The Missing Central Park


The catering desk recently heard from a customer who was upset with the lard in the icing.
The problem is, we don’t use lard, we’ve never used lard, and I’m not even sure if our supplier carries lard.
But none of that matters because the customer and all her guests believed that what covered her cake was not a swiss meringue buttercream made of egg whites cooked with sugar then whipped with butter and vanilla but rather, icing made of lard.
It’s really tricky when this happens and not because we are trying to get out of giving a refund. That part is easy and fast: if the customer didn’t get what the customer expected, they get a refund with our apology for their disappointment.
But it is hard, brand wise, when a customer says that they really appreciate the refund but that we are not telling the truth. Of course it is anyone’s prerogative to say that, but how to respond as a business?
The path of least resistance is always appealing and usually we say some version of, we really appreciate the feedback and perhaps next time – and we do hope there is a next time – you might consider ordering X instead of whatever the problematic purchase was.
In this case, the customer mentioned enjoying our icings in the past so we realized that she and her guests must prefer the butter-based icings that we use on the cupcakes and Homestyle cakes over the Swiss meringue buttercream we use on the Designer cakes.   You can check them out here:

Before I was a business owner, I believed the adage that the customer is always right.
After I became a business owner, I realized it is more nuanced than this.
One time when we went to New York, Andrew and I splurged on a room with a view of Central Park. But we arrived late at night and when we looked out the window, there was no Central Park!
We called the front desk immediately.
Excuse me, we just got into our room and we do NOT have a view of Central Park!
Oh I am so very sorry! Let me check…oh yes, I see you are in 3910…yes, that has a park view, hmmm, yes I do think it does, maybe in the morning you could check again and let us know if it is not there…
Of course the next morning, Central Park was there, sprawled across many acres.
What I can say now is this: the customer should always feel right – and should feel validated by the business for raising a concern.
To be honest, it’s hard sometimes to get there, but I think it is an important goal: make the customer feel right, even when they are questioning the existence of Central Park.


About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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