Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 1:44am
post #1 of

I will try to make this a short story but it won't be-

First--I use Sylvia Weinstock's white cake recipe, always have. It's great; I love it. Brides love it. Use IMBC and home made fondant (mmf).

Issue: I made my usual white cake torted and filled with 4 layers of IMBC lemon filling and freshly made fondant on a 3-tiered wedding cake last weekend (one of 3 weddings). Baked Wednesday, decorated Thursday, picked up Friday and driven at least an hour away (had them sign a disclaimer for that) for a Saturday wedding (100 degrees wedding day).

Heat and travel weren't an issue, thank goodness.

Today the m.o.b. emails me lots of exclamation points and all caps, to say that it was horrible, dry, no one wanted to eat it, it had no flavor except pure shortening (hello?? I don't use shortening in IMBC or the cake), no flavor to the filling and guests were complaining and didn't want to eat it, it tasted old, frozen, and dry (I actually was baking late that week because I missed Monday and Tuesday at work), and that she (using lots of all-caps) wants this compensated because it's a customer complaint etc etc. and that she will 'take it to the next level' if she needs to. icon_eek.gif (wth? seriously??)

I called her immediately because I find people are willing to be much ruder via email than they ever would in person, and told her of course I'm sorry to hear this (subjective) complaint, and that this recipe is an award winning cake that I serve thousands of times per year. I actually taste all the trimmings and fillings of every cake, and not only was there NO shortening used, except a bit to knead the mmf, but the filling had so much lemon added (I thought) that any more would have tipped it over into 'bitter' lemon flavor. ?? Since she said there's a lot of it left, I told her to have the bride wrap it up WELL, freeze it, and bring me what was left and I will see what needs to be done. (she's like "well of couse you'll say it's good" because it is.... but anyway)

Fortunately for me, I have a dozen cupcakes left from her actual cake batter AND a bunch of the imbc from that cake in the freezer still to, and I had one, and it's delish.

UNforutunately for me, I don't have a contract other than an invoice and a credit card transaction by phone. (I KNOW. I used to always do a contract but got away from them). I told her I'm not discounting half a cake because of a subjective complaint about a cake that had nothing wrong with it (seriously) other than possibly guests who were expecting bakery glop sweet icing and got IMBC. She said they asked her if I "used lard" in my icing. wth?

The bride just called and is bringing the leftovers in Friday this week, and I told them I then will decide what we can do, but I'm not going to roll over and give them half their money back because of a hearsay (guests-say) issue over a cake and icing that get RAVE reviews every other day of the year, which I personally tasted from start to finish.

Ok : go. what say you??

tick tock-- I need to have a definite plan by Friday.

Thanks you guys! I need your help on this one.

113 replies
jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 1:59am
post #2 of

Is the invoice signed by the customer?

If you do end up giving a partial refund be sure to process the refund using the customer's same credit card, and have her sign a document indicating that she accepts the refund as full compensation and will not file a dispute with the credit card company (this would be the "next level" she alluded to).

kelleym Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 2:12am
post #3 of

Who paid for the cake?

BlueRose8302 Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 2:13am
post #4 of

I am sorry that this is happening to you!

Just curious--what did the Bride say? It sounds like it would have been heavenly to eat. I don't know how it could have been otherwise. Was there a tasting for this cake? Was the MOB there?

I might want to have a tasting of those leftovers with both Bride and her mother and see if any of these accusations come out face to face. Maybe also have a couple of those cupcakes and extra icing on hand in case "something happened" to the leftovers. It's hard not to finally break down and try to make the customer happy because she could hurt your reputation. Maybe instead of a refund, a credit toward a future cake? A free (small) anniversary cake?

matthewkyrankelly Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 2:37am
post #5 of

Did they do a tasting? Or did they choose IMBC because it sounded good. To the average person raised on box mix and canned frosting, it can taste like sweet butter.

I'm no cake snob - I like a ring-ding every now and again. But I know the difference between the buttercreams. They may not. And what probably happened is one oaf of a relative said,"This tastes like crap. You got ripped off." and it started a whole mob mentality thing.

From what you say, you've got cake from the same batch and it's great. Find out what their expectations were. Did they know what they were getting? ie a tasting. If yes, then it's buyer's remorse. Either nothing or a token discount. If they didn't try your IMBC with the cake then there could have been a misunderstanding. Then, a more significant discount.

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 2:43am
post #6 of

Thanks you guys! More details:

M.o.b. paid for it by card, by phone, so no signature. They signed a release when they picked it up for transport, FULL of instructions and disclaimers about traveling, storage, serving, etc etc. (but not a contract). I was worried about the 100 degree temp and an outside cake but certainly not a *dry* cake. I watch mine so closely that they barely get past *justdone* before they come out of the oven.

M.o.b. was there at pick up I believe (it was a group).

There was a tasting for the white cake; pretty sure the m.o.b. was there, but bride sure was. Same cake, same icing.

I had one of the cupcakes tonight (6 days after it was baked), which had been sitting in the fridge under just saran wrap, and it was STILL yummy. And with four layers of cake and three layers of filling, there's no way this cake was dry or hard to eat. (subjective complaint again).

The only variant I could show when the bride comes (should I though?) is to have a room temp cupcake with room temp icing on it, and a freezing cold refrigerated cupcake with freezing cold IMBC on it, and show them the difference. Cold = dry and hard. Warm = fluffy and yummy. duh

I'm not backing down on this one, because there was NOTHING wrong with this cake. (they did say it looked perfect -- which it did).

My wedding planner friend said this sounds like a classic case of buyer's remorse after the parents get home from the wedding.

...I need to get my contract out and add something to it about it being nonrefundable and NO subjective complaints will be entertained. >icon_sad.gif

PinkLotus Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:07am
post #7 of

Do guests at a wedding really complain to the mother of the bride about the cake??! I guess anything is possible.
I've been to weddings where the cake was pretty terrible and I never in a million years would have complained to anyone other than maybe my husband. It seems so rude!
Anyway, sorry this is happening to you. It does sound like it could possibly be buyer's remorse!

LKing12 Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:10am
post #8 of

Sorry that this happened. I am not sure that a contract would have saved you. I have never had a cake paid for by credit card. Always cash or check. I would call the CC company and see what they saw about their charge back policy on food/cakes.
Also, it might be surprising how much cake really comes back. If they ordered four tiers for one hundred people, that sounds like a lot of cake. Maybe they had more cake than guests.
I don't blame you for not wanting to back down.
Let us know how this works out.

BlueRose8302 Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:15am
post #9 of

I agree with Pink--who would really complain?? Seems a bit far that "everyone" at the wedding would be talking only about how "bad" the cake is. Totally buyer's remorse! Wish you knew someone there to back you up!

Let us know what happens!

FromScratchSF Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:27am

First - I don't always do a contract. I probably would for an event having that many servings, but still, as a merchant, no mater what the situation, it's your decision to give a discount or refund.

If they never tasted the cake beforehand and didn't like that it was IMBC and not criscocream, I'd understand their confusion. But they did, and if you delivered what they paid for, then for me... too bad. If the cake was 100% perfect (and it sounds like it was), I'd want the leftovers right NOW, not a week later - lord knows what they could do to it in a week! I have a 48 hour policy. If you don't like it I must have leftovers in my hands in 24-48 hours after the event to even consider a refund or discount. No way would I even make a determination 5 days or a week later.

Chargebacks are for claiming fraud - not "oh-I-didn't-like-what-I-bought-so-I-don't-want-to-pay-for-it". They have to claim the card was stolen or identity theft in order to claim a chargeback with their credit card company. You have a signature and written proof that they got your product - so if they are dumb enough to try and block the charge, you have lots of proof to show to your bank that they are liars. They will loose.

Good luck!

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:28am

Sorry, 3 tiers for 74 servings. She says they have most of the top and the whole middle (8") tier left because 'no one wanted it'.

If the filling 'separated' from the cake when they served it, then they served it probably freezing cold (note the 100 degree temp warning I gave them, took too seriously I guess about keeping it cold), but other than that, at room temp, that cake is delish, and I have proof.

I get no complaints and have like 5 pages of Applause on the website from brides who love our cake... in fact I'm up for my third win as Spokane's BEST CAKES, (little old me thumbs_up.gif ) so when I get a nasty email like this one was, it just throws me for a loop. But at least this time I feel confident enough to say "No. I don't think so. There was nothing wrong with this cake."

And yeah...WHO THE HECK (*all* the guests?) complains about the cake???

either not true, or just...classless


Will let you know what happens, but it helps so much to have other cake biz folk to bounce this stuff off!!! You guys rock. icon_smile.gif *sniff*

cownsj Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:34am

Sounds to me like they wanted the "big show" of a big cake, but certainly didn't need that much, so they figure if they pack it up afterwards, they'll get money back for cake they didn't need in the first place.

I've never known anyone to ever complain to a bride or any family member about a terrible cake, and I'm talking from the perspective of being a guest.

I wouldn't put the cupcakes out because I think it will incite them to more anger and more determination to fight you. There is no way they would ever believe it's from the same batch as her cake. I think that will come across as confrontational. If they pushed the conversation in the right direction you could always mention you have a few cupcakes left from that day, if they would like you to get one and you can try it together. But I'd be careful.

Good luck

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:35am

and of course I need wording for a business-like email to send back after Friday stating basically this:
"Thanks for bringing your concern to our attention, but, as the uneaten cake that has been returned to us is exactly what you ordered after tasting the very same cake and icing; therefore, unfortunately at this time we are unable to offer compensation for your subjective complaint about texture and flavor." best regards, sincerely, etc...

but HOW to say that?

jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:38am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

They have to claim the card was stolen or identity theft in order to claim a chargeback with their credit card company.



Not true. If a product did not perform as advertised, and the vendor is not willing to accept a return or work with the customer, a chargeback may be successful without having to prove theft.

Of course, if the chargeback is successful, that means they now have a balance due on their account and you can send a collection agency after them if they refuse to pay it. Whether or not the collection agency will be successful (or if you want to go this far in the first place) is an open question.

From Visa's chargeback management guildelines:
http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/chargeback-management-guidelines-for-visa-merchants.pdf

Reason Code 53: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise Definition
The card issuer received a notice from the cardholder stating that the goods or services were:
Received damaged, defective, not the same as shown and/or described
on-screen (for Internet transactions), as described on the transaction receipt or other documentation presented to the cardholder at the time of the transaction.
Not the same as the merchants verbal description (for a telephone
transaction).
Unsuitable for the purpose in which it was sold.
For this reason code, the cardholder must have made a valid attempt to resolve the dispute or return the merchandise. An example of a valid attempt to return may be to request that the merchant retrieve the goods at the merchants own expense.

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:45am

Thanks Jason, that's handy info icon_smile.gif

It performed perfectly and apparently traveled well and looked great, and they signed for it when they picked it up (though not the actual invoice, just the disclaimer about pickup and transport). Her email does say it was beautiful and they loved how it looked.

I'm leaning towards the 'extra cake'/ money back theory and I don't want a confrontation either, but this m.o.b. is definitely the type threaten, however, I'm not a pushover just because someone uses all-caps and lots of exclamation points. I think she was surprised I called her up within minutes to ask her to explain herself IN PERSON, rather than get in a firefight by email.

BUT, if she wants to take it to the next level, though, I and my giant law-firm-partner personal friend are more than willing to see her laughed out of court over subjective dryness of cake and nonexistent shortening.

I've been around too long in business to not stand up for myself when there's a non-issue being complained about. Three of us at the bakery nibbled on this cake last week, and it was just as yummy as any of them ever are. I don't offer a 'satisfaction guarantee' (she asked me this), but really... after a tasting? are you serious?

jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:50am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chef_Stef

BUT, if she wants to take it to the next level, though, I and my giant law-firm-partner personal friend are more than willing to see her laughed out of court over subjective dryness of cake and nonexistent shortening.



It's doubtful this will wind up in any court...you can take them to small claims if they charge back the cost of the cake, and chances are you will win, but you would still need to collect the judgment so I don't think that will really help.

There's really no reason for them to sue you, unless they are not aware of the CC chargeback process.

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 3:55am

Honestly, with nothing realistic to complain about, I'm just wondering why the heck the bride is going to drive 45 minutes with uneaten cake, and what exactly is the conversation supposed to be, at that point?

the cake is in my photos, most recent one with navy pearls (they added a topper on site I guess)

FromScratchSF Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 4:03am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

They have to claim the card was stolen or identity theft in order to claim a chargeback with their credit card company.


Not true. If a product did not perform as advertised, and the vendor is not willing to accept a return or work with the customer, a chargeback may be successful without having to prove theft.

Of course, if the chargeback is successful, that means they now have a balance due on their account and you can send a collection agency after them if they refuse to pay it. Whether or not the collection agency will be successful (or if you want to go this far in the first place) is an open question.

From Visa's chargeback management guildelines:
http://usa.visa.com/download/merchants/chargeback-management-guidelines-for-visa-merchants.pdf

Reason Code 53: Not as Described or Defective Merchandise Definition
The card issuer received a notice from the cardholder stating that the goods or services were:
Received damaged, defective, not the same as shown and/or described
on-screen (for Internet transactions), as described on the transaction receipt or other documentation presented to the cardholder at the time of the transaction.
Not the same as the merchants verbal description (for a telephone
transaction).
Unsuitable for the purpose in which it was sold.
For this reason code, the cardholder must have made a valid attempt to resolve the dispute or return the merchandise. An example of a valid attempt to return may be to request that the merchant retrieve the goods at the merchants own expense.




They didn't order an "authentic" Prada purse on eBay and ended up getting a Chinese knockoff. They had face-to-face interaction, tasted the product beforehand, and inspected and signed for the merchandise in person - and there is written proof to back all that up. Sorry, but none of this applies. If they want to claim a chargeback on a local food transaction like this, they have to claim fraud.

You can theoretically try and argue this, but I assure you, if you try and call your bank and have a charge blocked for a local restaurant you ate at but decided that you didn't like the food, they will tell you SOL. I dare you - order a pizza, have it delivered, then call your bank to have the charge blocked because your pepperoni was burnt. See how much money they give back to you. icon_biggrin.gif

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 4:08am

I know right?

Well, either way, it's a ridiculous complaint. The fact that they're saying it tasted like 'pure shortening' is the first tip that it's a farce, since I don't use shortening anywhere in my recipes.

tasted, ordered, delivered as promised. as always.

I'm still holding my own as the area's best cakes (well, 2nd place today), so I need to focus on all my lovelies who repeatedly order cake and rave about it. They are why I love my job.

Thanks for talking me through; I'm sure I'll be here all week (between the 3 weddings for this weekend, that is)!!

jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 4:12am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

They had face-to-face interaction, tasted the product beforehand, and inspected and signed for the merchandise in person - and there is written proof to back all that up. Sorry, but none of this applies. If they want to claim a chargeback on a local food transaction like this, they have to claim fraud.



All the customer has to do is claim that the cake was inedible and was different from what they had at the tasting. It's certainly not a slam dunk, but IMO such a chargeback has about even odds of succeeding, since credit card companies tend to favor the customer, especially when the merchant does not offer any compensation.

Quote:
Quote:

I dare you - order a pizza, have it delivered, then call your bank to have the charge blocked because your pepperoni was burnt. See how much money they give back to you.



If I claimed the pizza was inedible (something a little worse than burnt pepperoni), the credit card company would tell me to take it up with the restaurant. If the restaurant didn't offer any compensation the CC company would probably approve the chargeback.

FromScratchSF Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 5:01am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

If I claimed the pizza was inedible (something a little worse than burnt pepperoni), the credit card company would tell me to take it up with the restaurant. If the restaurant didn't offer any compensation the CC company would probably approve the chargeback.




Where do you get that info? Thin air? No they wouldn't. Again, I dare you to try it. Double dog dare you. TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU! Chargebacks are for FRAUD, a bank does not, will not and never will get in the middle of a customer complaint and be judge, jury and executioner over someone not liking food they said they liked, paid for, then changed their mind wanting a refund. If so, then nobody would ever have to pay for anything they ever bought ever because all they had to do was call Chase and whine that the service was slow/can was dented/checker was dumb/cheese was too oily and a billion other lame excuses that I could think up to get out of paying for every bill, food item or service I ever received. In fact, I can't even block the gym from debiting my account every month for a gym membership my husband signed up for but never uses. In fact, try THAT too - I QUADRUPLE DARE YOU TO go to 24 Hour Fitness, sign a yearly contract, then claim a chargeback with your bank after a month, saying the gym was "smelly" and you don't want to go there anymore. Report back in 12 months how successful you were in getting the bank to block the gym from taking money from your account and how successful you were in getting money back after the gym took it.

Our financial system just does not work this way. It just - doesn't.

Now, if you called your bank and said "OMG! My card was stolen! I have no idea what this charge is!!!" or "OMG! I think my identity was stolen! I have no idea what this charge is!!!" then the bank takes action - they freeze your account, cancel your card, in most cases require you to file a police report of the theft, and request proof from the merchant of the transaction. If a merchant hands over emails and signature proof of meeting the customer in person and of the customer getting the merchandise, then the customer would be facing serious charges filed by THE BANK for attempting to commit FRAUD.

I have personal experience working in the financial industry dealing with debt collection, chargebacks, small claims, large claims, the Federal reserve, local banks, etc. OP, you have NOTHING to worry about when it comes to the customer just deciding on giving themselves a refund.

jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 5:12am

No amount of "dares" will get me to commit fraud to prove you wrong, so you'll have to settle for third party accounts.

http://forums.foodservice.com/index.cfm?FSF_action=view_thread&FSF_UI_tab=forum&FSF_ID=14385
http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1082458/

There is also a difference between the examples in your post and "the cake was inedible so I drove 45 minutes to return what was left of it, and the bakery wouldn't give me any money back". I'm not saying it's fair or that the customer really has a valid complaint, just that from the credit card company's perspective it seems like a compelling case.

FromScratchSF Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 5:24am

Jason, the 1st thread is from 2006. The merchant had the money returned and the customer arrested. This actually proves my point, not yours. Did you even read the thread?

The 2nd was an [b]internet purchase[b] of an out of the country hotel room. I clearly stated that internet purchases - and let me be clear - BLIND internet purchases, as in, you were unable to physically inspect the merchandise or location, and especially if the seller is out of town, state, or country prior to purchasing, are handled differently and are much more open to chargebacks.

Your random threads are useless. I know you hate to loose arguments, so keep trying. I'm sure you'll manage to find a random instance of some merchant having a bank reverse a charge - but it's the [i]exception[i], not the rule.

jason_kraft Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 5:30am
Quote:
Originally Posted by FromScratchSF

Jason, the 1st thread is from 2006. The merchant had the money returned and the customer arrested. This actually proves my point, not yours. Did you even read the thread?



Yes. The merchant that had the money returned and the customer arrested was the second person to post in that thread, the OP of that thread did not post about a resolution to the chargeback.

Quote:
Quote:

BLIND internet purchases, as in, you were unable to physically inspect the merchandise or location, and especially if the seller is out of town, state, or country prior to purchasing, are handled differently and are much more open to chargebacks.



The customer in this thread paid over the phone, so it is a card-not-present transaction and subject to similar rules.

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 5:36am

Whatever that whole, other argument-- y'all need to start your own post if you want to firefight; don't use up my space with it.

I'm only concerned with HOW to professionally deal with this bride and her mother.

If she wants to contact her cc company that's cool and I'll deal with it as it comes. She very probably won't be getting what she's hoping for, back from me.

advice on THAT topic is still appreciated.

nanefy Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 9:31am

Unfortunately as you are probably very aware, that is the whole issue with the business forum - this is the main reason I would very likely never post anything here looking for help, because with the help, you regularly have to take the crap that goes with it.

Anyway, I take it you won't be making a decision regarding the issue until after the bride has left? I would ask the bride to taste the cake at the same time you do - it's brilliant if the middle tier hasn't even been cut, because then at least it will be less subject to drying. If the bride refuses to taste it, I would be questioning why - I would make sure and taste it in front of her and ask her to explain the precise reason for her dissatisfaction - I'm sure you'll do all this anyway.

The thing that JUMPED right out at me was the fact that the MOB asked if you offered a satisfaction guarantee! That is very odd - something I would never ask at a cake tasting unless I already had plans to scam you out of money. The fact that they left it a week before contacting you is also very suspect. I would say that if the cake IS dry at room temperature, I would make comment to the fact that they left it too long to contact you, by which point anything you could have done is no longer relevant.

I have been to many a wedding and had very average cake, I would NEVER complain about it to the MOB or anyone else for that matter, I simply wouldn't eat it.

This has 'scam' written all over it, IMHO.

vgcea Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 9:35am

OP I'm glad that you're sticking to your guns. They had a tasting and liked the cake. No word of shortening then, so why now?

I believe you're on the right track but I'd like to add that for your contract give clients a shorter time frame to bring the uneaten cake back. I give 24 hours from the time the cake changes hands.

So much can happen to a cake over the course of over a week especially after it's traveled 1 hour both ways, been on display at a wedding, cut up, and then kept in heaven knows what conditions before coming back to you.

Chef_Stef Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 11:59am

I don't have anything anywhere in my business, as a clause for customers to bring back uneaten cake, a week later or the day later. I absolutely do not send out cakes that have anything wrong with them, so it seems like a ridiculous thing to offer. I can't believe I even suggested that they do that, and I'm going to change the plan tomorrow on this one before it goes any further.

Their complaint being that the cake seemed dry and the filling separated from the cake (in one piece, as in COLD IMBC, which it could do if, and only IF, it's serve freezing cold out of the fridge).

My pickup instructions that they signed state very clearly to keep the cake cool or in the fridge before the event but to bring it to room temp before serving it. Had this been the case, there would be no impression of dry (cold) cake and separating (cold, hard) imbc filling. wth? imbc filling doesn't 'separate' from the cake.

Since they had it for 24 hours after they picked up, I have no way of controlling or knowing what the environment was like where they stored it before serving, AND it will now be 9 days old by the time they'd return it (I'm not going to taste it, who knows where it's been??!), I'm going to tell them not to bring it, offer the bridge a free anniversary cake for next year, explain that it was served cold, hence, our instructions weren't followed, and that 'compensation' is not offered based on subjective flavor/texture issues, especially in light of the cake having been served at who-knows-what cold temperature, obviously they left it too late getting it out of the fridge. That is an issue to discuss with whoever they delegated that task to, not me.

That cake was perfectly baked, filled, and assembled, and I nibbled on it fresh through all the trimming stages, so I know this to be true. Plus I had a cupcake from it, 6 days old, today, and it was perfect.

If they refuse the anniversary cake offer, I will simply tell them thanks and that I have made a note of their issue and subsequent refusal of the anniv cake. If she wants to take it up with Visa, that's up to her.

She's cost me a night's sleep as it is.

not that I'm pissed about THAT or anything

costumeczar Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 12:31pm

double post

costumeczar Posted 22 Aug 2012 , 12:36pm

All the language in the world in credit card agreements doesn't mean #@^% if they dispute it. They'll pull the money back, hold it until they determine what the situation is, then either give it to you or not. They don't have to give it to you even if the cake was delivered and was exactly what they ordered. Ask me how I know.

I had almost the EXACT same thing happen to me this summer, with a heinous pair of wenches. The cake was just what they ordered, I had made the same cake for other people that week and they loved it, they claimed that it was dry and that people were complaining about it at the reception. As I put pieces together by talking to the venue and other bakers they interviewed (who I knew personally) it became apparent that they had spent too much and were trying to get money back. They were complaining to me that nobody could eat the cake, but at the same time were complaining to the venue that they cut the pieces too big and not everyone got the cake, so they wanted $$ back from the venue too.

So which was it...inedible cake, or cake that not everyone got? They were just trying to get refunds from everyone.

Anyway, they immediately "took it to the next level" by posting insulting things on my facebook page and having their friends do the same thing. Then they filed a BBB complaint under a fake name (which actually worked to my advantage because the BBB could see they were a little off). I had to ban them from my facebook page and post about the banning (without mentioning who they were) because I didn't know who had seen what on the page before I deleted their comments. As soon as I did that the bride called me (it had been her mother calling to scream at me up until then) and she agreed to a refund as long as she would pull her complaint, not post anything else online anywhere, and put her mother on a leash. As soon as the refund was accepted, they contested the entire credit card charge.

I had to go through a bunch of paperwork to show that I'd refunded them (the original payment were using Square over the phone with a CC) and Square won't let you do a partial refund. I had to refund using a check, but since I had the printout of the check that wasn't an issue to show that they'd received it. Since Square is the processing party and the card used was an Amex, they couldn't give me any information about why they said it had been pulled back, Amex received that complaint and Square just processed it. In my case I showed that they'd received a refund so they did give me the money back eventually, but it was a pain in the rear.

If you used a service that won't let you do a partial refund, do NOT refund anything unless the person is there in person to charge the new charge, and charge it BEFORE you process the refund. Over-the-phone transactions are the ones that they look at hardest since they're obviously the most fraud-related. And if you process the refund first there's no reason why she would hand you the card to re-charge her for the balance.

I have a friend who just went through this with paypal, and they said that unless there's a shipping label proving that the item was delivered they can't take the vendor's side on disputes. The guy she talked to said that cash only is the best way to go for a business like this where the product is eaten, because they can't take anyone's word that the cake was or wasn't edible. That isn't realistic based on how most people today use some form of credit, so things like this are going to happen every now and then. I actually wrote a blog article about this exact thing tha's going up next week, I think...

I've noticed a huge increase int he number of complaints regarding people who want refunds in the past year. In the 14 years I've been doing cakes I can think of 4 refunds I've given, and two of them were this year. In both situations there was nothing wrong with the cakes, but the client was obviously trying to recoup some of their costs. I've spoken to a lot of diferent wedding pros who are seeing the same thing, too, it isn't just me. I think that people are watching the tv shows with million-dollar weddings, then when they go to get the same thing thye're hit with the bills afterward and realize that they can't afford that, so they start complaining.

The ability of people to go online and slam you without any proof is giving certian less-than-honest individuals the ability to strong-arm their way to refunds that they don't deserve just to shut them up, but with certain people that's the fastest way to get rid of them. To make myself feel better about it, I did figure out that after all of my expenses I still made about $50 an hour on the cake for those two wenches even after the refund icon_twisted.gif

I'd also tell you that with this woman you should take everything to email so that you have it in writing. Find the person who's more reasonable and deal only with them. In my case the bride was the more reasonable one, her mother literally screamed at me, and I refused to talk to her after the first phone call. Get their correspondence in writing in case they do dispute it.

I'd also call and talk to the venue to find out what really happened. I always call and talk to the person who actually cut the cake if there's a question about anything.

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