AHi folks! I bake cakes for a catering company in new zealand. Today I had my first complaint- doesn't feel great. But as Iv worked as a manager in many restaurants I know people get upset and their words hurt you more than they realise. Firstly our cakes are very cheap. The budget I had for this was $115 nzd (99usd). The picture she sent me was a 4teir wedding cake. I did my best to try and get out of her what she was after, she changed her mind between 1 and 2 tiers, the colours, the themes- ugh i knew there was going to be a problem. Ill post her message and my reply below but I just wanted some reassurance on weather I should do anything else(what more experienced decorators would do).
"Hi thanks for the cake I am abit upset I think the idea is there but the cake isn't want I I thought it would be like I have been buying my kids cakes now for 6 years and have never been so disappointed"
My reply: "Im really sorry you feel that way Tasha, Ive never had anyone ever be disappointed with any cake they have received from me. I pride myself on happy customers. I did find I was guessing alot with your cake as i wasn't given a full design brief. The only requirements you gave me was for the top tier to be red velvet and white cake, bottom choc. Flowers and lollipops. First you mentioned pink and white and then we agreed red and white with a candy theme. You do have to remember you are comparing to a 4 tier wedding cake as a pose to a mini 2tier. If you had mentioned to me that you really wanted a big bow I could have incorporated one but it would have been a higher price and i would have begun assembling it days ago. I can totally appreciate that you obviously have had an idea in your mind which your set on but I'm unable to replicate it if Im not told 100% what your after."
She sounds like a fickle little girl who wants free cake. Just that she couldn't even decide what she wanted. For $99 that cake is quite nice, so don't worry about it anymore. Plus, your catering company should be backing you up on this one.
AWhat do the previous cakes that she got from this company look like? Grander? Simpler? Was she expecting something that the company could have had some input on? I'm assuming her reference to six years of previous cakes was from the people you were contracted by?
ANo shes a totally new customer that was referred by her friend. She txt me right before pick up and asked if I could add a large fondant bow and red and white balls round the bottom of the tiers. to which i replied I would do the balls on this occasion but the bow would have needed to be pre constructed to sit on the side of the bottom tier as she had asked. This is the photo she sent me 30mins before pick up to describe the bow she wanted. [IMG]http://cakecentral.com/content/type/61/id/3220120/width/200/height/400[/IMG]
I don't see the red and white balls on your cake, they would have added the touch I think she was looking for. Not sure there is much more you can do to satisfy her.
AI took this photo before i added them. I did add them before she picked up just as I said I would. I think I was mainly just deflated as Id tried so hard to get out of her what she was after
AShe was on her way, and you got enough balls rolled and placed before she got there? That's fast....I despise rolling balls. :D
AThe only issue I can see, is that the example cake is more refined than yours (cleaner edges, smoother fondant). Anyway, what exactly was she expecting for 115?? That's not much for a fondant covered cake with decorations. And making requests for changes just before pickup?! I give customers a fair deadline for changes and that deadline is BEFORE I start on their order, not after it's done! (Unless they want to pay extra ;).) Don't let her get to you. :)
AI'm assuming the example you provided was out of her budget? Ive noticed this with some customers. They see the "grand" cakes and their budgets don't live up. I think your cake is fine, as long as you didn't promise her something grander and under-deliver
To prevent this from happening, all my clients get sketches. There's no confusion or surprise about what's to be received
AYeh there was no way that was promised to her at all. The cake she sent me before pick up was a 4tier wedding cake, and she was after a cake for her 3year olds birthday. I just tried to give her what I could with in her budget. Shes just txt me now saying she cut the choc and it was good but the top teir was overcooked. I tried both cakes in the top layer and when i tried them they were good. Admittedly denser than my choc recipe but I wouldnt say overcooked? So does one take her word or is there no pleasing her?
ASounds like she may just be having buyers remorse and trying to get a refund. I'm a little bit afraid to label her as that...but she went from complaining about the design and now she's complaining about the actual cake. Seems odd to me
Yeah, that's what they call the "wandering complaint", when one complaint doesn't work they move on to the next one.
The best way to avoid disapointment or confusion in the future is to have a clearly outlined design on a contract that they sign off on. We don't do a sketch for every cake (we only sketch when it's an unusual design or if they feel like they really need to see one) but we do fill out an order form with the flavor, sizes, and description of the design for every order. Then we send that to them, they look it over and sign that they agree to the price and design. This way if they come back to you with a complaint about the design, you simply point to the order form and show them where the design was specified and their signature on it.
In this instance I don't think there's much more you can do if you feel that the "overcooked" comment was unfounded, you tried the cake and know it was good.
I think even for 99 dollars the customer should get nice clean lines ( looks like both tiers are bulging a bit on top or they aren't straight) and smooth fondant. There is also something going on at the bottom of the bottom tier that looks messy. Your cake looks a little sloppy to me, and I would have given her a refund.
I do love the design though.
I don't understand agreeing to do a 2 tier topsy turvy for $99 in the first place. If the cake was a 5-7 and only served about 20, I'd be charging over $200. Topsy turvy would be more.
If she's changed the reason she's complaining you can pretty much know that she's just trying to get money back. I'd tell her that you won't be refunding anything because you tried the cake and it was fine. And that if she prefers another baker's cakes you certainly understand that she'll be going elsewhere for her cakes in the future.
I think your cake is delightful! I believe you undercharged her for that cake, and she got a deal at the price she paid. Her complaint was pretty vague, and your reply was both professional and concise. Don't let her get to you. It does sound like she had a clear picture of what she wanted, but didn't convey that to you, and didn't understand that even though she liked and really wanted the 4 tier cake, her budget and the way she conveyed what she wanted got her the cake she took home which was still nothing to complain about IMO.
Beautiful cake, well thought out response. Let her & her comments go and move on to the next customer!!
I used to work at a grocery store bakery as a cake decorator- nothing super fancy of course, most expensive cake was $54 but we would get customers multiple times that would exclaim about how they loved the cake when they picked it up and then call the manager later and say it wasnt what they wanted. I even had one woman claim that there was a hand print on the side, the strawberries were moldy and the cake was dry. The fruit and cake were both fresh and when she looked at the cake before she left there was no handprint.
Dont take it personal, shes someone who is complaining to hear herself talk and hopefully get a refund