First Unhappy Customer - Need Advice - Picture Included!

Business By tasteebakes Updated 6 Jun 2008 , 12:11am by peacockplace

tasteebakes Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
tasteebakes Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:16pm
post #1 of 114

I made a skateboard cake for a customer, she picked it up on Sunday June 1st from my cashier at the shop as I take Sundays off.
I got the idea for this cake from a cake here on cake central. I told this customer that the cake would be on a 2x4 to give it a skateboard look, also an idea I got from here (thanks icon_wink.gif )
She wanted 20 servings. I made the cake by cutting a 9x13 in half and stacking it on top of each other with buttercream in between the layers. That made the cake 13 inches long and 4 inches high. The only bits of cake I cut off was to round the edges like skateboard.
She picked up the cake a 11am. At 2pm she left a message on my voicemail saying she was very unhappy with the cake. That it was going to have 10 servings at best. (they hadn't served it yet) She said if I cared, call her back and restated that she was very unhappy. I did not check my voicemail until today. I take Sunday and Mondays off (sort of... I cut and fry the donuts for my shop overnight on those days)
Am I doing the math wrong or did she have 20 servings?
Incidently, I sold her the cake for 23.00 before tax ($25.19 with) and she also said in the message that she paid $30 dollars for a 10 serving cake.
My husband says I should refund her 1/2 of her money to keep her happy. I have NEVER had a customer complain before so am not sure of the protical. I am thinking of replying to her with an email. I would love advice, thoughts and opinions!

113 replies
tasteebakes Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
tasteebakes Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:20pm
post #2 of 114

Oh, and 4 inches wide

summernoelle Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
summernoelle Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:27pm
post #3 of 114

OK, I have two things to say, because I have been through this, too!
1. She accepted the cake, and took it with her, which constitutes a bill of sale.
2. She only paid $23!

You didn't make any profit!

Just offer her a small discount on a future order, like 10%.

I am in a mood today, so I have to say that this lady is a total PITA.

sari66 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
sari66 Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:29pm
post #4 of 114

Sorry that happened to you. You did a really nice job on this and it certainly should have feed more than ten ppl. If she cut this cake in say in wedding cake slices the way I and I believe Indydebi does this should have served 30 or more.
If you feel that what you gave her was more than enough and she still insists it wasn't enough then offer her a refund of part of what she paid or a percent off her next cake or whatever else you may wish.

Good luck

aliciaL_77 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
aliciaL_77 Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:30pm
post #5 of 114

Ok how big were her servings? I can see 20 servings from that cake. Especially being that tall. I cant help you with the refund part, butI like your cake and maybe you just can't please some people.

onceuponacake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
onceuponacake Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:31pm
post #6 of 114

a 1/4 sheet cake according to charts serves anywhere between 20-28 servings, so she had enough, although the pieces are small, not a big hunk of a slice.

She got a bargain at less than $25.

You could offer her a discount on a next cake or take hubby's suggestion, give her back half to make her happy.

Sugar_Plum_Fairy Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Sugar_Plum_Fairy Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:33pm
post #7 of 114

Your customer should have had more than enough cake! According to Wilton's serving guide, a regular 9 x 13 cake would have about 45 servings. I realize you trimmed some for the shape, but I can't imagine that 15 servings went with the trimming!

By the way, I clicked submit too fast; I meant to add that it's a cool looking cake and you did a good job on it!

jenncowin Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
jenncowin Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:34pm
post #8 of 114

Okay, a 1-layer, 9x13 serves a 4x13 2-layer should also serve 20. It's all in the way that it's cut. 1-layer is party size, 2-layer goes to wedding size.

I also think you did a great job. If she had a problem with it, she should have stated so when she picked it up.

fmcmulle Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
fmcmulle Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:36pm
post #9 of 114

I agree this cake would serve more than 10 people and how does she come to that she paid $30. She saw what the cake looked like before she left the shop right? How come she didn't say anything then? I would not give her any of the money back. It was well worth the $23. maybe something happened to the cake after it left the shop and she is trying to put the blame on you. I guess I am a hard*** because I would not offer her the discount either. i just look at it as when you leave the store with the cake with no comment about not liking it, it was a satidfied customer. Thats my two cents. I'm not sure if this helped you any..I did a skateboard cake and yours looks alot better than mine. Keep up the good work.

Lenette Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Lenette Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:37pm
post #10 of 114

I'm sorry but if she had enough servings then she has no basis for a complaint meaning no refunds, no discounts. If she is behaving like this maybe you don't want her for a customer so keeping her happy is not an issue.

As IndyDebi is fond of saying, "you can't account for her guests eating like Jethro Bodine!" According to industry standards she had the agreed upon amount of servings. I have a feeling she is going to find fault with something when this fact is brought to her attention. Good luck with the whole thing though. Do what you feel is right, that's all any of us can do. icon_wink.gif

Wendoger Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Wendoger Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:42pm
post #11 of 114

Ya know, people have their own ideas about how large a serving should be.
When I send a cake to work with my husband, the servings need to be HUGE. Or there isnt enough.
There are many threads here about this issue.

Sorry I can't help ya out much...if I used one 9x13 and carved some, I wouldn't think it would be enough.


Tiababe Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Tiababe Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:44pm
post #12 of 114

Sure looks like that cake would only serve 10 people.....if they all had seconds....and thirds while refusing to let the other 10 guests near the cake table!! LOL!! Seriously, though, the cake looks great and certainly feeds more than 10 people. And she only paid about $25 which is a great bargain. This really stinks that this happened to you. I am not sure if I would give her anything but an "I am sorry you were not happy with the cake." She already got an awesome looking cake for a great price; and you are not responsible for her giving out Paul Bunyon sized cake slices.

moralna Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
moralna Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:45pm
post #13 of 114

First let me say that 1) your cake looks great and 2) it definitely had more than 10 servings. But the thing that struck me, if she hadn't served the cake yet, how could she possible know that it was barely gonna' serve 10 folks - what kind of slices is she cutting??

dee-lite Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
dee-lite Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:49pm
post #14 of 114

I would get back to her and explain that the way the cake is constructed creates an optical illusion and that she should have had plenty of servings and that you have done similar shaped cake with no problems ...You may be surprised now that she has served the cake she may have had enough...Ihad a similar order foe one baby block that the customer called to say she was surprised how big the cake really was after she started serving it.....If she is still not happy I would only offer A discount off of future order...Good luck

aligotmatt Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
aligotmatt Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:50pm
post #15 of 114

Here's what I do with problem customers. I think out and type up what I am going to say, then I call them and I read it to them. It saves on getting emotional and deffensive. If she continues to complain, have one further response and then be done.

So in this case I would call and say something like, "hi miss so and so this is alison with alisons cakery calling regarding the complaint you had on your serving sizes. You paid for and picked up a 13 inch long and 4 inch wide cake approximately 4 inches high. The cake should have been served by cutting a line straight down the middle and then cutting inches, sliding the knife down and cutting 2 more inches... this should have provided you with 26 1x2x4 sizes, which is a standard serving size, and providing you with more than enough cake. I apologize that I was not specific with my cutting instructions prior to you picking up the cake. I would be happy to offer you a 10% discount on your future order with us"

And then be quiet. If she tries to say that she cut each child a 1.5" x 4" x 4" slice of cake and didn't have enough... whatever! That's too much cake! Just repeat the last line, "I would be happy to offer you a 10% discount on your future order with us"

That's how I would handle it.

step0nmi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
step0nmi Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:51pm
post #16 of 114

ummm...first of NOT give her money back...she got this cake at a STEAL!

BUT...this was NOT enough servings...I'm sorry...but by your measurements you actually gave her a little under 20 servings with the party slice from wilton @ 1.5"X2"X4" ....with it being 13" long and 4" wide...that gives them about 18 servings...maybe a little under because of the curves.

I am sorry this has happened....apologize to her and tell her that you can give her a discount off her next 10%...BUT! you should be raising your prices! when I do a carved cake I make sure to charge appropriately....basically for sculpted cake I do as follows:
$50 base fee for 20 and under servings...PLUS my per serving price of $2.

I know there are other's that just charge $4 or $5 per serving when it comes to sculpted cakes...but you need to realize that because you are doing something that other's can't do that you can charge appropriately! so, you may want to let her know that you've gained some knowledge in sculpting cakes and you may have to raise your prices in the near future...or just tell her this the next time she calls you.

This is what I would say:

"I'm so sorry that you were unhappy with your cake. I DID go through my charts and i realize that your cake was not enough servings. I was about 2 servings off. I can refund you the price of XX for those servings you did not receive OR give you a 20% discount based off of the servings you didn't receive for your next order if you choose to order from me again. I hope that this can make up for my mistake."


patrincia Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
patrincia Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:51pm
post #17 of 114

Don't forget that the wilton serving chart (and others) is designed for wedding cake portions, which are about 1/2 the size of standard dessert sized servings of cake.

In all fairness to you, she should have mentioned something when she picked the cake up (btw, nice job on that cake).

I'm sorry you had this happen - might be a good idea in the future to specifically tell your customers the dimensions of your servings.

tammycake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
tammycake Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:53pm
post #18 of 114

Were they planning on having a cake eating contest with it?

You used a standard serving size to determine how big to make the cake. You gave her a great price. If you didn't use a standard size and they were really tiny pieces and she refused to take the cake and she had paid you in advance, then maybe I could understand what her problem was.

Your cake looked great.

step0nmi Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
step0nmi Posted 2 Jun 2008 , 11:54pm
post #19 of 114

I need to clarify...what I mean was only refund her for the servings she didn't receive NOT half of the money...because you charged too low. I would say to refund her like $5...that's a little extra than what the two servings would be in my book...

summernoelle Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
summernoelle Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:00am
post #20 of 114

You know, I'm not too familiar with the servings of sheet cakes, but Earlene's serving chart gives you bigger slices. I think customers like that better....


canoewoman Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
canoewoman Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:00am
post #21 of 114

I just drew the size on a piece of paper. Is she crazy. How on earth could a cake THAT size (4x4x13) only feed 10 people??? That is only 3 inches shorter than the wilton long loaf pan. I wouldn't refund or offer anything to her. I would have her come in to discuss it though. I would draw the dimensions of the cake and have her show you how she sliced it. My guess is that she wasn't there when the cake was cut. It was likely left with the kids (teenagers by the look of the cake) and of course they always want the biggest piece of cake they can possibly get.

MaryKakes Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
MaryKakes Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:02am
post #22 of 114

I am a customer service professional....and a cake decorator and instructor on the side. (yes, I have no life) Here are some tips :

1-The more attention you pay out front, the better you will be. Agree on the customer's expectations, so everyone is on the same page.
2-Try to get your orders in writing and be as detailed as you can....even a drawing helps. Get the customer's signature.
3-When delivering the cake....ask for a signature.
4-Get your money up front. My rule is prepaid, non-refundable, in full 2 weeks in advance. I have never had anyone turn down an order because of it. If they're leary, they don't know your cakes or they're trying to pull the wool over your eyes. Stick to this firmly. (I got stuck just once - that's all it took)

If a customer complains.....Always say you're sorry - validate their feelings. you don't give anything up by saying sorry.

And....Don't ever, EVER, refund money. People do not want to set this precedent. You'll become a sitting (and poor) duck. I only had one person complain - she claimed the kids didn't eat the cake at her party because it was dry. (she didn't personally taste the cake) I was in a real bind, because she works in the office where I work and she has a lot of friends. I felt awful about the cake, and felt like I was trapped. So, I gave it some thought. I offered to give anyone in her family a discount on the next cake I did for them.....and they took me up on the offer. Because I had to trim the next one to form the 3 D numbers, I had cake to taste myself. It was delicious (as always) I even mentioned it was delicious as I got to taste it myself - of course I found a clever way to mention it, but she knew what I was really saying. The family member was very pleased with the cake and even mentioned she thought it was good customer service to offer the discount.

Bottom line - you work hard for the money you make. You made nothing on this cake. This woman was looking for a free cake. You don't think she threw it out, do you? Ask her for a chance for you to make it up to her and give her a discount on her next purchase. If she walks - you're better off. My guess is she'll be back. At your prices, anybody would be crazy not to!

Best of luck!

Mary Kakes

mayamia Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
mayamia Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:02am
post #23 of 114

No refund only a discount towards a future purchase, when she picked up the cake she saw it and accepted it. Done deal

darcat Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
darcat Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:07am
post #24 of 114

ok let's be realistic here. Did you tell her or show her a wilton chart or any other chart? I dont think so. So that said ask anyone you know who does not bake for a living what size cake you cut for weddings, parties, children etc. I bet you a million they wouldnt know. I also would think 20 people with that size? No way. It's a birthday party heck the cake is the most important part not like a wedding where you eat a ton first. I know I dont want a morsel of cake I want a Piece of cake. So unless you know that she knows how many inches to cut per slice I would at least offer her a discount on the next cake and explain how small she should have cut the pieces. I'm sorry but I just find that too many bakers on here get real uppity and think the whole world should just know everything the baker knows. You just seem to forget that we customers are just humans.

lovely Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
lovely Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:10am
post #25 of 114

Hey ya,

Your cake looked great and as a layman your cake is cheap. Bakery's around here will charge $16 for just a 8 inch plain happy birthday cake. Some people have obviously different sizes (workman sizes, 1.5x2x4, 1x2x4, wedding peices, dessert peices) they cut cake but you can see that even a layman would be able to 20 peices out of the cake by cutting in half and then by 10. Awsome cake and I would have queried it in the bakery when I purchased it if it was too small (but then when we go to a bakery most of my work mates just go, 20 people.....2 cakes as they don't know exactly or they will rely on the baker telling them how many the cake will serve and cut accordingly)
Just really wanted to sey I love your cake.
Hope it works out well for you.

shisharka Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
shisharka Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:27am
post #26 of 114

I can see how sheâd be upset about the number of servings⦠At our parties, I make cakes that would feed an army by Wiltonâs standards, and they all vanish the moment they're sliced, as people ask about the cake the moment they walk in the door⦠For a bunch of boys the type of cake suggests were at the party, this size would barely even serve 10 in my world, the Wilton serving of 20+ slices for this size is just like two bites for themâ¦

With that said, though, for $25 with such elaborate sculpted design your customer got a real bargain! No refunds whatsoever!⦠Maybe apologize that you didnât get her message until today and there may have been a misunderstanding about the servings as you went strictly âby the bookâ without triple-checking with her â people who donât make cakes have no clue what a Wilton serving is â but that it was a custom cake, requiring hours of work to bake and decorate... Maybe a very small % off next order with a breezy note that youâll make sure to double-check with her on the size and number of servingsâ¦

peacockplace Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
peacockplace Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:37am
post #27 of 114

I think the whole wedding serving /party serving thing is asking for trouble. I go by the same size for everything. If you want bigger pieces you need to pay for more cake. You don't get more cake for free just because it's a party and not a wedding.

If I did that I'd have brides asking for party cakes and I'd be losing money. I do think your clients need to know what a serving size is so that they can make an appropriate choice.

patrincia Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
patrincia Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 12:58am
post #28 of 114

Wedding cake portions are unrealistic for children's birthday parties - they are also unrealistic to serve your dinner guests... too small.

I know of a decorator who keeps styrofoam blocks cut to the size of her wedding and regular cake portions (two different sizes), so the customer can choose which size slice they want to serve their guests. I thought that was a pretty good idea.

SugarBakerz Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
SugarBakerz Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 1:11am
post #29 of 114

I too use a wooden block to display my interpretation of a slice of cake... I run in to this a lot down here in the South, people want a hunk of cake, not a slice.... I think like most everyone has said, don't offer a refund, she should never have left with the cake if she felt so awful about it.... anyone can come in and get a cake, eat it, and then later complain it wasn't enough to get some money back.... you should just kindly explain to her that you use a serving size chart to size your cakes and you made what she ordered. It might benefit you to hang the chart in your shop somewhere and display a serving size to them.... this could save you from this in the future... HTH... the cake was super cute!

ladyonzlake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
ladyonzlake Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 1:15am
post #30 of 114

I didn't read all of the posts but if you're cake was 13x4x4 it should have fed 26 2"x1"x4" slices. The lady cut super big pieces of cake! I would not refund her money.

If it were me I would let her know how large the serving peices should be and explain how you got your serving amount out of it. If she still sounds unhappy then as a peace offering I would give her 10% off her next cake order.

Quote by @%username% on %date%