Customer VS Store Again
This is yet another tale of a dissatisfied customer and and a store that struck back in response, reminiscent of the story of the Big Fatty Crab delivery that went wrong.
Though the customer’s accusations showed that he was very unhappy indeed with a cake that was ordered from Shiberty Bakes, the measured reply from the bakery ended up revealing how the customer himself could have done better.
The resulting exchange showed how difficult it it can be to be in the service industry nowadays, and why many people just don’t want the stress of working in the service line.
Round One: The Customer
In a long and frankly exhausting post on his Facebook profile, a guy called Nicholas Luo ranted about Shiberty Bakes and how he was “taken advantaged of, threatened and taunted”.
Wow — if we take his word for it, it’s alarming that a bakery would “threaten” a customer.
Here’s his post (warning: your eyes may glaze over after awhile and you may need to lie down):
Basically, this is what he said:
1. Mr Luo paid $475 for a cake for his wife’s grandmother’s birthday. It was to be ready on Feb 18 but the bakery could not deliver as it had another event the next day.
2. Mr Luo’s wife, Charlene, was apparently told that the cake need not be refrigerated.
3. On Feb 18, 2.30pm, he came to collect the cake but it was not up to expectations. Here’s a combination photo of the a photo of the cake sent by the bakery before collection and a photo of the cake Mr Luo said he took on the collection day:
4. Mr Luo asked for the imperfections to be rectified and wasn’t happy that the staff did it using her gloved hands: “Any baker with background knowledge or a baker of knows that the structural integrity of a cake cannot be fixed by PRESSING IT. Moreover, buttercream is sensitive to body heat, any baker who has “Basic Food & Hygiene Handler course from WSQ/WDA” knows there are better ways to handle and present this sort of frosting.”
5. Mr Luo tried to contact the owners directly, but the co-owner said he was overseas and passed his partner’s contact to him.
6. Mr Luo then demanded that the cake be delivered to the birthday celebration and left the shop.
7. Mr Luo got his wife, who was in Bangkok, to call the co-owner, who is confusingly named Nicholas Tan and also in Bangkok on a sponsored business trip.
8. Mr Nicholas Tan told his wife that the cake had to be refrigerated, and was supposed to be collected at 9pm. (Remember, in point 2 Mr Luo said his wife was told it didn’t need to be refrigerated. Also, Mr Luo came at 2.30pm to collect the cake.)
9. Mrs Luo then used the “F” word on Mr Tan, totally losing her cool and ranting at him.
10. This is what Mr Luo quoted his wife as saying to Mr Tan: “I have video evidence of how the cake turned out, it is disastrous if I were to tag you, it’s your business that will be affected.”
11. To that, Mr Tan told her to go ahead and tag them, and reportedly said: “Do you know Jessica (his partner) and Myself are both influencers!?” (Read the store’s reply below. They actually never said this)
12. Mr Tan also said as he isn’t in Singapore, he can’t deal with the situation but admitted to an oversight in not making sure the cake was ready when Mr Luo told him he would be collecting the cake at 3pm.
13. Mr Tan avoided replying to the question over the lack of customised cake box as agreed upon.
14. Mr Tan called back at 6pm as promised, and when told that his business partner Jessica had not contacted Mr Luo, said that Jessica’s phone couldn’t text or call via WhatsApp.
15. Jessica only agreed to open the shop on Feb 19, the event day, for them to collect the cake when Mr Luo’s mother-in-law begged her to.
16. Jessica said she could deliver the cake after all, as she had found a deliveryman.
17. When the cake was delivered, the deliveryman struggled to carry the cake and a chunk of cake fell out. (The box was now of a better quality.)
18. To Mr Luo’s outrage, Jessica tried to mend the cake with her hands, and upon protests, the deliveryman told Jessica: “If you have to use your hands, just use it.”
19. Mr Luo wondered why Jessica was taking orders from the deliveryman.
20. He also said the cake was falling apart and described it was Singapore’s own Leaning Tower of Pisa. He also said that taste-wise, it was bland and the guests didn’t touch it.
Here’s a photo Mr Luo said was taken on the event day:
The Verdict So Far
Still awake after reading all that?
From Mr Luo’s version of events and his photos, the cake certainly didn’t look that great and there were a few flaws.
And it seemed like the bakery was starved of manpower, with the bosses too busy to keep a proper eye on things — issues that plague many small businesses, and an oversight that Mr Tan had admitted.
However, it kinda seems like it’s Mr Luo who behaved in a threatening manner towards the bakery, and that’s especially true of Mrs Luo’s behaviour towards Mr Tan. Vulgar language and threats of social media humiliation just aren’t called for, no matter how dissatisfied you are.
Round 2: The Bakery
Well, after Mr Luo’s long post, Jessica from the bakery replied in an even longer comment on the original post that could very well be the first chapter of a book titled “Why Customer Service Is Difficult”.
This is what she said:
Jessica apologised for everything, accepted responsibility, and said the customer is always right. She also said it would be their right if he had given a bad review of the bakery and refused to patronise them again.
However, she said her bakery was unfairly represented by Mr Luo, who had sensationalised the issue, so she had to speak up to defend their morals and ethics. Here are her rebuttals to Mr Luo:
1. ‘Threatening’ Allegations
Jessica said neither she nor the staff took advantage, threatened or taunted anybody in any way — and in fact it was them that were taunted, threatened and taken advantage of.
Taunted: She said Mr Luo had asked the staff: “Are all your cakes this bad?”
Threatened: She said Mr Luo had raised his voice at her staff, which was witnesses by other customers, and was “largely condescending, rude and aggressive”, which “hurt all of our feelings”.
Additionally, he had threatened to pursue legal aid instead of trying to find an alternative solution to the problem, which struck as an extreme and aggressive attitude to take. Apparently, he said: “I am not accepting anything today, neither will I make another trip down to collect the cake” and “If I don’t have the cake delivered tomorrow, I will pursue further in whatever means it takes.”
Remember, Mrs Luo also used the F-word on Mr Tan over the phone — something that Mr Luo did not seem to think was a bad thing, considering that was something he actually mentioned in his post.
Jessica, however, echoed our feelings when she said Mrs Luo didn’t have the right to spew vulgarities at Mr Tan just because he thought he didn’t do a good job.
I strongly believe that no matter how frustrated you are at a service provider, you do not have the right to use hurtful vulgarities on them. This is the basic level of respect we can have for another human being, and ourselves. I am appalled that you simply phrased it in a manner whereby just because she was frustrated, it gave her the right to shout at Nicholas and hurl vulgarities. I beg for some decency here. And once again, your wife threatened to “disastrously tag us on Facebook”, even though he was professional enough to stay on the line, despite her literally f*cking him upside down. Honestly, if a customer started cussing me out, I would either cut the conversation short, or hang up the phone and text them back to tell them please talk to me nicely, no matter how much I wanted their business. Wouldn’t you, as a fellow small business owner, do that too? Or would you suggest that we should just take it in our stride?
Taken advantage of: The bakery had went out of their way to deliver the cake, since Mr Luo had rejected all other solutions.
Such behavior on his part wasn’t mentioned by Mr Luo in his account.
Despite being told earlier that the bakery could not deliver on Feb 19, Mr Luo had demanded delivery or he would pursue legal action. (Remember that he actually came to collect the cake on Feb 18, but left without it as he wasn’t satisfied with it.)
A screenshot of their WhatsApp conversation was attached in her comment, where Mr Luo can be seen threatening legal action.
She also said Mr Luo’s mother-in-law had called her on the night of Feb 18 in a “seemingly distressed” state at having to collect the heavy cake by herself. When asked why Mr Luo’s couldn’t collect it, even though she offered to open the shop later, the old lady said: “No, he refuses to do it, he doesn’t want anything to do with the cake anymore.”
Jessica finally found a deliveryman to deliver the cake on Feb 19 — her boyfriend.
She also waived the $40 delivery charge — a point which she said Mr Luo left out.
3. “Leaning” Cake
While the cake didn’t look good, Mr Luo claimed it was “melting”, and about to topple — something that Jessica denied and described as an “dramatization”, and the cake was ready for collection at 3pm (remember Mr Luo said he arrived at 2.30pm).
However, they did try to fix it — but they were busy when Mr Luo came and needed time. Mr Luo behaved badly towards the staff and left before they could fix the cake.
Explaining the cake’s imperfections, Jessica also said:
In our replies, we apologized to you for the imperfection on the cake, which I’d informed you only appeared overnight with the weight of the cake pressing down on the bottom most tier. When buttercream is hard when chilled, it can show signs of cracking under enough pressure. It happens sometimes, as much as we take precautionary measures. It can be fixed by smoothing it out. Your cake was massive, as you’d requested, so it was more prone to cracking than any normal cake. I think you were expecting a perfectly smooth cake, however, we told you that we have already tried to make it as smooth as we possibly could, and were sorry we couldn’t get it 100%.
As for the chunk that fell out, Jessica did admit that “a piece of buttercream was displaced when I tried to smooth out your cake further upon delivery”. She said it was fixed within minutes.
4. Fridge Or No Fridge
Jessica said the “fridge thing” was a miscommunication, which she apologised for.
Although Mr Tan had said a fridge was not needed, when they were told that the restaurant would not keep the fridge overnight (remember the original plan was to collect it the day before the event), refrigeration was needed if it was kept at home overnight, and before it was going to be transported to the event venue.
5. Hands On Cake
As for Mr Luo’s disgust at the cake being handled by her and her staff with their hands, Jessica said: “When the buttercream is hard from the fridge, the warmth from our hands can melt it slightly & smooth it out. This is the fastest way to fix any unevenness in the cream which you were displeased with.”
As for herself, she had used hand sanitizer before touching the cake, and said she and her staff kept their hands clean and fingernails short.
6. “We Are Influencers”
Jessica said Mr Luo had misrepresented Mr Tan’s word to his wife.
According to Jessica, he did not say: “Please go ahead and tag us. Do you know Jessica and Myself are both influencers!?”
Instead, he said: “You know that Jess and myself are social media influencers, and we wouldn’t want our reputation to be ruined over a cake.”
She goes on to explain how both quotes are substantially different:
It was his plea for you to not do it. This was after we got threatened by your wife, Charlene. He even urged you to treat him with some respect, and did not encourage you to “go ahead and tag us”.
Well, as the deliveryman was Jessica’s boyfriend, it answers the question why he could speak to her in such a casual manner.
In fact, Jessica said that her boyfriend “spoke up” for her and she was being treated in a hostile manner.
The Final Verdict
Going by the photos of the cake, we can understand why Mr Luo and his family may not be satisfied with it.
They did pay quite a lot, and being laymen who might not know what it takes to bake such a big and intricate cake, they probably expected the best — and it’s within their rights to be dissatisfied, and decide not to patronize Shiberty Bakes again.
And Jessica did accept responsibility for being able to fulfill their expectations.
However, Mr Luo admitted himself that his wife used vulgar language on the bakery’s co-owner — something that’s not cool no matter how dissatisfied you are as a customer.
And Mr Luo omitted to mention his own negative and threatening attitude towards the bakery staff, and threatening them with legal action just because they couldn’t deliver the cake, which the bakery had already told him about earlier.
Neither did he mention the hostile behaviour of his family towards Jessica on the day itself, after she went the extra mile to deliver the cake and waive the delivery fee.
As for the bakery’s attitude, from these screenshots of Mr Luo’s WhatsApp conversation with the bakery kindly provided by Mr Luo himself, they behaved quite professionally in their dealings with him. Which is probably why the post ended up receiving just 7 likes.
The feeling is that the bakery did all they could to satisfy their customer — though their efforts might not have been good enough. They were definitely not enough in the eyes of Mr Luo’s family.
While that should have been the end of it — a dissatisfying customer experience — the behaviour of Mr Luo and his wife towards the bakery could have been better.
And the obvious efforts of Mr Luo to smear the bakery is just uncalled for.
Customer Service Is Hard
From this incident, we can see how it’s difficult being in the service line — especially when encountering self-entitled customers who curse at you.
People always say service in Singapore is bad — but perhaps we should also realise that our customers can be difficult to handle too, and given that it’s not surprising that even good service staff may get frustrated and leave. After all, why would someone who is capable choose to be in this line and subject themselves to such treatment?
It’s no wonder some companies reply their customers’ in a less-than-PR way. Read our story on companies that have roasted their customers on social media.
Featured image from Facebook