Cheap Client With Unrealistic Expectations

Business By figueroa33 Updated 10 Apr 2016 , 7:57pm by cakebaby2

figueroa33 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 4:42pm
post #1 of 20

I just had the most bizarre experience. I have had people try to be cheap with me but this person honestly just seemed really naive about pricing. She contacted me to do two cakes. The first one she showed me a picture and I quoted her $60. I'm sorry I didn't save the picture but it was a round cake with an elaborate buttercream design. I usually charge $45 for a  high 10" round but this cake had an elaborate design and tons of extra icing. For the extra work and extra material I charge a bit more. She was happy with that price and then asked about a second cake for a birthday.

She wanted a superhero cake and she wanted to stay within a $50 budget. So yes I could do it with a simple design. I then ask her what flavor she wanted for this cake and she replies that if I am making a half sheet for the birthday cake she wants half white half chocolate. Now I just charged you $60 for a round cake so what the hell makes you think you are getting a half sheet for $50? That was the confusing part.

So I wrote back that the amount of people she said and her budget would only require a round cake. She then sends me a picture of what she wants the cake to look like. It was a cake from freaking cake boss the tv show oh and it was a sheet cake. How in the world are you going to get such an elaborate cake for $50? I mean she obviously knew from my pricing the first one what a more simple cake costs so why would she think a super complicated cake would be less?

I then sent her a picture of what she was looking at with her budget. She became angry and said I was just trying to rip her off. So I said I'm sorry you feel that way, here is a great bakery in town that makes wonderful cakes good luck. Just to make sure I wasn't nuts I emailed the bakery the photograph of the birthday cake she wanted and they said it would be $150.

Was she trying to play me or is she really that stupid?




19 replies
kramersl Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 4:48pm
post #2 of 20

I think it's naivety. Most people who don't bake just plain don't understand. I once had a guy ask me for an 8" fondant covered cake that he needed for a party in an hour. I thought he thought I had extras in the freezer.... Nope, he actually thought I could bake, cool and decorate the cake in time for him to come collect it. 

kas2105 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 6:32pm
post #3 of 20

I've had a few of those people, too. I had a woman call me at 11 o'clock on the Friday night before Father's Day. She wanted two round cakes for Sunday, both decorated for Father's Day. She said she wanted 12 inch cakes, one carrot cake with cream cheese icing and one German chocolate. I was not pleased to have to get up in the morning and go get the ingredients and then spend Saturday making her last minute cakes, but since she's the mother of my "daughter's" boyfriend, I told her I'd do both of them for $80. She said, "OMG, that's too much, I'll just get them at the store" and I was really glad she did. (She's not really my daughter, she'd just turned 18 when my best friend, who was her mother, died. The next day she started calling me Mom.)

Then a couple weeks later I had a girl email me about a wedding cake, she said it was for 125 people, she wanted three hexagon tiers and she wanted pearl borders. I emailed her my questions, told her a price and said she'd have to pay half now and half two weeks before the wedding. She then informed me that the wedding was nine days away and her cake budget was $100. Needless to say, I didn't do her cake, lol. 

Some people really are clueless about how much work it is, how long it takes, and how expensive ingredients and supplies are. They really do think we should be as fast and charge as little as a store that has frozen layers of cake and five gallon buckets of icing sitting around and that we're being greedy if we say we can't.

cakebaby2 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 7:56pm
post #4 of 20

kas2105 2x12" cakes for $80.00? That is less than £56.00 GBP for two cakes?

To the OP, you are giving your cakes away for between £35.00 & £40.00 respectively for the two prices you quoted here. Before you turn on your ovens and buy an ingredient you are making less than minimum wage

The good client wont trust you at these prices and the cheapskates have sought you out and still try to screw you on price?

The OP called a bakery and got a realistic price which she could have shaved a little off, the problem ladies is not client ignorance, they know if you refuse some desperado with a kitchen full of kids and cats will undercut even your rock bottom prices. 

kas2105 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 8:22pm
post #5 of 20

I only told her $80 because after her son and my 'daughter' get married, we'll be family. I wouldn't normally even think of doing two cakes for that price. I thought I was doing her a favor and being generous because I know she doesn't have much money and she still thought it was too much. 

cakebaby2 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 8:54pm
post #6 of 20

Your recipe's sounded delicious, far too good for her cheap tastes, buy her a box of mix and a can of frosting

You dodged a bullet there, family like her could  ruin your business

Jinkies Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 10:13pm
post #7 of 20

"the problem ladies is not client ignorance, they know if you refuse some desperado with a kitchen full of kids and cats will undercut even your rock bottom prices."


Quote of the day, haha!  Love this!


cakebaby2 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 11:16pm
post #8 of 20

Sadly Jinkies its true.

I don't sell cakes , my business was as a florist, similar to caker's in that we are working with a shelf life product, usually intrinsic to a fantastic celebratory event.

(Okay I get the funeral  flowers  ..caterers' get the cupcakes lol)

I've always baked , mostly breads pasta and patisserie, and of course the cakes for my whole extended family.

I wouldn't be in business now as a "caker" for anything.

Unless you can attract a good intelligent client it won't work, and its not snobbish to say so.

I  know what a minimum wage is, and a rough cost of quality ingredients....so do clients like me, hard working professionals without a government pension or safety net (UK) happy to pay for what I can't or don't have the time to do myself...not mega rich...just working folk.

Surely to the home baker /professional caker I am the ideal client?

I would be VERY suspicious of the "cheap cake lady".

I might negotiate a  a good deal one pro to another but I don't want cat hairs/ extra lurvvve/ or the kids spat out rusk in my celebration / wedding cake?

Cheap cakes make me suspicious, they belong in tiny overcrowded little dwellings where the gene pool is very shallow and the laundry and cats may be roaming...beside the ingredients for MY cake..that I've paid peanuts for.

Obviously Betty Cheapknickers doesn't care...her family are living the laundry/cats dream already..they are immune.

Incidentally this rant is not about the OP or anyone else on CC...but seriously no one is going to make in a dodgy kitchen what I can make in a clean domestic space ( with care ) for £30.00/ $50.00.. for a "Few Dollars More"

figueroa33 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 11:16pm
post #9 of 20

Thanks for some of your replies. Cakebaby your response was incredibly rude and ignorant. My prices are perfectly fine and the $60 cake was a for a 10" round cake. My prices compare with the higher end bakeries in town. I live in a town where cost of living is pretty low so ingredients are much cheaper. I don't get how you would make assumptions about my pricing if you don't live where I live or don't know the full story. I make plenty of profit and do very well thank you. I've worked in professional bakeries for 10 years and know how to price items factoring in ingredients, supplies, equipment breakdown, and labor. Saying that I will attract the wrong type of customers, wtf. I'm sorry I think I am done with this site.

cakebaby2 Posted 6 Apr 2016 , 11:47pm
post #10 of 20

You said your price was $45.00 for a "high" 10 inch round cake this translates to £31.00 GBP, and I'm being generous. You blamed your client for being cheap?

I'm not rude, but observant, you already sell cheap cake, cheaper than the local bakery by a mile...you phoned to check?

Yet a cheap client bothers you, why?

You have already set the ball park figure, why would a cheap client not try to negotiate with you, do you find it insulting they think they can do that?

The world and his wife is churning out cakes.

So, not so rude but an outsider looking in to what you think you can get for your skills, and annoyed (quite rightly as it happens) that cheap cakes attract cheap clients 

cakebaby2 Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 12:27am
post #11 of 20


Quote by @kramersl on 7 hours ago

I think it's naivety. Most people who don't bake just plain don't understand. I once had a guy ask me for an 8" fondant covered cake that he needed for a party in an hour. I thought he thought I had extras in the freezer.... Nope, he actually thought I could bake, cool and decorate the cake in time for him to come collect it. 

 The only people that cake matters to are people who bake cakes , then decorate them, it is NOT naivety.

Cake is food, its the celebration /dessert/ end of meal.

Somehow its become soooo  important to those who bake, and that's why cakers are going out of business, because deep down most folk can bake something...?

We've seen it here on CC with the box mix girls V The Scratch Bakers ..anyone can open a box and follow Mrs Crockers Instructions...not everyone can actually bake a REAL cake?

So the people quibbling price or having the cheek to ask home bakers to deliver when THEY (the customer) want it aren't being naïve at all, they know full well if one doesn't have it some desperate dame on FB will be pole dancing to get rid of hers.

I believe its called Capitalism and its our Way Of Life in the West x

MBalaska Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 12:59am
post #12 of 20

For someone who saw the bakery business that you were employed at, raise their prices each year as a matter of routine profitable business practice @figueroa33 ‍ ; maintaining and increasing your own cake cost should be a simple matter of good business practice at home also.

@cakebaby2 ‍ you've nailed it.

costumeczar Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 1:58am
post #13 of 20

absolutely true...People basically bid each other down for the right to lose money on orders these days.  And I have a friend who pointed out that cakes that I think look crappy look great to someone who doesn't decorate cakes. The standard for the majority of people is: "could I do that? I can't, so that looks good!" Even a wreck looks good to someone who can't ice a cake. So people get away with selling something that looks like a pile of mush if you're a professional, but to the general public it gets compliments. Some of the dreck I see on facebook with comments like 'You are so talented" and "you're an artist"...you have to admit that standards are low.

cakebaby2 Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 10:05am
post #14 of 20

It's saddest of all when you see someone who does have talent competing for these low orders.

I get asked for cakes all the time but no way would I add to the chum in the water on FB, the result is my family enjoy home baked high end cakes (thanks to all the tips I picked up here over the years)

I give them as gifts for weddings birthdays and celebrations and everyone is happy. I enjoy my hobby and the recipient gets a cake they could not afford. If it wasn't appreciated resentment would set in.....and I'd probably be on here venting!

LelekBolek Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 10:46am
post #15 of 20


Quote by @Jinkies on 12 hours ago

"the problem ladies is not client ignorance, they know if you refuse some desperado with a kitchen full of kids and cats will undercut even your rock bottom prices."


Quote of the day, haha!  Love this!


Yeah, I like this, too :-) 

Sad to read this thread turned into a hair flip mid-discussion, but good observations, advice, and reasoning otherwise.  

I do gift cakes/treats, or paid cakes, clear separation there. Anything with money in it, I try for the best/fair price, but lose a lot of business to "wtf so expensive". One time, I had someone ask for a short-notice cake quote, then tell me that I and my price are ridiculous, and I left it at that. She came back awhile later, when the pressure was on and she still had no cake, and asked for whatever I had in the freezer, for whatever decent price I could give her. I actually had another person ask me for "anything in your freezer..." so there are desperate bakers, and desperate clients. But neither should be bluntly ripped off. 

cakebaby2 Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 12:28pm
post #16 of 20

Its the bakers that are being ripped off by fellow bakers.

The general public has been trained to believe (in some demographics..not all) that cheap is somehow their God given right and that "everyone deserves cake"

I've actually heard bakers say this.

No they don't, they deserve what they can afford and its not up to the baker to make their dreams come true.

Try telling that to the frosty lady on the Chanel counter lol!

Can you imagine it? Swift ejection from store.

The cheap baker desperate to "get her name out there" is undercutting everyone, and pretty soon someone will be undercutting her by a dollar or two. They are popping up everywhere and willing to work for nothing.

Its a fast race to the bottom and I'm genuinely sorry for anyone participating in it.

@ Lelek, you've perhaps found a niche there, always having at least one beautiful decorated cake boxed and wrapped in your freezer for emergencies?

LelekBolek Posted 7 Apr 2016 , 12:43pm
post #17 of 20

Haha. I had a good visual of the Chanel counter encounter, with follow-up swift expulsion. 

Thanks. Needed that today LOL. 

krye1025 Posted 9 Apr 2016 , 2:42pm
post #18 of 20

I have quickly learned not to undersell my abilities. I used to give deals when I did cakes outside of the bakery I worked at. Now I price them the same. Since it is more of a pain to make cakes from home if someone doesnt want to pay my quoted price they can simplify the design or go elsware. You would hope that customers would see and appreciate if you bent over backwards for them but most don't. They just expect it as their right because they are a customer.

kelscraftycakes Posted 10 Apr 2016 , 2:12pm
post #19 of 20

I can see there are already a ton of other bakers out there who have had similar issues with cheap clients. Myself included in that group. I have a client once who wanted a two tier cake for her ONE YEAR OLD'S birthday party. I gave her an estimate of $100 for a simple fondant design, which of course she kept coming back and asking for more detail. I kept telling her that it would cost more and she would tell me oh ok never mind then. She also kept changing her mind on colors, design, and even the cake flavor after I had stated shopping for the ingredients! I did accommodate her, but told her very specifically that she cannot make any other changes. She also argued with me that bakeries don't charge that much, but I was polite the whole time even though I know well that bakeries would charge way more for what she wanted. The day she was supposed to pickup the cake, which I do normally deliver them, but she told me early on that she wanted to pick up, she was very late, and asked me to deliver it instead and I was not able to as I had somewhere to be in the opposite direction. Her relative didn't show up and no one could reach him, They had a cousin pick up the cake in the end. I never heard anything after that from her. Some people are cheap, just something as people in the baking biz we have to accept. 

cakebaby2 Posted 10 Apr 2016 , 7:57pm
post #20 of 20

I don't sell cakes, but maybe a minimum order might be a good idea?

It weeds out the looky loos and budget shoppers from the beginning.

You could  ask them for their budget up front and tell them what they can get for that, no drawings or detailed ideas until you have a 50% non refundable deposit in your hand.

Its surely better to have 2 cakes at $150.00 each to do on a weekend than 4 at $50.00 each.

You will lose the cheapos who will try and haggle with you, but you'll end up with a better client base, who will recommend you to people like them.

Make it worth your while to bake decorate and clean up especially if you have kids who have to be banned from the kitchen while you work.

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