smab109 Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 1:02am
post #1 of

I have a cake that shipped out and based on what UPS is saying, wont arrive on the day the customer needs it. I have talked to UPS and they are blaming the hurricane for delays.

How should I re-imburse the customer? This is a Birthday cake...this is leaving them hanging. Do I just say - dont worry about the shipping? They ARE going to get the cake and eat it, so I feel they should pay for that part of it. What do you all think??

64 replies
kelleym Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 5:27am
post #2 of

FWIW, a couple of years ago I ordered a ham for Christmas from Honeybaked Hams. Well, there was a huuuuuge snowstorm right before Christmas in Louisville, which is UPS's main processing center. So my ham went to Louisville and got stuck there. I didn't get it for my guests at Christmas, and in fact it didn't arrive until the 27th or so, when my guests were gone and I had no use for it. I called Honeybaked Hams to request a refund, and they basically said I was SOL because they had shipped it on time, and the weather wasn't their fault. So based on the Honeybaked Hams way of thinking, you don't owe the customer anything. icon_wink.gif

julzs71 Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 5:57am
post #3 of

that's my thought too.

AZCakeGirl Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 6:31am
post #4 of

I agree too.......somewhat. I feel that offering no refund at all is the big corporate way of thinking, which a lot of times seems to be the most logical, but is also a lot of times the most impersonable as well. This could hurt you if you are just trying to get your business of the ground, especially since for most of us, this is a "word of mouth" business. I completely see the point about the weather and feel that you are in the right not to refund anything back since the weather is not your fault. However when thinking from another point of view.....it's not the customer's fault either & now they probably have to go buy another bday cake. If it were me, I would probably go ahead and refund the shipping just out of kindness. Keeping the customer as a loyal client may be worth the $12.00 shipping (or whatever you paid) if you think they may order from you again or spread the word and bring you more business. That's just what I would do myself. It's a tough call though, I think you are right in whatever you do. Let us know what you decide!

jmt1714 Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 5:22pm
post #5 of

i wouldn't refund anything personally. it isn't anyone's fault - sometimes life's like that. out of your control, out of their control. you did what you agreed to do, and held up your end of the bargain.

avgsuperheroine Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 5:59pm
post #6 of

I'd think you'd have to take into consideration several things, like how early did they order? Did you give it as much lead time as you always do?

If you sent it by a guaranteed method and the arrival date is past the guaranteed date, you can still get a refund from UPS. In that case I'd just pass that refund on to them. Otherwise I'd just apologize and give them the tracking number so they can see that it's the shipper's issue and not your fault.

MaisieBake Posted 20 Sep 2008 , 8:31pm
post #7 of

If I'm the customer and my cake person didn't get the cake to me on time and basically told me it wasn't her problem, I'm looking for a new cake person next time I need a cake.

It's not just about whether you're right or justified.

avgsuperheroine Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 12:27am
post #8 of

Normally, I'd agree 100%, but if they shipped it well in time for it to arrive, and UPS was delayed due to hurricane weather, I honestly wouldn't hold it against them. I would probably want the shipping costs refunded though.

drowsyrn Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 12:44am
post #9 of

I would think that would be the chance the customer takes when having a cake shipped. If you shipped on time and followed through with your part, then acts of nature are out of your control icon_smile.gif

I would have something in writing for that regarding shipped cakes?

chassidyg Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:02am

I've got an off the wall question, I've never dealt with shipping cakes, or any baked anything. Will the cake still taste good when it gets there? How late is it? Some cakes only last for a few days or so, I think that should be taken into consideration as well, but even then, you dont have control over UPS, so if it's unedible, a portion of the price discounted, the customer had to know it was somewhat risky shipping a cake.

darcat Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:28am

I totally agree with azcake. If you think this will be a repeat customer then for business purposes I would refund the shipping as a good will gesture. I know how I feel when big companies say sorry tough luck for you but if it's a company that cares about it's customers and offers something even a discount on my next order you betcha I'll return and tell my friends of the great service I got.

indydebi Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:34am

How is weather, that is bad enough to ground airplanes, something that the baker should be liable for? Come on, people, get real here. All or most of us have the "not responsible for acts of God" clause in our contract. There's a REASON we have that in our contracts. Unfortunately, the REASON we have to have it in our contracts is because there are people out there who are dumb enough to think it's my fault if the airlines are grounded due to weather!

What are you all going to do now ..... ship cakes a week earlier just in case the weather gets bad and then come on here and whine becaues the customer wanted a refund for a stale cake that was over a week old?

Where are you drawing that line?

If a client is petty enough to blame ME for the bad weather and why they didn't get their cake on time, then they are more than welcome to shop for another cake baker because I just am not going to deal with dumba$$ people who think I control the weather and the airports and the various mail delivery services! I'll happily send them to my competition who will refund the cost of the cake and the shipping .... then I won't have to worry about those folks being my competition for very much longer.

MaisieBake Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:41am

It's not about petty or dumb, debi. It's about customer service.

Your contract gives you every right imaginable to tell the customer that the late delivery is not your problem--fine.

But your customer paid for a cake on X date and didn't get it. If you don't do something to make up for the "didn't get it" part of the equation--regardless of whether the contract says you have to-- you've likely lost a customer. Petty or not.

indydebi Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:54am

If I shipped it on time based on the expectations of the delivery company, then I fulfilled my end of the contract.

Maybe it's because I managed two warehouses that were across the country from each other; maybe it's because I dealt with getting my product shipped across the Mexican border; maybe it's because I've dealt with shipping and with shipping companies on a larger level than we're talking about here. Maybe I have a more intense knowledge and experience level in dealing with this very issue than most on here. Maybe I just understand what is "standard" in regards to shipping and shipping policies because of this experience.

I understand the customer service angle. I was in charge of multi-million dollar accounts that I had to handle with kid gloves and schmooze 'em because of the value of their business. I was on a plane an average of 3 days a week, flying all over the country, to meet with these customers face to face. And I also told them "no" pretty frequently when they wanted refunds, fees waived, free overnight delivery, etc.

My customers almost had a mutiny when I left that company ... my friends told me the phone lines lit up like crazy because Debi gave them the best customer service they had ever had. The guy who was my boss was frequently heard to say he had to visit some customers "....because they need their Debi time."

And I told them "no" pretty often when they tried to get a freebie that wasn't due to my company's error. So just because you tell them "no refund" doesnt' mean you aren't giving them good customer service.

darcat Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:37am

Indy you just proved my point about big busniess and I think from most of your posts that you've almost forgotten how to be a regular person. All yuu think about is the almighty dollar just like the big corps do and to hell with the little folk. Well I happen to have a heart and if I dont think it will bankrupt me by refunding the shipping or offering a discount on a future order and it will keep my customer happy and coming back or giving referals then what is wrong with that. Yes bakers are in business to make money but let's not try to forget we are human beings as well. Especially if we dont have board rooms and stock holders and such to answer to.

indydebi Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:58am
Quote:
Originally Posted by darcat

Indy you just proved my point about big busniess and I think from most of your posts that you've almost forgotten how to be a regular person. All yuu think about is the almighty dollar just like the big corps do and to hell with the little folk.



I would hope that a number of folks on here would disagree with that, considering how I've never "charged" anyone for the many many copies of my biz plan (that ended up costing me about $2500), for my contracts (that I paid an attorney to look over), etc. But I'm not going to pretend to speak for anyone else. I happily and freely share my experiences, like many other CC'ers, to help folks take that next step in their business. Anyone is free to listen or free to hit the delete key. Please don't try to make it sound like "it's all about the money" .... because if you think that about me, then I dont' think you know me very well.

I think you missed the part where I handled business with my customers in a business like manner and they STILL loved the way I handled their account. They like how I was very PERSONABLE with them. The point is that you can still give FABULOUS customer service and still handle business in a business manner.

cakesbybert Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 3:33am
Quote:
Originally Posted by smab109

I have a cake that shipped out and based on what UPS is saying, wont arrive on the day the customer needs it. I have talked to UPS and they are blaming the hurricane for delays.

How should I re-imburse the customer? This is a Birthday cake...this is leaving them hanging. Do I just say - dont worry about the shipping? They ARE going to get the cake and eat it, so I feel they should pay for that part of it. What do you all think??




Whoa everyone - re-read the OP. The customer is NOT asking for anything. The OP is just asking if she should offer something. My way of thinking - if the customer lives any where near where the hurricane hit I'm pretty sure they will understand the reason UPS could not get it there. Heck even here in Kansas we caught some of the rain. Especially if the baker shipped in on time for it to get to them if there wasn't a hurricane.

smab109 - If I were you I would for sure contact the customer to make sure they new that the cake was being held up by UPS because of the hurricane - Customer service has to do alot with communication. Good customer service doesn't alwasy mean having to give a refund or rebate on something. But keeping some one informed and taking time to talk with them often means more that just a fast fix.

For the record indydebi I totally disagree with darcat. I am glad you (indydebi) are willing to share your knowledge of the business world from your prospective.

Curtsmin24 Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 3:35am
Quote:
Quote:

If I shipped it on time based on the expectations of the delivery company, then I fulfilled my end of the contract.





I agree. I have ordered online a lot and I NEVER expect it to be ontime. Things happen and once they ship the package it's out of their hands. As far as I know even when I have ordered perishables, Overnight, I get them a day or two later in the little freezers with dry ice. SO, that being said why would I blame the company that sent it to me? They have nothing to do with it. Does anyone get free items when they don't have them in the store, because the shipment isn't on time? I know I don't. Someone let me know where you shop and get a refund because of an act of God, I want to shop there, Shoot I want one of everything they got.

drowsyrn Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 3:48am

They became "big businesses" because they have effective customer service skills AND can make a profit while doing so. If you choose to give all your customers a refund for situations that are out of your control, that is poor business sense and you will probably not succeed in business whether small or big.

The best businesses can separate business and personal emotions. I can still have a "heart" and be fair to myself and my business. I pour my heart out over every cake I do for a customer. I think we can all relate to that. But then there has to be the business mode that kicks in and you have to separate the two in order to be successful. Saying no to a refund does not mean poor customer service. Not knowing the difference does.

Curtsmin24 Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 3:52am
Quote:
Quote:

They became "big businesses" because they have effective customer service skills AND can make a profit while doing so. If you choose to give all your customers a refund for situations that are out of your control, that is poor business sense and you will probably not succeed in business whether small or big.

The best businesses can separate business and personal "emotions". I can still have a "heart" and be fair to myself and my business. I poor my heart out over every cake I do for a customer. I think we can all relate to that. But then there has to be the business mode that kicks in and you have to separate the two in order to be successful. Saying no to a refund does not mean poor customer service. Not knowing the difference does.






Very well said. icon_smile.gif

cheflish Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 4:54am

If I had ordered the cake from you, I would not expect any shipping costs to be reimbursed (imagine how happy I would be if I DID get a refund?), but if I were the one making the cake, I would feel so terrible that they didn't have cake for the party, I would make myself sick trying to figure out a solution.

I know that if I am ever blessed enough to open my dream business, I will have to get "tougher skin." Otherwise, I will eat into my profits trying to make everyone happy in the quest for my desire to be "loved by all".

I am SO incredibly thankful to indydebi and all the other fine businesspeople here at CC to help me on my journey. (I think others are as well... I mean, how many times do you read a post that says, "Indydebi, where are you? as they hope for advice). Thanks to their advice, I have learned so many things about how to run my business! And, yes!!! Indydebi is certainly generous with her time and her talents (and biz plan)

So, Thanks, CC! You rock! I would be lost without you...

alittlesliceofhaven Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 5:37am

As another example...A friend shipped me a cheesecake from NY to CA for my birthday seven years ago. The act wasn't weather that prevented it from getting to me on time, it was terrorism. 9-11 grounded planes for days. When I recieved my cheesecake it was well past the perishable date.

I knew it was not Carnegie Deli's fault that my cheesecake didn't arrive on time. But...I called them and asked if there was any way I could get another one. They said they would check their records to make sure of the order and ship dates. They called me back and said another one was on the way.

I was impressed with their customer service. I knew they ultimately didn't have to refund anything or send another one - they did anyway. They are still in business! thumbs_up.gif

You have to figure the chances of a cake not showing up on time due to "act of G-d" or something outrageous is few and far between. Then add to that how many customers are going to get caught in this same situation on the same day - not many. Can you throw them a bone? Can your business afford to? Hurricanes, Floods, Tornados, Earthquakes...

littlecake Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:39pm

this is such a no brainer to me.
why would you pay for something you weren't responsible for?

if we paid for everything out of our control, we wouldn't be in business very long.

it sucks, but things happen, looks like it would be more on the shipper than the businessperson.

i buy stuff onlinre A LOT...i cannot imagine wanting a refund from the company because the shipper got it here late, doesn't make sense.

ya gotta separate emotions from business...D Trump..."it's not personal, it's business"....i wish i could be less emotional, i'm learning as the years go by.

Chefperl Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 1:59pm

No matter how small the order is, I always have my customers sign a contract. In the contract it says that I am not responsible for acts of G-D.
It has actually saved me.

mocakes Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:16pm

Just curious...but why are some people typing "acts of G-d"? Is there a reason for the word not being typed out?

I've seen it done for bad words...but what is wrong with typing God?

Not trying to be smart or anything...I honestly was just curious if there was a particular reason.

Mac Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:42pm

I agree, mocakes...what is up with that?
I know there are many different religious views here but there is no reason to not type the entire word God!

If typing "God" makes you uncomfortable...here, let me do it for you...God, God, God, God, God, God, God, God, God, God...and if that isn't enough, I will be happy to add more. icon_biggrin.gif

(Yes, I know that I will have the wind knocked out of my sails for this one, but SO BE IT!)
And back to the original thread--I do agree with indydebi and it is not all about the money. Most of us give more than what we are compensated for anyway. Hey, if you can charge $1000 for a specialty cake and get it like Duff can, go for it! Or $2000 for a Kerry Vincent wedding cake...go for it! These smart business people have figured it out..."build good customer service and they will come."

CakesbyBecca Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:44pm

I can't answer for the two that didn't type it out, but I know that certain religions do not like/prohibit using God's name out of reverence.

cakesbycathy Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:45pm

[quote="darcat"]Indy you just proved my point about big busniess and I think from most of your posts that you've almost forgotten how to be a regular person. All yuu think about is the almighty dollar just like the big corps do and to hell with the little folk. quote]

I have seen many a post where I've thought "Wow, I can't believe someone just said that." But this comment just absolutely floored me! Certainly, Debi can defend herself (and has already), but to say that about one of the most helpful and knowledgable members on here...well, frankly I am just speachless.

I am not trying to start a debate or flame anyone or turn this into a 10 page thread where everyone gets riled up. Really, I am not. And normally I would not say anything, and I do believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. but this just didn't seem right at all. It never hurts to reread a post before you hit the submit button.

icantcook Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:46pm

You fulfilled your part of the deal, so there is nothing you did wrong, no need for refund "to make it right."
The shipping is not part of you what you can control price - wise. I can see how not getting the cake in time for the celebration is upsetting for all groups involved. Will YOU be refunded the shipping costs? If you can get the money back, pass the funds back to your customer. If they won't give you your money back, there is no money to return to the customer. JM2C

AbouttheCake Posted 21 Sep 2008 , 2:47pm

I agree with indydebi...business is business, and although I would feel bad, it is what it is.

With that said...another reason why I don't ship cakes.

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