Customer Said Cake Was "inedible" Because It Was So Dry. What Would You Do?

Business By jojo76 Updated 30 Nov 2014 , 12:06am by jgifford

jojo76 Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 4:49pm
post #1 of 47

Hi, haven't posted on here for years  but really need some advice please if anyone's around. 

I'm in the UK. I made a cake for a client for delivery on Sunday just gone. When they ordered the cake they baulked at the price, which was £80, but did agree to it.  It was a large rectangle cake, 12x10 inches, made into dj decks, it was a madeira cake. They asked for a vanilla sponge and this is my go to vanilla cake recipe, which I've made millions of times before. Torted and levelled the cake, and assembled as normal. I would say the two layers were quite deep, but not abnormally so. I used a flower nail in the centre and examined it carefully when I levelled it, i was really happy with how it had baked.  On Thursday, I contacted her to say I could deliver their cake Friday night or Sunday morning. 

 

Delivered the cake on sunday, and they were thrilled with it. However sunday night I received a message on FB to say that they loved how it looked but found it to be "really dry." 

 

I apologised, and said that I had the offcuts here still (which I did - they go in the kids lunches!) and that they were still moist, but as a gesture of good will, I would give them a free box of cupcakes with their next order. I know the cake was fine, I still had the off cuts and they were really nicely baked, and very moist. She messaged back to say that she had tasted the cake too, that it was really dry, inedible, that no one would eat it and that it had ruined her brothers birthday?! She wanted the whole cost of the cake back or another cake. And also,  once I'd mentioned the word "madeira sponge" she latched onto that and said, "but I ordered a vanilla sponge, not a madeira sponge." I don't think she understands that a madeira IS a vanilla sponge. 

I was quite surprised, but tried to remain unemotional and apologised about it, but said that I couldn't refund the whole cake as I believed that the bake of the cake was fine, and I wouldn't be baking them a replacement (she was insisting i baked a replacement, undecorated, and delivered it today!) but was happy to refund 25% of the cost of the cake as they were clearly unhappy with it. Still she wanted to get the full price back or an entire new cake. She said I was welcome to go and try the cake for myself. As she lives somewhat out of town (it would be an hour and a half round trip for me, and this week is very busy) I suggested that my husband, who works in the same town, would pick up the sample from her this evening or tomorrow evening on his way home. I could see what the problem was with the cake (and in my mind, if there WAS a problem or if it's just a case of different tastes), and if it really was inedibe, of course I would refund the full amount. 

She's refusing to let my husband go to get the cake as she doesn't want "strangers here in the evening" (I suggested just before seven pm tonight or six pm tomorrow night). 

 

I've left it that either they allow him to just collect the sample of cake for me so that I can see what the problem with it is, or i refund them 25% as goodwill, and that if I don't hear from them by six tomorrow, I will consider the matter closed. To be honest, I feel i will send them the 25% anyway, because I hate that they say my cake "ruined a fourteen year olds birthday and he is devastated!" . Sigh. 

 

What would you have done? thanks and congratulations if you made it to the end of this message and understood it!! :) I've been baking professionally for five years. I've used this recipe as my vanilla, lemon or orange option that whole time, and no one has ever complained that it is dry. In fact, this is the first complaint I ever had, apart from one time when I got the size of a birthday cake slightly wrong, years ago. 

46 replies
ladyellam Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 5:28pm
post #2 of 47

It sounds like she just wants a refund because of her balking at the price up front.  I wouldn't want a piece of the cake, I would want all of it back to see how much she actually served.  Something about this sounds really fishy :(

jojo76 Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 5:44pm
post #3 of 47

Thank you Ladyellam for your reply, i appreciate your taking the time to respond! I am inclined to think that too, although I've made her several cakes before, but ended up doing them all quite cheaply. Recently, I've stopped doing cheaper cakes, and started charging a higher price for bigger cakes like this one. If it was really as bad as she says she would have no problem with us having a look at it, I said that my husband would want a piece from the other end, that has not been cut, and asked if there was any left, and she said, "yehh there's loads coz we coudn't eat ours  n no one else would eat it, ours just went in the bin" then told me that if I wanted to take the whole cake away, I would need to pay her £80 for it lol :D jeez. 

 

Unless something REALLY freaky has happened to   the cake under it's fondant, over the weekend, there is no way that cake inedibly dry!! 

Gingerlocks Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 6:04pm
post #4 of 47

Quote:

Originally Posted by jojo76 

"yehh there's loads coz we coudn't eat ours  n no one else would eat it, ours just went in the bin" then told me that if I wanted to take the whole cake away, I would need to pay her £80 for it lol 

Ya, that's where you know she is crazy pills...she wants a refund from you; yet demands you pay her to get the evidence of this cake disaster. She is just trying to con you into a free cake.. don't give her back a dime.

jojo76 Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 6:21pm
post #5 of 47

Yeah I think so too. it's all so incredibly irrational. It went from being very dry, to being inedible, to ruining and devastating her brothers birthday celebration. If it was that bad, I would be comping at the bit to let the decorator see the cake and taste it. Kinda want to see it!! But not enough to drive for an hour and a half to be intimidated in someones kitchen while I taste my own cake and argue the toss over whether it's awful or not! I sent this as my final reply, three hours ago and they haven't replied: 

"It is a madeira sponge - the term madeira simply describes a type of sponge cake, and I provided a vanilla flavour sponge as requested. Again, I'm sorry that you are so disappointed with your cake, I take great care over all of my cakes and I was happy with the bake of yours before it left my house in addition, a sample of it was taken and tested, as always. I'm puzzled as to why it can have become so dry and that is why I would like to see it. However, I am working this week, as I said, and time is of the essence here - at this short notice the only option I can provide is Kelvin to come and simply pick a piece up on the way home. He can do this at either just before seven this evening or six tomorrow evening. To reiterate, I need a sample of the cake, please, cut from the iced side that hasn't been cut, If the cake really is inedible, as you describe it, I will happily refund your money, I'm not out to con anyone here. I am an honest person, and if I discovered that I had sold someone an inedible cake, of course I would refund the money. If you don't want my husband to pick up a sample from you, I can offer you a 25% refund, as a gesture of goodwill. If I haven't been able to arrange a pick up of the cake, or received your bank details so that I can refund you 25% by 6 pm tomorrow evening, 25/11/14, I'll consider the matter closed." 
 
REALLY hope that's the end of it, but I'm kind of bracing myself for a malicious report to food standards agency or a pic of them in the local newspaper, with half eaten cakes and sad "dry cake" faces.....
 
 
 
 

Gingerlocks Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 6:39pm
post #6 of 47
I hope they don't make it into the news..it's not really ground breaking journalism; but never the less, she does sound a off kilter so her going to food standards probably is something she'd do. 
 
It's been my experience that people buy custom cakes for looks mostly; they want a "showy" centerpiece..and to be fair she did in fact get that. So even if the cake did happen to be completely inedible (which I doubt, just from the sounds of her), she got a beautiful and unique centerpiece for the party and surely that is worth something in itself. So for her to ask for a full refund is unfair for that reason alone. 
costumeczar Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 8:07pm
post #7 of 47

Ah, the "wandering complaint." This happens when the first complaint is met with evidence to the contrary. The complainer then finds something else to complain about and something else and something else. "The cake was dry" is the first one, generally, since it's the obvious cake complaint.

 

Honestly, no 14 year old boy is "devastated" by a dry cake, they don't care. They'll eat anything you put in front of them without criticism, which is why I think your offer of 25% back for goodwill is more than enough. And if they don't respond by your deadline DON'T SEND A REFUND. And they go on the "no cake for you" list in the future. It sounds like they just want a rebate on their expenditure, since they want another cake. And retrieving a piece of old cake won't prove anything, don't bother.

jojo76 Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 10:02pm
post #8 of 47

Thanks guys, appreciate your support! I agree I was astonished that the boy was so upset having sons myself :D I have had no response yet, but am on standby for a final VERY ANGRY AND DISAPPOINTED email from them at least. Or maybe I've called their bluff and  they've backed down. Time will tell I guess. I think you're right, if they don't respond by the deadline, I'll just leave it, I guess sending the £20 anyway would make it look like I feel guilty and I really feel I've done nothing wrong here, I highly doubt the cake is at fault and if it is they've been very reluctant for me to go and grab some to check it. Thanks again, guys. 

LNW Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 10:05pm
post #9 of 47

Quote:

Originally Posted by costumeczar 
 

Ah, the "wandering complaint." This happens when the first complaint is met with evidence to the contrary. The complainer then finds something else to complain about and something else and something else. "The cake was dry" is the first one, generally, since it's the obvious cake complaint.

 

Honestly, no 14 year old boy is "devastated" by a dry cake, they don't care. They'll eat anything you put in front of them without criticism, which is why I think your offer of 25% back for goodwill is more than enough. And if they don't respond by your deadline DON'T SEND A REFUND. And they go on the "no cake for you" list in the future. It sounds like they just want a rebate on their expenditure, since they want another cake. And retrieving a piece of old cake won't prove anything, don't bother.



ITA.  Dry cake, no one would even touch it.  You ask for a slice to investigate the issue and suddenly they've thrown the whole thing away, you know because it was so totally inedible.  Excuse after excuse after excuse until you finally give in.  Or ignore them. 

I missed that this was cake for a 14yo boy.  My son is only 6yo but I have a teenage daughter and she is the kitchen table nibbler.  If you don't watch your plate she'll steal it, whatever it is.  Even if you've slobbered all over it she'll steal it off your plate.  I seriously doubt the 14yo boy was devastated by dry cake.  Shoot I'd be surprised if he even noticed even if it were made of sawdust and cardboard. 

You are being more than generous to them.  I'd stick to my guns and if they don't respond by your deadline no refund.  Good luck to you.  Hope they just drop it.

Pastrybaglady Posted 24 Nov 2014 , 11:56pm
post #10 of 47

A"No one would touch it" What a crock! You can't tell a cake is dry until you eat it. Most people aren't even paying that close of attention, they happily eat dry cake all the time and say nothing. What kind of guest complains about dry cake?

maybenot Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 12:25am
post #11 of 47

The sample is moot.  There's no way to know how she's stored it since Sun., or what she may do in order to make her case. 

 

Give her the refund, if that will settle the matter for you, and don't ever take an order from her again.

kazita Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 12:48am
post #12 of 47

AOh dont know if id return the whole amount...and I sure wouldn't give her a discount on another order because she probably wont be happy with that order either. ...id give her a portion of it back....but thats just me...

cakesbycathy Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 3:24am
post #13 of 47

The fact that she tried to get you to lower your price, kept changing the reason they didn't like the cake and that she won't let your husband pick up the cake all scream buyer's remorse.

She's mad you upped your price and is trying anything she can think of to get her money back or a free cake. Don't fall for it.

 

Stick with your original plan and I would put her on the no cakes for you list regardless of what happens.

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 9:29am
post #14 of 47

Thanks everyone, it's so good to get the advice of those in the same business. I will not be making cakes for her again, that's for sure. In fact I did laugh a little whey she said, "mum says she'll never use you again!!" and I though, "Yeah, she's got that  right, sweetheart!" If i don't hear from her by tonight, I will not be refunding her any money or discussing it with her any more. Thanks for your support, I feel stronger in my conviction now. I don't think they're going to let my husband go anyway, I think they know the cake is fine really, they just don't understand that it's normal to bake a few days ahead, and I think they have latched on to the idea that it wasn't a fresh cake. 

 

I also remember once when I couldn't do their order because I was fully booked, they went elsewhere and then she told me how they hated that cake and how awful it was - I bet they did this to that baker and managed to get a full refund....

 

agreed, the dramatics about no one touching the cake is ludicrous, particularly since I still had quite a substantial ammount of it here in trimmings and it was absolutely fine!!! ugh. Hate people sometimes lol. :D thanks guys, you've been great. :) 

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 9:40am
post #15 of 47

oh she just replied with "My mum said you will have to get your husband to come get a slice of the cake tonight but if not there by 6 she won't answer the door and then she wants her money back as like I said she asked for vanilla sponge not Madeira as no one like Madeira cake. So you didn't even do wat she asked for." 

 

Fine I will get some cake, it will be fine, even if it is a bit dry from sitting out, I will be able to tell if it was totally inedible, I know what stale cake and cake that is absolutely inedible looks like. Plus I am confident it was fine, because I had the trimmings. 

kazita Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 9:42am
post #16 of 47

AWow shes really being a pita...

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 10:35am
post #17 of 47

totally. I wonder wether I should get someone to have the kids and go out there with my husband and just have the whole hideous conversation there and then at her house, or wether to let him bring it home and then try and get her mum's number and call her. Its doing my head in going through the daughter via facebook. Also this is really going to be a nightmare as really, she'lll say "its inedible!" and I'll say, "It isn't!" and how do you resolve that. ah, I feel quite stressed out now. I've got other cakes to do and I'm sitting here feeling a bit wound up..

AAtKT Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 10:54am
post #18 of 47

Who is the customer?  Mom or Daughter?

 

If it is Mom and she paid and she signed the contract, then why are you even discussing anything with the Daughter?

 

If all this is going on over Facebook, I would proactively remove them from your page and block them from posting to it since you know all this is just going to end badly...

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 10:56am
post #19 of 47

its the mum but she doesn't have internet.

Crazy-Gray Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 11:18am
post #20 of 47

AMake sure you are firm with this nasty creature Jo.... once you decide how to proceed give her no options, I would reply with something along the lines of; 'after a full assessment I can confirm that the product you received was of suitable quality, you are therefore not entitled to any refund, however as a goodwill gesture I am happy to offer you a free box of cupcakes with your next order. This decision is final and the offer must be used within the next 90 days.'

I would then change your FB settings so that you have to verify posts before they show up on your page and I would also consider removing the private message function.

Moving forward you could, as I have done, include a line in your contract to state: ‘any displeasure with cake quality must be raised immediately; a sample must be double wrapped in cling-film, frozen and returned to us with 24hrs upon which your cake will be assessed taking into account all aspects including baking, transport and storage of the cake. Our decision on any such matters is final.' this makes these kinda people know that they have to work hard to try this kind of rubbish on you. If you don't already use a contract it's easy to implement, you can email it along with confirmation emails stating that payment (through PayPal or on delivery) indicates full agreement with these terms....

Hope this helps Jo, well done on managing this so well so far!!

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 11:43am
post #21 of 47

thank you for this advice. I admit, there was no contract for this cake, I do use contracts but only for larger celebration or wedding cakes, for the normal smaller birthday cakes I haven't done, but I see that this is an error on my part. I like your line on returning the cake - because I'm now in the situation where we are running around trying to get them to agree to return stale cake.

 

I can't figure out wether they genuinely do feel the received a crappy cake or they are just trying to get their money back,  I THINK they decided it was an old cake because I told them when I baked it and it's esculated from there. 

 

I am confident that the cake was not too dry to eat, and that this was just a case of they would have liked thinner layers/more filling/a different texture, which is a matter of taste. If the cake is sound, bake wise, and there is nothing amis with it, then I will stick to my guns and say no refund. I know they are going to totally kick off about it, but I also know I've done nothing wrong. I keep remembering that I sat  and ate the trimmings of the same cake that hadn't even been stored under fondant and buttercream like the main cake, they were just slung in a bowl loosely wrapped on my worktop, and they tasted perfectly fresh on friday, two days after baking. So logically the cake was fine. To be honest, I'm happy to refund 25% for the fact that they didn't enjoy the cake, but NOT  the full 100%. 

 

Thank you for your advice re. facebook too, all good ideas :) Will be so glad when this is resolved, I've never had this situation before,

 

God. Hate this!! 

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 11:52am
post #22 of 47

Thanks for the kind words too, I feel bolstered by everyone's support lol :) It's amazing how you miss the fact you don't have colleagues in situations like this!! 

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 1:12pm
post #23 of 47

one last query, what would you do if when he gets there to cut the sample of cake, they genuinely have only eaten a tiny amount and not touched the rest because they hated it? if they genuinely haven't eaten the cake because they believe it to be bad, even if i believe it to be ok, what then? :/

maisie73 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 3:22pm
post #24 of 47

AIf she wanted the whole cost back OR another cake I'm inclined to think she genuinely doesn't like it. She's paid £80 for a cake that's, in her opinion, inedible. She either wants her money back or an edible cake. If when your husband gets there they have only eaten a small part of the cake it would suggest to me she's being truthful not just trying to get free cake. I'd pick the remaining cake up and give her a full refund. I'm just a hobby baker so this is from a customer point of view. :-)

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:02pm
post #25 of 47

thanks maisy i kind of think the same now. Have just messaged her to say kelvin is on the way. I had requested that he cuts the piece of cake (so they didn't give us a bit that's been sat in the open air for two days) and she's saying she will cut it and hand it to him. I've messaged back to say, please do it in front of him, so he can see the cake and request where it's cut from. Very tiresome. 

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:14pm
post #26 of 47

shes replied to say ok to my request that  the cake is cut in front of my husband. Crikey. Can't WAIT for this to be resolved!! 

Crazy-Gray Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:16pm
post #27 of 47

ABest of luck Jo

julia1812 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:27pm
post #28 of 47

A

Original message sent by ladyellam

It sounds like she just wants a refund because of her balking at the price up front.  I wouldn't want a piece of the cake, I would want all of it back to see how much she actually served.  Something about this sounds really fishy :(

Totally agree!!! Don't let her trick you. That sounds like she's got quite some attitude - hell!!! So sorry for you. My guess is she loved it so much that she wants another one for free because she can't afford to pay for it

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:41pm
post #29 of 47

update - she cut him a piece of cake, from the back of the cake, that was all fine. Kelvin rekons about a fifth of the cake had gone - it was probably about five inches tall and 10x12 inches in area. 

 

So  I think there are more than two slices missing from the cake. Kelvin estimated that probably if they cut slices like the one she cut him, they might have had about ten slices out of it. 

 

Waiting for him to get home to see how dry it is now. 

 

thanks for the support guys :) 

jojo76 Posted 25 Nov 2014 , 4:44pm
post #30 of 47

I'm wondering if: 

a. they all had a bit of birthday cake in the family and then thought they'd get their money back.

b. no one turned up to the party? 

c. they knew their sunday cake was baked on wednesday and they don't understand that that is fine and so have latched onto that and decided it was stale (they kept on about  the cake not being fresh - it was.) 

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