Relznik Posted 21 May 2012 , 1:36pm
post #1 of

You can probably tell from my photos, that I've made a fair few cakes. But I've just had my first complaint.

I'm a home-based cake maker (legally allowed in the UK, as long as you're registered with Environmental Health in your local authority, which I am).

I made a 2 tier bat mitzvah cake this last weekend, along with 42 cupcakes.

As I often do, I emailed a copy of the photo I took to the customer. I received this back earlier today:

Thank you for the photo - very kind and thoughtful

The cake looked beautiful but unfortunately the sponge was dry!!!

Half of it was uncut and I brought it home hoping to put it out on Sunday for another family get-together but unfortunately the vanilla sponge wasn't up to scratch, wasn't put out on the table and has been thrown (there was no point keeping it if it was inedible). The chocolate sponge wasnt as bad.

A rather expensive cake to end up in the compost bin, I think

Hope to hear from you shortly

Regards


I haven't replied yet, as I'm too shaken and upset. My husband is very measured and will be able to help me reply in factual, businesslike manner, without emotion. (I'm a very emotional person! LOL!)

However, as she has disposed of the cake, there is absolutely nothing I'm prepared to do. IF I had thought the cake seemed dry when I was torting and filling, I'd have re-baked. But it seemed fine.

I did freeze this cake, which isn't something I usually do. However, I know many, many people do bake ahead of time and then freeze, so I don't believe this has anything to do with it. It was very well wrapped, so freezing for a week won't have affected it.

As she has disposed of the cake, I have nothing to inspect. But I'm just so upset.

33 replies
Dayti Posted 21 May 2012 , 1:51pm
post #2 of

Oh dear. Had she tried your cakes before? Some peoples take on "dry" can be quite different from others. She should not have thrown the cake away because there is no way you can check it. But you should point out what you said here, that you tried some cuttings of the cake when levelling and filling it, and in your opinion it was as it should be, and that were it not that way, you would have baked another.

I agree that freezing locks in moisture and often freeze my cakes.

Maybe she stored it in the fridge? Some sponge cakes can dry out in the fridge. But then the chocolate one would be "dry" as well...

You have to decide what to do here. Some will say give her a partial or 100% refund as a goodwill gesture. Or a free cake next time (put a maximum money amount on it though). Did she say anything about the cupcakes? I think I would probably refund her the whole vanilla tier just to keep her quiet.

Don't let one customer get you down!

Norasmom Posted 21 May 2012 , 1:53pm
post #3 of

I find it interesting that she brought it home to put out again...
Her note to you was unkind, she could have just stopped at "it was a bit dry..." the compost part was unnecessary. Don't be too hard on yourself, we can't make everyone happy all the time.

Tails Posted 21 May 2012 , 2:24pm
post #4 of

I agree with whats been said already.

Chin up, I'm sure it was a great cake! Some people will try their luck saying they tossed it (so no evidence) when they actually ate it all.

You could phone the venue and ask if it was all served if you suspect they might be lying?

Ainm Posted 21 May 2012 , 3:38pm
post #5 of

Your cakes are stunning. You've made more than enough cakes before to know if a cake was dry when you were filling it. I don't make enough cakes to freeze any, but I have read that it makes them retain moisture.
If she bought any other item from a shop and was unsatisfied with the quality she would have to return the item for inspection. They'd hardly take her word that the sleeves fell off a dress or the kettle blew upicon_wink.gif
I don't know what you should do in the circumstances, but her attitude was very off-putting. Certainly not a nice lady to deal with.

Best of luck.

scp1127 Posted 21 May 2012 , 3:59pm
post #6 of

The opposing view, but one I practice:

Anything can happen. It seems that so many bakers on CC always side with their fellow baker and call the clients liars or scammers.

In my experience, most cakes are not that good. Clients pay a premium and expect premium, when, in fact, what they get many of the times is mediocre to not that great. I have actually never had a cake I would rave about at a wedding.

This weekend I had a big cookie buffet at a wedding. We were 10 feet from the cake and attended our buffet so that we could observe. People were taking small pieces of cake and they were left on the table, most uneaten. About 60% of the cake was left. Why do caterers and DJ's always talk about the same old not-so-great cakes at wedddings?

I am not suggesting that the OP's cake was bad. I am writing in generalities.

Someone may not like a particular cake flavor, but crumb and texture should be corret. Plus, you want someone to say that they don't like chocolate cake, but this was a good one.

It is not valid to say that some people just don't know that the cake was supposed to be dry, and dry to one is moist to the other. And why can't she serve the cake the next day? A cake should last more than one day. If a cake is dry, it's dry.

So my take on this is that, luckily, dissatisfied customers who do not ultimately get satisfaction are clients for another baker the next time. I have a 100% satisfaction policy and it works for me. Never used it, but it's there to protect my reputation.

Bluehue Posted 21 May 2012 , 4:29pm
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Relznik

You can probably tell from my photos, that I've made a fair few cakes. But I've just had my first complaint.


I'm a home-based cake maker (legally allowed in the UK, as long as you're registered with Environmental Health in your local authority, which I am).

I made a 2 tier bat mitzvah cake this last weekend, along with 42 cupcakes.

As I often do, I emailed a copy of the photo I took to the customer. I received this back earlier today:

Thank you for the photo - very kind and thoughtful

The cake looked beautiful but unfortunately the sponge was dry!!!

Half of it was uncut and I brought it home hoping to put it out on Sunday.....Well from where i sit - there is the problem right there....Who cuts a sponge then tucks it away for the next day - Sponges aren't meant to be *kept* - once cut they are the quickest cake to dry out.... My grandmother would turn in her grave if she was reading this post of yours - for she was the queen of sponge's - lolllll. I can hear her words now all these yers on - "A sponge is eaten on the day - not to be kept for another day..
I would be phoning the customer and asking her to explain to me what procedure did she follow after the cake was cut... I would listen - and then inform her that Sponges are not a cake to be kept.
You were not to know that this is what she was going to do - apparently this was her plan when ordering -
Sorry CC's - but i wouldn't be refunding.... because i am not responsible for *left over cake*....
for another family get-together but unfortunately the vanilla sponge wasn't up to scratch, wasn't put out on the table and has been thrown (there was no point keeping it if it was inedible). The chocolate sponge wasnt as bad.

A rather expensive cake to end up in the compost bin, I think
And there is problem #2...
I do hope she meant rubbish bin and not a real compost bin - who the hell throws anything with diary in it in a compost bin - thats ferral.

Hope to hear from you shortly

Regards


I haven't replied yet, as I'm too shaken and upset.
Save you shaking and getting upet for something that really deserves those emotions...its nothing that can't be solved - but ask questions first - then decide on your answers and actions.My husband is very measured and will be able to help me reply in factual, businesslike manner, without emotion. (I'm a very emotional person! LOL!)

However, as she has disposed of the cake, there is absolutely nothing I'm prepared to do. IF I had thought the cake seemed dry when I was torting and filling, I'd have re-baked. But it seemed fine. If this is what you believe then stand by your caking expierice and knowledge and inform the customer ... Remember, the customer isn't always right.... I did freeze this cake, which isn't something I usually do. However, I know many, many people do bake ahead of time and then freeze, so I don't believe this has anything to do with it. It was very well wrapped, so freezing for a week won't have affected it.

As she has disposed of the cake, I have nothing to inspect. But I'm just so upset.
Only get upset if you know that you did something wrong - but even then - gettting upset doesn't solve the problem - it just prolongs it...

Paint that smile back on your face - chin up and shoulders back - you have to sound professional and in control for when you phone her.

Bluehue


carmijok Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:00pm
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The opposing view, but one I practice

In my experience, most cakes are not that good. Clients pay a premium and expect premium, when, in fact, what they get many of the times is mediocre to not that great. I have actually never had a cake I would rave about at a wedding.




Seriously? The bakery I worked for got rave reviews all the time from people who ate her wedding cakes. It's the reason they were chosen to do the cake to begin with! We got a lot of business from people who were just guests at the wedding and loved the cake so much they wanted to use us for other events.

I was there when a customer who came in after a wedding to return our pedestal and he said every bit was consumed...even the top tier...and we had more than enough servings planned for that particular cake. He said everyone was getting 2nd helpings it was that good.

Many times if cake is not eaten it's because there's been other food and alcohol served and guests are full or don't want sweets. It's too bad you've never had a good wedding cake...but don't assume just because you've never had one they don't exist!

vpJane Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:16pm
post #9 of

"Many times if cake is not eaten it's because there's been other food and alcohol served and guests are full or don't want sweets. It's too bad you've never had a good wedding cake...but don't assume just because you've never had one they don't exist!"

Agreed. And feel so sad for people who have been to weddings with bad cakes, all the time, and never had a cake as good as THEY could have made it...

As for the OP...I think your customer wants a free cake. If you're going to refund anything, I don't think it should be 100%.

Paperfishies Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:30pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

The opposing view, but one I practice

In my experience, most cakes are not that good. Clients pay a premium and expect premium, when, in fact, what they get many of the times is mediocre to not that great. I have actually never had a cake I would rave about at a wedding.



Seriously? The bakery I worked for got rave reviews all the time from people who ate her wedding cakes. It's the reason they were chosen to do the cake to begin with! We got a lot of business from people who were just guests at the wedding and loved the cake so much they wanted to use us for other events.

I was there when a customer who came in after a wedding to return our pedestal and he said every bit was consumed...even the top tier...and we had more than enough servings planned for that particular cake. He said everyone was getting 2nd helpings it was that good.

Many times if cake is not eaten it's because there's been other food and alcohol served and guests are full or don't want sweets. It's too bad you've never had a good wedding cake...but don't assume just because you've never had one they don't exist!




Agree, I would imagine that the bride and groom had a tasting and tasted the product and liked it well enough to spend money on it.
I've been to a ton of weddings that have had tasty cake/cupcakes but then again I live in an area with a lot of great bakeries.

Bluehue Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:35pm

QUESTION.....If this topic is about....................
I made a 2 tier bat mitzvah cake this last weekend, along with 42 cupcakes.
Then how the hell did we get onto Wedding Cakes... am i missing something here?

Bluehue icon_confused.gif

jgifford Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:44pm

And I agree with scp1127 - - 100% guarantee, period. Refund the price of the vanilla tier since apparently the chocolate tier and the cupcakes were acceptable. Phone your customer immediately and let her know your check is in the mail and apologize that the vanilla tier was not up to her tastes.

You aren't admitting to producing a lesser quality cake, but you want your customer to be happy with the whole experience. However, make it clear to her that if she orders from you in the future and has a problem, she must produce the remains of the cake in order to receive a refund.

anneuk Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:52pm

I do not sell my cakes, I only give them to family and friends....
But one thing struck me about this ladies complaint.....

(excuse me if I read incorrectly....)

She said half remained uncut? So she cut half of it and from this half felt it was dry?

Then why did she state that she brought that other half home to serve the next day? Surely if you cut half a cake and it is inedible, there is no way you would save half for the next day then find it was inedible and throw it in the 'compost bin' or did she cut one cake and not the other?

Also she made no mention of the cupcakes? Were they satisfactory?

I always complain if a product is under parr... But only if it is really unacceptable. But I would never complain and then throw away the evidence. I think this woman is just after a freebie. i'm not sure I would offer her anything as she has no evidence to back this up. I do freeze cakes and don't think this would cause a dry cake.

Your cakes are beautiful so don't let her knock your confidence.

carmijok Posted 21 May 2012 , 6:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehue

QUESTION.....If this topic is about....................
I made a 2 tier bat mitzvah cake this last weekend, along with 42 cupcakes.
Then how the hell did we get onto Wedding Cakes... am i missing something here?

Bluehue icon_confused.gif




Obviously you missed the post from scp1127. She stated she thought most cakes weren't very good (!) and that she'd never had a wedding cake to rave about. I merely addressed that in my reply.

to the OP I would NOT refund 100% How can you run a business that way? Then all anyone would have to do is claim the cake was dry to expect the same treatment!

Oreobo Posted 21 May 2012 , 6:18pm

The cake I bake the most is a hot milk sponge cake. That cake is always moist the second day. I sometimes freeze it and it's still moist. Can't understand why yours would be dry, Relznik

Bluehue Posted 21 May 2012 , 6:27pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jgifford

And I agree with scp1127 - - 100% guarantee, period. Refund the price of the vanilla tier ...............Vanilla Tier !!!!!! - there was no Vanilla Tier - it was a Sponge............... your agreeing with another poster yet you don't know the difference between a vanilla cake and a sponge cake - most odd. - since apparently the chocolate tier and the cupcakes were acceptable. Phone your customer immediately and let her know your check is in the mail and apologize that the vanilla tier was not up to her tastes.
Are you serious - you want the OP to admit to producing an inferior cake before knowing all the facts - IMO that is very poor business structure - very poor indeed..........
You aren't admitting to producing a lesser quality cake, Well she is if she does what you suggested in the above paragraph - at least let the OP gather facts from the customer before admitting to anything. - As i mentioned in an earlier post - Sponges aren't meant to be cut - then kept and served the next day -


Bluehue


but you want your customer to be happy with the whole experience.
- However, make it clear to her that if she orders from you in the future and has a problem, she must produce the remains of the cake in order to receive a refund.


icon_confused.gif

Bluehue Posted 21 May 2012 , 6:32pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehue

QUESTION.....If this topic is about....................
I made a 2 tier bat mitzvah cake this last weekend, along with 42 cupcakes.
Then how the hell did we get onto Wedding Cakes... am i missing something here?

Bluehue icon_confused.gif



Obviously you missed the post from scp1127. She stated she thought most cakes weren't very good (!) and that she'd never had a wedding cake to rave about. I merely addressed that in my reply.

to the OP I would NOT refund 100% How can you run a business that way? Then all anyone would have to do is claim the cake was dry to expect the same treatment!






Hi carmijok - yes, i did see the post from scp127 - i am wondering why she went on a tangent to talk about Wedding Cakes when the OP made a cake and cupcakes for a bat mitzvah ............ i understand your reply to scp127 - just her wedding bit threw me...

Blue

carmijok Posted 21 May 2012 , 7:45pm

[quote=Hi carmijok - yes, i did see the post from scp127 - i am wondering why she went on a tangent to talk about Wedding Cakes when the OP made a cake and cupcakes for a bat mitzvah ............ i understand your reply to scp127 - just her [i:a20516e56a]wedding[/i:a20516e56a] bit threw me...

Blue[/quote]

Ah! I understand. Yes it's interesting...I am assuming she makes cakes though there are no photos and I am curious as to why she would say she thought most cakes were 'not that good' and that she'd never had a wedding cake to rave about! I would hope she doesn't think that about her own! icon_lol.gif

Relznik Posted 21 May 2012 , 10:44pm

Well, we might be divided by a common language here. icon_wink.gif

Sponge is somewhat of a generic term for the type of cake, here in the UK. It was a vanilla sponge cake (as opposed to a chocolate sponge or lemon sponge). So I hope that clarifies that misunderstanding. icon_smile.gif

I have absolutely no intention of just sending her a refund for the cake she says she was unhappy with. There is no proof. I find it most odd she would throw it away and then complain. If she was serious, she would have surely kept the uneaten cake.

In fact, I've just sent her the following (a bit remiss of me leaving it so late; her email was sent at lunchtime and it's now quarter to midnight!)

Dear ......

I am sorry you were disappointed with the cake, but it is recipe which I use for all my cakes and yours is the first complaint I have received.

If the cake had been dry, I would have been able to tell when levelling, cutting and filling - but at no time I did I have any reason to doubt the quality of the cakes I made for you.

Unfortunately as you have disposed of the cake rather than return it for me to look at and taste, I'm afraid that I'm not in a position to investigate your complaint further.

Yours sincerely

karennayak Posted 22 May 2012 , 1:46am

That's a great reply. Short, polite, yet makes your stand crystal clear.

sugarpixy Posted 22 May 2012 , 5:07am

Sometimes people confuse dense with dry. Sometimes a cake is dry .( although a cake that was frozen is usually very moist).I had a customer bring back some dry cake to me, it was dry but they did not want to cut the cake and only started to eat it 5 days after the event.Sometimes they cannot really afford a cake and if it is not the best thing that they ever tasted in their lives it is always dry and "inedible".

Relznik Posted 22 May 2012 , 6:48am
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugarpixy

Sometimes people confuse dense with dry..



That's something that crossed my mind, too.

All my cakes (with the exception of egg-free vanilla) are baked from scratch. They cannot compare with the light-as-air, almost not there, light as a feather factory produced cakes. And, anyway, those type wouldn't withstand marzipan and sugarpaste.

My cakes are denser than mass-produced cakes. (But that's not to say they're dense and heavy! icon_wink.gif)

j92383 Posted 22 May 2012 , 3:30pm

For once I'm a little confused as to why people decided to attack SCP1127 comment. she didn't say everyone who makes wedding cakes suck. Nor did she attack the OP. I happen to agree with her most of the cake that's served at events I've gone to have been left on the table uneaten. I wouldn't rave about any of it either. In fact that's what inspired me to start making my own cakes instead of paying people for crappy cake. She also have a valid point about not every customer complaining about a cake is trying to scam the baker or get a free cake. Sometimes we forget what it's like to be a customer if I called to complain about something and the person implied that I was just trying to rip them off or get a freebie I would be pissed. A lot of people don't know that they should save the product for inspection. I didn't know that until I joined Cake Central. I would've done the same thing and throw it out.

Relznik Posted 22 May 2012 , 4:07pm

Well, she emailed me back:

Dear Suzanne,

I understand and obviously I am not in a position to recommend you to anyone

Regards


To be honest, even if I'd given her a FULL refund, she wouldn't have recommended me, would she?

I'm happy with the outcome.

mom2twogrlz Posted 22 May 2012 , 4:44pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Relznik

Well, she emailed me back:

Dear Suzanne,

I understand and obviously I am not in a position to recommend you to anyone

Regards


To be honest, even if I'd given her a FULL refund, she wouldn't have recommended me, would she?

I'm happy with the outcome.




That is too bad, but you are right.

Would she recommend you to a friend saying, "Well the cake I got was dry and we threw it out, but she gave me a full refund. So I think you should go with her anyway, she made it right." What kind of referral is that?? And is it one you want??? A client who is coming into the deal expecting a full refund for a small portion of the cake they said they weren't happy with. I would rather be known for an beautiful cake that tasted great. If you can't say that about me, don't send your friends over.

Of course I am not a professional baker, and do not charge for my cakes, but this is a stance I would take if I ever do go into business. My life is way too busy to make a cake for someone I know will not be happy in the end, no matter what. Be picky with your customers, not all bakers suit all customers.

I say both parties move on... she gets a new baker, and you get a new customer.

Relznik Posted 25 May 2012 , 8:34am

VINDICATED!!!!!

I bumped in my friend (well, close acquaintance) in the deli this morning. She was at the Bat Mitzvah last Saturday and, indeed, was who recommended me to the customer.

I didn't bring up the cake (debacle). But she did... saying how pretty it was and how delicious the cake was! icon_eek.gif

I said "Oh, really? So they served it and it was OK?" and she said yes, why? So I told her the whole story. She absolutely couldn't believe it. She said if anything, the sponge was possibly nicer than the chocolate (the customer had said the vanilla sponge was stale but the chocolate was better).

She was sooo apologetic, because she had put the other woman and I in touch with each other. But I told her not to be sorry; it wasn't her fault.

I can't tell you how relieved I am.

karateka Posted 25 May 2012 , 2:48pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Relznik

VINDICATED!!!!!

I bumped in my friend (well, close acquaintance) in the deli this morning. She was at the Bat Mitzvah last Saturday and, indeed, was who recommended me to the customer.

I didn't bring up the cake (debacle). But she did... saying how pretty it was and how delicious the cake was! icon_eek.gif

I said "Oh, really? So they served it and it was OK?" and she said yes, why? So I told her the whole story. She absolutely couldn't believe it. She said if anything, the sponge was possibly nicer than the chocolate (the customer had said the vanilla sponge was stale but the chocolate was better).

She was sooo apologetic, because she had put the other woman and I in touch with each other. But I told her not to be sorry; it wasn't her fault.

I can't tell you how relieved I am.




I'm so glad you bumped into your friend. It's nice to have that vindicated feeling, isn't it?

ReneeFLL Posted 25 May 2012 , 4:03pm

I am also very glad that you bumped into your friend. I hope she confronts the woman and ask why she thought something was wrong.
I never would have given her a refund without testing the left over cake. I am glad you stood your ground.
When owners just give a full refund without being able to test the cake to see if there really is a problem just dumbfounds me. There are some people out there who will say anything just to get their money back. When they get it back I think this just encourages them to continue to do it.
Sometimes I just don't know what people are thinking on both sides.

mclaren Posted 25 May 2012 , 4:38pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by carmijok

[quote=Hi carmijok - yes, i did see the post from scp127 - i am wondering why she went on a tangent to talk about Wedding Cakes when the OP made a cake and cupcakes for a bat mitzvah ............ i understand your reply to scp127 - just her wedding bit threw me...

Blue




Ah! I understand. Yes it's interesting...I am assuming she makes cakes though there are no photos and I am curious as to why she would say she thought most cakes were 'not that good' and that she'd never had a wedding cake to rave about! I would hope she doesn't think that about her own! icon_lol.gif[/quote]

Sorry for chiming in, though I don't always agree with Susan (scp), like in this particular case - refunding 100% w/out investigating and inspecting the inedible portion, Susan had always been generous in sharing her baking know-hows. Maybe sometimes her tone can get onto our nerves, nevertheless she's always willing to help answer questions.

And you can see her mouthwatering cakes on her website, it's listed on her profile here.

To the OP, I'm glad you stood your ground, and I hope your friend confronts the customer about it. If the cream cheese I bought from the store is moldy, I sure need to bring it over to show them the proof of the rotten cheese before getting any refunds, right?

carmijok Posted 25 May 2012 , 4:38pm

Yea! So glad you know the truth. Maybe you should reply to her and say, 'That's OK. If you are not happy with my cake then I understand your reaction. However I am pleased to say not everyone at your event thought my cake was dry as I just received a compliment and business from someone who was there.'

Maybe it's stretching the truth, but hey...you DID receive a compliment and she is a customer, no?
icon_lol.gif

But then there is something to be said for letting sleeping dogs lay.

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