1St Cake Collapsed :( Refund Or Discount?

Business By imanah Updated 28 Jul 2008 , 7:32pm by OCakes

imanah Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 12:12am
post #1 of 39


I need some advice. I'm stuck. I had an order for a Bday cake last week. Order totaling >$500. WHen I delivered the cake it was fine...but I guess as the time passed the lower cake collapsed on itself. It was still standing but looked really bad.

The customer said it was delicous & she was very happy with the taste.

My thinking is I want to offer maybe 40 dollers back or credit towards another cake.

My other dilema is....although this lady was reliable and nice. I received the final payment 1 week after it was due. Which means I did not start the cake until 4 days before. And I had major work that needed to get started two weeks before. AFter calling her several times & emailing her saying I will not be able to do the cake, she said that she had the check in her purse so she forgot to mail it out on time.

I'm not sure what to do at this point. I'm dissapointed and sad, I know these things happen. I really need to evaluate those wooden dowels. You can see the casino cake on my photos. I'm just blah about the whole thing.....She said she is happy with whatever I do.

38 replies
costumeczar Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 12:28am
post #2 of 39

Just send her the $40 refund. It will make you feel better about it, and since it doesn't sound like she's too concerned about it it will be a little bonus for her, which will make her happy.

I use wooden dowels all the time with no problems. Sometimes these things just happen, so don't beat yourself up about it too much.

MaisieBake Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 4:43am
post #3 of 39

I think you need to separate out the payment issue from the cake collapse issue.

How would YOU feel if you spent more than $500 on a cake which collapsed (or any other deliverable which didn't perform as advertised)? Would you buy from that vendor again?

antonia74 Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 4:51am
post #4 of 39

I kind of agree more with MaisieBake. Why only a refund of $40 on a cake that was around/under $500?

Where does the $40 amount come from? icon_confused.gif (Is that your fee for tiering a cake, for example?)

Maybe you should just offer the client a free 8" birthday cake sometime this year instead of a $40 refund or a $40 credit towards another order? She might be nervous about placing that order. icon_rolleyes.gif

sassycleo Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 4:57am
post #5 of 39

I think this could be a simple situation made sticky if your not careful. Couple of things you need to think about:

You already went above and beyond the call of duty by creating the cake with out receiving final payment. You took a very BIG risk and luckily you finally got paid. With this being said I work full time and am the manager of our AR and AP department so I see both sides of the coin daily. I constantly have to go after people for payment as well as have to do what needs to be done when an invoice of our isn't paid on time and we are put on hold. Point is - she didn't pay you on time. She didn't pay by the terms and could easily be charged with a finance charge or not have gotten her cake.

Many factors could have played with the cake falling a tier. You said it was fine when you left it, who touched it after you left, bumped the table? You never know so don't automatically assume it was by your fault. Don't automatically assume you need to give her money back.

Yes as someone pointed out how would you feel if you spent that much money on a product and it didn't perform, BUT when it comes to food there are so many factors that could have led to the situation that were out of your control - weather, placement at the venue, was it near a sound system? The vibrations from DJ's and such can cause a cake to collapse - not your fault.

If your customer was thrilled with the cake don't make too much of an issue out of something that isn't. Instead of giving her cash (keep in mind she already held your money she owed you for the cake that could have been collecting interest) maybe offer her a coupon for a certain amount off of her next order. Or a gift certificate for a certain amount.

Just some food for thought.

roxxxy_luvs_duff Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 5:02am
post #6 of 39

I think if she payed $500 for the cake and the collapse(needs more details on this) happened because of something you did wrond then I would think you owe her more than $40. I dont know if its the angle of how the picture was taken of that cake but the cake resting above the bottom cake doesnt look level and kinda looks like it may be buldging a little so that may have cause the damage but then again it could have been bumped or moved

Laura102777 Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 5:18am
post #7 of 39

Based on the pictures in your gallery, it looks like you are a fairly experienced decorator. You have some beautiful cakes in there.

You mentioned that you used wooden dowels for support. How many did you use? Did you feel confident with the construction?

I do think $40 is an odd amount to refund. I am also curious as to how you came up with this amount.

What does the customer seem to want from you to make things right? Is she asking for a partial refund? I would want to know what she wants before making that decision.

Worst case scenario, though, is that you may end up having to provide a much larger refund than you anticipated. I wouldn't refund more than half, given that the cake was intact when you left and they were able to eat it and were happy with the taste.

Jopalis Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 5:27am
post #8 of 39

I agree...cake collapse is separate issue. I think more than $40 if your fault. Maybe like 1/2 the cost....

CelebrationsbyLori Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 3:34pm
post #9 of 39

I would think of like this, is there a break down in your price ($500) as to how much each layer cost? I price tiered cakes by the serving so I can figure exactly how much the bottom tier is. If so, you could offer a refund of 1/2 the cost of the tier that was damaged. I agree with the other that $40 is an odd amount $50 would be 10% which seems a little low since the base layer was more than 10% of the complete cake. You see where I'm going with this, just how I think I would handle it!
Good luck!

TexasSugar Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 4:01pm
post #10 of 39

Was the cake fine when you left? Had the cake been stacked before you got there? If so, how long? Do you feel it had to do with the construction? Did they move the cake after you left it?

Alot of things can happen to cakes after we leave. This is why you should always get a picture of the cake before you leave, and or get someone to sign off on it (for wedding cakes).

I would seperate the issues you had of payment before doing the cake and what happened after you dropped it off. She did pay you for a cake, and she recieved a cake. The problems happened after this.

If you really feel the need to do something, then I would offer her a discount on the next cake she ordered. They ate the cake and it doesn't sound like she is demanding money back. I would just say something the lines of I am really sorry that their was a problem with the bottom tier. I would like to something for you to make up for this.

imanah Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 4:31pm
post #11 of 39

Thank you so much for all of your responses. I feel like crap....

As far as the support I put like 10 dowels in that thing. The cake was 10" 8" 6"...

I am thinking about the entire situation how you mentioned it.....

For me it's totally not about money becuase whatever I will pay her back will come out of my pocket.

I decided 40 dollers becuase the stacked cake cost $275.00 I had another sheet cake in the back & her topper added to the total cost of the order.

40 of 275 is almost 15%

I was going to give her the choice of either 40 back or a free 8 inch cake like antonia74 reccomended.

What do you guys think of the breakdown....okay I still feel like garbage.

MaisieBake Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 5:50pm
post #12 of 39

I think the free cake is fine, but $40 back for a tiered cake that collapsed kind of insults the customer.

Your photo shows a very pretty cake, very clever (I love the dice), with clear structural issues. You goofed on this one. Since the sheet cake was, I'll assume, fine, start with the price of the tiered cake alone and come up with something significant, dollar- or percent-wise.

Don't assume that the customer is going to make a big deal about it to you. Lots of women don't like personal confrontation, and just because she didn't say anything to you doesn't mean she hasn't been complaining to her friends-- many of whom already saw the collapsed cake at the party, no?

lepaz Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 6:31pm
post #13 of 39

I agree with MaisieBake, anyone might be insulted by 40 dollars back on a 500 dollar cake order. Also, it is a great cake, and I don't know if it's the angle of the picture taken, but it does look to be leaning to the right a little, again, it could have been the way the picture was taken. The way she made the payment should not play into your final decision because you could have charged her extra for late payment or a rushed cake at that time. I'm sorry this happened to you icon_cry.gif and good luck with your decision.

snarkybaker Posted 14 Jun 2008 , 10:35pm
post #14 of 39

That cake is collapsing to the left even in the photo. It clearly had structural issues.

What you choose to do about it depends on your relationship with this client. When I have a major issue with a cake, and it's our fault, the cake is either free or the customer gets a house credit for the full value of the cake. We did 11 tiered cakes last weekend alone, so sooner or later one or two are bound to get away from you. We charge what I feel is a good deal of money for a retail bakery, and I want people to feel confident in their order.

A small refund will probably keep the customer from saying bad things about you or telling the collapsing cake story over and over, but if you want reorder business, you'd better come up with a remedy commesurate with the problem.

Is this a person who buys a lot of expensive cakes? Would you like to have that repeat business for the long haul? Those are factors to consider when makiing this kind of marketing/customer service decision.

JulieB Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 12:58am
post #15 of 39

Wow, 11 tiered cakes in one weekend, my hat's off to you. You go, girl! I know for darn sure I couldn't handle that many.

Duff does it all the time, though!

all4cake Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 1:56am
post #16 of 39

Did you inform her when you accepted her late payment that she shortened your work time on the cake and it may have issues? If so, a minimal, at best, credit toward a future purchase would be adequate cs. If you didn't mention that and accepted her payment, I would've taken that to mean that all would still be fine and would've been mortified(okay, maybe not mortified...embarassed to be sure) had I been in her shoes. In which case, I would suggest a significantly larger refund/credit/both to ensure adequate cs...after all, that was the show piece of the party, wasn't it?

all4cake Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 1:59am
post #17 of 39

I just don't think you should've accepted the late payment if you thought the lack of time would affect the cake/s in any adverse way.

michellenj Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:27pm
post #18 of 39

I bet you this woman HAS been blabbing to everyone, and it is going to take something dramatic to turn it around. $500 is a decent chunk of money to spend on something that's not a wedding cake.

If this happened to me, I'd give her $250 PLUS a free 10" or 8" birthday cake. I feel like it's so over the top, she'd have to tell people about how great your customer service is, and I'd bill the $250 to my advertising costs.

all4cake Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 3:48pm
post #19 of 39

The cake in question was 275.00 though....I don't know if I'd give her back the equivalent of the whole cake amount....maybe 1/2 of THAT cake plus a free cake with a set value or that amount off future purchases.

and definitely document the amount and the reason for accounting purposes...great point to bring out michellenj!

michellenj Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 6:56pm
post #20 of 39

Silly me. I thought the cake was $500 for some reason. Whatever the cost, I'd give her half back.

leah_s Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 7:01pm
post #21 of 39

If that cake collapsed and it cost $275, then the customer gets $275 back. The product did not perform as promised.

Now, have I told you about SPS yet? Because with that support system your cakes won't fall over.

FeGe_Cakes Posted 15 Jun 2008 , 7:28pm
post #22 of 39

I have not read all the post. Your cake is beautiful, but looking at the picture it does appear to be leaning a little. I know you spent a lot of time and money on creating the cake, but it is not the customer's fault if you excepted a late payment while rushing to do the cake. You probably should have denied the late payment. Any who. With that said, if I spent $275.00 on a cake that was to be a center piece I would want it to perform and withstand normal conditions.

The baker in me says to refund maybe half. The customer in me says refund all.

imanah Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 3:03am
post #23 of 39

Thank you everyone for your reply....

What is this SPS....

I want to get this over with so I will refund half and offer a free 8" cake worth $50.00...

What is the overall concensus...

gateaux Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 3:38am
post #24 of 39
Originally Posted by imanah


My other dilema is....although this lady was reliable and nice. I received the final payment 1 week after it was due. Which means I did not start the cake until 4 days before. And I had major work that needed to get started two weeks before. AFter calling her several times & emailing her saying I will not be able to do the cake, she said that she had the check in her purse so she forgot to mail it out on time.

You already told her that you could not do the cake unless you got immediate payment. So she might be taking some of the blame on herself, but she surely should get something back.

Also just a questions did you see a final picture before they cut the cake. Was is much worse then the picture in you pics?
Just wondering how much worse it got?

Good Luck.

KHalstead Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 4:09am
post #25 of 39

I SOOOOO feel your pain, I just had a wedding cake collapse and I too used the wooden dowels it was just awefull!!!!! I'm giving the bride ALL of her money back and remaking her an anniversary tier AND giving her a 20% off her next purchase coupon. Customer service is everything I've received ALL of my business by word of mouth so I know how quickly it spreads and I want it to be all good things that are spread not how my cakes collapse!!! I'm totally ordering the SPS system and I will NEVER use ONLY wooden dowels in a cake EVER again!!! Lesson Learned!

check out my disaster, might make ya feel better!!!

leah_s Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 10:56am
post #26 of 39

I am happy to email the SPS instructions with detailed pictures to anyone who wants them. Please PM me WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS. Please don't forget that part!

grama_j Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 11:40am
post #27 of 39

"WHen I delivered the cake it was fine...but I guess as the time passed the lower cake collapsed on itself. It was still standing but looked really bad."
Do you have a picture or anything that tells you this, or is it just the word of the client ? Is YOUR "collapsed" the same as what hers is? There seems to be alot of unanswered questions here....

springlakecake Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 12:11pm
post #28 of 39

I think your refund/discount needs to be based upon the tiered cake ($275) not the full order of $500 assuming the sheet cakes were fine. I don't know if you necessarily need to refund the ENTIRE amount of the tiered cake because they probably ate it and it was still standing. However, I think I would be inclined to offer at least 50% back on it.

cohenandlillysmom Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 12:36pm
post #29 of 39

First of all... if you are having structure issues I think that you need to handle them immediately. Its a sure, fast way to lose business. I had one cake disaster and I promise you I have taken every step possible to ensure it will NOT happen again. I started using the www.logicpic.com cake stacking system. Now with that being said, in using this system I do not order tons of system parts ahead of time. When someone puts a deposit on a 3 tiered or more cake I will then purchase the system. If I dont have final payment within 2 weeks and there is not clear communication of why the final amount is paid, I simply do not do the cake. I cannot afford to do cakes for free. Getting your money has everything to do with the outcome of a cake. If you get a cake at the last minute I can guarantee that you are not as fully prepared as you would be for a cake that was booked and paid for ON TIME!

But in turn, this is not an excuse for not refunding. I tried to refund my bride her money and she refused. I was probably more devastated than she was. But I still sent her a cookie giftbasket from an online retailer. She was an out-of-town bride and I had nothing to gain from sending her the giftbasket except I felt better and more at piece that I showed her the kindness she showed me.

summernoelle Posted 16 Jun 2008 , 3:05pm
post #30 of 39

I'm thinking your dowels shifted at some point. I would offer at least 50% back, if not all of it. Sorry this happened!

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