Fun with retail

On January 12, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

Yesterday, I returned my birthday cake. This was not at all Jack’s fault, he bought it in good faith from what is normally a fine bakery that today shall remain nameless *cough* on West East Figueroa Street *cough*.

We came home from dinner on Tuesday (birthday) night and I said, “WHO WANTS CAKE?” Nobody did, because we’d eaten too much at Trattoria Mollie, so the cake sat on the counter for a half an hour while we all looked through the giant Helmut Newton book Jack had given me as a present. All the most gracious homes have naked ladies on the coffee table.

So, whatever, it was getting late and I’d be damned if I was going to bed without any birthday cake, so we lit candles, sang, made a wish, etc., and I got my cake.

“How is it?” Jack asked.

“It’s good. It’s okay. Maybe the recipe changed. It’s different than it used to be.” More eating. “It’s weird.”

The next morning Jack and Jackson both decided to have a slice for breakfast because that’s just what you do.

“This isn’t that great, Mom”

“This is bad,” said Jack. “It’s stale.”

“It tastes like it was in the walk-in too long, right?” Because it would be too depressing to throw away a cake I’d been looking forward to all week, I decided to take it back and ask for a new one, because by God if you spend $30 on a cake anywhere in the world it should not taste like ass.

“Good luck,” said Jack ominously.

I went to the bakery, cake in hand, and asked for the manager. A tall, energetic thirtysomething fellow appeared before me. I explained that I believed he had sold my husband a stale cake that tasted like the inside of someone’s refrigerator.

“Did you have it straight out of the refrigerator?”

“What? Your refrigerator?”

“No, yours.”

“Oh. No, it had been out a little while, I guess. I don’t know.” I didn’t have my stopwatch handy.

“You need to leave our cakes out between one and two hours before you eat them, it gives the butter cream time to [I forget what word he used here -- flourish, maybe, or come to life].”

He then proceeded to explain that how his employees should have told us to leave it out longer, because that was the problem. “How was the texture, was it dense?”

I had no way to judge how appropriately dense my cake was or wasn’t supposed to be according to him, so I said, “I don’t know, it just didn’t taste like it was supposed to. I mean look at it, it’s kind of gray.”

“Well, it’s too bad no one told you to bring the cake up to room temperature before you served it, it’s the most important thing you can do . . . ” blah refrigeration blah density blah butter blah, I didn’t hear the rest because at this point that I literally threw my hands in the air and turned to walk away because he could keep his fucking cake, I didn’t need to be lectured anymore about how I had made my own birthday cake taste like a mild case of Satan’s halitosis.

“No no no, wait! I’ll give you another one!” He said. Reluctantly, I returned to the counter and watched him box up a fresh chocolate cake with mocha frosting. “They should have put these instructions on the box,” he said, placing a gold-trimmed sticker on top of the box that had a paragraph of text about treating pastry nicely, implying that they could not be held responsible for the certain destruction your ignorance of butter science would cause.

“Well, thanks,” I said half-heartedly, as you do when someone else has spent a great deal of time telling you how wrong you are. I left, went to get my car washed, and then, since it was a mild day and the cake had been in my non-refrigerated trunk for two hours, I went home and had a piece. It was delicious. I talked it over with Jack (who then revealed his own bizarre experience with the uptight bakery manager when he picked up the first cake) and I decided to be a good guy and call the manager and thank him and tell him that the replacement cake was great. Bygones, etc.

I don’t really want to relive my second conversation with the guy but I will tell you that it was still very important to him that I know that I was wrong and he was right. He told me that after I’d left they’d cut into the cake and tried it and, “We all thought it was fine.”

If I’d had a little more presence of mind at this point, I might have said something funny, or sympathized with the fact that it must be hard for him and his employees to bake their cakes using the furnace that’s been built into Satan’s asshole, but I didn’t. Instead, I revisited the stunned silence that had become so familiar to me earlier in the day.

“Do you want to come get your cake back?”

Fuck me. Really? Come get it back and do what with it? Throw it on the floor and roll around in it, crying and apologizing to you and all your employees for doubting its stale, gray excellence? I’ve worked in customer service for years and witnessed some amazing moments of passive-aggression on both sides of the counter, but man. This guy takes the cake, and I am not even going to apologize for forcing that phrase into this post. The only thing that makes me feel a tiny bit better is reading the other terrible online reviews the place gets for its service.



35 Responses to “Fun with retail”

  • I never realized there is a science to eating cake. But then again, I don’t like cake, so what do I know?

  • Oh, and happy belated birthday.

  • I love you.

  • I hope you added your review. God, what a self important douche. ‘Do you want to get your cake back?’ No, I want you to eat the whole gross thing! Have you ever heard the expression THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT?! Oy!

  • HAhahahaha. buahaha. omg.

  • I am just stunned that he didn’t say he was sorry when it was your birthday cake! Birthday! Cake! WHY?
    And it sounds like the replacement didn’t have the same flavors or anything.
    It’s like they don’t get the whole point of a birthday cake.
    I hope you enjoyed the hell out of the replacement cake anyway.

  • Okay, this was so hilarious that I had to read it aloud to my husband to enjoy the humor as well. Satan’s asshole. :) I love it. (The post, not Satan’s asshole).

  • What an ass. I probably would have gone back to get the cake and then “accidently” dropped it on his bakery floor, icing side down of course, and then ground it in with my shoe.

    Nothing burns my butt worse than bad customer service. If I have to smile when dealing with jerks, they should have to smile when I have a problem and present it in a calm and professional manner. It is only when you mess with me that I become a vindictive bitch.

  • Those crazy elaborate stories about how you’re wrong from people who took your money for something are sometimes wrong and sometimes right.

    95% of the time wrong though.

    But it’s interesting I guess people need to keep their pride and all that. When you look at it from the person’s perspective it is difficult to fault them in a funny way. Maybe I’m too tolerant. It always is hard to admit when you screwed up.

    • In my opinion, the customer is always right, no matter what. If she was not satisfied with the product they made, they should just shut up and give her another cake, apologizing to her all the way out the door. End of story. Now, they’ve most likely lost a customer. I know I wouldn’t go back, even if it’s the best cake EVER.

  • Definitely the strangest store manager experience I’ve ever heard of. Happy birthday!

  • Ah yes, room temperature is the secret that revives a cake, which would otherwise taste like ass. What a douche.

  • It may have all been worth it if only for the crafting of that superb imagery.

  • ! Never got a cake from them before. Will continue with my perfect record. Thank Dog we have Anna’s out here in the country.

    On the other hand, I’ve never eaten at Mollie’s and I’m thinking that‘s a crime. How was dinner?

  • “Using the furnace that’s been built into Satan’s asshole.”

    God, you’re fucking funny. You should write.

    My favorite thing about that story is the image of the bakery employees eating your rejected birthday cake.

    • LOL! Yes, and all of those employees not wanting to lose a job kissing ass and telling him is was great! “No, actually I love cake that taste like ass!”

  • I think this is why I never bother taking things like this back, because you end up feeling crappy and the store gets to feel (wrongly) smug because they think they were above and beyond helpful (they gave you a new cake! even though the one you brought back was fine!). Meanwhile, I’d rather feel smug that I ate a stale cake. It’s messed up.

  • “because by God if you spend $30 on a cake anywhere in the world it should not taste like ass.”

    Truer words have never been spoken…er, written. And it keeps making me smile.

    Happy birthday!

  • Oh my, I too am glad that we usually get cakes at Anna’s. I wish I could have been there to overhear that crazy conversation though, because that stuff is so much more fun with a witness. But you did a great job at recounting it! And that was so crazy. Butter temperature? Really? I think the only instructions that should come with cake are “Eat this cake.”

    And happy birthday! I delurked just to say that. (probably not a word, but oh well.)

  • This is the funniest thing I have read in a long, long time. I needed a good laugh today. Thank you!

  • Yes; sweets, particularly chocolate have a different depth when you let them stand out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before you have them. But that’s no explanation for Satan Butthole Cake! (I imagine Satan’s butthole would taste stale. Because hell WOULD be not pooping for thousands of years.)

  • I had to google the street name and “bakery” and if it’s this bakery: I don’t think I could trust a business that uses that many exclamation points.

  • belated bday wishes!

    you make me feel better, ie. i’m not the only person stunned by what passes for smarts’round here these-a days.

    i’ve never heard of a science to butter cream, ever, and i’ve spent some money on custom bday cakes over the years.

  • With people like this, I used to just jump right onto their passive aggressive bandwagon and so would have replied “I am so sorry to have caused you so much distress, clearly this is a very very big deal to you and I have offended you deeply. Enjoy the cake.”

  • A little late to the cake party, but since we share a birthday month (20th! Holla!), I just wanted to tell you how magnanimous I felt you were with the douche-y baker. I might’ve been less polite, possibly delving into the rending of garments and the asking of the aforementioned douche-y baker about whether or not he/she realized how not only how wrong they were, but also how much they suck, in general, and possibly, specifically, how they can continue their business while being such examples of jackassery.

    Kudos, Ms. Kennedy. You’re a more patient human than I.

  • I’ve bought a lot of cakes and I’ve baked a lot of cakes, and it’s weird to have a cake be so needy. ? It’s cool that you called them to tell them that it was good the second time. Very civil of you :-) We don’t have enough civility around. Happy Belated Birthday!

  • “….it must be hard for him and his employees to bake their cakes using the furnace that’s been built into Satan’s asshole, but I didn’t….”

    Okay I just had to explain to 3 of my manager’s why I was laughing uncontrollably in my cubicle…That’s genius writing Mrs. Kennedy….I mean how did you come up with that line….(mind you after I hit them with “using the furnace that’s been built into Satan’s….” none of them even questioned why I was reading a blog on company time…)

  • He must have Satan’s tiny penis.

  • This post makes me sad b/c a) they do have delicious cookies b) and that attitude c) they ruined your b-day cake ! :( boooo! Butter temp is really only important when you are BAKING the cake, and I call bs on that whole deal. The bad/stale taste you are noticing is because they are buying to large of batches of cake flour and freezing it – its not how it is baked etc, the flour is actually (gag) rancid :(

  • Stick a fork in me (double entendre)! I am DONE at “Satan’s halitosis.”