This past weekend, I was called up to my church to fix a bride's wedding cake because it was not what she ordered and she was in tears. The wedding coordinator is a friend and knows that I do cakes as a hobby. The bride had ordered her cake from a grocery store bakery (she was working on a budget), and they were not what she ordered.
Anyway, I could go on and on about how bad they were, but here's my real question.
How much do you charge to come in and fix a wedding cake that you had no hand in making? This was the first time that I've ever been asked to do something like this, so I didn't know what to tell the bride when she asked how much she owed me for it.
If I get a chance, I'll post picture of the before and after of these cakes. They're on my phone right now & I haven't taken the time to get them off.
Wow. That's a toughy, because if someone called me to fix someone else's cake, I don't know if I would agree to do it. In fact, I think if I got that call, I would refer them back to their baker to make it right. However, I understand that it may not be possible to do that with a grocery store cake. As for your fee, my suggestion is to charge an hourly rate for your time (including drive time to and from the venue, any prep time to make bc, etc) plus your expenses, if any.
I agree with CakeGirl, charge an hourly rate for your time including driving time.
On a similar note, my neighbor and I have been using the same hairdresser for a while. She decided to go to a different hairdresser, who was referred by another friend, to get some highlights, and she came out looking HORRIBLE. She called our hairdresser who offered to fix it for her and then wouldn't let her pay for the "repair". Needless to say, it multiplied our loyalty to our hairdresser ten times over. Just a thought.
I once did a major repair on a cake that was delivered from out of town - they ordered it from a shop that was featured on a show....so I guess they thought it was worth risking a three hour delivery in Texas. Anyway, the cake showed up, just mutilated, a million pieces, and the wedding coordinator was trying to get it fixed before the bride found out - so I got the call, fixed the cake, and the bride never knew. I was so showered in 'you saved the day's' that I shooshed the notion of charging. I have to say, because of that, the family and coordinator have sent a TON of business my way.
I basically told the bride that I'd never done anything like this before so I would leave it up to her as to what she wanted to do. She kept insisting on paying me something, but I didn't want to add to her already hectic day.
I didn't actually have to make any BC because there was so much extra that I was able to scrape off the extra and use it elsewhere. I did find out, though, that some of that extra BC was hiding cake board that wasn't cut to fit the cake. Oh well...
I found out a couple of days later that she was absolutely delighted with the end results once I was done. By the time I was done "fixing", she was getting dressed and doing other things. She didn't actually get to see the cakes until she walked into her reception. They were also able to get some refund from the grocery store because what they picked up wasn't like the picture that they took them.
I have a friend who is a caterer, she asked me for a bid on a wedding cake for a reception she was catering. She passed the bid on directly to the bride's mother, who was coordinating the whole thing. They did not go with me, which was fine. I did however work at the reception for the caterer. The MOB greeted us at the door and was in a panic because half the bottom tier of the cake cracked and fell off the cake! I was not able to repair it, but the cake baker had supplied a square sheet cake for additional servings. I took the flowers off the damaged tiered cake and arranged them on the square sheet cake. We used the tiered cake to serve from the back room. The bride was happy, the MOB was thrilled, my friend the caterer was happy - I hope I banked some karma points that day!
I think it would be nice if you left it up to the bride--and even if she doesn't every send a dime--take great pride in the fact that you saved her day for her.
Really, the good karma is priceless. It will come back to you, someday in some way.
So this sort of happened to me this weekend. A restaurant right across the street from me had a customer order a sheet cake (blarg) from a local bakery (very run of the mill bakery). The restaurant manager was carrying the cake into the restaurant having picked it up for their customer, caught caught by the wind and you know how those sheet cake boxes can become a sail in the wind. In a split second she decided to hold onto the cake and let the figurine go that was supposed to go on top of the cake. The figurine broke (she sent an employee to get another one) and then tried to repair the cake herself.
Unfortunately she made things worse and then called me. I did a scrape down of the "fixed" parts, added some fondant stars and cake glitter and in 15 minutes or so, had the cake looking presentable. The restaurant manager was extremely grateful and offer a dinner for two to me. And her undying gratitude.
Many months ago I delivered a cake to a local country club that I deliver to pretty frequently. The previous weekend the manager had a cake made by a family member that was a disaster as it came in the door. Held together by wooden skewers sticking out of the cake among other things. Some from the club made an attempt to fix it, but the manager kept saying, "I almost called you." And I said, "Please do next time. I'm always happy to help save the day."
So, yes, under certain circumstances I would fix someone else's cake.