First REAL complaint...

Business By melimel00 Updated 13 Dec 2013 , 2:16am by melimel00

melimel00 Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 10:01pm
post #1 of 28

If you're like me, cake is everything. It's your life, it's what you eat, sleep and dream about. I went into business officially 3 years ago and have gotten maybe 3 "complaints" total. I follow up with every single person to make sure everything was good.


So like I always do on Mondays, I send out follow up emails to the clients from the past weekend. They are always good, thanking me for my service, "we loved the cake!" type of response. Well, I hadn't heard back from one person in 2 days (I usually hear back from clients within a couple of hours after sending out follow up emails.


Client request- last minute order (1 week in advance- I usually require a 3 week notice because I have a full time day job as well) $200 budget for all fondant covered/decorated 2 tiered cake, 30 servings (I start my fondant servings at $4.50 per serving) along with 2 dozen decorated sugar cookies. Did I mention they had a $200 (firm) budget? :?


By the way the communication (email) was all done during the day before (thurs), the day of and the day after Thanksgiving (friday), order was finally placed on that Saturday. I gave her my sketches with prices and other options that started at $350 and went up from there that included cake and cookies requests.


They decided to go with decorated cookies due to the budget. Ok, no problem- these can easily be done with a 6 day notice and within budget. I give them a call Saturday to take payment for cookies...then they change their mind as I am speaking to them wanting the cake instead and they are now ok with paying over their budget for a cake. So we finalize details, take payment. Several emails were exchanged from the day the order was complete to the Tuesday of- making sure I had the right color, asking me to add more candles, sending several pictures of the correct color they wanted.


I deliver the cake this past Saturday (by the way the wrong address was given to me), they were beyond pleased with the look. Mom proclaimed herself to be a 'mom-zilla' (I guess a joke between her and her friends) and was glad that I was able to deliver the design and colors exactly as they wanted.


In the email, they said the design/colors, my professionalism etc was perfection. However they said my cake tasted like cornbread and something was 'missing' and my chocolate cake was so crumbly that they couldn't cut it without it breaking apart. Also that they expected that the cake look as good as it looks- fair enough and I expect that too. I have never gotten any feedback close to these comments. In fact the only complaints that I ever got was BEFORE I went official and I was still perfecting recipes-back then friends and family said my cake were a little dry but still good. Since then I have dramatically improved my recipes and have gotten positive feedback on every single cake.


1. Yes it was my choice to take the order with just one week notice- after all I have business expenses to pay off! (don't we all!)

2. I had that little funny feeling after the payment was taken and the next day she sent me an email (again) with the exact color they wanted.

3. I taste test all my cakes as I'm stacked and icing them to make sure everything is ok- and like normal everything was ok and nothing out of the ordinary.


It's easy to read about this happening to fellow members on here, but when it happens to you, it's different. After I was able to calm myself down and take a deep breathe and look at this rationally. I tried to remember back to when I was mixing- did I forget any ingredients? When I was baking- did I bake the cakes too long? And I can honestly say that I followed the same procedure I always do. I thought I come here and ask for any feedback, opinions or advice...anything would be great!


P.S. I did offer a free tasting and 10% off her next order- I thought that was fair enough but haven't heard back from her yet.

27 replies
kikiandkyle Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 10:56pm
post #2 of 28

It sucks when you have to learn lessons the hard way - from the sound of the very long list of red flags you gave, this lady is impossible to please and I'd hate to be one of her kids. 


Walk away from these orders in future, you could have done 3 shifts at Walmart and earned the same amount at the end of the day. I bet you worked way harder on this order than you would have done for minimum wage at Wallyworld.

melimel00 Posted 10 Dec 2013 , 11:11pm
post #3 of 28

Yup, worked more hours on this cake than planned because the color kept changing. :sad:

melanie-1221 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 12:43am
post #4 of 28

I'm sorry this happened to you. I'm sure your cake was fine, some people are just difficult to please, some are looking to get money back ,and some are just used to boxed, overly sweet, chemical laden cakes and their palate just can't adjust to scratch cake.

Your client may have been all of the above.

Keep caking, you have a 99% satisfaction rating which is fabulous!

jenmat Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 12:48am
post #5 of 28

So, to clarify- you are 100% convinced that the cake was your standard product? 

Do you do from scratch or mix-based recipes?


There were a lot of flags raised in this order, but I'm not sure any were bright red. If she had gone the other way- from a big order to changing her mind to a small order to save money, I would be more convinced that she was scamming you. However, the way it went down, I'm not sure. 


Would you feel comfortable cutting and pasting her email complaint? 


I'm very sorry this happened to you! Sometimes when you try and go above and beyond for a customer you end up getting yourself in deeper than you thought! I've totally been there!

howsweet Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 1:07am
post #6 of 28

If you are satisfied with the taste of your cake and the 99% of your customers are too, then this is her own personal issue. Not everyone likes the same things.  She sounds so particular, that maybe when the cake didn't taste exactly as what she had it mind, it was decided to be sub par.


Sometimes people who order at the last minute are just so very grateful, but sometimes they are people who expect the word to stop, change directions and revolve around them and act like spoiled brats when it doesn't. The fact that she was trying to make last minute changes, makes her sound more like a self centered, inconsiderate person.


Maybe they were cutting the cake with a dull knife and maybe the vanilla tasted like cornbread because they were drunk as skunks. Who knows? If you are confident in your product and you tasted the cake, then be confident and operate from there. It's not your fault she ordered without enough time for a tasting.


In some people's heads, it's not a very long trip from "this isn't exactly what I wanted" to "I deserve a refund". I don't think she's intentionally trying to scam you.  But that doesn't mean she deserves a refund.


Anyway, if you stand by your product and since there was no time for a tasting, I would no have offered her anything. And you don't want her back as a customer, anyway.

costumeczar Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 2:15am
post #7 of 28

Did you taste the cake when you put it together? If you did, and it was fine, I really think that I would just email back that I was sorry that your cake wasn't what she had expected, but that it was your normal recipe and you had taste tested everything when you put it together and it was fine then. I'd maybe not offer anything discount-wise. If you're SURE that it was fine, and she complained about both flavors, I'd suspect that it wasn't as bad as she was saying. What are the odds that both flavors would be dry and weird? Suspicious...I'd also be booked for any other orders she tried to place.

melimel00 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 3:52am
post #8 of 28

Thanks Melanie! 


Jenmat- I am 100% that it was my standard product and way of baking. I bake everything i make from scratch. I guess my whole thing is I'm trying to figure out if I handled the situation in a professional manner that was both fair to me and her...I agree, red flags but nothing that I would say "ok, NO, I'm not doing it". I don't feel comfortable posting her email, but she did in fact state that she would like to work with me in the future, but would like to know what would be the best way to communicate their flavor requests and expectations (as far as cake flavor goes) This is why I ultimately offered a free cake tasting if she decided to order with me again.


Howsweet- I asked her in my reply back if she used a dull knife or sharp knife because that's the first thing I thought of! But haven't heard back from her yet. It really is a confusing situation because I've never gotten these comments before. It baffles me!


costumeczar- yes ,I did in fact try a small piece of every cake layer. Everything was normal, tasted fine. Nothing was out of the ordinary and I know my recipes well enough to be familiar with how the batter should look like before and after baking. 



Just a little background on my recipes- I use a 'one bowl', almost fool-proof recipe for all my cake flavors. Whenever I held tastings everyone would always choose the 'one bowl' recipe over all the creamed method cakes made with the regular butter, sugar, eggs, flour etc. So based on this, I basically took that one bowl recipe which contains no butter and tweaked it (add/subtracted ingredients to make it work) to make a vanilla bean cake, chocolate cake etc. These new tweaked recipes are the ones that took me about a year to perfect. These are the recipes I serve- even IF i over bake the cakes, they are still moist enough to be good. I have baked these recipes at all different temperatures to see which temp was best, room temp ingredients vs. cold ingredients and the difference- I mean total science experiment for the whole year to see what factors I could and couldn't control and how to fix them.


So I guess that's why I took it to heart when she said my cake tasted like cornbread because of ALL the time and effort it took to perfect these recipes, these recipes are like my babies!- not once have I had someone say that the cakes were dry or crumbly! So that's why I was a little baffled at the comments!


I appreciate all of your feedback! I just wanted to make sure that I handled the situation as best as I could...

Smallfrye Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 4:02am
post #9 of 28

Maybe they were expecting more of a "box mix" flavor vs a scratch cake.

melimel00 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 4:17am
post #10 of 28


Original message sent by Smallfrye

Maybe they were expecting more of a "box mix" flavor vs a scratch cake.

I'm starting to think that this is what they wanted as well.... : /

howsweet Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 4:37am
post #11 of 28

AI bet Smallfrye hit the nail on the head.

costumeczar Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 4:44am
post #12 of 28

Probably...I've had people complain that the strawberry cake wasn't strawberry even though it has a cup of real strawberries in it because it wasn't bright pink. Scratch cakes are denser in general, so people aren't used to that anymore.

kikiandkyle Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 5:11am
post #13 of 28

AYou'd be amazed at how many people think box mix cake is how cake is supposed to taste and feel.

Smckinney07 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 11:58am
post #15 of 28

AI'm so sorry this happened to you.

Honestly, she's lucky to have found someone to make a custom cake last minute. You didn't charge her a rush fee, you offered her a free tasting & a discount towards her next cake and she said she wanted to work with you in the future.

It sounds like you are very organized and good with customer service. You sound very passionate about your work and you seem to take it very seriously, what more can one ask for?! :)

It can be heartbreaking to hear someone wasn't completely happy with your recipes, especially when you work so hard on them. It can be very defeating. I imagine you started second guessing yourself after her complaint. As the others stated above, and you yourself said your recipe was the same. Sadly, many people think those flashfrozen, Crisco filled cakes are what cake should taste like.

Try not to let it get you down.

Norasmom Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 12:46pm
post #16 of 28

Yup, she wanted a box taste mix.  The American palate.  I would not have offered her anything, you did so much for her already.  

-K8memphis Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 1:02pm
post #17 of 28

sorry this happened--but what a nice client though--


random thought--it's been so dang cold--maybe she stored the cake on a closed porch or something and perhaps served it cold? and that combination started a chain reaction amongst her guests maybe--


but all that aside--i  your story of dedication and how you worked so hard to perfect your product--


hats off to you

melimel00 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 2:13pm
post #18 of 28

Yes I completely started to second guess all my recipes! Started thinking back to all the orders I've done, thinking what if all my client in the past were lying to me! lol UGH its been a long couple of days of doubting but you know what? It's impossible to please every single person in the world!

melimel00 Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 2:14pm
post #19 of 28

Thanks K8Memphis! I appreciate your kind words!


In fact, thank you everyone for your kind words and has all made me feel better and brought me back down to calm! :)

-K8memphis Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 2:26pm
post #20 of 28

you are very welcome--glad you're feeling better about it

jenmat Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 3:20pm
post #21 of 28

Well, if that is the case, I really think that unless you want to retain her as a client, I would bow this one out. I wouldn't necessarily offer her a discount on a future order unless you want her business again. And if she didn't like your product, then I personally wouldn't want to take any more risks with her. If you DO want her business, I think having her over for a tasting is an excellent idea. That way the samples are stored properly, presented properly, and you can discuss with her the difference between your cake and a box mix texture. You can also discuss ways to enhance your product to make the texture more to her palate (what filling would be best, what icing, simple syrup, etc). If you choose to keep her, take good care of her and she sounds like she could be your biggest cheerleader. 

Chin up, be proud of your work, and cake on!

costumeczar Posted 11 Dec 2013 , 4:27pm
post #23 of 28

Oh, you do not want this one for a client.

Smckinney07 Posted 12 Dec 2013 , 12:24am
post #26 of 28


Original message sent by howsweet

I think your post was very encouraging and kind, so I hate to pounce on this one sentence, but am going to anyway cause I'm mean ;) 

As business owners, we need to get away from ever thinking anything like this. Having your dog die is heartbreaking. Having to replace your transmission three times in a year is defeating. Having one person not like your cake out of the vast majority who love it, is barely a bump in the road.

It's fine, I'm not easily offended ;)

You're completely correct, you have to have confidence in your product and in yourself.

freestylecakesbyrenne Posted 12 Dec 2013 , 5:18pm
post #27 of 28

AThere is always going to be someone that you can't please, no matter what you do. The first question that comes to my mind is, did they eat the cake the day that you delivered it, or did they wait for a few days?

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