Carlachef Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 4:41pm
post #1 of

Please help !! We delivered a wedding cake, and when we opened the box, The ENTIRE THING HAD COLLAPSED !!!! OMG, in 12 years I've NEVER had that big of a Disaster !!!! SO,with the help of the banquet manager, we salvaged what we could which was just about half of the bottom tier. If done well, the photograper could get a photo with the couple cutting the cake. We then went out to the nearest grocery store and bought just as many sheet cakes as they had,. enough to serve the couples guest. Thank goodness I also took pictures of the cake before we left our kitchen so atleast the couple would have pictures of the cake. I felt so so horrible about the cake. Devastated. When we got back, I wrote their couple a letter, apologizing for the crash. In the letter, I wrote about how sorry I was and that I was sorry that I ruined their wedding. I offered to make their anniversary and birthdays for them and thier family members for free for the next 5 years. The Bride wrote me back saying that I did'nt ruin their wedding that they had a beautiful time anyway. She also thanked me for offering to do the additional cakes but that she felt that she should get a refund instead. She stated that because I was in breech of the contract.
here's the thing. We never signed a contract. I presented a cake and she had enough cake to feed her guests and pictures of the original cake. She stated I did not ruin her wedding. I have not as of yet responded. I do not have ANY money to pay her back. So my question is, how should I respond and what is my legal obligation ? Please help, please.

29 replies
Lovelyladylibra Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 4:56pm
post #2 of

Pay her back. Honestly I think she was being nice when she said you didn't ruin her wedding DAY. But you did ruin her cake. The accident was on your hands. Id just pay up. Honestly its much easier than do free cakes for the next five years.

MsGF Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 5:01pm
post #3 of

I believe you do owe her a refund. Maybe not a full refund but a refund non the less. The Bride did not receive the cake she ordered and paid for. She got sheet cakes made by a grocery store and what was salvaged from her original cake. A refund should be given. You probably are in breech of contract because they didn't get what they ordered or expected. I think this is a lesson learned and you have to bite the bullet and refund her money. I know it sucks, but it's part of doing business. I believe from a legal stand point you are responsible, I know you didn't do it on purpose but refund her money and apologize. It is good business. Sorry this happened to you, it could happen to anyone. Try to think of it from their view, it if happened to you how would you like it to be handled?

Hope that helps, I know it's not what you wanted to hear. But it's the right thing to do.

Good Luck

AZCouture Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 5:05pm
post #4 of

I'm sorry, no contract but you've been in "business" 12 years? That doesn't compute with me. But I would refund entire amount. You didn't provide what you promised. Wasn't an act of God either, more likely faulty construction, careless driving, whatever. Of course you didn't do it on purpose, who would...but it is what it is.

jgifford Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 5:06pm
post #5 of

Even though you didn't have written contract, you had a verbal one and in some states that's just as binding. Granted, she had cake for her guests. However, that's not usually the main point of the wedding cake.

Word of mouth is the main thing here - - what do you want her to be telling everyone, including future customers? I agree with ladylibra - - suck it up and refund her money. And tell her immediately that you're going to do that within the next 30 or 60 days.

Cakery2012 Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 5:43pm
post #6 of

Sorry this happened . But like everyone has said you owe her her money back . She ordered a custom wedding cake and didn't receive one .

Are you really serious when saying you will make birthday and anniversary cakes for the next 5 yrs. for her and her family ? Some people would be glad to take advantage of this and you would be doing free cakes every week for the next 5 years. I don't think you would really want that?

The bride was very gracious in saying that you didn't ruin her wedding day . I agree running out and buying cake was the the thing to do . But you still owe her for her wedding cake .

As others have said word of mouth . You want her to say that her cake was destroyed in transit. That you refunded her money and ran out to buy more cake .

You don't want her to tell people she gave you XXX amount of money to make her wedding cake and you delivered a disaster .

psurrette Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 6:04pm
post #7 of

If you have liability insurace you can claim it as a loss. I would refund the money. You didnt deliver the cake as ordered. Certainly a tough day for you I would have been very upset too. But it happens to all of us at some point. (even the big guys!) The more imortant question is what went wrong so you know not to do that again.

Carlachef Posted 24 Apr 2012 , 6:04pm
post #8 of

ARRRRGGGG. thanks for the advice.

BlakesCakes Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 1:21am
post #9 of

Well, you may not have had a written contract for the original cake, BUT you do have a written contract now---to do her "anniversary and birthdays for them and thier family members for free for the next 5 years"........and if she kept that note, she can try to hold you to it. It would likely hold up in court, too.

It has to be cheaper to give her a refund than to complete an open-ended number of cakes from now until 2017..................

Sadly, what happened is the cost of doing business. You're essentially self-insured and a claim has been made on your "policy".

Rae

arlenej Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 2:55am

PLEASE write her another letter. MAKE SURE you thank her for refusing your offer of free cakes and let her know that you'll be happy to refund the full amount she paid. Give her a date (say, within 30 days) and stick to it. Make sure you get a receipt when you pay up. Ye gods! FREE CAKE?! You really must have been distraught! Clearly you weren't thinking straight!! FREE CAKE!?!?!!!

CWR41 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 3:05am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlachef

I offered to make their anniversary and birthdays for them and thier family members for free for the next 5 years. The Bride wrote me back saying that I did'nt ruin their wedding that they had a beautiful time anyway. She also thanked me for offering to do the additional cakes but that she felt that she should get a refund instead.




If you looked at it from the bride's point of view, you'd expect a refund a.s.a.p. to compensate for THIS transaction. Even if you put a maximum value on future orders she could receive, she doesn't have a guarantee that she'll receive anything as you could potentially be out of business tomorrow. If you experience another "incident" with a future free cake, she wouldn't expect you to extend the free cake offer for another 5 years, and so on, she'd expect THAT transaction to be righted immediately.

carmijok Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 6:52am

I had this exact same thing happen to me last summer. I was fortunate to find a real bakery who supplied a delicious cake but I paid for all of it AND refunded their money. They were quite gracious and I was a blithering mess. There's nothing quite as devastating. However I doubt if you ruined her DAY. A wedding is more than cake, people! Just because we're involved in the cake process doesn't mean the whole wedding revolves around it!

So take a deep breath and cough up the cash, but write her a note first thanking her for understanding and that since you will be refunding her money, your offer of free cakes for the next five years (an outrageous offer that I'm sure was made out of emotion and guilt) will be null and void.

I do feel your pain! icon_cry.gif

Apti Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 7:17am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlachef

I do not have ANY money to pay her back. So my question is, how should I respond and what is my legal obligation ? Please help, please.




If you do not have ANY money to pay her back, borrow it. Return 100% of her wedding cake costs within 30 days.

Do as a few other posts have indicated, immediately write a letter and KEEP A COPY that says: Per your request, my offer to make free cakes for you and your family members for 5 years is hereby rescinded. A full refund in the amount of $xxx for your wedding cake will be sent to you by mail within 30 days of the date of this letter."

I'd suggest you do a re-think of your business practices. You have been very lucky for 12 years.

scp1127 Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 10:22am

Full refund. The check should have been given to her at the site. No letters, just the refund. An anniversary cake would be in order too.

You are lucky that she is not suing you. There are damages above and beyond the cost of the cake for a wedding. The photos are ruined, the center of the wedding decor is missing, and who knows what was available for a replacement. Certainly not what the bride had planned and verbally contracted. A judge would be very displeased with you if your defense was no written contract. By the way, an exchange of money for goods is a contractual agreement. The best you can do is mitigate damages and make sure the guests were fed.

For those on tight budgets, it's a good idea not to spend the money for a cake until it is delivered and you have feedback from the bride.

For those of you who do not give full refunds, I'm sure other bakers in your area appreciate the the future business. And the bride will never ever ( like 10 years later) quit telling the story of how you ruined her wedding and didn't give a refund. You will lose that money many times over in your career from that one incident. Conversely, correcting a situation to a client's satisfaction will usually give you positive feedback in a bad situation. It has been proven in marketing scenarios.

AnnieCahill Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 12:52pm

I am confused about you not having money to pay her back...

cfao Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 2:05pm

The main thing everyone talks about is that we do custom cakes for our customers, we are not in the same category of grocery store or walmart type cakes. This is exactly why your customer booked with you instead of going cheap by ordering from a grocery store.....and that's exactly what your bride ended up with in the end, a grocery store cake. You have to refund the whole amount, the check should have been left with the wedding cake and sheet cakes.

rosech Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 7:04pm

I live in a land far far away from the west. I am always amazed with a lot of refund stories. I don't understand why one has to get 100% refund when people ate cake. A certain percentage yes, but 100%?!!

jgifford Posted 25 Apr 2012 , 7:19pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosech

I live in a land far far away from the west. I am always amazed with a lot of refund stories. I don't understand why one has to get 100% refund when people ate cake. A certain percentage yes, but 100%?!!




It's more of a goodwill gesture and good business practice than anything else. The baker agreed to provide a wedding cake which is traditionally the focus of the entire reception, and the subject of numerous photos and therefore, memories. Had the baker agreed just to provide cake for the guests to eat, there wouldn't have been any problem. The bride did not receive what she ordered and paid for - period. She was very understanding about it, but she was entitled to a refund.

indydebi Posted 26 Apr 2012 , 12:57am
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

And the bride will never ever ( like 10 years later) quit telling the story of how you ruined her wedding .......


My sister was married over 30 years and family/friends who attended her wedding STILL talk about how bad her cake tasted. So yeah .... it happens.

erin2345 Posted 26 Apr 2012 , 1:24am

I know you have read the same thing about 12 times over, but I am baffled that you would even have to ask us if you needed to refund the bride! She purchased a wedding cake from you, and you didn't give her one. This is a no brainer.

cfao Posted 26 Apr 2012 , 1:17pm

rosech, think of it this way. You go to a dealership to buy a new car - your dream car! You place the order after picking the color, the options, everything is just what you want. The car comes in & the dealer calls you to pick it up, you're so excited. Before you get there, they take it down the street to fill the gas tank for you and it gets totaled as they pull out of the parking lot. They go next door to the used car lot and buy you a clunker to replace your beautiful new car that has been ruined and that's what is waiting for you when you go to take delivery from the dealer - are you paying for it, happily letting the dealer keep the $ for what you ordered and driving away in the clunker they delivered to you?

rosech Posted 26 Apr 2012 , 2:05pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cfao

rosech, think of it this way. You go to a dealership to buy a new car - your dream car! You place the order after picking the color, the options, everything is just what you want. The car comes in & the dealer calls you to pick it up, you're so excited. Before you get there, they take it down the street to fill the gas tank for you and it gets totaled as they pull out of the parking lot. They go next door to the used car lot and buy you a clunker to replace your beautiful new car that has been ruined and that's what is waiting for you when you go to take delivery from the dealer - are you paying for it, happily letting the dealer keep the $ for what you ordered and driving away in the clunker they delivered to you?




I hear you. I just feel that a decorator should get something at least for what people get to eat. We charge for the decor part and servings right? Maybe get $ for undecorated cake of same size. Then again if all your competition refunds 100%, you might as well do the same.

jgifford Posted 26 Apr 2012 , 2:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by erin2345

I know you have read the same thing about 12 times over, but I am baffled that you would even have to ask us if you needed to refund the bride! She purchased a wedding cake from you, and you didn't give her one. This is a no brainer.




The OP knew she needed to refund the bride but was hoping we would tell her something different. Let's face it - none of us wants to give money back. Sometimes it's difficult to do the right thing even when we know exactly what that is.

costumeczar Posted 27 Apr 2012 , 6:53pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by scp1127

Full refund. The check should have been given to her at the site. No letters, just the refund. An anniversary cake would be in order too.


For those on tight budgets, it's a good idea not to spend the money for a cake until it is delivered and you have feedback from the bride.

.




these two things are exactly what I was going to say.

scp1127 Posted 30 Apr 2012 , 7:29am

That reasoning that they ate the cake doesn't work. I would hate to have that as my defense before a judge.

Of course they ate the cake in every one of these situations that we've seen so many times on CC. The host/bride has a crowd of people expecting dessert. Serve the guests first. Deal with the baker later.

Paperfishies Posted 21 May 2012 , 5:52pm

Cake disaster aside...It blows my mind how stupid brides can be. They are putting out all of this money for their wedding day, sign multiple contracts with churches/venues/florists, etc...But this bride didn't find it weird that she wasn't asked to sign a contract?
Brides around here are usually this clueless as well...last week I had a consult with a bride and groom who wanted 15 dozen cupcakes for their wedding...When I pulled out the contract to go over with them (basic contract, guaranteeing my work, my refund policy, deposit info, etc) the bride looked at me like i was insane, she said, "Oh I didn't know we would have to sign a contract for cupcakes and put a deposit down." I had to then explain to her again that their date will not be reserved until a 50% deposit is given.

AZCouture Posted 21 May 2012 , 6:03pm

I am constantly amazed at the informality of cake ordering these days. I find it utterly amazing that the businesses and the clients do business thru the message function on Facebook.

SoFloGuy Posted 2 Jun 2012 , 7:05am
Quote:
Originally Posted by rosech

I live in a land far far away from the west. I am always amazed with a lot of refund stories. I don't understand why one has to get 100% refund when people ate cake. A certain percentage yes, but 100%?!!



They ate cake because it is your responsibility to feed the party cake which is what you are paid for.

In some cases a full refund should not be given, but in this case it seems like the cake was either not supported correctly or shipped correctly. If things happen sometime you have to eat that loss and return the money.

As far as the OP saying there was no written contract it doesn't matter. In fact it is in favor of the bride in this case because you didn't provide an intact cake. Once both parties agree on the cake and pay for it that is a contract in itself that will hold up in court. If you don't have the money, tell her that you will pay her back as soon as you can. Maybe she will feel bad for you and only ask for half her money back. But you should feel so bad that you want to pay her the full amount. Why would she want free cakes from the person who couldn't deliver a Wedding cake intact?

SoFloGuy Posted 2 Jun 2012 , 7:11am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paperfishies

Cake disaster aside...It blows my mind how stupid brides can be. They are putting out all of this money for their wedding day, sign multiple contracts with churches/venues/florists, etc...But this bride didn't find it weird that she wasn't asked to sign a contract?
Brides around here are usually this clueless as well...last week I had a consult with a bride and groom who wanted 15 dozen cupcakes for their wedding...When I pulled out the contract to go over with them (basic contract, guaranteeing my work, my refund policy, deposit info, etc) the bride looked at me like i was insane, she said, "Oh I didn't know we would have to sign a contract for cupcakes and put a deposit down." I had to then explain to her again that their date will not be reserved until a 50% deposit is given.




For some reason they must think because you are not a bakery that there are different rules, imagine ordering at a bakery and just telling them to make a huge custom made order without a deposit.

scp1127 Posted 4 Jun 2012 , 9:47am

Costumeczar, you agree because you said it first a long time ago. Your wording just stuck in my head because it was perfectly to the point. Send check/credit card credit and then call or email telling them it is done. This is just one more way to help rectify a bad situation. It's hard to bad-mouth a person who is so prompt to fix an unsatisfactory situation.

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