake I made Saturday. There is no chance of this one coming out too dry.... I even asked in a thread about anyone having issues with this particular recipe being too oily. I changed it to 1 cup of oil and 1 T of cocoa powder. And the colors did vary... one cake was brighter red, while the others were darker.
Sorry I know that was off topic.... I'm just excited to have something to write! icon_smile.gif




Not off topic, really! I appreciate the feedback on another recipe, I will have to try this one! I definitely plan to do some experimenting. thumbs_up.gif

She emailed back and said she would like to try another flavor! So yay for that! icon_biggrin.gif

cakestyles Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 12:14pm
post #26 of 44

If you've gotten good reviews from your client's in the past about your RV cake and you're happy with it, I wouldn't necessarily change what you're doing because of one customer not liking it.

I personally don't like RV cake...never have, never will. It's just not my thing. Maybe that's the case with this lady. It's not for everyone.


I'm happy she's open to your suggestion of another cake.

QTCakes1 Posted 15 Aug 2011 , 2:22pm
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeDiva101

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes

She is DEFINITELY only had red velvet from a box. It is moist as all heck, and red as blood, yeck.



I don't know what kind of red velvet cakes the client had before but I don't use box cakes and my red velvet are moist and very red. So don't assume because a cake is moist and very red that it is from a box. thumbs_up.gif




I was thinking the same thing! thumbs_up.gif

jules5000 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 6:01pm
post #28 of 44

Eisskween, you are right about customer service. These days it is pretty much non-existent as we knew it growing up. I have found a few companies here and there that have it, but it is more rare these days. and it sounds to me like you have the right customer service attitude yourself.

lovemesomecake615, I think you have the right idea in mind and I believe that from the sound of what I read earlier that this lady was just not happy with the cake itself, not the decorating. So I believe that she is probably not going to be unreasonable in her expectations. if for some reason she does want a full refund than kindly, but firmly tell her that you can't give her a full refund, but you will say give her 30-50% back or like others suggested also give her a small free cake or offer to do another cake (name the size) for another occasion. I am betting that that will appease her. She just wants to be heard and like someone else said it is good for you to know for the quality control issues. Of course, like you said, if it is one of the most requested cakes than it was either her lack of experience with from scratch red velvet cakes or you messed that one up. I am sure that if everyone on this forum, is honest, that there is not one of us that would be able to say that we never had a flop in our lives. It is bound to happen with a customer, not just our families.

jules5000 Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 6:11pm
post #29 of 44

lovemesomecakes615, after replying the last time I went back and clicked the link you had for the recipe you used. I am now even more convinced that you were not the one that had the problem. She is probably just used to box mixes like someone else state previously. Yes, I guess, like I said before you could have messed up and you accepted that, that was a possibility, but now that I know it is a recipe from Paula Deen, I am sure it was her that is just not used to from-scratch red-velvet. It is hard to mess up a Paula Deen recipe. that is in my books anyway. I love her recipes. I have a few of her magazines and one of her cookbooks and love them. I printed out that recipe because it was not in the cookbook I had. Thank you for putting that link in.

Mexx Posted 16 Aug 2011 , 6:25pm
post #30 of 44

I use a red velvet scratch recipe that is on this site (Waldorf Astoria cake). It has pureed red beets in the batter and only a little red food colouring. The beets keep the cake wonderfully moist and the cake is very red.

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