I need some advice...
I made a cake for a woman I work with this past weekend for her son's birthday party. It was a 10 inch square vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. I have made this cake several times, even in this size. She told me today that the cake had a hard spot throughout the cake but the flavor of the cake was good. Her sister in law is a friend of mine, and has eaten several of my cakes before, including that recipe. She said it wasn't bad, just more dense than usual. She said her grandmother called it a "sweet spot" where the sugar settles. That has never happed to me before! Has that happened to any of you? She paid $70 for the cake and said that she loved the way it was decorated it, and her son and family loved it, too.
Would you give a full or partial refund, and if partial... how much?
Thanks for your help!
I would make her a half dozen cupcakes and thank her for letting you know about the problem. Then you need to figure out why that happened so it doesn't happen again. Ingredients? Mixing issue? When I have a problem I am consumed with finding out why. If you need help, maybe post the recipe and method in the Recipes forum.
First find out exactly what it was so it doesn't happen again...then instead of a refund, I'd offer a discount on a future order...or even a freebie of some sort if you think it demands it.
I've never heard a hard spot caused from sugar settling - was it hard like candy?
Since your frined it was just more dense than usual, my only guess is that was a tad undercooked.
In any case, perhaps give her the option of half off now, or $35 towards a future order. At the very least, you need to recover the cost of ingredients.
There will be opposing opinions, but I believe that being apologetic and the nice guy gets more business. I've had a cake fall (displayed outside in 100 degrees), and I offered a free cake for a future order; she has continued to use me for all of her special events.
I would definitely go with the discount on a future order since she was still happy with the cake all-in-all.
My Dad always used to say that he liked it best when there was "ein strich" which translates as "a line" in German in his cake. This was a dense spot throughout the cake as though the cake rose and then fell somewhat. He used to tell my grandmother to jump up and down in front of the oven, open and close the door a lot, or do anything else he could think of to make the cake fall. When I read what your client said, this is the first thing that I thought of. Is it possible that something interfered with the rising of the cake? Underbaking could have contributed,as someone else said, but that is not quite the same.
Thanks for reminding me of a family tradition. I don't jump up and down in front of the oven much anymore LOL! --but I do miss my Dad since he passed away in 2003.
I like the idea of a good discount on a future order. Sounds like your client wasn't really upset and will order again, so that could be happy for everyone.
I'm in the minority, but these situations are the ones that can get you the most positive word-of-mouth for a long time. I would find out when the next family birthday/special event is planned and make her a cake for free. She will tell many people how you stand by your work and that you can be trusted. When someone mentios cake, she will always mention you.
Right now, you are an ok baker in her book. She may or may not call you again, as the last cake was not the best. She will also not recommend you. A small discount on a future order that she may never do or a few un-needed cupcakes is just a bandaid. There are so many bakers out there. Give her a reason... that you bake great cakes... to keep you as her baker and to keep the referrals coming.
The small amount of money and time you invest will pay off. This is hands-on, face-to-face marketing... the best you can do. Those who are passionate enough to tell you they were a little dissatisfied are also the ones who will tell others how you fixed a small problem.