m.o.b. Complaint (I never get these). How to handle this?

Business By Chef_Stef Updated 25 Aug 2012 , 1:41pm by Kiddiekakes

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:38am
post #61 of 114

Thank you all so much for all the wonderful input and a variety of opinions. I respect you all so much and appreciate it! I don't have friends in the cake biz locally to bounce this one off of, and I really never get complaints, (just lotsa love!), but I've dealt with complaining customers in our other business enough to see a pattern with my last 3 complaints (all similar to this).

What I find stunning, all else aside, is the just overwhelming trouncing rudeness and insulting language these women jump in with, right on the first email. Not a friendly mature, "Hey, there was an issue with our cake. Can you give me a call and we can see what possibly caused this?" Nope, just in-your-face crazy rude. I guess that's what makes anyone want to slap them back. Really?!? You want to be that rude, insult me, my work, my recipes, imply all sorts of things, and then I'm supposed to smile and hand you all your money back TOO. What planet are they from?? I don't have TV, but if this is what reality TV is promoting (behavior-wise), this is a sad day for business owners.

I will email her tomorrow morning and let you all know what I happens. And not to worry, I'm the soul of diplomacy when handling customers, especially if it's in writing.

Will keep you posted, of course. Pray for some sleep for me tonight--I seriously got about 2 separate hours last night. From 11-12 a.m. and then 6 to 7 a.m. I'm going to go pour a straight vodka over ice and put my feet up in the breeze outside for a bit.
xo

jenmat Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:41am
post #62 of 114

Goodness. This is a tough one. Knowing your business and professionalism from past posts, I have utter confidence that the cake in question left your bakery delicious and beautiful.

That said, this is a lesson for you- there is NO way I would EVER let a wedding cake out of my bakery 24 hours before the wedding to sit who knows where for who knows how long before it was served.

I know I'm being overly protective, but this is exactly why. I'm a control freak, and these cakes are the ones that are going to get mistreated.

I guess while it isn't your fault in ANY way that their cake was served cold or whatever they did to it, I would say that if I were in the position you are in I would hold myself accountable for at least part of it because I let it all happen in the first place. No contract, cc over the phone....pickup 24 hours in advance. It just screams issues.

I would offer partial refund. I know you are cringing. I know you don't want to let her get away with it. But I can see NO good coming from dragging this on.

And let this be a lesson to all of us- cake situations that start out "out of the norm" may end up in a forum post on CC.....

jenmat Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:42am
post #63 of 114

Goodness. This is a tough one. Knowing your business and professionalism from past posts, I have utter confidence that the cake in question left your bakery delicious and beautiful.

That said, this is a lesson for you- there is NO way I would EVER let a wedding cake out of my bakery 24 hours before the wedding to sit who knows where for who knows how long before it was served.

I know I'm being overly protective, but this is exactly why. I'm a control freak, and these cakes are the ones that are going to get mistreated.

I guess while it isn't your fault in ANY way that their cake was served cold or whatever they did to it, I would say that if I were in the position you are in I would hold myself accountable for at least part of it because I let it all happen in the first place. No contract, cc over the phone....pickup 24 hours in advance. It just screams issues.

I would offer partial refund. I know you are cringing. I know you don't want to let her get away with it. But I can see NO good coming from dragging this on.

And let this be a lesson to all of us- cake situations that start out "out of the norm" may end up in a forum post on CC.....

jenmat Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:42am
post #64 of 114

Goodness. This is a tough one. Knowing your business and professionalism from past posts, I have utter confidence that the cake in question left your bakery delicious and beautiful.

That said, this is a lesson for you- there is NO way I would EVER let a wedding cake out of my bakery 24 hours before the wedding to sit who knows where for who knows how long before it was served.

I know I'm being overly protective, but this is exactly why. I'm a control freak, and these cakes are the ones that are going to get mistreated.

I guess while it isn't your fault in ANY way that their cake was served cold or whatever they did to it, I would say that if I were in the position you are in I would hold myself accountable for at least part of it because I let it all happen in the first place. No contract, cc over the phone....pickup 24 hours in advance. It just screams issues.

I would offer partial refund. I know you are cringing. I know you don't want to let her get away with it. But I can see NO good coming from dragging this on.

And let this be a lesson to all of us- cake situations that start out "out of the norm" may end up in a forum post on CC.....

vgcea Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 5:16am
post #65 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

I don't have anything anywhere in my business, as a clause for customers to bring back uneaten cake, a week later or the day later. I absolutely do not send out cakes that have anything wrong with them, so it seems like a ridiculous thing to offer. I can't believe I even suggested that they do that, and I'm going to change the plan tomorrow on this one before it goes any further.




It's not about sending out defective cake but a means to prevent people from lying about the cake in order to weasel some $$ out of you.

If they lied in order to get some money back and claimed the cake was inedible after they've served the cake and guests even raved about it [another CC post a couple of months ago], knowing that they have to bring proof of this horrible, inedible cake that nobody touched would be a deterrent against lying or at least cause them to find a different lie.

You could swear from now till tomorrow that your cake was perfect but that in itself is subjective--as subjective as their claim that it was not. If the cake was super dry, falling apart e.t.c. at least getting it back within a reasonable time frame ensures that when you do give a refund, it's for justifiable reasons.

costumeczar Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 11:40am
post #66 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by vgcea

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

I don't have anything anywhere in my business, as a clause for customers to bring back uneaten cake, a week later or the day later. I absolutely do not send out cakes that have anything wrong with them, so it seems like a ridiculous thing to offer. I can't believe I even suggested that they do that, and I'm going to change the plan tomorrow on this one before it goes any further.




It's not about sending out defective cake but a means to prevent people from lying about the cake in order to weasel some $$ out of you.

If they lied in order to get some money back and claimed the cake was inedible after they've served the cake and guests even raved about it [another CC post a couple of months ago], knowing that they have to bring proof of this horrible, inedible cake that nobody touched would be a deterrent against lying or at least cause them to find a different lie.

You could swear from now till tomorrow that your cake was perfect but that in itself is subjective--as subjective as their claim that it was not. If the cake was super dry, falling apart e.t.c. at least getting it back within a reasonable time frame ensures that when you do give a refund, it's for justifiable reasons.




I'd agree that if you ( the royal you,not anyone in particular) would be willing to have people bring back uneaten cake, they should have a very short time limit to do that. I dont know how youd phrase that in a contract without making people think that there might be an ongoing problem, though.

I did want to comment on a previous post thai mentioned how rude people are getting, and the level of nastiness right out of the chute. The women I was dealing with were exactly like that. I got a call from the MOB and she literally screamed at me in a way that I have never been spoken to in my entire life. It was really pretty unbelieveable and extremely uncalled for. All while telling me over and over that she wasn't the kind of person who complained about things. Yeah, right, that's why she was going aft the venue too. Her complaint wandered around, too, first it was one thing then it changed to something else when it was clear that her contract covered the first complaint, then the second, then the third. I have a feeling that this kind of thing is just going to increase as people start using the internet as a weapon more than they are already.

BlueRose8302 Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:28pm
post #67 of 114

I wish there was a way she could accidentally come across this thread just to see how crazy rude all these people think she is.

I hate that this is still going on for you. And even if there was a problem with the cake (not that I think there was for a minute), this woman is ruining her daughter's wedding with all this yelling! I wish the Bride would start sticking up for her own wedding.

I am proud of you for not just turning into a pile of crying mess the way I probably would. I hope things work out! Good luck!

sweetideas Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:58pm
post #68 of 114

Sounds to me as if they wanted a big cake for picutres, then since only needed a small amount, thought they could get their money back by a complaint and threat. Hope it works out for you.

sweetideas Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 1:59pm
post #69 of 114

Sounds to me as if they wanted a big cake for picutres, then since only needed a small amount, thought they could get their money back by a complaint and threat. Hope it works out for you.

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 4:11pm
post #70 of 114

At 7 a.m. this morning I got an email from MOB saying that the bride's new husband has been rushed into ER and possibly surgery and the bride is too upset and preoccupied to discuss this right now, so "if she doesn't show up tomorrow (friday, with 10dayold cake), that's why. But THIS issue is NOT over".

sincerely
etc


wth?

I'm going to send a nice email around 10 am that says I'm so sorry to hear that, and that there is no need for the bride to drive an hour over here to show me 10 day old cake tomorrow, as I won't be available either, we'll be praying for recovery for him etc.

THEN If she gets back to me with whatever she expects me to do, I will explain to her that the issue is simply that they served a perfectly baked but freezing cold cake to their guests, and unfortunately that is not a money-back complaint. (If you serve a frozen pizza at a party and you fail to follow the instructions, so it ends up going on the plates frozen in the middle- your guests will make faces too, but you won't get a refund).

dh is like "WHY are you still discussing this??" lol

cookiemonster025 Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 4:37pm
post #71 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

At 7 a.m. this morning I got an email from MOB saying that the bride's new husband has been rushed into ER and possibly surgery and the bride is too upset and preoccupied to discuss this right now, so "if she doesn't show up tomorrow (friday, with 10dayold cake), that's why. But THIS issue is NOT over".

sincerely
etc


wth?

I'm going to send a nice email around 10 am that says I'm so sorry to hear that, and that there is no need for the bride to drive an hour over here to show me 10 day old cake tomorrow, as I won't be available either, we'll be praying for recovery for him etc.

THEN If she gets back to me with whatever she expects me to do, I will explain to her that the issue is simply that they served a perfectly baked but freezing cold cake to their guests, and unfortunately that is not a money-back complaint. (If you serve a frozen pizza at a party and you fail to follow the instructions, so it ends up going on the plates frozen in the middle- your guests will make faces too, but you won't get a refund).

dh is like "WHY are you still discussing this??" lol




On the plus side, the MOB isn't planning to show up and make your life hell in person!

Your planned response sounds good. I dont see what bringing you 10 day old cake is going to accomplish at this point. Any cake will start to be dry and inedible at this point. I really hope this is all over soon!

costumeczar Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 4:38pm
post #72 of 114

Yeah, sure he went to the hospital, right, okay.

I don't know if you've already emailed them but i'd add that it's pointless to bring back cake that old since the quality won't be representative of what it was on the wedding day. Then the rest of what you were going to say. icon_rolleyes.gif

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 5:10pm
post #73 of 114

Here is what I just sent her. No sense waiting, when someone says "this is NOT over". Oh, yes. I think it IS.


Hi MOB--Very sorry to hear about (groom); please let (bride) know our prayers will be with him. In any case, there is no need for her to make the trip over here, as her cake is now 9 days old.



The explanation for your issue can be found within your own original email description and phone conversation. Italian meringue buttercream cakes need to be allowed time to come to room temperature to soften the butter content in the icing, filling, and cake before serving. The fact that the filling separated from the cake (which indicates overly firm filling and cake at cutting time) means that it was obviously served much too cold and not given time to sufficiently warm up before cutting.

This was clearly indicated in the release of liability and instructions that were signed and left at the bakery, as well as in the copy sent with the cake at pickup on Friday, 24 hours before the wedding. Verbal instructions were also given in terms of set up timing. From pickup onward, your group assumed responsibility of the transport, environment, and final set-up of Sadie's cake, as well as storage for the ensuing 24 hours or so between cake pick up and cake cutting and serving. An issue arising from cutting and serving a cold cake, having not allowed adequate time for it to come to proper room temperature, is not something we can offer compensation for, as those are circumstances beyond our control; hence, the signed instruction and release of liability form. Our cakes are recommended to be set up at the reception no less than 30-60 minutes prior to guest arrival to most receptions, where there is usually then a meal served, toasts made, etc., followed by the cake cutting, which allows sufficient time for the buttercream and cake to come up from refrigeration temperature.

We would be happy to offer (B and G) a free anniversary cake in the flavor of their choice for next year at no charge, or sooner, if they would like. I will let (bride) know all this as well. Beyond that, we would recommend discussing this with whomever was delegated the responsibility of timing for set up of the cake at the reception venue.


CASE CLOSED woman
If she wants to pursue it further, go ahead

kelleym Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 5:38pm
post #74 of 114

I await her reply with bated breath icon_smile.gif

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 5:42pm
post #75 of 114

Oh Kelly,
you and me both baby.

You can be sure it won't be friendly.

I HATE confrontational people, but I refuse to be bullied.

cakegrandma Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 5:59pm
post #76 of 114

I'm glad you took the stand you did and still promoted goodwill for your business. I'm just surprised that the MOB did not call to tell yu the groom got ill off your cake, thus more proof it was inedible. icon_lol.gif

Sparklekat6 Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 6:25pm
post #77 of 114

Perhaps the groom is in the hospital because the MOB drove him there? I'm just say'n... she's probably a problem all around!

jason_kraft Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 6:56pm
post #78 of 114

The timing of the hospital visit does sound suspicious, but again it's best to assume that the customer is telling the truth (and that might explain why it took so long to complain about the cake if there were other health issues to worry about).

Your email reply sounds perfectly reasonable when read by someone who is thinking logically and has their emotions in check. My concern is that the customer will interpret the email as saying "your fault", "not my problem", etc., and this will make things worse (especially the offer of another free cake when she didn't like the first one).

Granted, this issue was probably the fault of either the customer or the venue, but going above and beyond to provide compensation even in cases where you are not to blame is what separates average customer service from excellent customer service, and if you are selling a premium product you should be striving for excellent service.

The best you can hope for at this point is that the customer forgets about you or is preoccupied by other issues, but I have a feeling you will end up battling this issue and the negative PR generated for a long time.

shanter Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:02pm
post #79 of 114

I suggest that if the bride takes you up on the offer of a free anniversary cake (and she probably won't, but you never know) you carefully define the size you'd offer.

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:24pm
post #80 of 114

I texted the bride to say sorry to hear about G and that she need not worry about driving over, as her cake is now 9 days old, and she needs less stress in her life now, not more. Offered free anniv tier and said I had emailed her mother about the issue.

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree-- B texted back that 'a free tier was already paid for' and she doesn't understand why I'm not making this right, upset that it was tasteless and her guests 'took a bite and threw it out" , and etc etc. and that they followed the instructions. (I had one of her cake's leftover cupcakes LAST NIGHT, warmed up for 5 seconds in microwave and it was still fine, like they always are.) In fact, I'm serving them at a tasting today as a little experiment...

I replied to her that if she checks her invoice AND the website, anniv tiers are free for 100 servings or more, hers was 74 servings, but we can still offer it, and that the email explains the situation.

She's just arguing that 'we did what the instructions said' and that I "told" her they get a free anniv tier. No, athough it is usually mentioned at the initial consult (tasting in her case). Free anniv cakes come with 100 servings or more. It is not offered anywhere in our correspondence or her invoice. wow

I'm not responding back. I'm standing by my email, as they are just going to get nastier.

If anything more happens at this point, I will just say that since the anniv tier is usually $25 if ordered for cakes her size, I can offer that amount credit back and leave it at that, which is probably better, since I doubt I want them coming back here to pick up more cake.

MOB will still complain and say that $25 is not enough, but at this point they aren't getting more than what I've offered.

Maintaining professionalism in the face of so much rudeness is a challenge, let me tell you.

shanter Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:30pm
post #81 of 114

You could ask the bride for the guest list with phone numbers so you can "apologize to them" personally.
icon_evil.gifI'm sure she wouldn't give it to you - you might ask them about the perfectly fine tasting (if a little cold) cake!

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:34pm
post #82 of 114

I'm sure this mob is used to doing this everywhere. If you yell loud enough about 'customer satisfaction' (which they keep mentioning) and 'making it right', they can hope that it sounds like they were wronged.

This cake is good. It wasn't dry (it was actually almost underbaked, which I saw when I torted it).

They have mentioned that they spent X amount on it, and it's a lot of money and more than they ever spent on a cake, so there's your first clue.

They just want a bunch of money back.

My replies from now on with them will be super brief and very few, as at this point it will just be an argument. $25 credit for free anniv cake, yes or no? If no, then I will make a note of that and this issue is now CLOSED.

cookiemonster025 Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:38pm
post #83 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

I texted the bride to say sorry to hear about G and that she need not worry about driving over, as her cake is now 9 days old, and she needs less stress in her life now, not more. Offered free anniv tier and said I had emailed her mother about the issue.

Apple doesn't fall far from the tree-- B texted back that 'a free tier was already paid for' and she doesn't understand why I'm not making this right, upset that it was tasteless and her guests 'took a bite and threw it out" , and etc etc. and that they followed the instructions. (I had one of her cake's leftover cupcakes LAST NIGHT, warmed up for 5 seconds in microwave and it was still fine, like they always are.) In fact, I'm serving them at a tasting today as a little experiment...

I replied to her that if she checks her invoice AND the website, anniv tiers are free for 100 servings or more, hers was 74 servings, but we can still offer it, and that the email explains the situation.

She's just arguing that 'we did what the instructions said' and that I "told" her they get a free anniv tier. No, athough it is usually mentioned at the initial consult (tasting in her case). Free anniv cakes come with 100 servings or more. It is not offered anywhere in our correspondence or her invoice. wow

I'm not responding back. I'm standing by my email, as they are just going to get nastier.

If anything more happens at this point, I will just say that since the anniv tier is usually $25 if ordered for cakes her size, I can offer that amount credit back and leave it at that, which is probably better, since I doubt I want them coming back here to pick up more cake.

MOB will still complain and say that $25 is not enough, but at this point they aren't getting more than what I've offered.

Maintaining professionalism in the face of so much rudeness is a challenge, let me tell you.




You're right that there is no point in responding back. I think your last few messages to her and MOB have been quite polite and reasonable. The more you respond, the more they will find ways to twist your words when they talk about the situation to their friends -- ultimately making you look like the bad guy (which we know you are not).

As others have said, it does sound like they are just looking for money back because they ordered too much cake. Guests generally wouldn't be served the cake until it was all cut up (at least thats how it worked at every reception I've been to). If the guests then took a bite and couldn't eat the rest, did the half eaten pieces of cake magically reassemble themselves into a whole tier? Doubtful! It's obvious only half the cake was cut up because only half the cake was what was needed to serve their guests.

Personally, I'd offer them the $25 credit for the anniversary cake you have offered and be done with them. If they take the free cake and you have to deal with them again a year from now you might be setting yourself up for a fresh set of headaches at that time.

Good for you for keeping your cool this whole time. I can't imagine that has been easy!

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:44pm
post #84 of 114

you have no idea!

I am not a patient or very tolerant person at heart, (sorry but it's true and I work on it a lot!) so you can't believe the blue streak of talking-to-myself dialogue going on while I'm working today.

Thank goodness I work alone!! lol

jason_kraft Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:53pm
post #85 of 114

It might be worthwhile to have a friend or family member skilled at verbal rhetoric contact the customer as your "business manager" to help defuse the situation. As it stands, the mutual animosity between you and the customer will only make things worse.

If the cake was 74 servings the order must have been around the $300 range, IMO a $100-150 refund would be worth avoiding the potential storm headed your way. A $25 refund is basically an insult, especially if the customer thought the free anniversary cake was already included.

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 7:58pm
post #86 of 114

Thanks Jason, but since that's exactly what she was angling for to start with, there's no chance of that happening. She can take it to small claims at this point if she has that much energy. Due effort has been made to compensate them; I'm done.

They will get no animosity from my end, be assured.

jason_kraft Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 8:08pm
post #87 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

Thanks Jason, but since that's exactly what she was angling for to start with, there's no chance of that happening.



I'm confused as to why her original intentions would have anything to do with your decision.

The worst case scenario here would probably be a local news report about how you "scammed" the customer with "inedible" cake and refused to offer compensation beyond a free anniversary cake that was "already included". Local news stations love this kind of stuff and they usually don't give merchants a fair shake.

There was a thread on CC a while ago where this actually happened to a decorator, I searched and couldn't find the thread but I remember it was not pleasant.

jason_kraft Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 8:09pm
post #88 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

Thanks Jason, but since that's exactly what she was angling for to start with, there's no chance of that happening.



I'm confused as to why her original intentions would have anything to do with your decision.

The worst case scenario here would probably be a local news report about how you "scammed" the customer with "inedible" cake and refused to offer compensation beyond a free anniversary cake that was "already included". Local news stations love this kind of stuff and they usually don't give merchants a fair shake.

There was a thread on CC a while ago where this actually happened to a decorator, I searched and couldn't find the thread but I remember it was not pleasant.

Chef_Stef Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 8:16pm
post #89 of 114

I cannot possibly claim to know her intent. Our response to their complaint is professional and reasonable, and I stand absolutely by that cake having been perfect inside.

Will keep you all posted but I have 3 weddings to work on and a consult in an hour, so discuss away.

Apti Posted 23 Aug 2012 , 8:23pm
post #90 of 114

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef


My replies from now on with them will be super brief and very few, as at this point it will just be an argument. $25 credit for free anniv cake, yes or no? If no, then I will make a note of that and this issue is now CLOSED.




I admire you for treating this as a BUSINESS transaction, not an EMOTIONAL one. So many times I read posts where the baker throws professionalism straight out the window, becomes emotional, takes it as a direct attack on them (not the "product"), etc.

After all of this, I think your response above is the perfect and appropriate response. I would suggest you keep a journal record/computer print-out, telephone recording of EVERY post-wedding contact made in case it is needed in small claims court down the road. Also, keep a copy of this entire thread. (If you are unable to keep the actual phone conversations, you can actually transcribe and date them in a chronological logbook that may be submitted as evidence in a case of this kind. It won't hold as much weight, but it will certainly lend itself to a more professional, believeable case picture overall.)

Before retirement, I worked with chronic pain patients and severely disabled children and adults. Both patient populations were VERY difficult to deal with because of the associated emotional aspects for the individual and the family members. Weddings seem to be a highly emotional time for clients as well. When you throw in the unfortunate circumstances of the groom's medical condition, you can figure that their emotional control is on major overload.

Many, many times I had clients apologize for outrageous verbal behavior after they had time to cool down. Hopefully your professional approach and the groom's safe recovery and return home to his newly married wife will result in a calmer aspect down the road.

Hang in there! Stay 100% professional. Here's a virtual hug from California: <<<<< >>>>>

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