Cake Decorating Community - Cakes We Bake

I had an upsetting experience with a cake client this morning and thought where better to talk about it than with fellow cake people, lol. I had a last minute order from a coworkers daughter this past Wednesday night due this Saturday morning. I, being a glutton for punishment, agreed to do them. She wanted 2 cakes. One football cake, decorated with frosting for a smash cake for her son and one spongebob cake for her daughter. I was given creative freedom with the spongebob. She didnt care if it was fondant or frosting. Whatever I wanted to do and just let her know how much when she got them. No problem. I did fondant and made the characters with the exception of Spongebob because he was the candle. Even airbrushed it. When it came time for pickup/delivery she was complaining of the price and wanted a breakdown of each cake. She had ordered custom cakes before that weren't as much as mine. Its bothered me all day. I worked till 3 am to finish this cake, on top of working my regular job and taking care of my 3 year old son only to be given a hard time when it was done. She sent her Mother to pick them up and I thought I wouldve heard something from her saying how much she liked the cake or even a thank you like most people do and I haven't heard a thing. Its so discouraging to not have your work be appreciated. If people only knew how much goes into their cakes. Just needed to share with my cake people. :)

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Great advice!!

JJ Becker said:

I've been running bakeries for 15 years, I've been decorating cakes for 5 years and if there's one thing I've learned it's that you can't avoid every mistake.  You can't read a customer's mind.  Be as clear as you can with a customer and your pricing structure,  and if you decide to do things you haven't specifically discussed, to add the unexpected be prepared to do it for free.  


I have two basic price schedules for each size cake:

Standard decorating includes an inscription plus, two flowers on an 8" and one additional flower per larger size, or streamers and confetti.  

Custom decorating? Charge for everything!  If they want you to match a specific color, that's custom decorating, drawings are custom decorating, swiss dots, special borders, any time the customer wants something on the cake to look a certain way charge for it.  Extra flowers are $0.50 each, fondant figures $5-10 each. Don't give your labor away for free!


You get these crazy customers who call 50 times with changes to their order.  I tell them if I think they are going to far, you know which orders this apply's to, like when you can say to a customer I don't want to do this cake because I'm pretty sure it's not going to look the way you're imagining it, and know that every other bakery in town is going to laugh them out the door when they try to place the order there One of my favorite lines to use when a customer balks at a price, or when they don't like the work I've done do to some subjective miscommunication ("That doesn't look like navy blue to me," or the like) is, "Ok, if you don't want this cake I will be thrilled to keep it and put it on display in my case so my other customers can see it."


Another thing I like to do if I'm worried about over charging, or whether I'm going to look bad if I refuse to make an order, is to call a couple other bakeries around and pretend to try and place the order with them.  If they laugh in my face I know I'm on the right track.


you probably should have refused the spongebob one anyway, seeing how it's illegal to sell copyrighted images.

I've had that too, but now I get a deposit to cover cost at least. Sorry that happened to you!


Nikki, I've been there/done that one!! I feel your pain! People have no clue how much this stuff costs! They don't take into account that you usually have to also purchase the cake box, cardboard for the base, a foil covering for that base, occasionally, the fondant (ye-ouch! THAT can get pricey!), and then, all of the rest of the ingredient, plus, your hard work and all of the joy and love you throw into that cake...and then they act like it's too much money, or not what they wanted, not the right colors, or whatever other negative thing they can throw at you. I had a guy from our old church order a three tier anniversary cake as a surprise for his wife to take to the bowling alley to share with the whole establishment one time. When he came to pick up the cake, he informed me that he didn't have any money to pay for the cake. I was young then, and like an idiot, I let him get away with taking that cake, since I had no use for it, and after all, he was a fellow Christian. He didn't get out the door from my house, though, without me pointing my finger in his face and telling him not to ever, ever ask me to make a cake for him again, because it would never happen. I learned a BIG lesson from that experience. Big cakes:Not made without half the cake price paid in advance as a deposit.  (yes, even church people can screw you over! lol) So, all said from that experience, is that there was something good that came out of it. A good lesson learned.
So sorry you had to go through this.  It will be her loss when you don't do the next one for her!
Hello, I am new here and I just had the same thing happen to me this past week. A friend of a friend calls a couple of days before she needs the cake and asks for a cake for her friend coming into town and she is an artist and she would like a cake to represent her. I tell her how about a cake that looks like an artists palette and I made a paint brush and a tube of paint. She comes to pick it up and she said how nice it looked. I text her the next day to see how her friend liked it and hadn't heard back from her. Several days later the friend who referred her to me had finally talked to her and she had told her that she thought she had been overcharged for what she got and she thought it didn't represent a 30 year old. I text her back and apologized that she wasn't happy and offered her a free order of cupcakes, trying to have good customer service so she doesn't bad mouth me. The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I let her make me doubt myself and that when I broke down the costs and thought about what I made compared to what she requested and the fact that it was last minute as well I charged her correctly she was just wanting her cake to be over the top.  I do find it very difficult to know how much to charge for handmade extras that we make. You can easily say I charge $3 a serving and .25 extra per serving for special filling, but when it comes to the extras it gets tricky, any suggestions are appreciated.

Great advice JJ! But the cost for a flower, is that a royal icing flower, a buttercream, or gumpaste. Some of the gumpaste flowers can take a long time to make. Some of them I charge 2.00 to 5.00 each.


When a friend of mine who bakes cakes professionally from home has a disgruntled customer, she tells them that she will not provide them the cake and then donates it to her local Ronald McDonald house and uses the amount that she had planned to charge them for the cake as a charitable contribution. They are happy to get the cakes!
Id let her know that ordering a custom cake from a grocery is not really a custom cake. People do not realize the time and hard work put into making a cake special. Fondant is not cheap either. I will not make a cake until we have an agreed price because i do not want to spend 8-15 hours on a cake only to get shorted. I would e-mail the customer and ask for feedback. it couldnt hurt. Id love to see pictures of you sponge bob cake.
It's happened to me too & I've beaten myself up on the fact that maybe my cakes are too expensive. A quick reminder of what the customer has expected me to achieve and the hours I've spent and I realise I'm not charging enough! I was once told by a customer "That Much for Chocolate Cake!!!" My reply was "No, if you want chocolate cake pop down to the supermarket and get one for £8.99 - you are paying for my art. Take it or leave it, it's up to you!" That seemed to work, she wanted the cake whatever the cost. But I gave her the option of bailing out of the order. I don't care - I won't work for peanuts or be treated unfairly. Good luck with your orders. Tracy x (Fondant Fetish).

I've just come across this thread, a little late. There is nothing worse than an awkward customer. I've been looking into the best ways to handle such situations; I don't think throwing the cake in their face would be good for my reputation (despite feeling better for a second). I did come across this great article which I would highly suggest anyone in the business read. It's by 'Baking it'

So sorry. I would like to see them make cakes the way we do. There will always be those kind of clients.

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