mandice Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:26pm
post #1 of

Hey all,
Here's my cake disaster story. I've been stressing about it all weekend and I realized I should've come here in the first place for advice.

A friend of mine, R, (who works for a wedding magazine) had referred me to one of her friends for a wedding cake. She had told me her budget was only $250 and feed 200 and initially I didn't want to do it because it's not worth it, but i figured, whatever, I'll take the loss because it's for a good friend of my friend and it'll give me another cake for my portfolio.

i can't seem to find the link the the cake she wanted copied, but it was from pink cake box, it was 3 tiered square and it had bronze swirl decorations along the bottom of each tier. i'll continue to look for the pic after i post cos i just want to get people's opinions more.

So the cake was for this past Saturday and for those who live in or near Toronto know it was raining/thunderstorming like crazy last week so needless to say, my decorations weren't drying because of the humidity. i have a fan, i have an AC unit that's constantly running, and although i had made the swirls ahead of time, they just werent drying. i used half fondant and half gumpaste, a decision i realize now that was stupid, but i honestly thought it would dry in time since i've used a mixture before.

so overnight (i pulled an all nighter for this one) i covered the 3 tiers in fondant. the fondant kept cracking on me so i had to cover each layer twice. there were still a few cracks but nothing that couldn't be covered with the decorations and ribbon.
the morning i painted the scrolls in bronze lustre/shimmer powder, but i didn't use any alcohol because it seemed to do the job without. and basically all freaking day i was waiting for these decorations to dry. sooner than later i was cutting it close to delivery time and since i'm an idiot and didn't make any royal icing, i used teeny bitty amounts of glucose to help stick my decorations since i honestly couldn't think of anything else to use. so now not only are the swirlies cracking as i'm lifting them up to place on the cake, i'm getting luster dust EVERYWHERE and pieces are sliding down the side of the cake. BUT the glucose WAS working as an adhesive, i got plenty of pieces to stay put. but again, some piece werent cooperating. so lots were breaking and i was running out of not only time, but pieces that were semi dry. and before we delivered it, i had wrapped saran wrap over the pieces around the cake as to secure them on the ride.

needless to say, the cake did not turn out the way she wanted, and i was also late for the delivery. i was stressing all day about it, and after the delivery (the coordinator just took it off my hands so i didn't even really have to be there) i pretty much had an emotional breakdown because i had felt so incredibly bad about it. like the cake, i was a complete disaster that night. i was crying and like.. beating myself up about a job badly done and well.. i haven't been sleeping well or feeling well since, to be honest. at the same time, i didn't want to email her or call her and leave her a message because quite frankly, i wouldn't have known what to say.

so today i got an email saying "I assume you know why I'm writing to you. The cake we ordered was a disaster! Had I seen it when it was delivered I would of said something. Even the Manager of the reception hall brought it to my attention. I'm sure you can admit that the workmanship was unacceptable. It was just a mess. You've put me and R in an awkward position. R felt really bad about it and it was not even her fault. However, because you are a friend of R's I will give you the benefit of doubt and trust that you will do the right thing and refund me for the cake. I just wish you called or gave me a heads up about the situation before hand. I'm a very understanding person otherwise. I'm waiting to hear back from you and I can provide bank transfer details or pick up the cash in person. I do have photos so I hope we can straighten this out quickly."

I am ashamed of my work and I have no problem giving her the money back for it, but i wanted to know your opinions of what i should say, besides apologizing profusely about it. this week just also happens to be the week that umm... "aunt dot" is visiting, so i know that if i try to come up with something on my own, my emotions will get the best of me and i'll probably write something extremely stupid.

I'll be honest and say I dont want to face her in fear of breaking down in front of her because i am sensitive like that, but at the same time I dont want to seem like a coward. I know I don't have any pics of my cakes posted, but I like to think I'm decent at what I do, and for some sort of really horrible reason, I was stupid, and not fully prepared for this cake and so odds were against me on this one and it turned out to be a complete failure.

What's the best way to handle this? What should I say? and how do i basically ask for banking information so i can transfer it without having to face her?
and a completely different story is now how do i face our mutual friend, because she is the one who referred me? the whole reason why i agreed to this cake at that price to begin with was because i figured in the future, this friend could help me out since she works for a wedding magazine.. but now.. it's kinda like.. fat chance of that happening now.

ugh.. i'm so sorry that this is so long.. i'm just so stressed about the whole thing. i'll try to post pics of the original cake.. i'll be honest, i didn't really take pics of mine cos i was ashamed. i took pics from far so that it wouldn't look so bad.

thanks in advance icon_smile.gif

111 replies
this-mama-rocks Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:36pm
post #2 of

Can we see a pic of the cake you delivered? I'm sure the "seasoned" wedding cakers can give you a better answer if they can see what was delivered.

costumeczar Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:36pm
post #3 of

Just send her the money back and put this behind you...Everyone has a day from hell every now and then, it's too bad that yours involved a cake, but it happens. icon_sad.gif Tell your friend that you're sorry it happened, but that based on all the different circumstances you weren't able to do your best work, and you've refunded her friend the money. If she's seen other things that you've done she'll know that it isn't typical of your work and she'll get over it.

Don't beat yourself up over this, I know that I'd feel exactly the same if I was in your position, but you have to move on! Just take it as a tough lesson learned and know that you'll do better next time!

__Jamie__ Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:43pm
post #4 of

Nope. You need to present this refund face to face. Don't skulk around. "Man up" and take care of biz. Choke back the embarrassment and hope that setting things right will preserve future relations with brides, and anyone else that has anything to do with this friend of yours and the bride. Good luck!

mcdonald Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:46pm
post #5 of

I agree.. just send the money back and forget about it. I had a very similar thing happen .. up all night with only about 1 hour sleep and icing slid off cake.. everything a disaster...BIG MESS.
I didn't take the check from the venue. Just couldn't do it. I did think that they bride would compensate me somehow but she didn't.. oh well.. it was my decision to walk away from the money... I felt somewhat better about it.....

Keep you chin up... it gets better again!!

pattycakescookies Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:57pm
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by this-mama-rocks

Can we see a pic of the cake you delivered? I'm sure the "seasoned" wedding cakers can give you a better answer if they can see what was delivered.




I agree. Maybe it was not what she wanted but it also may not have been as bad as your making it out to be. We tend to be more critical of ourselves than anybody else. I also would like to know did her guests eat this so called disaster and if so was it really that bad??? I would like to know. When you get a chance attach a pic.

Texas_Rose Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:58pm
post #7 of

I would also refund in person and bring something for the bride to sign saying that she had recieved a full refund.

And it's horrible that you had a disaster like that. I can't even imagine how bad it would feel, but here's a (((hug))) and I'm sure it was a learning experience...my disasters have all been learning experiences, once the dust settles and I relax enough to look back on it.

I wouldn't worry about your friend...since she works for a wedding magazine, she undoubtedly knows how much wedding cakes cost and knew that they were really not paying you enough. So in a way it's better if she doesn't help any of her other friends to take advantage of you.

justfrosting Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 8:59pm
post #8 of

Oh my goodness, the days I have had like this. Sometimes cakes just don't work, at home, in a bakery, on television. It happens to everyone.
Give her the money back, lick your wounds for 24 hours and be done with it.

Usually after a disaster, my next cake kicks butt--so look forward to that icon_smile.gif

babykonst Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:00pm
post #9 of

i would honestly, send her an email back appologizing and aking her whether or not she would like the money in person or as a transfer. dont worry im sure this kinda thing has happened to all of us, and im sure your friend R, knows what kind of work you really do.....if you feel more comfy with talking to R, then just explain the situation to her, becuse she works for a bridal magazine, im sure she has heard similar stories. Put this behind you, chin up!!!

baby

matthewkyrankelly Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:00pm

iThis is like pulling a band-aid. the idea is worse than reality. Just talk to her, face-to-face, and tell her it was a slow disaster. When she says,"why didn't you call?" Tell her you thought it would work out like it usually does. It didn't. Tell her she got the trainwreck and it is truly the worst of your work.

The one thing I can tell you about people, is that 90% of people melt a little when you throw yourself on the mercy of the court. It sounds like you want to give her the $ back. OK. It will be 100 times better after this little 5 minute conversation. Otherwise, you will forever be the horrible cake person, not the cake person who just had a bad day at her wedding.

__Jamie__ Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:04pm

Yeah. I mean I always wonder why these brides don't put up crime scene tape around the cake so they can perfectly preserve it until they can get it back to the decorator, and make sure no one eats any of it for God's sake!!! What a concept!

Advance apologies for any snarkiness. Making general statements here at this point. Just sick of the "the bride is crazy and she ATE the cake..NO REFUND! Oh bwahahaha, another bride bites the dust"....even when the decorator knows dang good and well (before delivery mind you) that the cake was a wreck. Eaten/uneaten doesn't change it in my book. I would be scrambling to make good on it. Doesn't mean I would be a sucker or a pushover or didn't have a backbone. Actually, it would mean I had a backbone.

mmgiles Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:05pm

I had a bad experience once too. I just mailed a refund check and appologized. I dont see how you have any other choice. If anything you should speak to her so she can see just how badly you really feel. I'm just glad you arent trying to ask us how you can keep the money. Those bother me. You obviously have a good heart and I dont see how she could see anything different.

HowCoolGomo1 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:08pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by costumeczar

Just send her the money back and put this behind you...Everyone has a day from hell every now and then, it's too bad that yours involved a cake, but it happens. icon_sad.gif Tell your friend that you're sorry it happened, but that based on all the different circumstances you weren't able to do your best work, and you've refunded her friend the money. If she's seen other things that you've done she'll know that it isn't typical of your work and she'll get over it.

Don't beat yourself up over this, I know that I'd feel exactly the same if I was in your position, but you have to move on! Just take it as a tough lesson learned and know that you'll do better next time!





I'm not a big fan of giving refunds, because in the beginning I had a few clients that figured out if they fussed enough, I would cave. This soon turned into telling their friends that I cave. I would be lucky enough to get the cost of ingredients.

This case, I do agree with the above quote. You can offer a refund and offer a discount for a future cake.

Cake is not a hard core art, i.e. you can't predict how weather or the ingredients are going to work every day. Years ago, I did an over the top birthday cake for a 5 yr old. The cake itself baked beautifully. That's the only thing that went right or so I thought. The crumb coat literally slid off. After that it was downhill. Eventually, the cake turned out well, but it took 72 hours straight to get it presentable.

So take your lumps, take a nap and then get back to it! Remember, you're an artist. Stuff happens!

myslady Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:19pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by __Jamie__


Advance apologies for any snarkiness. Making general statements here at this point. Just sick of the "the bride is crazy and she ATE the cake..NO REFUND! Oh bwahahaha, another bride bites the dust"....even when the decorator knows dang good and well (before delivery mind you) that the cake was a wreck. Eaten/uneaten doesn't change it in my book. I would be scrambling to make good on it. Doesn't mean I would be a sucker or a pushover or didn't have a backbone. Actually, it would mean I had a backbone.




One of those tv judges agrees with you. I was flipping through channels the other day and saw a cake so I stopped to watch. The bride ordered a topsy turvy and she got a leaning tower instead.

The tv judge awarded the bride a full refund because the decorator did not deliver what was promised.

LadyG33 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:20pm

I agree with the others tht said give her the refund and move on. No one is perfect so dont beat yourself up over it! Keep your chin up icon_wink.gif

sadsmile Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:22pm

Wrecks happen to the best. You've got your big girl panties on already. icon_wink.gif Just have to dive in and get through it. The bride wants to hear your apology for not delivering the cake she was hoping for on her most important day. I would go one further if possible and make a perfect mini to give her. Also don't forget your mutual friend as her reputation was also on the line. Just try not to get to down on yourself. You have fabulous cakes in your future. Just handle this situation with grace and sincere remorse and you'll get on to much better days. thumbs_up.gif

cupcakelady64 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:26pm

Being totally honest, i can feel for both sides. If i were the bride, i would have been angry, too.

But we need to remember that one negative person can do more harm than 100 happy ones can do good!!

i would much rather her say you fixed it than you ran from it.

i agree, stand up to the problem and be as professional as possible. Make an angry woman as happy as possible...

DEBBIE157 Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:29pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by matthewkyrankelly

iThis is like pulling a band-aid. the idea is worse than reality. Just talk to her, face-to-face, and tell her it was a slow disaster. When she says,"why didn't you call?" Tell her you thought it would work out like it usually does. It didn't. Tell her she got the trainwreck and it is truly the worst of your work.

The one thing I can tell you about people, is that 90% of people melt a little when you throw yourself on the mercy of the court. It sounds like you want to give her the $ back. OK. It will be 100 times better after this little 5 minute conversation. Otherwise, you will forever be the horrible cake person, not the cake person who just had a bad day at her wedding.




I have to agree with this. 1) you have to FACE her. 2) DON"T be afraid to cry. 3) Give her the money back. 4) Write an email and apologize. It might be easier to write it than say it.

cakesbycathy Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:35pm

Ahhh sweetie I am so sorry this happened to you! I have been there, done that icon_rolleyes.gif Even though we know it happens to just about everyone at least once, that probably doesn't make you feel any better right now.

If you think you can talk to her either in person or on the phone then do so. If the idea of facing her is giving you a panic attack and you don't think you could get thru the conversation then email the bride. Apologize profusely that the cake did not turn out how she wanted. Do not go into reasons about the humidity or not enough time. Those will just sound like excuses. Just flat out apologize.

Then tell her you are sending her a full refund in the mail. Send it certified mail so that you can confirm that she received it.

I would also (again) talk to R and apologize profusely to her too.

Hugs and good luck. Please let us know what happens.

majka_ze Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:50pm

This is my worst cake nightmare. Well, there is another one - perfect cake, and when I deliver it, I have either slam brakes in my car or trip at the last step.

In such case, you have to do a damage control. You have to forget the cost, the work and your feelings and simply to give the refund. After this, you can only hope THIS was your big disaster. It is waiting for all of us and only the lucky ones can avoid it...

From what you wrote, it IS possible to clear it in writing. Write a nice letter, ask for bank transfer details or send a check straight away.

As for your friend - call her and calmly explain what happened. Good friend will understand that disaster happen. Explain why you hasn't call with warning. I say this was an error. I understand it - you hope till the very last moment it will be OK and than there isn't time, but it still was an error in your judgment of the situation.
Pity you probably lost a good opportunity, but such is the life. Stick to your good work and another one will come.

Doing business professionally means that sometimes you have to accept failure, sometimes due to circumstances you cannot influence. You have to take your loss and move forward.

Good luck in the future!

LaBellaFlor Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:50pm

Refund the money. It's not that big of deal, cause you know what? Stuff happens. A little of my does feel, and this is in no way a reflection of your skill, she paid for what she got.

3GCakes Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 9:51pm

First of all...it's ok to cry out of frustration...but not because you think you are a bad person or ruined anyone's life. You did not hurt anyone, you did not do anything that will cause someone irrepairable harm. You made a bad cake under bad circumstances. It happens. It's frustrating for you and the bride, but it's not the end of anyone's world.

You are not selling dreams....you are not selling happy ending fairy tales and marital bliss.....you are selling cake. Give her a refund, apologize, and let that be the end of it.

prterrell Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 10:12pm

You've gotten tons of great advice about the refund/dealing w/ the bride, etc. icon_biggrin.gif My advice is to purchase a de-humidifier. They really save the day on those rainy days (or, since I'm in Georgia, every day in the summer).

indydebi Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 10:22pm

Gosh, you poor thing! I can imagine how you felt, being under the gun to deliver this cake, especially on behalf of your friend, and nothing working right for you.

Just so you know you're not alone, here's one of my stories. I wasn't at this wedding (had 3 that weekend), but my on-site supv told me there was a problem with the chicken and I'd probably get a call from the bride. She described the dish and it sounded just awful! We backtracked what happened, and put corrective actions in place to avoid it in the future.

The bride emailed me after her honeymoon. It was a very well written and well thought out email ... just stated the facts and the problems she observed. I called her (didnt' email ... called) and she was relieved to hear (1) I was already aware of the problem (2) had already determined the cause and fixed it internally (3) that I agreed with her that it shouldn't have happened (4) was more than willing to a partial refund.

Then .... I forgot to mail her the check! icon_surprised.gif She left me a VM to follow up. I felt horrible! Called her .... admitted my mistake and accepted her offer of her coming by the shop to get the check.

When she pickd up the check, I apologized again, and I complimented her on how she handled the situation. I recognized that she was uncomfortable making a complaint "...because none of us LIKE doing that..." and I thanked her for giving us the opportunity to make it right with her.

She left the shop after telling me she had about 3 friends getting married and she has already referred them to me.

I'm sorry for how long this got, but I wanted to share that it can work out ok. Much as we hate going thru it, it can end up ok.

It's ok to feel bad about the cake. But remember, the true test of customer service is not how you handle the initial sale .... but how you handle any problems that come up AFTER the sale. thumbs_up.gif

kettlevalleygirl Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 10:29pm

Spoken like a true professional Indydebi.....

__Jamie__ Posted 26 Aug 2009 , 10:35pm

Problems after the sale....exactly.

CutiePieCakes-Ontario Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 1:07am

I agree with Cakemom777 and IndyDebi. The cake did not ruin her wedding, but it was a disappointment for her (and, by the sounds of it, a nightmare for you). BTW: I live in Hamilton, and I remember the weekend weather. Yuck!

And, you need to take care of it now ... don't put if off, because the longer you wait (a) the worse you'll feel; (b) the harder it will be to do; and (c) she'll think you're ignoring her, which will make her even more defensive when you do call. And you need to follow-up with your friend as well. I'm sure she won't 'not' recommend you in the future, but you need to let her know how you handled it. It's not just your ability, but your CREDIBILITY, that is at stake.

{HUGS}

mandice Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 2:36am

thank you for all your advice and encouragement - you guys really are the best. this has been my worst nightmare come true. i read about the other cake disasters in hopes that i would be able to save myself if i were ever in that situation and keep hoping that it won't happen to me, and unfortunately it has and i drew blanks about how to go about it. i mean, even after reading everyone's responses my head is still a complete mess about it, but as I want to get this over and done with, this is the response I have come up with.

"I am extremely sorry about the cake. I know it didn't turn out the way you wanted it - it definitely did not turn out the way I had planned. I don't want to get into the details of what and how things went wrong that day, but I do want you to know that I feel absolutely terrible about what happened and am more than willing to refund your money. If you wanted me to transfer the money you can give me the information or I can send a cheque by xpresspost if you wanted to give me an address to mail it to.
I hope that this does not affect your relationship with R - we both know she wouldn't have referred me to you if she didn't believe that I would do a job well done and I'll admit I am even more ashamed of my work because it was a referral from her. Unfortunately things hadn't worked out in my favour that day and I want you to know how horrible I feel about it."

i'm trying to sound professional about it, but at the same time i don't want to sound like i have no feelings and i've been sitting here for half an hour staring at this and i dont know what to do about it. too short? not enough apologizing? should i go more into detail? i dont know. how shold i end/finish it off?

i've got a headache from stressing about this - i know i shouldn't because it happens to everyone - but that's just the kinda person i am. i can't help but worry when i've dissappointed a lot of people, myself included. but i will try to remember to post pics of my other work - i know i can do better and wish more than anything in this world that i had a time machine so i could fix it. i'm just so ashamed. i've been wanting to stop making wedding cakes (and other important cakes) for a while now because I keep stressing, and this disaster is just helping me realize i should just stick to smaller cakes. bahhh.

[editing to say that i've uploaded some of my pictures.. i dont want to be cocky, but i know i can do a good job. and although i know we're all our harshest critics, i know that i didn't do a job well done, which is why i'm freaking and stressing out about this whole situation icon_cry.gif]

lthiele Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 7:53am

I think the tone of her email in your OP sounds more than reasonable considering. I would keep the apology short and simple and about her, not you or what your reasons were. Simply apologise that your work was sub-standard, there was no way you were going to ring her on her wedding to tell her YOU were having a bad day and tell her you sincerely hope that the memories of her day will not be marred by the cake. I personally would hand deliver a cash refund with a really nice bunch of flowers.

Break down with your friend R and give her all the gory details - I guarantee you the bride will hear it all from her! I'm kinda with Texas_Rose about your friend getting you to do a cake on the cheap, but then again if your friendship with her is important to you, you might want to send her a surprise bunch of flowers with an apology because she was embarrassed. This will break the ice with her, then invite her over for a few vinnos and laugh it off!

prterrell Posted 27 Aug 2009 , 8:03am

Honestly, I think you come off a little too apologetic. I know you feel horrible, but you honestly don't have to tell her that repeatedly. icon_biggrin.gif

Taking an editorial eye to it:

Dear Bride:

Please accept my heartfelt apologies. This cake was not up to my standards and I am truly sorry that it did not meet your expectations.

I will be issuing a full refund. If you would like me to transfer the money, I can do so, or, if you prefer, I can send a cheque by xpresspost. Please let me know which refund method you prefer, along with the transfer information or mailing address, and I will issue the refund immediately.

I hope that this does not affect your relationship with R. She wouldn't have made the referral if she didn't believe that I could do the work.

My sincerest apologies,
mandice

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