Jessica Loh (avatar)
updated 4 months ago

My personal experience in the service industry

Today, I want to share with you guys the most detailed recount of a dissatisfied customer's complaints.

So, this is cake customer's (rather long) post:

Have you ever been taken advantaged of, threatened and taunted by someone?

This will be a long article but I am writing this to show how an influencer abused his "fame" in a situation involving my fiancee's Grandmother's 90th birthday no less.

[18th Feb]
-Around 230pm, I arrived at the shop with my brother for collection. I had already texted the co-owner of the shop, Nicholas whom my wife was liaising with to confirm the address for collection.

- Nicholas was not around and advised me to look for Jolanda (Staff) to pick up the cake.
-Wife was informed by co-owner, Nicholas that the cake was covered in “buttercream” and need not be refrigerated, just stored in an air–conditioned room for up to 12 hours)
-Upon receiving the order, I was stunned. You should be too if you compare both pictures as below. Before collection photos was sent by co-owner on 17th Feb at 1702hrs. Collection day photos was what I took at the cafe.)

On collection day

On collection day

On collection day

-At this point, as a client, I requested some rectification to be done. To my utter dismay, the staff (Part time, apparently) put on a vinyl glove and started to “rectify” it by pressing against the imperfections.
-I did not expect her to just start TOUCHING THE CAKE. 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
- As there were way too many issues with the whole cake, I decided to contact the owners directly. The co-owner mentioned he wasn’t around and passed his partner’s contact to me. As the conversation went back and forth. I have no solution but to leave the shop approximately after an hour.

As a dissatisfied client, I requested for a delivery service. This is simply because I did as agreed, visited the sop to collect my cake but the cake that was presented to me WAS NOT WHAT WE AGREED ON. As such, I believed the delivery of the cake should then be the business owner’s responsibility. To my shock however, the replies from both the outstanding owners were astounding.
I proceeded to inform my wife on the situation and got her to link up with them as she was the one whom made the order

!!! Here is where it gets interesting. !!!

My wife who was on a business trip in Bangkok had to ring the owner of the shop who is coincidentally also in Bangkok on a “sponsored” “business trip”
-He begins guilt tripping my wife, HIS CUSTOMER as if to mock her “demanding requests” - i.e. TO SIMPLY GET THE CAKE SHE ORDERED FROM YOU AND PAID ALMOST 500 DOLLARS FOR.
This is a sum of their conversation:

Wife: Hi, will like to clarify on what my husband said that there were cracks and lines on the cakes. This was not what was promised. I specifically mentioned smooth texture thus you recommended butter cream
Nicholas: My staff said that it needs to be place in a fridge and the collection was supposed to be at 9pm as per my google document
Wife: Prior to me making payment upon booking the cake. You mentioned that the cake does not need to be stored and refrigerated.

Nicholas: My staff told me that it needs to be place in a fridge.
Wife: Why the F*** did you overpromise and under deliver?!
Nicholas: I know that you are my customer. But you are not giving me any respect.
Wife: Everything is not going as planned!?
Wife: (Lost her cool and frustration and ranted at him)

Nicholas: See! She is shouting at me! Record it down and put it on my blog! (Speaking to his friend)
Wife: 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.
Nicholas: Please go ahead and tag us.
Nicholas: Do you know Jessica and Myself are both influencers!?

Nicholas: I can understand your frustration and Jessica is already at the shop. I believe you are already in contact with Jessica. There is a time difference and I cannot be in Sg to tend to it as I am being paid on a sponsorship for work. Before I left, I made sure all the flowers were there and arranged for the cake. Moreover, I do not bake and only deal with the back end operations and coordination.

I admit that it was my oversight that when your husband texted me and say that he will be going down to collect around 1500hrs, I did not check if the cake was ready.
Wife: Fine. What about the promised tier-ed customized cake box that is safe for collection?
Nicholas: Avoids question and no reply
Nicholas: I will get back to you at 1800hrs with an update on the collection of the cake. (BKK Timing)

At 1759hrs (As promised to reply before 1800hrs)
Nicholas: Hi, Believe Jess already contacted your husband?
Wife: I checked with my husband and there is No whatsapp, no text and no calls from Jessica to my husband.
Nicholas: Her whatsapp cannot whatsapp text or call.
Wife: It’s ok. My husband is busy, let me get my mother to contact voice call her.

-Again, the cake was meant for our 90 year old grandmother’s birthday. OF COURSE THE FAMILY WAS IN DISTRESSED BECAUSE THEY WANTED A NICE CAKE FOR THE OCCASION.
-While Jessica agreed to open the shop the next day AFTER MY MOTHER-IN-LAW BEGGED HER TO, morning for our collection. (to this point, she still refused to budge on delivery), I was worried because when I was at the shop, I saw that 3 tiered cakes were being packed in SKP boxes with cling wrap.

I suspected that delivery was adamantly refused so that when the cake was passed to us, they will not be liable for the cake.

[19th Feb]
-My wife and I were leaving out home to Shiberty bakes shop when my mother in law mentioned Jessica called upon texting her back. She mentioned if we are not picking up the cake, she found a delivery man and would charge us $40.00 for delivery.

-Arriving at the restaurant, we saw the delivery man carrying the cake awkwardly (weight of the cake was 8-10kg). The delivery man struggled and placed the cake on the table. At this point we were anxious to see the rectified cake. Note: The SKP box with cling wrap has now been replaced with a box of better quality.
-Alas upon lifting the box, a chunk of cake from the back of the cake FELL OUT. We were fuming.

-Jessica then ATTEMPTS TO PICK UP THE PIECE OF CAKE THAT FELL OUT AND BEGINS TO MEND THE CAKE IN FRONT OF US.. My brother exclaimed “Should you be using your hands?!” The delivery man continues to stun us when he opens his mouth to say: “If you have to use your hands, just use it.”
-We were taken aback by two things.

Firstly, HELLO???? Lack of hygiene. She did not wash her hands in the toilet, neither was she wearing gloves. Secondly, why is the delivery man telling her what to do?

The cake was disastrous to say the least, it was falling apart, we were presented with Singapore ‘ very own ‘’leaning tower of Pisa.’’ Taste wise, it was bland. Guests did not touch the cake.

-Thanks to Nicholas, who taunted, threatened my wife, that Jessica and him are both influencers, we went to her Instagram and realised that the delivery man was her partner/boyfriend. Before the couple left, my wife asked her for the additional cake topper and matching candles to suit the theme of the cake. (This was agreed with Nicholas upon the order) Jessica mentioned that Nicholas did not inform her. (Nicholas did not mention yet another 2 things that Shiberty bakes failed to deliver

She brushed it aside and handed over a plastic knife without any candles. She told us that a metal knife will be able to cut through the cake. (Why would we need her plastic knife then?)

-We want to simply share our experience here. Safe to say that it was a dramatic and stressful experience for my wife and her family. Throughout the whole nerve-wrecking experience with Shiberty Bakes, neither the business owners were apologetic.

-I am myself small business owner and if anything, young entrepreneurs like the owners of Shiberty Bakes should understand that fame being social media influencers does not mean that they can shirk responsibilities, not take ownership, and threaten, taunt and intimidate their clients. I hope by writing the post, people will learn that as a paying customer you should get what you pay for, not be bullied or threatened by a so called, self declared INFLUENCER.

Shiberty Bakes #Shibertybakes

Actual day

Actual day

Actual day

So, that was the end of his post. I was honestly expecting a post from him (because they already threatened us several times they would defame us online). I thought long and hard about what to reply, and finally, this was what I responded. It's pretty long, btw.

Hi Nicholas, this is Jessica, owner of Shiberty Bakes. Your post has come to my attention, and I would like to express my heartfelt sentiments about this whole situation.

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for the whole matter, as the owner of Shiberty Bakes, to you, our customer. We are terribly sorry that you have had an unpleasant experience with us, and it's something we regret deeply. I know that you've been mostly unwilling to accept our apologies thus far, but still, I would like to offer it for the final time.

You say you're a small business owner yourself so I'm sure you know that regardless of who said what, when a customer is unhappy or displeased with your service or product, even if they aren't always being 100% right or reasonable, it's our responsibility to make things right, and try to appease them. Because in the service industry, the customer is always right. This is something I've come to understand after running the cafe for a year plus, it's just the way it is.

We will do what we can to make you happy, as much as we can.

However, as both a self respecting person and a small business owner, something I cannot take lying down is unfair allegations about our morals and ethics. I feel like I need to speak up for all of us at Shiberty Bakes, because we have been unfairly portrayed in your post.

If I do not respond, I'm afraid people who are too quick to judge will have the wrong opinion about my brand, something I've taken years to build up, I presume you would understand why I feel the need to give my side of the story. To not say anything at all, is as good as accepting your entire post as 100% truth, which I do not agree with.

I would not have felt the need to respond & defend my brand, had you posted on Facebook that the cake was not what you expected, you did not receive quality service from us, and that you won't be patronizing us again, because these are your own opinions, and you are certainly entitled to them. I am not here to convince you that you have no right to be upset, angry, or even encouraging people to boycott us. If that is the way you feel, then I honestly cannot do anything to stop it.

However, it is rather dismaying, to know that despite our best efforts to resolve the problems, this post still came about, and may I add, specifically worded in a way to sensationalize the whole story, with certain details being left out and other things worded in a biased manner, offering a very one sided view to the whole thing.

Forgive me if I sound indignant, for in fact I actually am, as I know it can be tempting to sensationalize things on social media, and it's easy to do so when you're still feeling upset over what happened, however, I would like to urge you to reconsider if how we were treated was honestly decent.

I would like to point out that at no point in time, did we ever take advantage, threaten, or taunt you. You are our valued customer, and we have always treated you like one. The people to have been threatened, were us.

I have attached screenshots of the text conversation for your reference.

Charlene & Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) conversation

Charlene & Nicholas from (Shiberty Bakes) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (from Shiberty Bakes) & Nicholas (customer) conversation

Nicholas (customer) & me conversation

We asked for some time to fix your cake as we were running full house when you came to collect your cake, but couldn't wait & left shortly after, so we asked if you could come back later, as we couldn't offer delivery on your date of event (this was already highlighted weeks ago, when you first placed the order), but you said, no means no. You demanded that we either had it delivered to you tomorrow morning, or you would legally pursue the matter.

It could have been nicely discussed to find an alternative solution, but it went straight to threatening to pursue legal aid. We were shocked by your aggressiveness in handling the situation. I feel that for someone who keeps emphasizing that it's important to be genuine and nice, you were largely condescending, rude and aggressive when dealing with us, which hurt all of our feelings.

You raised your voice unnecessarily at my staff in the cafe, which my other customers witnessed and told me about when I rushed back to the shop, and even said, "This cake is not what I paid for, it's melting, it's for my grandmother's 90th birthday can you imagine what would happen if it toppled in front of the old folks and scared them?!". The cake was not melting, and at no point did it threaten to topple. That's quite a bit of dramatization, as is this entire issue.

Regarding my staff using gloved hands to fix your cake, it is in fact what she should have done, as 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.

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%.

At 1500hrs, the cake was in fact ready for your collection. My staff advised to put the cake in the fridge, because you should generally always put a cake in a fridge where possible, of course. If you're going to leave the cake for a couple of hours in an air conditioned restaurant table, it's gonna be fine. It only needs to be fridged prior to transportation or overnight, to ensure the cake won't slide around during transport.

Nicholas then advised to put the cake in the fridge afterwards, because you mentioned that your restaurant does not allow you to keep cakes at their premises, therefore, you had to bring it home.

This was why there was a change from "no need fridge" to "need fridge". For this, I apologize for the miscommunication as several people were talking to each other at any point in time, and along the way, people got confused. However, this frustration arising from miscommunication is not reason enough for Charlene, your wife, to shout at him on the phone, and use the word "fuck" several times.

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?

Regarding the "we are influencers" part, his exact words were not, "Please go ahead and tag us. Do you know Jessica and Myself are both influencers!?". This allegation is very alarming. What he said was, "You know that Jess and myself are social media influencers, and we wouldn't want our reputation to be ruined over a cake."

Perhaps, you may have accidentally left certain details out. I can see how these words can be easily misunderstood, and I do not blame you for it. Still, I find the need to explain. 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". Certain things, worded differently, can be very dangerous.

This is a case of He Said VS She Said now, and as nobody has proof of the phone conversation, I shall not continue to elaborate further.

There is no reason for Nicholas to to say something so arrogant & cocky only to immediately follow up with, "I can understand your frustration and Jessica is already at the shop. I believe you are already in contact with Jessica. There is a time difference and I cannot be in Sg to tend to it as I am being paid on a sponsorship for work", etc.

He responded in that manner because Charlene, your wife, was guilt tripping him about not being there personally, despite him telling her I was already at the shop fixing it (he was in Bangkok). Upon receiving a call about a problem with the cake, I rushed down to the shop, to find that you had already left.

We did not refuse to provide you delivery purposefully, we mentioned since weeks ago we couldn't do it. I did contact you several times, when the situation arose. My whatsapp was buggy, which was why we advised voice calls. Each time any of you called, I answered. After you threatened to take legal action against us, I reminded you once again that you can come anytime up till 10pm to collect the cake.

At night, your mother in law called me, seemingly distressed. She said she's an injured old woman who was made to collect the heavy cake all by herself and there's no one else to do it except her. I asked, "What about your son in law Nicholas, can he do it? We can open the shop longer, stay back for you, so that it can be collected tonight." and her reply was, "No, he refuses to do it, he doesn't want anything to do with the cake anymore."

I told her that I could sympathize, however, I have other work the next day, and I couldn't simply postpone it. I did not want to force her to collect by herself, so I said I will try to find someone to help me. I did not want to over promise, so I told her the next solution now is for us to open shop earlier for your collection instead. Next morning, I rushed out my work as fast as I could, got my bf to help, called your mother in law, told her that we could deliver in the end.

I did initially tell her there would be a $40 delivery charge, which you mentioned, however, you left out that we decided to waive the delivery fee for you out good will. I couldn't find any delivery service so last minute, and I couldn't carry it on my own, hence the appearance of my bf.

A piece of buttercream was displaced when I tried to smooth out your cake further upon delivery. It was fixed within a few short minutes. As for using my hands, I have sanitized it with hand sanitizer prior. Majority of us kitchen people use our hands, and it's not always with gloves. We keep our hands clean, and fingernails short.

My bf spoke up for me because he noticed that I was being treated in an extremely hostile manner by you and your family and I was visibly affected from being dealt with harshly, and I hope you won't see it as him being rude, I am thankful that he was supportive, assuring me that I wasn't doing anything wrong.

In no way am I trying to shirk responsibility for what actually went wrong - the imperfections on the cake, wasted time and any inconvenience or unhappiness caused to you. However, you have not been accepting of our methods of solutions and apologies, so I don't think it's fair to say we were not apologetic, when you just did not care for it. From a business owner point of view, I am utterly regretful and sorry.

From a human point of view, I feel that this post was written out of spite, ignoring our efforts to resolve the situation, and this hurts me, even though I try to view it from a non-personal stand point. You have focused so much on being upset that you did not recognize our efforts for redemption.

At the end of the day, your cake was delivered on time, and fixed up. It could have been a lot less dramatic, had you not threatened us several times, hurled vulgarities, raised your voice, guilt tripped and now, post a sensationalized account of the events for people to get hyped up about. I am truly apologetic if our best wasn't good enough for you.

But it's saddening to know that someone would go out of their way to try hurt your brand image because they were so displeased with the apology they did in fact receive.

If anything, we were the ones who were being taunted when you asked my staff, "Are all your cakes this bad?",
Intimidated when we had vulgarities shouted at us numerous times on the phone,
Threatened when you said "I am not accepting anything today, neither will I make another trip down to collect the cake", "If I don't have the cake delivered tomorrow, I will pursue further in whatever means it takes",

Taken advantage of when we went out of our way the next morning to have the cake delivered to you when you refused to collect it yourself and rejected all other solutions, then waived the delivery fee..
But there was never a "thank you for fixing it and delivering it in the end". In return, we received this angry Facebook post.

Sometimes, the service industry feels like a thankless industry to be in, and this incident is surely one of those times when I question how much I love my job to put up with this. But, every incident is a lesson to learn from, and I'd like to thank you for this opportunity of growth.

I have to say that I'm equally upset about social media influencers being stereotyped as such shameless, disgusting people, and having a social stigma surround our profession, when I know that most of us aren't this way. Although it's easy to jump on the hate bandwagon, we're not so different, you and me. We all deserve basic respect, and in no way is a customer better than a service provider, or a social media influencer better than a person who isn't one.

I agree with you, that respect should be earned. But due respect should also be given even when you're dissatisfied with a provider's service, no matter if you're frustrated or disappointed. We did not do anything to you with ill-intent in heart or mind. I am dismayed and humbled by this situation, but I choose not be derailed, for I know that there are still many customers out there who appreciate the hard work and love we put into our cakes, and we will try even harder in the future.

I too, would hope to be a small voice for sincere, hardworking and sometimes taken for granted or mistreated service providers out there who have had to unceremoniously deal with condescending customers while doing the best they can - and even though are sometimes told that their best just isn't good enough, to still keep trying, and not be too disheartened by such events.

No one is perfect, and some customers will never be fully satisfied no matter what, but we really do try.

Have a nice day.

I am truly actually apologetic that he had a bad experience with us, but at the same time, the apologetic sentiments have melted away into indignation, because how many times do we have to say sorry until sorry is good enough? Isn't free delivery, going out of our way to make sure you have your cake fixed in time and delivered, considered a redeeming factor? I do not feel that we (my team at Shiberty Bakes) deserved the mistreatment that we received from him, and his family.

I want to share this experience with you guys because as someone who has been in the service industry for awhile now, at times it is difficult in ways people do not quite understand.

When your service providers screw up, don't fuck them up too quickly. We're human, too. And sometimes, we make mistakes. We are not without fault, but please, a little decency, patience and time to resolve the issues would be appreciated.

Nevertheless, I will aid in providing publicity to this post, because I do not mind being the case study for other people out there, and sharing with people my own personal experience. It is a humbling event, and I hope that everyone will be able to take away a lesson or two from our ordeals.

I am determined to not let this derail me or bring me down. I am providing you a service, not trading away my self respect in exchange for your money.

In light of recent events, thank god for all appreciative, kind customers who still make doing what we do feel worthwhile. You people are really the reason why we do what we do. Thank you.

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.


Day 73

Tuesday, 14 Mar 2017

281 21
ipaint (avatar)

ipaint Hey, thanks for your insights about the matter. Not many people understand how it works behind the scenes, but its even funnier when people think they do know things but actually they don't.. Thank you for speaking up for us bakers(: εˆ«εΏƒη°! ❀

4 months ago

roseline (avatar)

roseline i think both of u guys are at fault but he customer shouldn't be so rude and vulgar over the phone with ur partner as that's just not respecting people and it's wrong on all levels. However, this did stem from a mistake and miscommunication from ur business' it seems like it is reasonable to try and arrange delivery for this customer? im not sure why it is so difficult to do so from ur end (cost?) but it is a small gesture to keep the customer happy. U have spent alot of time and effort in building the brand and cust service is a part of it so it might have been worthwhile to take a step back and arrange for delivery and this matter wouldn't be blown so big? just my 2 cents!

4 months ago

sacrebleu (avatar)

sacrebleu Hi shiberty, I've been a silent reader for years and I love your work! However I feel that I can empathise with the customer because the cake really wasn't delivered to its expectations after looking at the photos on his fb. :/ he shouldn't have resorted to using vulgarities and threatening you guys but I feel like you guys could've done better at rectifying the problem- maybe compensate with some cupcakes or macarons since the cake really did look pretty lopsided and bumpy. Even I as a customer would be dissatisfied after paying so much for your cake. Furthermore, you are indeed using your influence to garner likes for your own post when I feel that it should be enough as long as the people who have viewed the original post reads your comment. Just my 2 cents!

4 months ago

loveshowssz (avatar)

loveshowssz Agree with ^

4 months ago

shiberty (avatar)

shiberty @roseline I could not deliver as we were rushing some orders & understaffed, if we could deliver in the first place, we would have already accepted their request for a paid delivery all those weeks ago

4 months ago

everythingsushi (avatar)

everythingsushi stay strong! πŸ’ͺ

4 months ago

shiberty (avatar)

shiberty @sacrebleu Thanks for for giving me honest input, it has been thought provoking. I don't intend to comment on his page anymore or my own Facebook in fact (I suppose it will never end), but as my dayre has always been very personal, I felt the freedom of expression existed most on this platform. You may have noticed that the cake looks different in every single photo because it depends on which angle you take a photo of it from. It's designed to look the straightest from the front, as it does, however if you take a photo really close up there's bound to be imperfections. I apologized that it wasn't up to his expectations nor was it perfect, but we don't do perfect cakes, we do try to make them as best we can. There's only so much we can professionally do within a certain skill set (limited to our own personal talents) to make it "perfect". And yes indeed, I do deny that I am using my influence to spread awareness about this matter and share very personal views on a business matter, something which many people frown upon. I can respect this is something you may not necessarily agree with, however, it is something that I felt compelled to share about and everyone is completely entitled to having their own opinions about how we could have done better, what went wrong, etc. It's interesting to read about and there are lessons to learn for sure, I am accepting of people having different thoughts, so long as there's no malicious intent behind it.

4 months ago

yufeixx (avatar)

yufeixx A man's character can be judged by how he treats people in the service line. Don't let his poor character get to youπŸ™†πŸ»πŸ™†πŸ»πŸ° θ£™ε­δΈδΈŽε°δΊΊζ–—

4 months ago

shiberty (avatar)

shiberty I don't deny not I do deny πŸ˜… ** Words can be scary!

4 months ago

shiberty (avatar)

shiberty @sacrebleu finally, after thinking about what you said, I feel that you're right. There's no need to garner likes for my comment on the post itself, so I have removed the link to the actual post (it was originally in my dayre) and just let things be. I'm not out here to blow things out of proportion, or to rally supporters against him or anything of the drastic sort. I just want to share something personal (which happens to be about business, touchy, touchy.) and make my stand known. I've always shared about my life and its tumultuous events, you can expect that when it comes to struggles and the learning curve of a small business owner, this is no different. It's all good food for thought, no matter whose side you're on.

4 months ago

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