jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 2:00am
post #1 of

Hey everyone. I am feeling really defeated today. I did a cake for a lady on Halloween that was a spell book lying down with a witch's hat lying on it. I covered them in fondant per the customers request. I always ask if they are familiar with fondant and that most people in my area don't like it. She said she understood and wanted it. A little back story about the customer, she was very difficult to work with. She kept saying "If you pass the test, I have a lot of friends that will order from you." She repeated the "If you pass the test" over and over. Very frustrating..... Well the day before it was due, she texted me at 6am to change the size. I had baked the cake the night before to freeze overnight and I always decorate the day before it is due so I am not rushing and sacrificing the quality of the cake. Well, I didnt receive that text because I mute my phone until 7. At 2:00 that afternoon, she messaged me that since I hadn't responded, she was going to go elsewhere.I replied saying that I didn't get that message and sorry, but the cake was almost done. She said ok. When I delivered the cake, she said she loved it and I definitely passed the test. 

 

Fast forward to today. She posted on a local facebook classifieds page looking for someone to do a cake and not screw up on it. Well, I was taken back by that and messaged her. I simply said, "I noticed your post on the classifieds page about wanting a cake done that wont be screwed up, is there something you weren't happy with? I am very sorry if there was. Please let me know. Thank you." She came back saying that all the party guests complained(bad word) that the top was very hard. It was covered in fondant. I apologized and said that fondant does harden, but I was very sorry that she was unhappy. She then said she would give me another try, which I said sorry I was booked( because I will NOT do another cake for her) and that I wanted to apologize and clear things up. She replied saying "It is a shame that the cake ended up in the trash." To that I said, " Well I am sorry." She obviously took that in the wrong context and said "Don't get nasty with me! I am just being honest." I replied with " I am not being nasty. I am sincerely sorry you weren't happy" End of conversation.

 

Well, this has really hit me hard. I am relatively new to baking and decorating out my my home and I am an emotional person. How do I deal with this? Do I need to do something different with the fondant? Was this just a nasty customer that was looking to get a rouse? Please help?

38 replies
cmc811 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 2:05am
post #2 of

Honestly, I think it was someone wanting you to offer to do the cake she needs now for free. She seems like the type of person that will never truly be happy with anything you present to you so I would just try to forget it and move on.
 

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 2:42am
post #3 of

We need to know a bit more about the actual cake. I feel I know enough about the woman that you cannot please her, so I am very glad you said you were booked!

 

Was it the fondant or the cake that was hard? Was there buttercream under the fondant, and what fondant did you use? Did you over-bake the cake, by any chance. Please describe your methods so that we may see if you did do anything wrong. 

 

On another note, you should have the cake paid for IN FULL before you turn on your oven, and no one can threaten to "go with someone else" the day before the party. As far as changes go, the design, size and flavors, and fillings should all be final before the cake is paid for, and no changes are made after that day. 

And for another, where the hell was she going to go to get a custom cake with fondant the day  before the party, anyway? I don't like this Bee Itch. 

jason_kraft Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 2:57am
post #4 of

AI'm surprised you replied at all to her post in the classifieds, I would think you'd be glad not to have to deal with her as a customer anymore.

uberathlete Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:13am
post #5 of

What brand of fondant did you use, and when you were rolling it out did you use cornstarch or powdered sugar?

jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:24am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by uberathlete 

What brand of fondant did you use, and when you were rolling it out did you use cornstarch or powdered sugar?

I used Powdered sugar. I am a self taught baker/decorator so I don't know the best way. I was just told by someone to use powdered sugar. Is that a culprit for it hardening?

peppercorns Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:25am
post #7 of

Wow, I feel your pain, there are two ways of looking at this experience, either you rise up to the challenge and bake and decorate more until you master your style like the back of your hand, and sorry folks if you don't like the final product, or you will allow this experience to dictate how you feel. Don't. Don't forget she does not pay your bills, nor feed you or live with her. Life is too short.cowboy.gif

jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:29am
post #8 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

We need to know a bit more about the actual cake. I feel I know enough about the woman that you cannot please her, so I am very glad you said you were booked!

 

Was it the fondant or the cake that was hard? Was there buttercream under the fondant, and what fondant did you use? Did you over-bake the cake, by any chance. Please describe your methods so that we may see if you did do anything wrong. 

 

On another note, you should have the cake paid for IN FULL before you turn on your oven, and no one can threaten to "go with someone else" the day before the party. As far as changes go, the design, size and flavors, and fillings should all be final before the cake is paid for, and no changes are made after that day. 

And for another, where the hell was she going to go to get a custom cake with fondant the day  before the party, anyway? I don't like this Bee Itch. 

She said it was the fondant. I baked the cake Tuesday night and froze it tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. I decorated it Wednesday. Yes I did a layer of butter cream under the fondant. between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. I used Wilton boxed fondant from Wal-Mart. I don't think I over-baked the cake. Like I said, I decorated it Wednesday and wrapped it in plastic wrap and refridgerated it until Thursday around 3pm.

jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:33am
post #9 of

This is the cake.

 

*

Sassyzan Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:43am

AI think your cake is adorable. The buttercream should keep the fondant from getting too hard. Maybe she didn't really know what fondant was? It's obvious that there is no pleasing this woman.

Niabk1 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 3:51am

AThis was a very cute cake. I too am a beginner and self taught. I learned that Wilton fondant doesn't taste great. I use it only to sculpt. I love satin ice fondant. Not sure why te fondant would have hardened to that extent in such a short time. Maybe she just wanted a free cake. I learned a long time ago you can not please everyone. Also always at least ask for a deposit of min half te total cost of the cake. Good luck!!

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:09am

A

Original message sent by Sassyzan

I think your cake is adorable. The buttercream should keep the fondant from getting too hard. Maybe she didn't really know what fondant was? It's obvious that there is no pleasing this woman.

Exactly! I could see it getting hard if there was no buttercream. And if it did get hard, for whatever reason, why would you throw the whole thing away? Why not peel it off and eat it? She's either a liar or stupid. Or both ;-)

FYI, you can make your own fondant look for Marshmallow Fondant recipe

specialk1978 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:25am

I am also a self taught cake baker and decorator. And I have used the Wilton's fondant and personally I don't it, nothing against them I love there products, but their fondont doesn't taste right to me, no matter how hard I tried to flavor it, it just didn't taste right. So I always make my own. But that still no excuse on how that lady treated u, she could've went about it a different way, but there are different fondant recipes u can use.

remnant3333 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:57am

Maybe she hated the fondant and threw away the cake instead of peeling the fondant off. There are many people who have only eaten butter cream cakes and they don't even know what fondant is. Years ago my aunt made my wedding cake but it was all butter cream and no fondant. At that point, I had never heard of fondant but that was about 35 years ago. I have read that many people never eat the fondant and most peel it from the cake because they do not like it where as some love it.

 

Your cake was very cute and I bet it tasted good!!! You did a great job on the cake!!!

I don't think this woman would be happy with any cake. Don't let this woman discourage you!!! Everyone on CC has had experience with these type of people. She may have wanted a free cake!!! Hang in there and keep your faith!!!

vgcea Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 6:21am

Your cake looks good, and if she liked it when you delievered it, and did not contact you to complain, you should have left it there. You opened up yourself to the criticism when you responded to her ad. What were you expecting? I say dust it off your back, it's a learning process. Your cake is cute, don't let some lady get to you.

tracyaem Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 1:01pm

Your cake is adorable, I think this woman is just trouble. My guess is with all the "if you pass the test, you'll get lots of business" hype she was hoping to get a discount/freebie on this cake and you would never hear from her again. May I ask what size the cake was and what you charged? My guess is she's just pulling the same scam with her new classifieds post. She'll find some other baker to do a cheap cake and promise tons of business if it's good.

 

The people who have to tell you what good customers they are, usually aren't :)

Suuske Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 1:17pm

I'm so sorry this happened to you. It is a very cute and adorable cake icon_wink.gif. Personally I would have run for the hills the moment she uttered the words "if you pass the test"... I think she is just one difficult lady, and I feel a bit sorry for her next baker who "needs to pass the test"... 

Norasmom Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:03pm

She's just not a nice person.   There was no need for her to go into detail about the cake going into the trash!  Also, I cannot imagine going to a party and complaining to the hostess about the cake she is serving...!

Wilton Fondant has a bad reputation on this website, but it won't destroy an entire cake.   

kikiandkyle Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:26pm

Did she mean the hat got hard, because honestly I probably would have taken that off to serve the cake anyway, and it probably would have ended up in the trash, at absolutely no fault of the baker, but simply because that's what tends to happen to fondant decorations. 

 

Sounds like she's a seasoned PITA let me see what I can get for free type. You know those people that expect a free meal at every restaurant they go to, because there was one ice cube too many in their soda. When she starts out by setting an unknown standard that you are going to have to reach, she is laying the groundwork for her later complaint. 

Amazzerb6 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:55pm

Hello there.  Your cake looks super.  I'm only a novice, but I was told that once I had put the fondant on the cake, not to wrap it and definitely not to put it in the fridge.  I just put mine in a card cake box. You can make your cake, let if cool completely then wrap it well  in cling film and foil before putting it in the freezer.  You can start decorating next day as the cake has had time to "settle"  I've never used Wilton sugarpaste/fondant so I'm not sure how it performs, the one I use is Renshaw's Regal Ice.  Hope you can get that over there, as it works well and tastes good too. Put that experience behind you and keep baking as you clearly have talent.

therealmrsriley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:56pm

Your cake was absolutely adorable! Don't let one negative person's criticisms diminish your success. I, too, am self-taught and I'm learning slowly but surely that all business isn't good business. Sometimes being new to baking and designing cakes, we're so happy to do cakes that come our way because it's such a joy that you're eager to share. But moving forward, you'll now be able to see who will be difficult/unpleasant and decide from there if you want the headache/heartbreak of doing business with them. In the meantime, encourage yourself. She's just one person and if she couldn't appreciate a great cake, think of how many more compliments you've gotten on other cakes.

remnant3333 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 4:58pm

Sorry you had to go through this!! Your cake underneath the fondant probably tasted fine!!! Your cake was so cute!!! You did a great job!!!

 

Most people hate the taste of fondant especially the Wilton one. I have heard the marshmallow fondant is much better. I have never tried fondant but heard too many people say they always peel it off of the cake  and do not like the taste of it. Every one has different tastes. Don't let this woman get to you.  Hang in there!!!

Amazzerb6 Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 5:13pm

Hello There  Your cake looks super.  I'm also a novice decorator but at the first course I attended, the advice given was that once the fondant/sugarpaste is on the cake, you don't wrap it in anything or  put it in the fridge.  I put my cakes in a card cake box and depending on what kind of cake you make (I make madiera cakes because they are quite firm and can withstand the sugarpaste) they are perfectly alright for a couple of weeks - one to make and decorate and the second to have it eaten.  I've never used Wilton fondant, so I don't know how it performs, but I use Renshaw Regal Ice, which works very well and tastes good too. I'm sorry you've had such a bad experience, but put it behind you and carry on baking/decorating as you clearly have talent.  
 

ellavanilla Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 5:39pm

Just a tip, if a customer doesn't come directly to you with a problem. don't set yourself up for a verbal beating by asking.  Differing expectations and sometimes, just plain rudeness can lead some people to seize an opening and jump down your throat. 

 

I understand that you wanted your customer to be pleased and that's good! Achieve that by providing the best product you can, defining clear expectations, and goals and delivering what you promise.  Then you can rest assured that you have done all you can for your customer. 

 

Try and shake off the bad feeling, otherwise you'll let it linger. Keep in mind that there will always be difficult people. I refer to my sister who grilled me about the cello bags and specifically, the color of the ties I use to package my cookies, the size and color of the ingredient labeling, and changed her order the night before...for her $3 Christmas cookie packages. MY SISTER. 

 

hang in there. 

jen

jason_kraft Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 5:51pm

AIf she was expecting something for free, she would have complained soon after the order and attempted to get her money back. Since she didn't even say anything to OP until she was contacted this is probably a genuine complaint, it could be the result of a miscommunication or misunderstanding of what fondant is.

jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 6:59pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyaem 

Your cake is adorable, I think this woman is just trouble. My guess is with all the "if you pass the test, you'll get lots of business" hype she was hoping to get a discount/freebie on this cake and you would never hear from her again. May I ask what size the cake was and what you charged? My guess is she's just pulling the same scam with her new classifieds post. She'll find some other baker to do a cheap cake and promise tons of business if it's good.

 

The people who have to tell you what good customers they are, usually aren't :)

I did an 11x15 covered in fondant with the hat being from a small heart shaped pan. I charged her $52.

Annabakescakes Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 7:14pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlhinkley 

I did an 11x15 covered in fondant with the hat being from a small heart shaped pan. I charged her $52.

At my bakery, an 11x15  serves 35, and the heart, I would guesstimate 12, for a total of 47 servings, and would charge 3 times what you did. You GAVE it to her for about $1.10 a serving. Please keep in mind that if you will be doing custom cakes, you should wait until you feel you are are at your best until you start selling. You will always continue to learn and get better, but you need the confidence and the knowledge of KNOWING your product is the best, so you don't let complaints get you down. 

 

And when you do feel great about them, charge WAY more than you are doing now. 

tracyaem Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 7:21pm

According to Wilton, an 11x15 double layer serves 60. I can't tell from the pic, but it looks like a single layer maybe? So 30 servings (ignoring the hat). Regardless, you seriously undercharged! Especially if you were buying Wilton fondant retail, that stuff ain't cheap!

 

And yes, I agree that the lady was not asking outright for a free cake... but when people lead off with "if you pass the test, I'll give you oodles of business" they know what they are doing. Especially when you see them doing it over and over (as this woman is doing with her classifieds). She is not truly looking for her go-to baker. She's looking for smaller bakers eager to get business and taking advantage of them by implying that if they satisfy her, she'll create a windfall. Had OP not contacted her, she would never have complained (who would - she got cake for 30 (or 60?) people for $52!!!). When OP contacted her, she had to come up with an excuse for why she never brought on the deluge of cake orders implied... hence the "hard cake" comments.

 

My point to the OP is, I don't think you should stress over this woman's comments because she went elsewhere and didn't come back to you. I don't think she ever had any intention of doing so and it's not a reflection on your cake. I also think you should raise your prices, at $.90-$1.75/serving for fondant you're paying people to take your cakes.

Izzy Sweet Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 7:28pm

Well in my honest opinion I think you got the last laugh by saying you were booked...I say that because she said you needed to pass her test..Booked or not she is probably a little mad because you did not need her to get business. Your cake looked great and I do not believe she was scouting for you in particular on the classifieds, she is just a woman who has probably had everything handed to her all her life..At the end you handed back her test by saying you were booked !!! Good for you !!! I also commend you for calling and finding out, That takes courage and because I realize you just wanted to learn from your mistakes I think that was awesome of you. Sorry that you did not learn anything from that except people sometimes will hurt others just to get what they want. Good for you for not budging!!!

 

jlhinkley Posted 12 Feb 2013 , 7:46pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

At my bakery, an 11x15  serves 35, and the heart, I would guesstimate 12, for a total of 47 servings, and would charge 3 times what you did. You GAVE it to her for about $1.10 a serving. Please keep in mind that if you will be doing custom cakes, you should wait until you feel you are are at your best until you start selling. You will always continue to learn and get better, but you need the confidence and the knowledge of KNOWING your product is the best, so you don't let complaints get you down. 

 

And when you do feel great about them, charge WAY more than you are doing now. 

I understand that most people think I charge way too little for my cakes. The problem is that I live in a very small town. Population 9,000. I live in rural Wyoming. Here we have a Wal-Mart, an Albertsons, and 2 small bakeries. They do not sell custom cakes, Walmart prices are so low that I try to go in between a high end bakery and walmart. There is a few other places around here that do cakes and yes they charge much more but I get the customers that think they are too pricey. The demand for my cakes is not high enough here to charge too much. I am currently figuring out how much my cost is and then thinking about charging at least $7 an hour for my labor.

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