You May Have To Turn Difficult Customers Down

Decorating By SoulfulTreats Updated 21 Sep 2005 , 2:30am by ThePastryDiva

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SoulfulTreats Posted 27 May 2005 , 3:44pm
post #1 of 16

Everything that could go wrong did. This was my first big cake as I had never done a stacked or tiered cake for a customer. I was so excited and up for the challenge. It started off with the customer being very fickled about how she wanted the cake. I met with her to do the consultation (for her daughter's sweet 16 birthday party). I spent over an hour with her and I actually drew her description of the cake she wanted. After her appointment, I drafted a simple contract and made a copy of the picture I drew of the cake. She agreed that it was what she wanted. She finally sends the deposit but proceeds to tell me not to cash it. Because it was my first major cake, I was willing to work with her. This should have been an indicator of how it was going to be. Anyhow, I was up for the challenge. Finally, she gave me the go ahead to cash the check. This was five days before the cake was to be delivered. She also had not sent the remaining balance of the cost. When I asked her about it, she said she would be sure to pay me at the hall which is a no, no. The cake was to be delivered on a Friday.

On the Tuesday before, I baked the cakes, a 12", 10", Doll Cake and 2 - 8" cakes. I made the frosting on Wednesday. I felt good because I anticipated that I would be done with the cake on Thursday night - I was wrong. Thursday night at 10:00 pm, I pulled my 12" cake out of the freezer, let it thaw for 2 hours and while I was trying to move it onto the cake plate, it fell apart in one spot so I cut that spot out and I then had to re-bake another layer to patch the part that was missing. Then when I went to frost the 10", it was crumbly and even after doing a crumb coat, it would not stop crumbling. It was chocolate so it showed through white icing. Finally, I was able to smooth the frosting enough where the crumbs were not showing. It was not until 5:30 on Friday that I finished the cake. The cake was to be delivered at 6:00 so I finished it in the nick of time. I was pleased at how easy it was to transport the cake, I basically boxed up each cake and placed them in the van.

While driving down the highway, I noticed the exit I needed to get off of was closed and there was a detour. The detour took me out of my way 30 minutes. Once I made it to the hall, I realized I had left my bag of supplies like, extra frosting, spatulas, etc at home. The Birthday Girl had not made it yet, so I had to run to the nearest baking supply store. Luckily it was down the street. I made it back and finished setting up the cake. There were guests there already and they were admiring the cake which made me feel good. With it being my first, I just was not sure if anyone would like how it looked, although I thought I did a good job. I did remember to take pictures.

After going home and sleeping until the next day, I still felt nervous about the customer's feedback. I got up the nerves to call her a couple days later, to set up a time to pick up my plates and pillars. When I asked her how she liked the cake, she said "it was ok" It felt like a knife cut me and I was disappointed. She had the nerve to say that I had too much pink accents and she wanted the pink lighter. Her daughter's colors were pink and out, which was the same shade of pink I used for the accents. Needless to say, it was not a very positive conversation. I got off the phone and I just cried icon_cry.gif because I had put so much time and effort into completing the cake. This experience made me realize the harsh reality of being a cake decorator. I was more so disappointed because I had done exactly as we had agreed to in the drawing and in the contract.

Lessons Learned - for any newcomer

1. Always get a deposit up front
2. Always follow the cake mix recipe exactly - I'm sure I must not have followed the recipe correctly
3. Never collect money at the place of delivery. You should always have the customer pay before you deliver - create a simple contract.
4. Remember that no matter how well you do, some customers are still going to complain. Just learn from the experience and move on. Try not to take it personal. Some people just never have anything good to say.
5. Always take pictures of the cake
6. Don't be afraid to turn business down. If you see the situation would be too stressful, you can turn them down. I have prepared a list of bakeries in the area for places to refer them to.
7. Last but not least, if you have a passion for cake decorating, never give it. There's always a first time. I know if I continue, I will get better!!!!


15 replies
beccal Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
beccal Posted 27 May 2005 , 5:51pm
post #2 of 16

I'm sorry to hear how awful that woman was to you! I thought you did a wonderful job, especially with the re-baking of some of it. WOW!! Just don't take it to personally... if she's this way to you, can you imagine how negative she is to others. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done and going up for the challenge of a large cake like that. You deserve it!!! thumbs_up.gif

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TheCakeShak Posted 27 May 2005 , 5:54pm
post #3 of 16

"Eat Your Cake First".........
icon_wink.gificon_wink.gif Oh my gosh there Soulful Treats.... Something similar happened to me..If you can go back and read my post of "Did This Happen To Any of You?"...

It's true, you learn from your lessons, and move on..One thing I do do for my clients is that I have them sign a contract upfront and get the deposit..I also give them a copy of the contract. I also have them meet with me one more time(if this is a wedding cake esp) I know it will be the same for a "16" birthday or any other type that required a tiered cake.. I NEVER accept checks...period..A funny thing happens to the checks when they make their way to your bank..
I also give them a copy of the cake order receipt and make sure they initial it which shows the deposit and if there is a balance due, I write the amount due and the date when it is due(which is 2weeks before date event) and I state in the cake contract that all payments must be met before cake delivery. Then I highlight the balance due and date due.

I don't even allow my clients to pay me at the actual event because out of respect, they already have alot going on...
I'm so glad you were able to go to a supply store that was close..

Was that your pic you posted for the doll/tiered cake with pink and the table was pink/white? If that was you, I thought it looked adorable and pretty...

But if you get the chance, I encourage you to read my post...I was in a similiar situation only my nightmare is still going.......

Have a wonderful sugary and sweet day......

crashdummy2(Kathy) thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifusaribbon.gifusaribbon.gif

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Mchelle Posted 27 May 2005 , 5:58pm
post #4 of 16

Great job on the cake soulful. You are right some people are just not satisfied. Good thing that you just chalk it up to experience and continue on. You have to do the best you can to please people, when they are not pleased, that's their problem. If she agreed to it and you delivered what she asked for, your mission is complete. Usually you can spot trouble coming.......Step to the side and let them pass. Big cakes are stressful enough!

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peacockplace Posted 27 May 2005 , 6:05pm
post #5 of 16

I think your cake is very cute. It looks like the same pink as the decorations! Some people will never be happy. Just grin and bear it, then move on!

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cakelady Posted 27 May 2005 , 6:08pm
post #6 of 16

Have you ever heard or maybe known of people who will complain so they don't have to pay? She sounds a little like that.....
People DO NOT realize what we go through as decorators..........
I'm sure you did a GREAT job............I swear some people will do/say anything if they know we really care.........
Keep up the great will NEVER please everyone........just keep that in mind, do your best.........and most of all Love What You Do........and of course, log on to this site to unload thumbs_up.gif

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momof3jotynjake Posted 27 May 2005 , 6:24pm
post #7 of 16

Soulful!! that is an AWESOME looking cake! dont you let her get you down!! I bet cakelady is right! she probably didnt want to pay!!
she did pay you right??
That is awful! what a nerver. I think its beautiful. Oh well, probably one of those people who are never happy in life!
keep up your good work! Make sure you put this in your portfolio, cause I bet everyone you show it too will love it too!!

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m0use Posted 30 May 2005 , 3:57pm
post #8 of 16

Wow- you matched the pink perfectly that was on the table. "Too much pink" my butt, I think you did a good job!

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debsuewoo Posted 31 May 2005 , 3:41pm
post #9 of 16

You know what I think? Some people just don't appreciate the work that goes into artistry of any kind. As a bead artist, as well as a budding cake decorator, I can tell you from experience. Don't take it to heart, just go with the flow and don't give up your dreams.

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Ironbaker Posted 2 Jun 2005 , 9:09pm
post #10 of 16

So true, Debsuewoo....there are some that just can't appreciate what all goes into what we do.

But there are those who do know and appreciate and their comments and praise make it all worthwhile. thumbs_up.gif

Soulful, keep your head up and keep baking! She was just a bitter betty and I'm willing to bet she complains about everything!

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irisinbloom Posted 2 Jun 2005 , 11:08pm
post #11 of 16

Your cake is just beautiful, you did a great job. It's ashame we have to deal with people like this, keep your chin up we all love your work.

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traci Posted 2 Jun 2005 , 11:25pm
post #12 of 16

Your cake is lovely! I would have loved a cake like that for my 16th birthday! Don't let this get you are very talented! thumbs_up.gif

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farney0125 Posted 17 Sep 2005 , 7:52am
post #13 of 16

Ok, I am going through this same situation. I had a lady contact me who wanted a 3 tiered cake for her daughters 4th birthday. This was 3 days before her party. I found several differnt cakes on the net for her to look at and decide on what she wanted. I only knew that she wanted a butterfly theme. No big deal....we found one on this site actually. I thought no problem! Well...then I start getting calls and numerous e-mails on different requests. First she asked if I could make the cake without any oils....I usually use a cake mix that has like 1/4 cup oil in I found a cake that I could make from scratch that is made just with butter. Then she calls and tells me that she wants the frosting made without any shortening, or oils. So...together we ound a few sites that had recipes for buttercream frosting made with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and cream. I was worried about how the cake would bake, and if it would hold up for tiering it. Most of all I was worried about how the frosting would turn out for decorating purposes. Consistency, ect.... So I get the cakes baked, and while they are baking I made the frosting. It turned out good. I started to cut and torte the cakes, and they are a crumbly mess. I had a 12 a 8 and a 6. (I couldn't find my 10 for some reason) Anyway....I decide to avoid disaster and just torte the top two layers. That went ok...not too much fall apart....but when it came to applying the frosting that is when I knew there was going to be problems. First off...the frostings base is it started to melt on the cake. I let it sit a while so it was completley cooled....I tried to do a crumb coat but the damn cake was so crumbly that I decided to just use the large tip to frost it. I was thinking it was going to be ok till I started spreading it out. It would not smooth worth a damn. I did my best...but I am so nervous on how this lady will like the cake. She sent me 5 e-mails last night in a matter of 30 minutes on what exactly she wanted, and called me too about the shade of blue she wanted the main icing to be. Ugh....I have never been so stressed out about a cake before. Now I am scared to go to bed in case my cat decides to have a snack...or my clumsy husband falls into it in the early morning on his way to work. AHHH...I think next time if I find that they are going to be this difficult I may just have to refer them to a local bakery. Oh, and on top of it...I am only charging her $45.00 for this cake and she was wondering if I could charge less. I was like NO. It takes a lot to get everything together...let alone making everything from scratch. I told her that it would take me a minimum of 4 hours to get it done, and that I have to make it worth my time. It ended up taking me 5 1/2 hours...and I am not really happy about my icing....(but I let her know that I couldn't get it as smooth as I wanted because of the recipe she wanted me to use.) She seemed fine with it...but I am dreading the drop off...I hope she loves it! I'll post a pic as soon as my dumb battery charges for my camera. I agree...know when to say NO!

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traci Posted 18 Sep 2005 , 1:39am
post #14 of 16

Wow. It seems like you have had a difficult experience. I have had people ask me for cakes that did not contain oils. I usually offer them a butter recipe cake mix for an easy alternative. Those mixes that you add butter to usually bake and torte well. As for your icing issue...I tell people that I can not decorate with an all butter icing. I tell them I make a tasty buttercream and they will not be dissappointed. I tell them what I can and can not do. I think for all your woes on this should have charged at least 75.00. She would not be able to find a 3 tier cake for 45.00 anywhere else. I guess we live and learn. I can't wait to see pic of your cake. I hope your next order will not give you so much grief! icon_smile.gif

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ihavasweet2th Posted 21 Sep 2005 , 2:08am
post #15 of 16

I think you did a great job!! Don't be discouraged!! If I could make one suggestion that might help you in the future, place your frozen cake on the cake plate or board you are using while the cake is still frozen and then let it thaw on the plate, that way there is no chance of the cake breaking, it is the only way you can move a cake larger than 10". I always unwrap my frozen cake and place them on the board and the wrap them loosely with plastic wrap. If they are layered cakes I fill and stack them while frozen.

Hope this helps! And again don't be discouraged, some people are just impossible to please!!


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ThePastryDiva Posted 21 Sep 2005 , 2:30am
post #16 of 16


What was your customer? Blind? You're cake was very nicely executed.

I sure hope that she paid you the balance and I'll bet you anything that you get other orders from your cake.

If she EVER comes to you again...any date she's looking are totally booked for!

I think you cried as a stress relief and not really over what she said, do don't worry about it.

Keep on decorating, that will be the best revenge on those "difficult"

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