Blown away by this customer...I'm at a loss for words, which doesn't happen often!

Business By BeesKnees578 Updated 9 Mar 2014 , 10:00am by maisie73

BeesKnees578 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 10:23pm
post #1 of 40
I have had customers tell me that their quote was not what they planned on paying for a cake...OK, fine.  Thank you for considering me and have a nice day!
So I get a request yesterday from a girl who's fiance is going off to the Marines.  SUPER commendable.  She needs cake for 150.  I have her a quote for a 3 tier cake plus a layered sheet to serve her guests ($480), or two layered sheets of which the bigger one would be decorated - I typically don't do sheets, but thought I would make an exception for a future Marine - ($400).
Those are two expensive so I break it down and she said she wants the $130 layered 9x13 serving 65 because they are having a bunch of other desserts - I go with the wedding size servings bc I make them about 4.5" tall.  That's only $2.00 serving.  I told her not to worry about the design and I would like to surprise them both and that I wasn't charging additional for the design as it would be a Thank You for his service.
"okay do you have sheet cakes or half sheet i know you have sizes but i dont know what those sizes are, comparing to size i dont want a tiny cake because when were trying to represent the marines it will look weird i really want to go with your company because you seem like you can blow this out of the water but your pricing is quite up there. "
At $2.00 a freaking serving......and no design charge.....REALLY????!!!!!
Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth!  I was planning on surprising them with the 3 tier cake awesomely decorated....weeeellllll, not so much now!
I told her what the size was and how much it served.  I didn't think I was unclear.  So she picked the smaller cake and then came back and said she didn't want it to be small because it would look "weird".
And my pricing is quite up there....I think I will write up a full blown quote including my additional decorating time AND the fondant that I was going to have to cover it in because the SUPER awesome design I had in mind would require it be covered in fondant.
Just breathe.....
I want to respond all snarky and mean, but that is just bad PR.  I really wanted to help them.  I am guessing she is very young and naive.  I will probably just end giving them a gentle education.
This is the first time I have EVER been offended by a customer.  Never have I had such a bold, ignorant response.  I am totally feeling some of the previous rant posts of a similar nature!
39 replies
BeesKnees578 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 11:00pm
post #2 of 40

And that $2.00/serving was a gift, too....I normally charge starting at $3.00/svg for a cake being prepped for proper decoration.  Sheet cakes, I charge less because I don't worry about having PERFECT icing....only smooth, or a nice texture.

Lizzybug78 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 11:21pm
post #3 of 40

AI'm sorry you had that happen bees knees, it sucks when people are so completely ignorant of not only the work you are offering to do, but also of basic manners in their replies.

I will never understand why people think it's OK to tell you your talents aren't worth paying for. 'It's more than my budget' is fine. 'Your prices are ridiculous' is not!

cheeseball Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 11:23pm
post #4 of 40

Yep, she really doesn't know any better.

BeesKnees578 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 11:34pm
post #5 of 40

I'm still seething a little and I just don't know how to respond in a way that will make her understand AND not make her go tell all of her friends that I am a total (insert mean name).


My usual style is loaded with sarcasm, but I know that will not work here!

Lizzybug78 Posted 4 Mar 2014 , 11:58pm
post #6 of 40

AIf it makes you feel any better, my husband had to sit next to me whilst I replied to the person who asked me for a quote tonight to ensure I didn't vent my anger to her :-) Mind you, at least your customer complimented you before saying you charge too much, so that's something...

My style also usually tends towards sarcasm - sometimes bordering on thinly veiled contempt, so I often write the whole thing out with exactly what I want to say, read it to myself, then delete and do a polite version for the sake of my business! It helps to get it out of my system.

I have started just mentioning how long it will take for a cake to be made when I get told prices are too high. For instance, 'X will do this cake for £20'. 'I'm glad you found someone within your budget who can do X hours of work for that price, and I hope your cake is lovely'. My hope is it will at least make them think for two seconds about the time involved!

ellavanilla Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 12:34am
post #7 of 40

Just a tip, when I am going beyond for a customer I always make it clear so that they will know.


"My cakes start at $3/serving but in honor of... I am offering you $2/slice."


However, I never discount anymore. It's just too frustrating because some people just don't appreciate what you're doing for them and I can't be bothered with the bad feelings. 


So, if, for example, I want to try a new decorating technique on a cake, I put it on the invoice, and then subtract it at the end. Even if it's free delivery. I don't want anyone to assume anything.



AZCouture Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 12:40am
post #8 of 40

AIt's discouraging, but what can you do. You dodged a bullet, because you probably wouldn't have received any thanks in return for your generosity. I'm in a big military area, and some of the military people are super grateful for offers like that, and some are demanding and ungrateful. The actual enlisted and retired members, I've yet to meet one that isn't pleasant. It's usually the girlfriends and wives. Just Google dependapotamus, and you should get a clear picture of that. ;-)

AZCouture Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 12:42am
post #9 of 40

AAnd I swear to God, if a single person interprets that as a blanket description of ALL military spouses....then, well I can't help that misconception.

maisie73 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 1:06am
post #10 of 40

AIs that another "disclaimer" AZCouture? I did as you suggested and Googled "Dependapotomus" because I hadn't heard it before. I read that in the military world it's the equivalent of the c word or the b word. Odd to read that in a thread about somebody being offended by a bold, ignorant response.

cakesbycathy Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 2:20am
post #12 of 40

She wants a custom cake but wants Costco pricing.

I wouldn't go into any kind of explanation.  If she can't afford you, she can't afford you.

I would simply email her back:

"I'm sorry I am unable to provide you with a cake within your budget.  I was already factoring a military discount into the price and the price I quoted you is firm.  I understand if you need to go elsewhere for your cake.  I wish you (and your fiance) good luck."

Norasmom Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:00am
post #13 of 40

I understand your frustration!  


My NEIGHBOR did this exact thing to me….LOL  I now know she is the cheapest human on the planet.  Fortunately, I don't need her business.  Actually, I didn't even make her the sheet cake, I told her I only make round cakes, which is officially true as of my last conversation with her.  She wanted a sheet cake because she thought I would charge less.  No way…and she thinks she can refer her friends to me, who are just as cheap.  So now I have told her I am all set, I don't need referrals, I have a very high-end customer base that keeps me busy. :-D


It is so nice that you were willing to do this for a marine.   We need to take care of our military.


My husband says good deed goes unpunished.  Might be true in many cases.  Won't keep me from doing good things, just will keep me on my feet about who the recipients are.

BeesKnees578 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:28am
post #14 of 40

So I wrote her a VERY long email....go figure.  Me?  Wordy?  No surprise there if you read any of my responses to posts.  I considered deleting before sending several times but read over it many times and thought it was appropriate.  My only fear is that she DOES take offense and spouts her mouth to others saying how rude I was...


Here it is.  And, yes, I am keeping it just in case I need it again.


Hi, Gina,
Thank you so much for considering me and I appreciate the fact that you think I can blow this out of the water.  I am happy that you can appreciate my talents that I put into making my cakes the best they can be.
I am going to take this opportunity to explain some things to you since you believe my pricing to be “quite up there”.  Which I agree with you to some degree.  I am up there, but I am certainly not the highest and definitely not the lowest.
But here is why I am “up there”.  And I am just offering this as an explanation so you can see where I’m coming from. 
    I pay the same for ingredients that everyone else does at the grocery store.  No bulk discounts here.
    I put together every cake mix and batch of icing from scratch with quality ingredients...not mass produced mixes that are full of chemicals and fake ingredients.
    This all takes time and shopping, utilities, clean-up, non-food items (boxes, cake boards, structural elements, etc.), ingredients, etc.
    I take time to sketch out designs, send out quotes, make shopping lists, etc.
    While I am not the most talented cake artist in the world, I do value my own time that it takes to create great designs.   Some of the cakes that I make take well over 10 hrs just to do the decorating.  I charge by the hour for how long I    
    know it will take me to complete the cake so that I can actually pay myself a decent wage, not just the leftovers after I pay for my ingredients (and all the other little things above that add up to more than you’d think).
    I do not work for minimum wage because what I do requires more skill than the average Joe off the street.   Often when you add up these cakes (time and ingredients) and divide what you charged by that number, you realize you only
    made $5.00/hr.  That isn’t worth my time.
    If I wanted to work for minimum wage, I would make cakes for a grocery store and just slap on the icing prebaked and frozen cakes and have no creative say in the regular, everyday, boring cakes that I would be required to pump out on
    demand that they sell for pennies (and it is the same price that most people think they should pay for a custom cake, as well).  I am not kidding you when I say those cakes get pumped out in less than a half hour...or very close to it.  So
    there is absolutely no comparison to a cake that took a half-hour and one that takes 10 hrs.
So when you tell me I can blow this out of the water and then go on to say that my pricing is quite up there, you are telling me that you think I can really rock a cake but you don’t value my time that I have put into making that cake rock.  I have tough skin and I could say it hurt my feelings.  It didn’t though, as I know there are few who know what all goes into well-made custom cakes, but I was a bit surprised (slightly insulted) by your blatant disregard for the value of my time.  I am truly hoping that you didn’t mean to come off that way.
To put it in perspective, if you go out to dinner with your family to a mid-level restaurant (Olive Garden, Red Lobster,etc.) and you decide to order dessert, you will pay about $5.00/person.  This is for a slice of cake that was most likely made in a factory by a machine.  Not handcrafted by an individual for many, many, many hours.
I understand that I am not in your budget and that is OK, but  my website specifically says that my party cakes start at $3.00/serving and may incur additional fees for design.  So the pricing that I gave you was already discounted and I was going to create a really awesome cake for no additional charges for the design....and the design I had in mind would have been at least another $150-200.00 (again, at no charge, in honor of your fiance and the commitment that he has made to this country).  Crazy as it sounds, there are people willing/able to pay it. 
With all of that being said, I don’t want you to go away thinking that I’m being mean or snotty or rude.  Much of my time is spend explaining to people what my job entails.  There will be people who appreciate it and have the means to pay for it.  There will be people who have the means to pay for it and they will think it’s outrageous.  I am not offended that some people think I am ridiculously priced, and to them I say...try and make the cake yourself.  It’s not as easy or as cheap as some think.  But I have built my business on repeat customers who truly believe that I am worth every penny they pay me.  I am very thankful to them.
As fate would have it, a family obligation has come up and I won’t be able to do anything, regardless if an agreement was made.  There are some other home bakeries in the area that you can try to contact if you don’t want to go to a grocery store.,,,, there are others but I can’t think of them off the top of my head.   Otherwise, there’s Rito’s, Colozza’s, Michaelangelo’s, etc., these are store-front operations, so they may have more availability at this late notice.
So thank you for contacting me.  I, again, do not want to come off as nasty...I’m a really nice person, I promise you.  I just wanted to take a loooong moment to help you understand the work involved.
Take care, and I am hoping you will be able to find a great cake that meets your expectations within your budget.
My apologies,
MimiFix Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:42am
post #16 of 40

In my opinion, venting here on CC is fine. But a wordy response to someone who will never be your customer, is not appropriate. 

Norasmom Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:48am
post #18 of 40

I just looked at your cakes.  Marine or not, that $2.00 a serving thing should NEVER be happening…ever.   Your cakes are really high quality.  There are many ways to thank the military so don't feel badly about the cake.


The response is long, it might help to just vent on CC and email her saying "I am unable to work within the parameters of your budget, as I must remain profitable to stay in business, but thank you for your inquiry."

AZCouture Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:49am
post #19 of 40


Original message sent by maisie73

Is that another "disclaimer" AZCouture? I did as you suggested and Googled "Dependapotomus" because I hadn't heard it before. I read that in the military world it's the equivalent of the c word or the b word. Odd to read that in a thread about somebody being offended by a bold, ignorant response.

Oh dear, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's equivalent to those words, just the general "gimme gimme" attitude displayed by them, certainly not getting into words like that.

BeesKnees578 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 4:18am
post #20 of 40

Her response:  A little hard to muddle through but I think we came to an understanding.  I suggested Costco in addition to the other names I gave her.  And told her that is where my SIL gets her cakes if I can't do them.  Truth.


"Wow Well I never meant to offend you I know it takes a lot of time and effort but I am 20 years old and working two jobs to pay for everything I just don't have money to pay for a really nice cake I wish I did so I am sorry if you don't want to make the cake because I said your prices are a little pricey but that's probably everywhere your right. I wanted a Baker like you because it was not frozen and it took time and I know everyone has to take care of their selves and there family to. But like I said I'm only 20 trying to support my fiance and myself while he's gone and I would love a super nice cake but it's out of my budget sorry but after all your information and your venting I appreciate you trying to help until I offended you but also don't think people don't appreciate your work just because they can't afford it you didn't know I was only 20 so …………… "


I'm not sure what I feel worse about...that I told her a slight lie (not being in town after all) or that the education system has completely failed her.  At least the written English part.  These poor kids....that, coupled with the math they're learning now....oh, boy!

SugaredSaffron Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 5:33am
post #22 of 40

I appreciate your frustration but I think it was a real bad move to effectively rant at this young woman. Clearly she had no idea about what a custom cake costs and she didn't show 'blatant disregard' for the value of your time. At least she was being honest about her budget and your pricing. She didn't ask you for a favour, you wanted to give her one and she didn't know what was inside your head. You could have sent a short and sweet reply and recommended some people that could work within a budget, why try and 'school' her in such a manner? And believe me, I've had to do the email explanations about why I can't do your £900 cake for £300 but I hope I've never come across as badly as that.

I would have been offended if you sent me that nose in the air reply.

BeesKnees578 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 6:07am
post #23 of 40

AYes, regretting it a touch but it's all good. We have both apologized to each other. Doesn't mean she's not going to tell her friends that I'm a mean person. And if she does, then I probably deserve it.

I so hate when I open my mouth when I know I shouldn't. Live and learn, I guess.

nancylee61 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 1:15pm
post #24 of 40

AI'm a teacher, and I am always trying to educate people, even in manners! LOL! Which many, many Americans need. Your response was wordy but not mean. She was rude in her response about your prices, and she should have looked at your website before contacting you, but I bet most people dont.

i think people have a general idea that your cake will cost more than Costco from just looking at it - just like I know a Maserati costs more than my Honda Fit. But we have become an entitled people, and while most can't have the Maserti, they want a fancy cake at a Wal mart price because they think they can bargain a small business person (and woman) down. So next time I buy a car, I'm going to Mercedes and saying, "I want a new Mercedes, but I'm (fill in the blank)so I can only pay 15,000." Sure, they'll sell me one at a loss. BecauseI am so special. Insert eye roll here.

Sorry to get all anthropological with you - I'm worried about how I'll handle stuff like this, and the other thread of another 20 year old who responded with something like, "LOL, ridiculous cost." It's really hard to not take these kind of responses personally.

Best, Nancy

Claire138 Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 3:30pm
post #25 of 40

Bees Knees - your response made me smile as I am over explainer on everything. When I mean to say one thing I end up saying another and before I know it I've written the equivalent of a small novel. My family has gotten used to it but clients not so much esp as I tend to get all muddled and have an old fashioned written form which confuses people. Telephone is my best friend in these circumstances! 

On another note, I blame the tv shows for all this as it is so hard for people to understand that it does not take 20 mins to thrash out a 3 tier cake with figurines and beautiful flower arrangements esp as most don't show the price so they don't know what people are paying for said cake, neither do they show the back round people who are busy sculpting etc so they really have no idea. 

maybenot Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 8:50pm
post #26 of 40

I guess, in the end, it's just really hard to explain to someone that we all have things that we want, but just can't afford.....................


If I go to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk and I have $4.00 in my pocket, I can only buy what I can afford--the store brand--even if I want the organic, hormone free stuff that's $6.00.   I may believe that the $6 milk is better than the $4.00 milk, but pleading to the manager about it, or complaining that the price is too high, still won't get me that more expensive milk.


The current climate is that if we want it, then we should have it--and that someone should make sure we get it, even when we don't have the money.  That someone can be parents, relatives, a stranger, or a business.  Just throw it at the wall and see who it sticks to.............


I don't get what it is about cake decorators that makes it acceptable for a potential client to come back with comments on the decorator's pricing structure.  The US is just NOT a haggling society.  Decorators don't deliberately ask for 2X what they actually need to receive and then happily acquiesce when the client generously offers to pay half the price. The price set is the price paid. 


Glad to see that you dodged the bullet!  She's missing out on a great cake by not being able to see the forest for the trees.

Zakared Posted 5 Mar 2014 , 9:25pm
post #28 of 40

When I think about this, we definitely need to be firm with our pricing and not feel one iota of guilt over charging what we charge.


And I relate to the example with the milk.  Try beating down your car repair service for their prices; good luck with that one.


The thing that comes to my mind (and I know its a rude one), but ask the customer (only the rude ones) what their job is and how much they make.  Then tell them that no, they are paid way too much and their boss should cut their pay in half.  Watch the indignation soar!  So then state that they do a valuable job and so do you and both should be paid a fair amount for the work involved.


Well, I at least dream about saying that to a snarky customer.  I haven't had a customer complain about too high prices, they just usually never call back.  But then again, they aren't my customer.  Keep looking forward and let go of the guilt.


Usually when we get upset about stuff like this, it's because we either feel bad for charging so much and losing a potential customer, or we are insecure with our skills or worth as a baker/decorator. You have nothing to feel bad about. Your skills are top notch and you charge what is required, end of story.

costumeczar Posted 6 Mar 2014 , 1:13am
post #29 of 40

There is absolutely no reason to ever get offended by someone who says that your pricing is too high. All you need to do is finish the sentence since they forget to add the most important part of it..."Your pricing is too high  FOR ME." She did say that she couldn't afford that, so to her yes, your pricing is "up there." For someone else it won't be. No reason to get offended. And you definitely don't need to write a long explanation that results in everyone needing to apologize to each other. We all need to just get over the feeling of being insulted when people can't afford our prices. Not everyone can afford everything.

nancylee61 Posted 6 Mar 2014 , 3:11am
post #30 of 40

AYes, true, but I have read examples of people being rude over it, and that can hurt, even if you know you are not overpricing and that the person is being rude. Maybe it's because it is an art, maybe it's because most decorators are women, but people do feel free to say things they wouldn't say to the mechanic or the grocery store manager. I saw it when I had a shop with local and American handmade goods. Some people were really rude when something handmade was expensive. What can you do? I wanted to snap, but I had to shut up and smile. And online, it's even worse.

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