What Do You Do When Your Cake Breaks Upon Delivery?

Business By dreamsville Updated 26 Jun 2011 , 3:49pm by jason_kraft

dreamsville Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:16pm
post #1 of 23

Hi all!!

I had my very first CAKETASTROPHE this weekend! A three tiered 1st bday cake I delivered to an old high school friend. I hit a bump as I was going down a steep hill and the cake started to slide off the cake board, the bottom tier fondant cracked like cazy in the back, the middle tier then started to slide off the bottom tier (though didn't entirely) and to me the whole thing looked a mess. I was heartbroken!! The cake to me was ruined (even though in the grand scheme of things it could've been worse!)

SO my question is: what do you guys do when this happens to ensure good business practice? Do you charge less? Offer a discount on the next cake order? Free cupcakes/cake etc? Looking for ideas. My husband said I should've have given her the cake for free (and I didn't...she paid in full!) because of the time I spent designing and creating the cake in the first place. I understand that occupational hazards are there but still....how do you all get through it?? I feel so defeated!

22 replies
napa Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:23pm
post #2 of 23

If it was that badly damaged no way would I charge the client. I would do what I could to repair the damage so it could be served at the event and would follow up with another apology via e-mail offering either discount on next cake or free matching cuppies with next order.

leah_s Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:30pm
post #3 of 23

I absolutely would have refunded the entire amount.

PS Have you looked into using SPS as your support system?

dreamsville Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:35pm
post #4 of 23

I don't know what SPS is....?

dreamsville Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:46pm
post #5 of 23

Here is the pic of the cake.

http://cakecentral.com/gallery/2075531

Jess1019 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:55pm
post #6 of 23

First off - CUTE CAKE! So sorry this happened. It really isn't that bad, if you had time, I would have gone back and fixed the borders and placed another polka dot real quick. Was the client upset? I can't see giving a full refund for that amount of damage. Something, but not a full refund.

vtcake Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:57pm
post #7 of 23

If it was ruined in your eyes then why would you charge her? That's charging her for what you consider a crap cake.

personally, I think it looks totally fixable and not ruined at all.

leah_s Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 6:59pm
post #8 of 23

dream, read my siggy

cakenovice2010 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 7:02pm
post #9 of 23

In my opinion it looks fixable, did you bring a repair kit? Always, always, ALWAYS bring a repair kit just in case. Better to have one packed and not need it then to need it and not have it. Have some extra decorations (whether it's polka dots, flowers etc...) to place over any accidental bumps. Bring your spare fondants in the matching colours just in case. Always some buttercream, a little thing of royal icing, your spatula (or most used spatula you work with) and any other tools. I always have a dresden tool in mine.

Did you dowel the cake? If not, next time get a decent dowel, some cutters just for cake dowels and dowel each layer, then place a dowel from the top all the way INTO the cake board. There is no point in dowelling a cake if you aren't going to stick that sucker into the board (on the bottom, your drum board) otherwise your cake will slide off that sucker if it gets bumped in transit or on site.

Did you use Royal icing to attach the cake to the cake board and between each layer? Buttercream won't cut it, it will melt and become slippery, royal will stick and stay stuck. icon_smile.gif

If I had done this and couldn't repair on site I would have offered a full refund, if they insisted on paying then ask that if they insist only they should cover the baking costs. It sucks that it's a lesson learned at your expense if you refund but now you have some advice to help you so it never happens again. icon_wink.gif It was a beautiful cake, next time bring your kit! icon_smile.gif

kelleym Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 7:05pm
post #10 of 23

Super cute cake, I do not think it was ruined at all, just slightly damaged. If you are open to some constructive criticism, and I mean this in the most helpful way, that cake is far too beautiful to be presented on plain cardboard rounds. If you cover your board with decorator's foil, fondant, or other decorations, it will take your presentation to a whole new level. thumbs_up.gif Check out the cakes in my gallery if you want to see exactly what I'm talking about.

dreamsville Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 8:12pm
post #11 of 23

Thank you all SO much for your replies! No I don't mind the constructive criticism at all!

I agree that it was probably fixable but 1. I didn't bring my tackle box with me (I know....STUPID!) and 2. I was so freaked out that I don't know if I could've fixed it with everyone there watching me.

I did use dowels although used buttercream in between each tier (thanks for the FYI on the royal icing. I'll use that from now on!)

Really if I would've been in a place to do it, I could have easily takn the bottom tier fondant off, recovered it and re-dotted it and it would've been fine, but I was delivering to an outdoor picnic at a local park so I knew there wasn't a place around there to do it.

An no, my client wasn't at all upset. She had planned on cutting the cake right away as soon as I got there because she knew that keeping a fondant covered cake out in the hot sun was not good. They just placed the candle on top and took some pics and then sang Happy Birthday etc.


This is just me being upset because I'm trying to make it in a business that doesn't give much room for mistakes. So I need ot learn HOW to fix mistakes when they happen. So thanks so much for your advice! She's already told me that she's coming back for cakes for her other kids so I'm giving her next one ot her for free.

Texas_Rose Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 8:59pm
post #12 of 23

I don't think it looks bad at all.

Another alternative to avoid delivery accidents is to transport it unassembled, then stack it when you get there. I always cut the dowels ahead of time and insert them halfway into the cake. It takes less than five minutes to stack the cake once I'm there, and usually another ten minutes to add flowers. The downside to that is that sometimes there just isn't a presentable background to use for photos of the cake.

Kelleym's suggestion about the cake board is totally spot-on, too...start saving your leftover fondant, it's the simplest way to cover a board and it looks great.

LNW Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 9:53pm
post #13 of 23

Your cake is BEAUTIFUL!!! I can see the cracks but really that isn't what I'd call a ruined cake by any means. I do what TR suggested and stack when I get to my destination. I've read way too many horror stories on here to try and deliver a totally assembled cake.

ConnieJ Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 10:13pm
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakenovice2010

In my opinion it looks fixable, did you bring a repair kit? Always, always, ALWAYS bring a repair kit just in case. Better to have one packed and not need it then to need it and not have it. Have some extra decorations (whether it's polka dots, flowers etc...) to place over any accidental bumps. Bring your spare fondants in the matching colours just in case. Always some buttercream, a little thing of royal icing, your spatula (or most used spatula you work with) and any other tools. I always have a dresden tool in mine.

Did you dowel the cake? If not, next time get a decent dowel, some cutters just for cake dowels and dowel each layer, then place a dowel from the top all the way INTO the cake board. There is no point in dowelling a cake if you aren't going to stick that sucker into the board (on the bottom, your drum board) otherwise your cake will slide off that sucker if it gets bumped in transit or on site.

Did you use Royal icing to attach the cake to the cake board and between each layer? Buttercream won't cut it, it will melt and become slippery, royal will stick and stay stuck. icon_smile.gif

If I had done this and couldn't repair on site I would have offered a full refund, if they insisted on paying then ask that if they insist only they should cover the baking costs. It sucks that it's a lesson learned at your expense if you refund but now you have some advice to help you so it never happens again. icon_wink.gif It was a beautiful cake, next time bring your kit! icon_smile.gif




awesome advice regarding the emergency kit!

josefina20 Posted 21 Jun 2011 , 10:36pm
post #15 of 23

great advice, thanks for posting.

Dinny2222 Posted 22 Jun 2011 , 5:11am
post #16 of 23

can't find the sps info from Leah... really interested in trying.. can someone help me locate it?

Thank you

TexasSugar Posted 22 Jun 2011 , 2:12pm
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinny2222

can't find the sps info from Leah... really interested in trying.. can someone help me locate it?

Thank you




http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=603925&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=0

http://media.cakecentral.com/files/sps_104.pdf

bakingpw Posted 22 Jun 2011 , 5:48pm
post #18 of 23

CUTE CAKE - nice job. Certainly, it's not ruined, don't be upset.

I agree with Kelleym about the plain cardboard circles, though - you'll be surprised at how much it increases the beauty of the presentation to cover it. Also, it's fine to use dowels, but, did you forget to dowel all the way through the cake and INTO the cardboard? If you do that it protects the cake from "sliding" off the cardboard. I also use foam board and always use a long dowel through entire cake INTO the foam. I've Never had a cake slip off.

Dinny2222 Posted 23 Jun 2011 , 5:22pm
post #19 of 23

Thank you so much TexasSugar!

MerlotCook Posted 24 Jun 2011 , 2:24am
post #20 of 23

Leah, thanks to you I use SPS, but I'm curious how it keeps the cake from sliding on the cake board as dream mentioned. Is there a trick?

KHMV Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 3:08pm
post #21 of 23

Had a similar situation yesterday. HEARTBROKEN. But here's the thing...The cake was traveling 3 hours (out of state!) and the damage occurred en route. My friend's husband was the one driving the cake...he put it in the back of a minivan...It was 3 tiers, covered in fondant, doweled and each tier was attached to the next with chocolate candy melts. He said the AC was on in the van (yes, we are in the South!) and basically, the bottom tier was wanting to slide out of everything else. The top two tiers survived. Later on my friend called and said the cake was a HUGE hit, that everyone loved it, had their pictures taken with it etc. The caterer thought it was a "topsy turvy," LOL!!! She had already paid me in full. I told her it was free (in tears, I am MORTIFIED, this has NEVER happened to me before) and she is INSISTING on paying. I don't know what to do. I busted my you-know-what on the cake and once it was out of my hands, it was, literally, out of my hands to do any kind of fixing. What should I do??? And of course, my confidence is SHOT and I have THREE cakes right on my tail for next weekend...one really IS a topsy turvy! :0 PLEASE Cakecentral friends...help!!!

jason_kraft Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 3:45pm
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by KHMV

I told her it was free (in tears, I am MORTIFIED, this has NEVER happened to me before) and she is INSISTING on paying.



Since they still loved the cake I would refund the amount for the bottom tier only, since everything else made it OK.

jason_kraft Posted 26 Jun 2011 , 3:49pm
post #23 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas_Rose

Another alternative to avoid delivery accidents is to transport it unassembled, then stack it when you get there. I always cut the dowels ahead of time and insert them halfway into the cake. It takes less than five minutes to stack the cake once I'm there, and usually another ten minutes to add flowers. The downside to that is that sometimes there just isn't a presentable background to use for photos of the cake.



We also transport cakes unassembled whenever possible, it's much less stressful.

For a presentable background you can bring a white tablecloth and have someone else hold it behind the cake table (or attach it to a wall) while you take pictures.

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