How Do You Handle Complaints?

Decorating By Jcake2 Updated 2 Jan 2010 , 8:27pm by MrsMabe

Jcake2 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:35pm
post #1 of 33

I have a bride that is trying to get over 1/2 her wedding cake back as in a cash refund.

She picked a cake that has a fondant draping down the front of the cake. We have 2 in the book. The one she picked was a little more pressed againts the cake if that makes sense.

The one that was put on her cake looks more like a fabric draping down the front. But both are the same idea, but with one more of a cloth look, than a fabric press.

She paid $70 additional for the draping, I offered to refund her that amount. She is also complaining about the flavors. Her bottom tier was suppose to be raspberry, but it was a plain.

She is wanting the number of servings that cake served which is about 55, times the amount per serving we charge. So she is wanting $170.50 back for that tier.

I offered her a $50 gift card at first for the flavor mix up, she wanted no part of that. So, I offered her a $50 cash refund on the flavor mishap.

I take full blame for the two mistakes, but she is a little overboard on her request.

She said the cake was beautiful and people loved the cake, initially. Now that she see's I am not going to give her what she wants, she is changing the whole story.

So, how would you handle this? I really can't see refunding the full amount of the cake layer. It was decorated, guest enjoyed it, and it was eaten.

I think a $120 refund is amble for this mistake. I have done over 250 weddings this year with 4 complaints, while I wish I didn't have any, you can't please everyone.


32 replies
jodibug0975 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:42pm
post #2 of 33

Can you show us a pic of the draping from the book, and on the cake you did?

And I think $50 for the flavoring is more than enough of a refund. I would probably only refund 50 cents per serving ($27.50).

Not charging her for the draping is also being quite generous, I'm just curious about what it was supposed to look like.

sleeper713 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:54pm
post #3 of 33

I've seen other posts where the cake decorator didn't want to refund the full price of a layer because it was eaten. I don't do wedding cakes, but I don't quite understand that rationale. I'm not being critical here, but maybe someone could help me understand the thinking. If a customer's order is specific as to what flavor the cake should be, then I can't see where they don't deserve a refund is the flavor is not at all what they ordered. If they just didn't like it once they got it, that seems different because taste preferences are so individual. But to not deliver the flavor that was ordered? What, is the bride supposed to tell her guests that they can't have cake because it isn't the flavor that she ordered? That hardly seems fair. Again, not being mean, but I just don't understand.

Jcake2 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:59pm
post #4 of 33

Sleeper, no offense, but that is why you don't do weddings. I try to be as fair as possible, but mistakes do happen.

She had 3 flavors and one was plain, the smalles on top. so, she had all the flavors she wanted -1 flavor.

I am sure not every guest knew what the flavors were, it's cheescake, it's unique and gets eaten.

But to give a $170 refund for a tier of cake that was decorated and eaten is a bit overboard is all i am saying.

let me see if i can get some pics up.

verisimilitude Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 1:59pm
post #5 of 33

I'm going to play devil's advocate here, and suggest you give the bride what she asks for in regards to the refund of the wrongly flavoured tier. The draping part sounds a bit trickier, so I'm reserving opinion on that.

As far as the incorrect flavour goes though, it was her wedding day and she didn't get the cake she ordered, there's no dispute. Yes, it was eaten, but it's not as though she had much choice in that; it's not as though it's pizza delivery and you can just call for a replacement if you get the wrong toppings.

I understand that you'd be losing money on your hard work, but the mistake was on your part so in my opinion, I think the right thing to do would be to apologise profusely and refund the bride in full for that tier. I personally think you'll be cutting your losses that way, and possibly even restoring some good will. It would be extremely unfortunate for your business if the unhappy bride spread the word that you'd made an error in her order and were arguing semantics in order to save a few bucks (not saying that you are, or aren't - just saying if she's left feelig disheartened she could say anything she likes).

(edited to rectify spelling errors - sorry icon_smile.gif)

Jcake2 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:11pm
post #6 of 33


sleeper713 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:12pm
post #7 of 33

Jcake2, no offense, but you have no idea as to any of the reasons why I don't do wedding cakes. One reason is that I have another full time job, so I can't give full priority or the appropriate amount of attention to something as important to a bride as her wedding cake. If I can't deliver, for whatever reason, then I'm not going to make a promise on an order that I can't keep. There isn't much tolerance for errors on wedding cakes, which is partially why I think she deserves the refund for an error on your part, over which she had absolutely no control. Besides, like a previous poster said, it doesn't seem worth the risk to your good name if a disgruntled bride isn't happy with either the cake or your solution to it when you could have accommodated her request.

Jcake2 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:16pm
post #8 of 33

Veris: I also don't want to become known as the bakery that will give the farm away is if all you do is complain a little

artscallion Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:28pm
post #9 of 33

I agree with sleeper and verisimilitude. At a wedding, the bride is at the mercy of whatever you decide to show up with. At that point, she has no real options. It's happening right then and she has no choice but to take whatever you give her, serve it, and deal with you later. Sure she can refuse the the expense of having NO WEDDING CAKE at her wedding because YOU made a mistake on the order. Is that really a reasonable option?

Bottom line, she ordered one thing and you brought her something else. You can't charge her for something she didn't agree to buy from you, just because you made a mistake. Doesn't matter if she was forced to use it because the event was immediate. That's the cost of making mistakes in a professional business.

I would not charge her for the incorrect layer.

jamiekwebb Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:47pm
post #10 of 33

I am with the othesr here and I do wedding cakes. I say refund her for the wrong flavor. The draping is another matter but the flavor is your fault. YOU should have double checked the order before completing it. YOUR fault YOU should have to pay a full flavor refund.

cakesbycathy Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:49pm
post #11 of 33

You didn't provide what was in the contract. She is owed the refund for that tier.

cas17 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:55pm
post #12 of 33

i understand and agree with the point about what is a bride to do but serve the cake even if it is incorrect or not what she ordered, however, it was not inedible just the wrong flavor, vanilla instead of raspberry. i would offer a 50% refund on that tier.

Jcake2 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 2:59pm
post #13 of 33

Against my better judgement, I am refunding her $150 for that tier. While it was edible, it was the wrong flavor.

Now she is saying there were no reeses in the 2nd tier, which is total BS, I made that cake and admit to the wrong flavor on the raspberry, but the 2nd tier and 3rd tier were exactly what she ordered.

Sometimes you have to just give them want they want to get rid of them.

Each complaint is a lesson, while, I can't stop all complaints, I take full blame for this and will refund her the $150, but it stops at that.

Thanks for the feedback

indydebi Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 4:14pm
post #14 of 33

None of us are ever happy giving a refund of any kind, but I'm glad you reached an agreement with her on this one.

Just to share a story .....

I had my first slider cake last year. The bottom tiers separated at the filling and I had to convert a 4 tier to a 3 tier cake. The bottom tier was edible and servable .... we cut it in the kitchen. Bride and family were fine with that.

But I gave them a full refund on that tier. $200. She ordered a 4 tier cake and she got a 3 tier cake. Even tho' the bottom tier was cut and served (and that decision was made by ME, the cake maker), the bride didnt' get what she wanted.

The $150 you refunded will buy you more goodwill than you know. This bride gave my staff a $200 tip for the great service and the wonderful compliments from their guests. So even tho' I delivered a "messed up" cake, because of the way the issue was handled, they thought I, and my staff, were still wonderful.

KHalstead Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 6:38pm
post #15 of 33

I too had a cake disaster which resulted in the bride being able to serve all of the cakes, however only 2 of the 4 tiered cake made it to the table.......I gave her a full refund of her tiered cake in addition to remaking a mini 4 tiered cake for her 1 yr. anniversary free of charge! She has referred about 8 wedding cakes my way since her wedding!

_Jamie_ Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 7:12pm
post #16 of 33

The contract is to protect the customer and give them legal backing for claims after the fact. Contract said "raspberry (or whatever it was), it dang well better have been raspberry, or you owe her money. Period. End of story.

Been there, done this! The one and only time I've had a was 100% my fault. I didn't put the right flavors in. I offered her refund, she declined, said it was beautiful, blah blah blah, everyone loved. Errr! Nope! I didn't give you what I said I would give you. I say this while thinking about future business down the road, not at all about this bride, follow? I then offered to make her a small 6" with the correct flavors for her to enjoy the next weekend with her family. That, she accepted. Quite happily. I would imagine that leaves an impression.

And who appointed anyone to decide whether or not a bride is being picky about specifics? It's her day. Follow the contract or get out tha' business!

Anywho....just spoutin some of my opinions, this is not directed at all at any one person....just in general. icon_smile.gif

_Jamie_ Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 7:15pm
post #17 of 33

And my example above isn't the crazy chick I posted about after Christmas.

Cathy26 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 7:26pm
post #18 of 33

I agree with the others, i have only done 4 weddings so far with no issue but if i messed up then i would 100% offer to refund the tier i messed up - you can't expect a bride to say to her guests that you're not getting any cake because i have to return it for a refund. wedding cakes are high stakes and there are a lot of emotions involved, like someone else said, the bride is completely relying on us to deliver what she ordered so if we mess up then we spoil a little of her big day and a partial refund and goodwill gesture is definitly called for.

cas17 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 8:59pm
post #19 of 33

wow 100% refund just for the wrong flavor. i personally would never request such a thing. i guess it would depend on how much it upset the bride. i would feel horrible if i did this to someone and hopefully it won't but i would of course do all i could to smooth the situation out. reputation is everything.

cakesbymindysue Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:05pm
post #20 of 33

cas17, I don't think anyone is suggesting a FULL refund, just a full refund of the TIER that was wrong.

Auntie_RaRa Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:09pm
post #21 of 33

I also would refund the tier that I got wrong. It is my mistake period. The bride chose that particular flavor for a reason. The client is expecting me to fulfill my end of the contract just as I am expecting the client to do the same (payment deadlines, return of items, etc).

In my kitchen area I have a dry erase board and when I do cakes, I write the size and each flavor in big letters. There are times I am doing multiple weddings. As I completing the cake, I cross off what I have baked. There has been a time or two when I'm tired that I baked an extra layer.

_Jamie_ Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:14pm
post #22 of 33
Originally Posted by Auntie_RaRa

I also would refund the tier that I got wrong. It is my mistake period. The bride chose that particular flavor for a reason. The client is expecting me to fulfill my end of the contract just as I am expecting the client to do the same (payment deadlines, return of items, etc).

In my kitchen area I have a dry erase board and when I do cakes, I write the size and each flavor in big letters. There are times I am doing multiple weddings. As I completing the cake, I cross off what I have baked. There has been a time or two when I'm tired that I baked an extra layer.

Yup. I think a lot of decorators think the little contract of theirs is for their protection alone. No, no it isn't. It's a promise from the decorator to fulfill the order exactly as specified.

LaBellaFlor Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:16pm
post #23 of 33

Here's the thing, in most cases, and this varies state by state, the tier did have value if it was consummed. Yeah, I get she didn't have another cake to serve, but she did have a choice to make. Serve a cake I have some value of use or serve nothing and get a full refund. She wouldn't be entitled for a full refund otherwise. A partial, yes, but full, no. And this is also to your discretion on how you want to do your refunds. Is this a true complaint or some just wanting money back. A true complaint, and personally for me wrong flavor is a very big deal, I would consider, someone having buyer's remorse, I don't know. And it seems to be buyer's remorse seeing as how as soon as she was refunded money on the one tier, she then complained about the next tier.

_Jamie_ Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:18pm
post #24 of 33

Oh yeah...state your complaints in whole at one time, no "one more thing" or "and this and that" later on. That is fishing, for sure.

cas17 Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 9:23pm
post #25 of 33
Originally Posted by cakesbymindysue

cas17, I don't think anyone is suggesting a FULL refund, just a full refund of the TIER that was wrong.

oh yes, i understood it was just for the tier. i had suggested earlier a 50% refund for the tier with the wrong flavor. looks like from the majority of posters and those more experienced in cake biz recommend a full refund for the incorrectly flavored tier.

Auntie_RaRa Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 10:03pm
post #26 of 33

Just curious...

So when a bride discovers an incorrect flavor for a tier, is the expectation that the tier is removed and returned to you? How does the client get the additional servings that she needs at the reception? Do you expect the client to correct the decorator's error and if she gets the cake? Will the decorator reimburse her for this additional costs? It's not fair that she has to come up with additional money to fix the situation.

Trying to follow the thought process on when you would give a partial refund in this type of situation.

artscallion Posted 30 Dec 2009 , 10:36pm
post #27 of 33

It's unlikely that the flavor issue would even be discovered before the cake was served, unless it happens to be the tier the bride & groom cut ceremoniously. The bride would be otherwise occupied while the cake was in the back being cut and served. She wouldn't even know anything was wrong until people were already eating it and she might happen to notice the lack of pink cake. At that point, you can't expect her to take the servings away from her guests.

In my opinion. since there was no way she could have prevented the cake from being eaten, there is no way you can hold her responsible for any value derived from that.

I think the law may be different for a birthday cake that you might eat anyway to save yourself the trouble of running out to a bakery for a replacement. A wedding is a different story as that law applies.

costumeczar Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 12:46am
post #28 of 33

I did the wrong filling in a cake once and refunded the price of that tier, so that's how I'd handle it. For the other complaints I don't know, I think that's a different issue. If you know you did the other tiers right then she gets nothing back from that, and I don't know abotu the draping since I don't know what the original she wantd was. I think that I'd stick to refunding for the wrong flavor tier and tell he that's all you're going to refund, especially since she said that the guests thought it was beautiful and ate it all.

Cake_Mooma Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:22am
post #29 of 33

If it's my mistake, it's my loss. I have to give back what I messed up on.

I always think about it this way How would I like it if it were ME that ordered a particular cake and did not get what I wanted. I know that I would want some sort of compensation. So how can I expect my customers to not want the same.

just my two cents.


Love2BakeCakes Posted 31 Dec 2009 , 5:45am
post #30 of 33


I agree with Verisimilitude and Sleeper. I think you should be the one to take the loss on this one. The mishap was not the bride's fault.

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