28 Years Of Decorating And Had My First Disaster!! Help!!!

Decorating By tlcelebrations Updated 22 Aug 2010 , 2:15am by Erin3085

tlcelebrations Posted 1 Dec 2009 , 8:25pm
post #1 of 56

Hi All,
I had a wedding cake on Black Friday to deliver 35 miles away. It was a 3 tiered fondant cake. I had plenty of dowel rods to support, or I thought I did. Anyway it was cold and poring rain on that day and traffic was horrific on the way there with all the shoppers on the freeway. When I finally got to the destination the bottom layer had slid and was beyond repair. There was not enough time before the reception to return to shop and fix, and to make it back in time. I took the cake to my mother's house (2 miles away) and removed the 2 top tiers and tryed to repair and add more dowel rods. I replaced the top 2 tiers and the bottom layer was just not having any part of it. So, I had to completely remove the bottom layer and turn the 3 tier cake into a 2 tier. My hubby and I returned the cake to the reception site, then I went to the local bakery in town ( a friend of mine owns it). I purchased a plain 1/2 sheet cake and some frosting and filling and returned to my Mother's house threw that cake together, and also boxed up the damaged bottom tier, and returned both cakes to the reception so that they would have plenty of cake to serve their guests. After decorating for 28 years professionally this has never, ever happened to me before. Now the bride wants a full refund. Can anyone give me some help and advice on this one? Sorry this was so long.

55 replies
andrea7 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:47am
post #2 of 56

My lawyer would say they did get the venue and i'm assuming it was eaten. What does your contract say about acts of god? Was this a preventable accident. If I did something wrong myself and the cake was eaten I would only give half of the total back. I've never had anything happen to my cakes so i'm not much help. Do you put slip mats under your bottom tier for sliding, if not, it's a cheap investment for peace of mind.

Kiddiekakes Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:53am
post #3 of 56

Well I believe a refund is in order but not necessarily for the total amount..There was cake there ...although 2 tiered and not 3 and they did have cake to serve so I wouldn't refund 100%.Accidents happen and sometimes people need to understand that..I highly doubt it ruined the wedding itself but I don't think you should be entirely out for the ingredients etc.....Call or email the bride and try and come to an agreement..but please don't give in and refund it all....

Gingoodies Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:54am
post #4 of 56

I would be inclined to refund 1/2 the money. You did provide a cake for display and enough cake to feed the entire party. Yes, she was upset, but a full refund...no.

Just asking, but how big was the bottom tier and how many dowels did you use? I know you have been at this a long time, but sometimes overdoweling can be just as bad and not enough dowels. Overdoweling destroys the structure of the cake. Lots of other things could be the cause too.. dowels too short, one dowel not straight..etc.

I think you made a great save. Good Luck with this!

Bel_Anne Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:58am
post #5 of 56

It's super, super unfortunate... and I feel for you. But If I was in your position I would give a full refund. Just because some bride's wedding day has been planned since they were little girls. The cake she ordered from you may have been her 'dream' cake and at the end of the day she didn't get what she ordered. Even if she ate the cake... It wasn't what she paid for. Also so she doesn't go slandering your name. Because SHE WILL. At least if she gets what she wants, you won't lose any potential clients... Good luck.

bettinashoe Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 12:58am
post #6 of 56

You've been really fortunate to not have had a similar accident in 28 years! You went above and beyond for this bride. I, like the others, feel only a partial refund would be in order. There is no way the bride is due a total refund of her money and I would be inclined to think 1/4 to 1/3 refund only. Make sure you keep your receipts of everything you did to make things right for the bride and that you also get something in writing from her should she accept a partial refund (before you give any money back).

anitsirK Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 2:48am
post #7 of 56

Ask yourself what kind of refund she'd be looking for if you didn't deliver the 2 tiers and the sheetcake. Would that somehow be worth *more* than a total refund? Should you be paying her to have taken the cake?

MalibuBakinBarbie Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:17am
post #8 of 56

Gosh, I'm sorry this happened to you! Sounds extremely stressful.

With respect to your situation, I think a partial refund should be offered. (I feel 50% would be more than fair compensation.) If the cake was not edible, then yes, a full refund. However, it sounds like you did everything you could to rectify the situation. And two of your original tiers were delivered and on display, right? Plus the extra cake you purchased from another bakery along with the original bottom tier? I am willing to bet that the cake was eaten ~ AND that the guests who had your cake enjoyed it. So I think it is unreasonable for the bride to expect a full refund. If she didn't like it and refused to allow it to be shown/eaten, that'd be a different story. However....

I understand that many brides dream about their wedding day from the time they were little girls, and they want everything to be perfect, and so on and so forth. But this was hardly a 100% disaster. Really. I'm sure some will disagree with me, though. icon_rolleyes.gif

I do wish you good luck with dealing with this bride. Hopefully you can both come to a mutual agreement. Maybe she'll feel differently if/when she hears everything you went through. icon_smile.gif

njusaguy Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:20am
post #9 of 56

Da noive of some peoples! If the flowers from the florist were not the right shade, would she demand a full refund? If some of the dinners were overcooked by the caterer, would she have demanded a full refund? If the band didn't play all the music she requested, would she have....well, you get the idea.

icer101 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:37am
post #10 of 56

i agree with bel_anne... she deserves a full refund. yes, you worked hard and tried to make it be the best you could. but it was not what she paid for. and you feel you deserve something.. but in the end. you will receive more that the fee of the wedding cake.. peace of mind.. that you did the right thing.. more and better things will come your way.. hth

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 3:59am
post #11 of 56

I agree with the majority of other posts that a full refund is absolutely NOT in order in this case. The bride didn't get exactly what she ordered, but she did get more than enough cake to serve to her guests, and presumably the two tiers were still pretty for display, cutting, and pictures.

I don't think the fact that they ate the cake and did not return it is relevant. What would anyone do in her shoes? We'd serve the cake because we have 100 guests expecting cake. That act in itself doesn't negate a valid claim for a refund unless someone claims the cake was inedible but ate it anyway. She was in an impossible position.

I would probably offer a 50% refund. I think you did a really good job of trying to mitigate the disaster in a proactive way.

I'm sure sorry this happened to you. It's one of those things that strikes fear in my heart every time I deliver a cake. Good luck with the bride. Just keep a cool head and don't fall for the "you ruined my wedding" crap. I'm sure she still had a wonderful reception and her guests had a delicious plate of cake. Don't let your guilt and disappointment get the best of your good judgement.

I would tell her I was very sorry that I did not deliver the cake she ordered, and that I'd like to refund her 50% of the price because of that. I would also say that I was glad that with all of the cakes that I delivered that her guests still were able to enjoy a nice piece of cake even if the design did not completely live up to her expectations. And I'd stand firm on that.

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:03am
post #12 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bel_Anne

Also so she doesn't go slandering your name. Because SHE WILL. At least if she gets what she wants, you won't lose any potential clients... Good luck.




No matter what she does, the bride will not give her a good review. Even if she gives her a full refund, she's still going to tell everyone who will listen that it was a bad experience for her. This is simply unavoidable.

You need to keep one bad review in the proper perspective. With 28 years of cake decorating work to stand on, I don't think you need to worry about this. It was a fluke, it was the only disaster you've had in 28 years, and your customer base already knows your reputation.

MCurry Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:11am
post #13 of 56

I agree with Bel_Anne comments. While you went above and beyond to provide the bride her dream wedding cake and repair it, the final cake was not what she ordered. To me, it does not matter that she served the cake. This may have been the only dessert or she may have wanted to further disrupt the day by guest asking where is the cake. If this were a birthday party or baby shower, I would more than likely side with most of the other comments but this is a wedding which I consider extra special.

Consider explaining the situation (again, you did a great job trying to make it right) to her and start at offering her 50% refund as a compromise to her request. However, if she does not move from 100% refund, I would refund her. From future business and word of mouth about your reputation, you will gain in the long run. Even if she brings up the cake issue in the future (and she will), she will always have to say she got a partial or full refund, how professional you were and apologized many times. I'd even throw in a well wishes note with whatever refund you decide and take the high road.

Sorry to hear about the problem and let us know what you decide. Best wishes, this is a hard one.

just_for_fun Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:23am
post #14 of 56

If I go into the grocery and I want a certain brand milk, and they don't have it, do I get the other brand for free, cause it's not exactly what I wanted?

CutiePieCakes-Ontario Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:23am
post #15 of 56

I say no more than 1/2.

Let's put this up against, say, her wedding dress. She ordered teardrop pearls, but round ones were sewn on. Would she demand a full refund? Doubtful ... and even if she did, she wouldn't get it.

Yes, she did not get 100% what she wanted, but you did your best to fix the cake, and when that failed, bought another one for serving and still gave her the damaged cake, should the 1/2 slab not be enough. Cake eaten or not, it was still there for her. You could have just given her the 2 tiers and said "Sorry, my bad", but you didn't. And in the end, will it really have ruined her 'dream wedding' if the cake wasn't exactly what she wanted? Doubtful. I can barely remember what my cake looked like, 7 yrs later. It's not like someone poured red wine down her dress before pictures were taken. She needs to realize this and get past it.

If you give her a full refund, then she will recommend you to others ... because you're a push over when it comes to complaints. "Just tell her XXX was wrong and demand all your money back. You'll get it."

Good luck, whatever you decide.

Bel_Anne Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:25am
post #16 of 56

It's kind of like like when I'm in an ornament shop with my darling little girl.. She knocks off a $200 vase. Chips off the handles. Now I've gotta fork over the money. Not just what they paid.. But what they'd make on profit too. The whole $200. You break it, you buy it. You broke her cake.... and all she's thinking is 'if I went through someone else I would have gotten the cake I wanted' (even if that wouldn't be the case). A birthday, I'd offer 50%, too. But not a wedding. You only get one. And everybody knows the cake is more of a decoration, then a dessert. Which is why they hire 'edible artists'.

It is of course, entirely up to you. But word of mouth can break a business as fast as it built it. I wish you all the best and hope you don't have to go through this again... I also hope I never have to go through this, haha. x

Ruth0209 Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:43am
post #17 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by CutiePieCakes-Ontario

If you give her a full refund, then she will recommend you to others ... because you're a push over when it comes to complaints. "Just tell her XXX was wrong and demand all your money back. You'll get it."




Exactly.

-K8memphis Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:56am
post #18 of 56

The wedding cake serves at least two purposes of course. One is the focal point of the reception the other is to serve to the guests. You solidly supplied one whole factor. She did not get her focal point.

She's being difficult to ask for all of it back. She doesn't deserve a full refund.

I vote for 50% but I'm feeling like you need to start her at 25% so you can ping & pong it back & forth and stop at 50% kwim--to give yourself some wiggle room--

I'm so sorry that happened!

And ditto what Cutiepie and Ruth said too!!!

indydebi Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 5:01am
post #19 of 56

I sure feel your pain! Anytime something doesn't go right, we get that knot in our stomach, and then ..... after going so above and beyond to try to fix it, to be treated like you've done nothing to try to rectify it is another slap to you.

I had almost the exact same thing happen. Had to convert a 4 tier to a 3 tier because of a slider. I showed the mom, bride & groom what happened, explained what I was doing, explained that we could still cut-n-serve the bottom tier, but we'd do it in the kitchen, and I offered them a refund that was the value of the bottom tier ($200).

I had a great bride, though. WHen they paid me at the end of the night (cake and buffet), they said "We deducted the $200 like you said, but we added a $200 tip for your staff." I blurted out, "Are you sure? I mean, I messed up your cake!" Mom said, everyone was happy with the service, the food, and the cake was still beautiful.

SOmetimes you get a bride who is great and understands that stuff happens ... sometimes you get the other kind.

Whatever you decide to do, let me share what I tell my problem brides at the end of our conversation, when the issue is resolved and everyone is happy: "If I can ask one favor from you. When you tell this story to yoru friends .... and you WILL tell it often ..... would you please also be sure to share how we resolved the issue pretty easily and how I 'made it right' for you as best I could?" I"ve never had one bride decline ... they've all said they'd absolutely do that.

28 years is a great record and you should still be proud of that .... just remember: You never have to go thru your first disaster ever again! You've now burped the lid on the Tupperware bowl of problem brides! thumbs_up.gif

Bel_Anne Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 7:26am
post #20 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-

The wedding cake serves at least two purposes of course. One is the focal point of the reception the other is to serve to the guests. You solidly supplied one whole factor. She did not get her focal point.

She's being difficult to ask for all of it back. She doesn't deserve a full refund.




That is an excellent point, memphis. You nearly made me switch sides, (not kidding) haha. But then I thought... what if the mistake was in the taste. What if the 'mistake' was adding salt to the recipe instead of sugar. The cake was completely inedible but looked fantastic. So it served one of it's purposes. Would you get a full refund then? Of course you would.

If you spoke to someone about buying the extra cake beforehand and they agreed.. then maybe they should pay for costs of that cake. But when you sign that contract with the Bride they also have expectations. They trust that the cake they want will be safely delivered to the venue in tact. I think a full refund would be an 'old fashioned' business owner's decision. It's not being a push over to pay for your mistake.

I won't ramble anymore.. There's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy debate!

mareg Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:05pm
post #21 of 56

I would at least keep the money you recieved for your cost of the cake. IMO..... Good luck with it.

sugalips Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:31pm
post #22 of 56

As I have never used a contract, is there wording of any kind in your contract that states you will do your best (just like you did) to get the bride the best possible cake in case of disasters and total refunds are only for inedible (defined) ones? My lovely daughter said it best: "Of course I want everything perfect, but if the flowers aren't right and the cake isn't what I wanted, I will still be married when I wake up the next day."

-K8memphis Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:49pm
post #23 of 56

Bel--yes I love a good debate too. I do see your point and I want to agree with you too--I mean it's a tough situation. But for the bride to go there first --full refund-- I think is what tipped me going half--there's nothing wrong with coughing up all of it but I mean our dedicated/devastated op went out and got more cake that deserves some consideration from bridelette.

She valiantly fulfilled part of the bargain. Since it did taste good--no points for potentialities. I mean some cakes are so customized I would totally give points for supplying it as the focal point if even if the taste sucked.

So it's not gonna be another disaster to refund all of it but it (the bride's attitude) pisses me off too.

So I'm not really disagreeing with you I'm very much disagreeing with the ungrateful inconsiderate bride. OP went above and beyond and deserves serious props for that.

-K8memphis Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 4:53pm
post #24 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugalips

As I have never used a contract, is there wording of any kind in your contract that states you will do your best (just like you did) to get the bride the best possible cake in case of disasters and total refunds are only for inedible (defined) ones? My lovely daughter said it best: "Of course I want everything perfect, but if the flowers aren't right and the cake isn't what I wanted, I will still be married when I wake up the next day."




Yeah you'll generic you still be married but you'll still be out the money to pay the people who served your event. You don't get to get it all back. You don't get to have people serve you and work for you for free.

I mean if op just stuffed the cake in the trash and said "Fluck it" yeah the bride gets all the money back but op did her best and I'm pissed at the bride. She ain't got no good upbringin' huh.

sugalips Posted 2 Dec 2009 , 5:36pm
post #25 of 56

K8memphis - I agree, why can't people just play nice? icon_cry.gif

cakesbycathy Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 12:11am
post #26 of 56

While normally I would say a partial refund is in order, in this case I do think a full refund might be in order.

First, part of the cake that was served was from another bakery. Now it may have been the most delicious cake in the world, but the bride ordered cake from the OP because she liked her cakes. She did not pay to eat a cake from someplace else.

Second, since there wasn't a picture, we don't know for sure how the top two tiers looked. Was the cake repaired to its original condition? Or was there obvious damage that would be visible to the guests? If so, then I think for sure she is due a full refund.

I know many people feel a full refund shouldn't be given, especially if the cake was eaten. But sometimes a full refund is the right thing to do, even if it was something unavoidable.

-K8memphis Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 1:12am
post #27 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakesbycathy

While normally I would say a partial refund is in order, in this case I do think a full refund might be in order.




Here's my question--so if one of us gets in a bind like this --cake shifts, first booboo delivery in 28 years or if it's our first year of cakin'--we should just chuck the whole cake and just fully refund then. Don't even try?

I'm just saying. She gets nothing for her work nor for her additional trouble?

I mean we might as well cut our losses huh? Take the cake home & eat it as leave it there for no remuneration yes?

all4cake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 1:52am
post #28 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth0209

Quote:
Originally Posted by CutiePieCakes-Ontario

If you give her a full refund, then she will recommend you to others ... because you're a push over when it comes to complaints. "Just tell her XXX was wrong and demand all your money back. You'll get it."



Exactly.




I don't see where this applies to the OP's situation. Refunding in a situation like OP's is called for and if she makes the first move to make it right instead of having the bride work to make the situation right, then the bride might say something more like, "There was a problem during delivery and the cake suffered damage. She gave me a refund."

I wouldn't hesitate to make the first move and offer a full refund. At the very least(if she wasn't a troll to do business with) 50 % refund and the difference toward future orders.

I am sorry this happened to you.

andlydle Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 2:45am
post #29 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by anitsirK

Ask yourself what kind of refund she'd be looking for if you didn't deliver the 2 tiers and the sheetcake. Would that somehow be worth *more* than a total refund? Should you be paying her to have taken the cake?




i totally agree!

I wouldn't be surprised if the bride had buyer's remorse for half the things in her wedding and is using you as an excuse to get some money back. a partial refund is fair, but you provided her with more than enough cake to eat, so she can't honestly expect more than 1/2 back. if she really does than she needs a taste of the real world

I got married almost 2 years ago and the only thing i remember about the cake (without looking at pictures) is how yummy it was. I'm sure she'll still have that memory too.

all4cake Posted 3 Dec 2009 , 2:57am
post #30 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by K8memphis-



So it's not gonna be another disaster to refund all of it but it (the bride's attitude) pisses me off too.




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