cakedog1 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:33am
post #1 of

Ok, so I've been designing cakes for a few years now and I finally went out and got a shop this month and hired a few people to help me over the weekend since I booked one wedding more than I usually do (3 weddings total). Well, long story short, we were all working on the cakes and I had one of the other people put together the groom's cake which was a baseball cap and a guitar. They messed up on it so we had to throw together the guitar cake and the baseball cap looked good, but apparently wasn't the right color according to the bride. I actually thought the wedding cake looked like the sketch, but I got a call tonight about how the cakes were horrendous and they had spent all this money on their cakes and avoided the flowers/honeymoon just to have the designer cakes, etc..... Apparently, the delivery driver dropped off the cakes and threw the birds on top of the cake, plus it wasn't put together right, an more and more... She was in tears and I could tell that this wasn't going to be pretty. I offered at first half of the price as a refund, which was $400, but she wouldn't take it, stating that she would pay $40.00 for the cost of a sheet cake. I could tell that it was so bad that if I didn't refund everything she was going to go all over town and talk crap or possibly take me to court (I did have a contract with her by the by), so I agreed to refund the cakes for a total of $800.00. The thing is I don't have the money because I have to pay rent and the staff I hired. She told me I shouldn't even pay them because they did such a terrible job. AAAAh, I've NEVER had THIS happen before and I am EXTREMELY embarrassed.... She wants me to send an agreement to pay her $200.00 per month for 4 months and states they didn't even eat the cake because there was no frosting??!! I had put fondant on the cake, so there wasn't as much frosting as usual, but I had explained that... Basically, I feel like the WORST cake designer right now and am so upset with myself and this whole situation.... Any advice would help.. Thanks icon_cry.gif

103 replies
Kam_mom Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:37am
post #2 of

I have no advice, I'm sorry this happened, but I sure hope you got many many pictures before offering a refund.

cfao Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 12:47pm
post #3 of

I agree with kam mom, did she show you pictures before you offered her money back? I always take pictures from a couple different angles once the cake is set up as proof of what it looked like before I left. If you thought the wedding cake looked like your sketch, a picture would prove this. You want her to prove her point to you and I would ask where is the cake since they said they didn't even eat it. If I was that unhappy with the cake at my wedding that I wouldn't even serve it (and I wasn't going on a honeymoon, so that means I would still be in town) you would see me the next day at your door with cake in hand. If you know the caterer or someone at the hall, see what they say really happened with the cake, did they serve it, did she burst into tears when she saw it, etc., or is it just a case of "we overspent, lets try to recoup some of our money". If you know who the photographer was, ask him to show you her proofs of them with the cake, cutting the cake, etc.

cakedog1 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:09pm
post #4 of

The delivery driver took the WORST picture EVER and you can't even see the cakes??!!! I'm going to ask her for some pictures. I am going to go ahead and refund her ($800.00 HURTS~ouch icon_redface.gif ) but I was also thinking of remaking a smaller version of the cakes so they could at least get some pics of good cakes. Whaddayathink?

chasebrad Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:27pm
post #5 of

Sooo sorry this happened. But I think I agree with some of the other comments....buyers remorse or we spent too much money....how can we get some back? attitude of the bride and groom. I hope you will let us know about the pictures she has as proof.
I noticed you are in Savannah....I am just outside of there! I would love to know where your shop is! Love your website and your company logo is one of the cutest ever!
Hope you get this resolved.

foxymomma521 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:27pm
post #6 of

I think if you make small cakes for their pics it will be going above and beyond what is necessary. It's a nice thought, but if that happened to me, it wouldn't matter if I had the right cake after my wedding. The only important pictures are from the big day. I'm really sorry this happened to you!

mykidsarekillingme Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:29pm
post #7 of

Pictures and contracts are such a great thing to have. I did a wedding cake this past weekend. I delivered copies of the brides contract, cutting instructions and a delivery confirmation form signed by the catering manager and the chef. Needless to say the bride and groom had a terrible time with the hall and their maitre'd. The cake was not cut properly so there was not enough to go around. It was a 3 tiered cake to feed 162 total. There were 102 guests and instead of cutting a round cake properly they cut straight across to serve thing long slices. The couple did not take a honeymoon so I had called to see how things worked out. They told me what had happened and that they were taking things up with the hall. I felt bad for them so I made a mini version and delivered it to their house. They sent me a thank you card with a gift certificate for a local restuarant saying I went above and beyond. I showed them all of my documents which they in turn showed to the catering hall to correct the situation.

kkitchen Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:30pm
post #8 of

I am so sorry about that. See, I think that next time you should escort all your cakes to the venues. Yes! have help to set up - but, be there on hand. People do not take pride in doing your business the way you want it done. I am said to be a perfectionist. But I think what I am is an "avoidist" - avaoiding anything that may go wrong. I know you may have more cakes to deliver, but set up a system to where you can personally accompany cakes where they are going.
I do not know, but, I assume that when the Bride had a consult that she met with you -- and you know those details that meant a lot to her...... It is a hard/ expensive lesson, but, look at it this way.... at least now you know.
I am really sorry...... really really sorry.
And, yes, before you refund fully .... ask for photos. Your cakes on your website look beautiful to me.

Kitagrl Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:31pm
post #9 of

What's with the $200/month over four months? Is that to help you, or is that what she wants?

Sorry this happened!!!! If it were me, I'd probably work more hours and hire less people (and the ones you do hire, make sure they are MORE than competent) rather than risk doing something substandard to what you've built your reputation on.

Hope it works out!

cakedog1 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:35pm

I apologized to the wedding planner at First City Events and Fred at The Mackey House as well because I'm SURE terrible comments were made and Savannah is more of a smaller town and we'll just say that one screw up can really screw you around here if you know what I mean. They were both really kind and basically said they've seen things go wrong and that crap happens.

Ugh, I didn't sleep well at all last night. I am just SO upset about all this, lemme tell ya.

Thanks for all your support... I will NEVER let this happen again, EVER!!!

sayhellojana Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:40pm

Well, as a buyer NOT a cake maker, I would never, ever expect a full refund unless someone got sick. You still had to pay for ingredients, rent, time, etc. That doesn't mean that her cake is exempt from those costs. It doesn't seem like you are very proud of this cake...can we see the photo of it at the venue (even if it's not good - I know how great cakes and look bad with poor photos)

TrinaR gave you excellent advice. If you can, go with your cakes. Then you can say "When I set it up..." and "Well the photo I took...." if someone tries to mess with your cake

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:46pm

The impression I have of this ordeal is that you have no control of anything. I'm shooting straight here so that you can work on this for next time and avoid all this drama. And I'm very sorry for all the drama too but we can put it to good use.

There was not enough control for your workers & they messed up the cake.

No control on 'delivery driver'. Delivering needs a softer tough than one would think and most owners deliver themselves or carefully train someone they can trust explicity. Calling your set up person delivery driver is an indication of what you got. Someone who drove a vehicle for a 'designer cake'.

Now then the bride is not only dictating your 'punishment' she is telling you how to run your business saying don't pay the employees.

I think that opeining the new shop has you out of your comfort zone and you just need to regroup a bit. Because you have the new $hop, you took on more business but this one wound up biting obviously.

Just try & clear your head and give your staff clearer goals for next time. Advise your staff to ask questions if they are not sure of how to proceed because you have to make all the executive decisions because it is too costly otherwise.

So what happened to the cake? She should be returning it to you. Ask the venue if they served it. If they did then the refund just got cut in half.

cakedog1 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:49pm

Well, I have to pay her like this because I just got a shop starting this month and had to pay a deposit + rent (I could not do this out of my home anymore.. ( 2+ years with 4 kids almost destroying cakes was just too much for me) and had to buy commercial equipment, plus I am doing the Bridal Show on March the 1st and had to pay for that so I am low on cash. My husband's pay was cut drastically and trust me, I DON'T want to refund this, but I feel due to my negligence and by leaving this situation in the hands of people that totally sucked, I screwed myself. So, therefore, I will have to live with it.

She did tell me she tried 6 other cake designers, including Minette Rushing www.savannahcustomcakes.com, who is top cake dog around here and a good friend of mine (she did my wedding cake in 2005 and I've taken several awesome classes from her), but decided to go with me because she thought she was getting "Ace of Cakes" quality.

AAAAh, I'lll get over this... I am just so sick to my stomack right now! Sorry.. icon_sad.gif

Kitagrl Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 1:54pm

k8 had a really really good post....I have to agree with her.

I have four kids as well and do this from home...but I bought some extra refrigerators and installed locks...also have a gate on my kitchen doorway....and so I keep everything safe from my kids. I know I personally could never afford a shop....plus, if your customers think they are getting a cake from YOU...you should make sure your staff is just as talented and capable of you...otherwise, the customers really aren't getting a cake from you. If that makes sense.

I would definitely regroup as k8 said....it sounds like maybe you need to step back and redo your business plan? I was told by a pastry chef one time that to do your own shop you will be putting in at least 60+++ hours per week to make it go right. Which is why I will never ever open a shop, because I would rather do my few cakes right and stay home than to worry about more volume and more headaches and more bills.

A shop is cool though...I really hope you make it work and are very successful! Best of luck!

aligotmatt Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 2:06pm

how many servings did your cake serve? I ask because I suspect that even at a grocery store it would probably be $200 - who in the world can take a honeymoon on $600?! Maybe they could point me in the direction, I would love to take a vacation, and that's totally in budget.

I would inquire further with the hall and caterer and find out if they served the cake. Here's the thing with the cake, if they served it and put it on plates and put it in front of the guests, she is NOT due a full refund. Whether people finish what is on their plate or not is irrelevant. they may have served a bountiful meal, and then put cake in front of them... I don't know. I just don't think the fondant on the outside is a good enough to reason to not eat the cake, there is still cake inside! Unless she just did not eat the fondant... Call the hall and caterer. Then call her back and say that you spoke with them and that the cake was served and guests ate it, therefore she is NOT due a full refund.

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 2:24pm

Ali, yes on that honeymoon thing--but the bride said she shorted flowers and honeymoon--what bs.

This is buyer's remorse.

I mean for sure there was an issue or two but this bride is out of control.

Ok $800 for designer cakes. We know one cake had two sculptures with only the color issue. So the other was 'horrendous' because the topper was put on wrong and it was set up wrong.

So define set up wrong.
What was the problem with the topper.

Remove her emotions from this and distill this down to what were the exact issues with the cake.

If you think the bride's cake was fine--don't refund on it. It's perfectly alright to change your mind. Everybody else does it all the time. She's already got the story out on the air waves--she's not keeping this quiet. So you can recoup some of your loss.

Don't worry -- they say there's no such thing as bad publicity. I mean all this is gonna smart for a while anyway. Might as well let it sting and still retain some dignity and some of that money you worked hard to earn.

You don't have to buckle to bridelette's hysteria. You can respectfully disagree.

Grab hold of this!

tcakes65 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 2:32pm

I guess I'm a little confused. Did you see the cake before it was delivered? Was it delivered assembled or was it assembled on site? If you thought it looked like the sketch then I don't understand the problem. How was the cake not assembled correctly according to the bride? And no frosting? Fondant is icing...its seems to me this girl doesn't have a clue and thinks she's a cake expert. Did she order fondant or buttercream? If she ordered fondant, then she got what was contracted. There are too many unanswered questions here. I know you're emotional right now, but try to get all the facts straight before making a decision.

I agree that you need to get a picture of the cake and obtain additional information from the venue, photographer, whoever. From reading your post, it doesn't seem like this bride is entitled to a full refund. And I agree with K8, you cannot let this woman run your business. You cannot sacrifice paying your employees or your bills just because this bride says that's how it will be. Personally, I think you should retract the $200/month offer, and give her a partial refund only if you find out it is absolutely necessary. If this bride is cheating you out of money, that too will be spread by word of mouth, and other brides will expect a refund by complaining. If the cake was served, she gets nothing. If she doesn't want to accept a partial refund, then she gets nothing. It's not up to her to dictate your policies.

We all have to go through this with a new business. Be strong, and it will all work out in the end. Good Luck!

pianocat Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:07pm

Sometimes when we are told we didn't live up to someones expectations we take it personally and in that wounded condition we make quick decisions designed to make the problem go away. But, you need to step back and take a deep breath, and think about it. Take the time to ask all the questions that the pp's have suggested, ask for the pictures, talk to the venue to see if the cake was served, and then decide what is fair. Learn from the experience, but don't decide to punish yourself more than you rightfully deserve. I am sorry this happened to you.
Cathy

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:18pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedog1

but I was also thinking of remaking a smaller version of the cakes so they could at least get some pics of good cakes. Whaddayathink?




No.

loriemoms Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:30pm

I agree with what everyone else is saying...step back and collect evidence and offer her a fair solution. (I wouldn't even giver her half back...maybe 100 dollars at most) If she doesnt like it, and she threatens to sue, tell her see you in court. Once she finds out how much a lawyer cost, how most of these cases the bride looses, she will go away and go after someone else. I would also talk to the photographer and see if they have any cake cutting photos, it will give you a good idea on how the cake looked.

Looking forward, I agree, dont let anyone else deliver your cakes. And take full photos. With this digital age, there is no reason to not have good photos. I would also never hire anyone to do actually decorate a cake unless I knew them well and had worked with them many times. Have your help do things like bake and mix and torte and fill...the simple stuff. You should be doing al lthe decorating yourself. That is what the bride is paying for.

Good luck, I am sorry this has happened to you!!

addietx Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:54pm

Have you already agreed to pay $200 for 4 months? I believe you must stand on what you have agreed. If you don't, you are now having remorse after sorting through the facts. A hasty decision will bite. You must show this bride and anyone else that she has bad-mouthed you to, that you have high character. Even though she does NOT deserve a full refund, because you agreed to it in a low moment, you will honor your word. Now you have a wonderful story to tell, how you did more than what was needed. That story will also be spread (with a little help from you) to the organizers and wedding coordinators. You may get even more referrals from them. You have gained a valuable lesson the hard way but turn it to your advantage. Thank you for sharing with us.

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 3:58pm

I wanna say one more thing at this point.

The bride has embarrased you. You need to address that in your mind and heart, set it aside and rise above it.

Think money right now.

Go back later and resolve your own feelings.

This is business.

We as mothers would not give in to a kid throwing a tantrum. Same same.

I've seen other decorators cave in just to relieve the humiliation. Me? hell I've been embarassed by better than that. Screw her!

I mean you gotta determine the extent of the cake hemorrhage if indeed there was one but get well past the feelings first. Forget about your image in the community too right now.

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:10pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by addietx

Have you already agreed to pay $200 for 4 months? I believe you must stand on what you have agreed. If you don't, you are now having remorse after sorting through the facts. A hasty decision will bite. You must show this bride and anyone else that she has bad-mouthed you to, that you have high character. Even though she does NOT deserve a full refund, because you agreed to it in a low moment, you will honor your word. Now you have a wonderful story to tell, how you did more than what was needed. That story will also be spread (with a little help from you) to the organizers and wedding coordinators. You may get even more referrals from them. You have gained a valuable lesson the hard way but turn it to your advantage. Thank you for sharing with us.




I firmly and respectfully disagree.

It is ok to change your mind. The chickie was crying and emotional on the phone, you spoke rashly to calm her down. You were blindsided by her outburst.

You do NOT have to "keep your word" You can change your mind. Ever get your car fixed and it cost more than they thought it would? This is not like Abe Lincoln walking five miles uphill both ways in the snow to return the nickle or something.

Say, "I've given this more thought" Say, "I have the facts now" Say, "You're a dirty stinking liar with buyer's remorse thought you could get one over on me with your hysteria and no you cannot!"

I mean this in the most righteous way possible but screw being thought of with high character. Eight hundred of your dearest hard earned friends are about the be burned at the stake here--not to mention your dignity. Stand up for yourself!!!!! No one else will.

~~~Change your mind the sky will not fall~~~

e rose sweets Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:14pm

I agree with the others she shouldn't get a refund she has no real issues to justify a refund. You stated she consulted with your friend but chose you, not to take anything from you but she chose you because she knows you just opened your shop and you don't want and/or can't afford bad publicity. I wouldn't fall for that. Your friend that has a shop did you ask her what she would do? I bet she wouldn't refund her anything. She targeted you for a reason, she was trying to get something for nothing and again because your shop is new she is playing on just that, it has nothing to do with your work. I know people that go to restaurants to eat and after they eat they complain about the food or service so they won't have to pay. Do your self a favor check to see if she served the cake and then call her on it. even if she served it and some didn't eat it, that doesn't matter we have all been to plenty of weddings and only tasted the cake, ( I have but when I got home I wished I had that piece of cake I wasted).

Congrats on opening your shop and good luck don't allow that type of person to bring you down. thumbs_up.gif

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:14pm

Addie, I once said I was gonna kill my brother...I can assure you he deserved it!!!

icon_biggrin.gif

(Rest easy they are unfortunately both alive and breathing icon_biggrin.gif )

aligotmatt Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:17pm

I agree with Kate. "I'm sorry, I spoke before having all of the facts, since speaking with site, caterer, photographer... I have found that you are not due a full refund. Once again, I'm sorry the cake did not meet your full expectations, and I would like to offer you $100 for that. Final Answer"

I have gone back on email quotes too, not often, but sometimes when a bride says they want a "simple" cake, it turns out to not be so simple, and the price goes up. That's not my integrity, that was quoting without facts.

I really think this cake was served. If she were to know the thickness of the fondant compared to the cake, it was cut and plated for the guests. You would do better to make nice with the venue than the bride.

kbak37 Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:19pm

I have two points here. I agree with k8memphis (always a straight shooter..love that!); on the flip side if you have already agreed to pay her back, then you are stuck. A wedding cake is the easiest thing to try and complain and get a refund on when the bills start flowing in from the wedding. Lick your wounds, train your employees to YOUR standard or kick their butts to the curb. Take pictures when complete the cake and at the venue.
Remember you can use this as a learning experience and grow from it. You cant make 100% of the people happy 100% of the time. She may be the fist unhappy bride for you, and I am sure she will not be the last (that's even if you do your part perfectly). It will be ok!

addietx Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:23pm

A good name in the community and the business world can not be measured. A bad name is far reaching.

-K8memphis Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by addietx

A good name in the community and the business world can not be measured. A bad name is far reaching.




I'll take my eight hunnerd bux thank you just the same.

bakingatthebeach Posted 24 Feb 2009 , 4:35pm

Well, she wanted Ace of Cakes quality so obviously she has watched the show and you can see there is not alot of frosting under their fondant. I think you had a contract with her, it was a mistake not being there for the setup to make sure it was done correctly, and they obviously cut the thing and served it because she stated they did, so I would only offer her a refund for everything but the ingredients etc if you feel the need to refund anything. I wouldnt send her any such signed agreement. Just send a check with Payment in full for ingredients written on it.

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