Inclement Weather Policies. What's Fair?

Business By sweetlayers Updated 11 Jan 2010 , 4:24pm by michellenj

sweetlayers Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 5:12pm
post #1 of 22

I was forced to cancel a consultation last month due to snowy weather. While I was able to reschedule since it was just a consultation, it made me re-evaluate my current non-existent inclement weather policy/power outages policy for weddings and large events.

Would anyone mind sharing theirs? Or at least tell me what's fair and mutually beneficial to my clients as well as my business.

TIA

21 replies
artscallion Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 5:28pm
post #2 of 22

Assuming the cake is already made and it's too late to reschedule without losing money already invested, my basic rule is that whoever cancels absorbs the cost.

If the client cancels and I'm still willing and able to deliver, or am ready and available for them to pick up, they pay. If I cancel, and their event is still going on or they still want the delivered, but I wont do it, full refund. If the client & I mutually agree to cancel, I refund half. After all the storm happened to BOTH of us, we should share the loss.

Lastly, if the state or city make any proclamations that would prohibit people from attending the event, or from delivering/picking the cake up, like state of emergency or road closings or parking bans, then the client & I share the cost and I refund half.

::Edited to add::

Your storm policy should really be the same as your regular cancellation policy. In light of any circumstance, storm, death, illness, etc., it really depends on which party is the one to break the contract.

If Mary's husband is ill on the morning of their Anniversary, and she cancels their party and the cake, Why should I bear the brunt of the loss due to HIS illness? I'd still give her the cake.

Conversely, if I fall and break my neck the day before Mary's party and can't do her cake, she gets a full refund.

Of course, this is just my stated contractual guideline. But the truth is that every storm/circumstance is different, and every event is different. And I've been known to make exceptions to the rule, in varying degrees, in the interest of good PR and in the spirit of being reasonable in the event of unforeseeable circumstances.

CakeForte Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 6:58pm
post #3 of 22

Yes each storm is different...but also extremely bad weather is a rare occurrence.

I have a clause that I'm not responsible for bad weather...obviously. But what I mean is that I'm not risking my life or my staff to deliver a cake when it's THAT bad.

Now... I'm in Texas...so that doesn't happen very often...but there have been a few ice storms that have closed the roads. I'm not delivering.

When I was in corporate...the general rule was basically...if you are not a first responder (EMS/Fire/Police) stay home.

I'm not refunding either because it's no ones fault. They'll still get the cake, just not at the exact time.

LaBellaFlor Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 8:25pm
post #4 of 22

Any acts of God I am not held accountable for.

LaBellaFlor Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 8:29pm
post #5 of 22

And keep in mind, all things are at your discretion.

peg818 Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 8:47pm
post #6 of 22

Ithink it depends on your circumstances. Here in the northern states we look at a little ice as just a fact of life down south it brings things to a stand still. I agree with who ever cancels bares the cost.

LaBellaFlor Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 10:26pm
post #7 of 22

There are a lot of vendors who have "Act of God" clauses in their contract. My question for everyone is, you spend 40 hrs. wokring on a cake and cost of $300. You get hit by a snow storm. The bride insist on going forward with the wedding, but you absolutely can not make it there. Your road is covered in ice and in a foot of snow that is still coming down. It's flat out dangerous. You can not deliver the cake. So you give a refund for circumstances beyond your control and not your fault.?

artscallion Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 11:44pm
post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

There are a lot of vendors who have "Act of God" clauses in their contract. ...




Contracts are superseded by laws. And outside of any contracts, the law protects the client, as well, from having to carry the full burden of an act of god. Why should the vendor be the only one protected from responsibility for acts of god?

Which is why, under the law, you need to determine a fair way of distributing damage dependent upon how each party responds to said act. The storm happened to both parties. So both parties have obligations and responsibilities to fulfill. How, or whether, each does that, determines how damages are distributed.

Imagine you have a ticket to a play. A big snowstorm comes along. The actors and everyone involved don't think it's that bad and all make it in and the show goes on. You have to make the same decision. If you agree and drive in, you see a play for your money. If you decide that your driveway is too icy and don't attend, you are the one eliminating the theatre's chance to fulfill its side of the contract. So you lose your money and the play.

If the city or state close roads then that makes the decision for everybody. But short of that, there's a fine line between "the weather's too bad" and the weather's not that bad" Everybody has their own opinion. So short of a state decree, it has to depend on how each party acts.

Conversely, if the theatre is the one that decides to cancel, your options are eliminated. So they must offer you a refund or an exchange into another performance. But the refund offer must also exist because the person may not be able to attend another day.

Same with cake. And delivering a cake for 20 or 300 people the following day only has the same value under certain circumstances.

If it's a birthday party for 20 close family members that can easily regroup a day or two later, that's one thing. But if my wedding goes on and you don't deliver because your driveway is too icy, what value does a cake for 200 have to me the next day when my guests are long gone?

Bottom line, everybody sees it from their own perspective and nobody thinks they should have to suffer because of the act of god. But there is a loss involved and state laws outline who that loss hits depending on who did what.

LaBellaFlor Posted 5 Jan 2010 , 11:49pm
post #9 of 22

Like I said, everything is to your discretion. And I will also say this, I live in VA. Trust when I say this state shuts EVERYTHING down in inclimate weather.

artscallion Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 12:04am
post #10 of 22

That could be why we see it differently, LaBella. Up here in the North East, ice on the road is standard...and a foot of snow coming down is probably just stacking on top of the previous two feet from last week. Nobody ever cancels. Everybody always trudges through it. So if somebody cries uncle and ruins everything, we make them pay for it. Maybe I should move to VA!

peg818 Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 12:08am
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Like I said, everything is to your discretion. And I will also say this, I live in VA. Trust when I say this state shuts EVERYTHING down in inclimate weather.




Yeah, But i live in upstate NY and it closes for nothing. Not even a couple of inches of ice and trees down everywhere, and no power for a week, you still gotta get to work.

And in this case that work is cakes. So if the cake is done and the party is on, you get in the 4 wheel drive and get it there. If power is knocked out and you can't bake you better be delivering a refund to that bride.

LaBellaFlor Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 12:10am
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

That could be why we see it differently, LaBella. Up here in the North East, ice on the road is standard...and a foot of snow coming down is probably just stacking on top of the previous two feet from last week. Nobody ever cancels. Everybody always trudges through it. So if somebody cries uncle and ruins everything, we make them pay for it. Maybe I should move to VA!




LOLOL! If I can only tell you how many times my friends and family from New York and Cleveland make fun of us here in VA. A guy friend of mine (he was from Cleveland) used to say,"You guys are crazy out there. We walk around in 3 feet of snow. You guys get some flurries and the whole state shuts down"!

cas17 Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 12:16am
post #13 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

That could be why we see it differently, LaBella. Up here in the North East, ice on the road is standard...and a foot of snow coming down is probably just stacking on top of the previous two feet from last week. Nobody ever cancels. Everybody always trudges through it. So if somebody cries uncle and ruins everything, we make them pay for it. Maybe I should move to VA!



LOLOL! If I can only tell you how many times my friends and family from New York and Cleveland make fun of us here in VA. A guy friend of mine (he was from Cleveland) used to say,"You guys are crazy out there. We walk around in 3 feet of snow. You guys get some flurries and the whole state shuts down"!




it's so true!!! we also don't have the trucks and equipment down here to clear the roads fast enough cos it's so seldom that we see any real amounts of snow.

Deb_ Posted 6 Jan 2010 , 12:17am
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by LaBellaFlor

Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion

That could be why we see it differently, LaBella. Up here in the North East, ice on the road is standard...and a foot of snow coming down is probably just stacking on top of the previous two feet from last week. Nobody ever cancels. Everybody always trudges through it. So if somebody cries uncle and ruins everything, we make them pay for it. Maybe I should move to VA!



LOLOL! If I can only tell you how many times my friends and family from New York and Cleveland make fun of us here in VA. A guy friend of mine (he was from Cleveland) used to say,"You guys are crazy out there. We walk around in 3 feet of snow. You guys get some flurries and the whole state shuts down"!




Oh we're not THAT much better here in MA and RI.....we get a forecast for 4" of snow and everyone runs out to buy bread and milk! You'd swear they think they won't get out of their house for a week.

My contract states that unless a statewide "state of emergency" has been declared their cake will be ready for pick-up or delivery.

When we built this house we put in a back-up generator because we live in the woods and have well water....all of my commercial kitchen appliances and family kitchen appliances are hooked up to the generator. So I have NO excuse.

sweetlayers Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 12:31am
post #15 of 22

Thanks for all the suggestions. My intention is never to simply use weather as an excuse for not filling an order. We had an early NC snow that caused me to re-evaluate my "super womanality".

And I really panicked the other day when it wasn't even snowing but cold enough for water to freeze on the road. My car skidded uncontrollably on the ice in my drive way.

Aside from being super embarrassed by my laughing neighbors me and my 3-tier cake were terrified! icon_smile.gif

didavista Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 1:15am
post #16 of 22

I think it depends on the circumstance.....

We in the north can trudge through ice and snow. But we are not trying to go up or down a mountain. I remember when I met my husband, in Michigan, he's from Tennessee, he thought he was getting a day off work for and inch of snow icon_eek.gif .

DDiva Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 1:21am
post #17 of 22

I delivered a 4 tier cake in that early NC snow!! The driveway at my shop has an incline that ends on a main street. I'm a native New Yorker so driving in the snow and ice isn't an issue....but, trust me, you don't want to be on the road with folks that don't have a clue!! I checked with the customer to make sure that event was still a go, and drove over to my shop. Went down the driveway--no problem. Loaded up the 50 lb. cake alone--no problem. Getting back up the driveway---problem icon_biggrin.gif
After carefully assessing the situation (doesn't that just sound cool) I carried out my plan. I flew up the driveway, quickly looking both ways to make sure I could get out onto the street without killing anyone!! I am happy to report that me, the cake and the man sitting in his car across the street from my driveway all survived. But there is nothing like lifting a 50lb. cake and carrying it on a partially icy sidewalk. I swear, our customers have no idea how dedicated we are icon_biggrin.gif
Neither rain, nor snow......oops, wrong group icon_biggrin.gif

Kitagrl Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 1:31am
post #18 of 22

I figure if the bride and groom can make it to the wedding, then so can I (deliver the cake)....I can't conceive of a reason that the bride can make it and the cake lady can't, unless the distance is such where the weather is much less hazardous where the wedding is located.

If the bride cancels I would refund according to my own discretion really...it hasn't happened much. For instance:

Groom dies or gets in a wreck: I would refund as much as possible depending on how much of the cake I had already worked on.

Bride wants to change the date: If cake is made...too bad. You bought a cake.

Bride gets sick: I would try to save the cake for a week or something if it was possible....if not, would try to refund some of the cost but definitely not all of it. Would depend on how the bride handled the situation.

I figure I can't cover all bases with a blanket statement so I just handle things as they come. With delivered cakes anyway I require payment 10 days before, so its not like I'd be out on any last minute cancellation. The only time I'd be out is a pick up order...and my deposit usually covers supplies for that and most normal people won't just throw away a deposit like that.

Colliegirl Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 4:15am
post #19 of 22

Folks I have read all the postings here with amazement. I live in Queensland, Australia and was only thinking yesterday, on hearing of the severe snow storms in the US and Europe, how much trouble people must have going to work, shopping etc. Well to be honest I was really thinking "they must be mad going out in that weather!". icon_eek.gif

It never snows here (lucky us), but we do have severe storms once in a while and we will never go out in them, but don't forget they are very short in timeframe so things can wait till it abates. Yes, yes call us chickens I don't mind, after seeing your weather and seeing the cars swerving all over the place, not sure a cake and the $$$ is worth all that hassle.

But I do have another problem it is called "humidty" and boy does it play havoc with my cake decorating schedule. Hence the reason I was interested in your posts here. I am trying to gather as much info as I can to be prepared for some catastrophe as well. Hmmm, an inclement weather policy definitely needs to be in place. Cheers Tina

mbelgard Posted 7 Jan 2010 , 8:00pm
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetlayers



And I really panicked the other day when it wasn't even snowing but cold enough for water to freeze on the road. My car skidded uncontrollably on the ice in my drive way.




You'd love it up here, we have ice and packed snow in all the parking lots all winter. The freeze lasts 4-6 months depending on the year and we can have snow on either side of that that melts within a few days, I've been snowed in on my birthday and that's in the middle of May.

sweetlayers Posted 11 Jan 2010 , 4:14pm
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbelgard

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetlayers



And I really panicked the other day when it wasn't even snowing but cold enough for water to freeze on the road. My car skidded uncontrollably on the ice in my drive way.



You'd love it up here, we have ice and packed snow in all the parking lots all winter. The freeze lasts 4-6 months depending on the year and we can have snow on either side of that that melts within a few days, I've been snowed in on my birthday and that's in the middle of May.




Wow! Snow in May. In my state, May is the first official month of nakedness! Although some of us start in mid-April, it's all about Sandals, tank tops, shorts and less.

michellenj Posted 11 Jan 2010 , 4:24pm
post #22 of 22

My contract says that unless the it has been declared a state of emergency, the show must go on.

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