Help! My Customer Is Asking For A Refund!

Business By Mug-a-Bug Updated 9 Jul 2012 , 6:03pm by kazita

Mug-a-Bug Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:22pm
post #1 of 29

This is one of those customers that was a pain in the butt from the first second... she was nitpicking the price and the serving size (she wanted an EXACT serving number and not any more). Because of that, we decided on a 1/2 size tier for the middle tier. I normally charge $4 per serving, but because she was referred by someone who had paid $3 per serving for their cake over a year ago; and because she was being such a pain about the price, I agree to do it for $3 per serving ($180 total). I deliver free within my area, but I agreed to deliver 40 minutes away free also...

I never copy any cake exactly, but we agreed on this design:,r:7,s:0,i:97

She asked specifically for her daughter's name in rope letters, so I added that. Anyway - I delivered the cake and it was her daughter who was there to receive it and paid me the remaining balance. I get about 10 minutes down the road and she calls me - very upset because the cake didn't have the 'cowgirl jessie' belt on the middle tier. I told her there wasn't much I could do to change the design since I was 40 minutes away... I said I was very sorry the cake didn't have that specific element, but that it was still a very cute cake. She said she thought it 'looked weird' and it wasn't what she ordered or expected. I offered a discount on her next order and she wasn't happy with that. She is asking for a partial refund because of this. I told her I would offer her a partial refund, and she should call me tomorrow (now today) since I was pulled over on the side of the freeway, and we could figure out what was fair.

SO -- I'm really not sure if I owe her much since I already bent over backwards for her. I do admit the cake probably should have incorporated a belt, but I guess I just see it as that important for the overall design. Here's a link to my cake:

Please... thoughts?? Do I owe this woman something?

28 replies
BakingIrene Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:30pm
post #2 of 29

If you never copy cakes exactly, then why did you accept this order from a person who made it clear that she expected exactly that?

Give her $20 off for the belt, and don't do business with her again.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:39pm
post #3 of 29

Thanks for the reply. I guess I didn't realize she expected it exactly that way. In the future, I will be sure to clarify that the agreed upon photo is only a generalization, and if they want to see something specifically, than they need to say so. I never imagined someone would be upset like that over a small element.

kazita Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:53pm
post #4 of 29

No way she got a very cute cake and i would tell her that she already got a discounted price when you lowered your price from $4 a slice to $3 a slice

jgifford Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:53pm
post #5 of 29

I agree with BakingIrene - - give her $20 and chalk it up to a very cheap lesson. Don't ever let your customer bully you into anything, whether it involves design or price. "This is what it is. If that's not acceptable, then we won't be able to do business. Good luck with your event."

This situation is a wonderful argument for having an ironclad contract in place for even the simplest of cakes. Then it would have been spelled out exactly what each of you expected, and there wouldn't have been any misunderstandings.

TheItalianBaker Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 3:54pm
post #6 of 29

I dont think the belt is a small element in this cake.. it's pretty much all the decoration of the second tier!
did she tell u how much she wants back? anyways I think 20-30$ is enough

myslady Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 4:02pm
post #7 of 29

I agree with jgifford about letting your customer bully you. It's one thing to go the extra mile but quite another to bend ovet backwards for them.

I also agree your customer is due a refund. While your interpretation is cute, I felt that the cake was missing something. By the tier having belt loops it draws your eye to it.

kazita Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 4:12pm
post #8 of 29

I bet $20 wont shut her up she will be demanding lots more. Im sorry i didnt see did she sign a contract? She will either demand all of her money back even though she used your cake and im sure her guest ate the cake. This is the exact reason why i went to classes to learn all about cakes i got a cake that i was very unhappy with ( my DH went and picked it up and had no idea what the cake was suppose to look like) anyways i paid a arm and a leg for this cake and was very unhappy with it but i severed it to my guest and it tasted fine so i never called the lady and complained i just went and signed up for the cake classes and have never had to buy another cake from someone else again

CWR41 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 4:22pm
post #9 of 29
Originally Posted by myslady

By the tier having belt loops it draws your eye to it.

This ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ... belt loops without a belt?

LoveMeSomeCake615 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 4:41pm
post #10 of 29
Originally Posted by TheItalianBaker

I dont think the belt is a small element in this cake.. it's pretty much all the decoration of the second tier!

I agree, I can understand why she would have expected to see the belt buckle.

Definitely write up an order form with ALL of the details of the design for all of your orders in the future. This avoids any unhappy surprises with the elements of design. Your order form should have a description of what the cake will look like on each tier. Have them sign it indicating their acceptance of the design. This would be their chance to say "I actually wanted the second tier to look like this" or whatever the case may be.

I agree that $20-$30 refund is fair.

In the future, do not let your customer dictate to you what the price and terms of the order will be. If you want to give a discount, great, but if you don't, stick to your guns on price and don't let them talk you into lowering your price just because someone else got it cheaper.

I hope she is happy with the refund and all goes well! Good luck!

cakeflake80 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 5:08pm
post #11 of 29

I agree that the belt is definitely an important element in the overall design. To me, the belt makes it 'Toy Story'. I also agree that $20 is enough. She already got a discount PLUS free delivery (40 minutes....that alone was a HUGE discount!), so she really shouldn't expect much.

icer101 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 6:04pm
post #12 of 29

I am sorry this happened. YOu know now not to ever do any cakes for her and also for anyone so demanding. I learned that at the beauty shop long time ago. I would rather sit and twiddle my thumbs, before i would do a demanding cusomer. YOu can never please them, no matter how hard you try, Yes, i could know, just talking to them. Wouldn, t do them. Thats my reasoning with cake clients. My nerves are more important. We all learn a lesson everytime we do something. good luck with finishing up dealing with her.

cakegrandma Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 6:46pm
post #13 of 29

Sorry you had to deal with a picky customer but it probably won't be the last time either. First of all I don't think I would have reduced my per slice charge even though she was a referral from a year ago customer. You could have explained that cost have gone up to justify you now per slice charge.
As far as copying what someone has done, you did this time and you should have tried to get it as close as possible as far as looks go. The belt is an important detail and there are none of the ball decorations that go around each tier. That is what I notice first and to me the cake, although nicely done, did not look finished.
I think that with all you have done for this client, like others have said, that $20 is more than enough of a refund. If she complains more tell her all the discounts you already gave her and leave it go. She is going to be a PITA no matter what.
Good luck

shanter Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 7:28pm
post #14 of 29

I don't see any daisies, unless they are behind the red bow, and there is no topper as on the original. I agree with the $20 refund.

SoFloGuy Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 9:26pm
post #15 of 29

Anyone else having trouble viewing this thread? It's all stretched out for me and there is a pop up over it too.

scp1127 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 10:15pm
post #16 of 29

Yes, I could barely read it.

And I'm sorry, but I see a lot more than a belt missing and if I was the client, $20.00 would just make me madder.

Apti Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 10:35pm
post #17 of 29

"Please... thoughts?? Do I owe this woman something?"

Although I can't speak to the business side of cakes, I can offer my personal viewpoint from the customer perspective.

If I had been a super picky customer, (personally, I'm a really laid-back customer), and had expected to see THAT EXACT CAKE, I would have been disappointed as well. It appears as though you forgot the belt, since the belt loops were incorporated in the design of the cake photo provided by your client.

"I'm really not sure if I owe her much since I already bent over backwards for her. I do admit the cake probably should have incorporated a belt, but I guess I just see it as [not?] that important for the overall design."

Yes, your cake was beautifully executed, but you were already aware that the customer was "super-picky" and did not copy her requested design, exactly. There was no stand-up numeral topper, nor any daisies.
The customer probably doesn't care if you "bent over backwards", or even if she got a great deal on the pricing. She was very specific on what she wanted, and didn't get it.

Perhaps a $40-$50 refund, and a very valuable lesson learned. I suspect that the unhappy, "super-picky" customer would be insulted by a $20 refund. [Disclaimer: I'm a hobby baker and do not deal with cake customers. (Thank goodness!!!) I did, however, deal with a lot of picky, demanding, customers for 30 years before retirement.]

missunique1989 Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 11:05pm
post #18 of 29

Nice cake very cute but i do agree that the photo is not as shown, i had a customer like this once omg was she a pain in my butt when i didn't copy the 3 cakes into one tier,she had a ton more detail and wasn't quite sure on what she wanted. i did not refund because she sent me 100 emails seriously, and i couldn't piece threw what she want due to soo many demands.

kazita Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 11:07pm
post #19 of 29

Yes i had the same problem with the post

kelleym Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 11:43pm
post #20 of 29

I had a problem viewing the post in Chrome, but it was fine in Firefox. It is the long Google images link at the top that's messing things up. Page 2 is fine.

OP, I agree with what Apti wrote. The customer did not want a cake "inspired" by the one in the photo, she wanted the cake in the photo. Right or wrong, that's what she wanted. The fact that she already received a price break, and free delivery, does not matter to her. She didn't get what she wanted. Your cake is very clean, though, very nice work. It's just missing some crucial elements. Good luck to you.

cheatize Posted 8 Jul 2012 , 11:57pm
post #21 of 29

I agree with Kellym above. I also agree that more than a $20 refund is in order.

To help with the viewing, click the print button at the top of the thread. You won't see the picture but a new window will open with the text and without the ads covering anything.

auntginn Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 12:28am
post #22 of 29

IMHO you have more than just $20 - $50.00 to lose. This is your reputation as a caker.

Contracts whether written or oral are still binding. If I order something black and get a different color, I would expect the business person to right the wrong completely and either give me my item in black or refund the item.

It already sounds to me that you settled with the customer to right the wrong by giving her a refund. Scaubbling over how much is insignificant. For your peace of mind and your reputation make the customer happy.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 1:26am
post #23 of 29

Thanks to all the replies. I think I will offer her a $25 refund... regardless of the design not being a perfect match - she got a clean and cute cake in the theme she wanted, and served it to her guests...

This was a valuable lesson to find out if a customer is wanting a picture copied exactly or generally.

Thanks again for your opinions.

cakiemommie Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:07am
post #24 of 29

Hmm.. Well, I really do like your cake. Good Job! However I can understand your client's disappointment. I understand that she was a PITA all along, but perhaps you should've been more specific with her when it came to the actual design. Two things strike me as awkward or "missing something".. The first is indeed the belt. You put belt loops in but no belt and to me it looks unfinished. Perhaps you should've left the belt loops off and used another design element? Also the top of the cake has no topper. Forgive me if this is what she asked for.. The cake who's design you were mimicking had large toppers. Since yours doesn't have one except for the 5 it looks a bit unfinished as well. Perhaps a big 3D gumpaste 5 or something would've helped to complete the look?? Just trying to be objective and helpful...

Not sure what you would offer by way of a refund. Perhaps instead of a cash refund you could apologize for not being more specific about the design you had in mind.. and just offer a 10-25% discount on her next cake order? And promise to be more specific with her next time? Otherwise I think $20-$30 should be quite reasonable...

Let us know what she says and how this plays out! I hope I was helpful..

BakingIrene Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:19am
post #25 of 29

Here's where you should really have been paying attention: the price per serving.

Just because you charged $3.00 a slice in 2010 does NOT mean that you are limited to that price in 2012.

Anybody who was that insistent on a ripoff should have been told by email "sorry the price is $4.00" and you wouldn''t be owing them a refund now.

mplaidgirl2 Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:52am
post #26 of 29

What is she actually asking for? A full refund? Honestly the belt seems pretty important to the design. I would see what shes looking for first and them offer her up to $50 back. I mean if they ate the cake I don't think a full refund is fair.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 2:34pm
post #27 of 29

Thanks again for the replies. I haven't heard back from her, and really not sure what she's actually asking for. I currently don't do contracts for party cakes, only wedding cakes. Lesson learned.

vtcake Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 4:57pm
post #28 of 29

I am not a big baker like most of you, but I do email the exact description of what the buyer says she wants to the buyer, to be sure we are on the same page for design.

kazita Posted 9 Jul 2012 , 6:03pm
post #29 of 29

I guess this is where a drawing of the cake before you make it would be helpful i do know that alot of the time a cake doesnt turn out exactly as planned but if she ask for a full refund i would ask if the guest ate the cake plus i would be quick to point out that she already got a discounted price. Like i said before i really had a bad experience with getting a cake that wasnt what i asked for but mine was way bad i never called the lady back and she did have a bakery so i thought i would be getting what i asked for well lesson learned i now make all of my owen cakes plus 100s for other people.

Quote by @%username% on %date%