KalisCakes Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 7:31pm

Saturday we had a wedding... 6 tier topsy turvy with cascading chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate covered strawberries in between the spaces on the tiers (does that make sense?) Delivery and set up was supposed to be between 3 and 5 so that I could stack the cakes and dip and add the strawberries. Got a call last Thursday saying I would not be able to set up the cake until 6:30 when the hall turned the air conditioners on (reception started at 6:30.) Long story short, we do the cake in sections in the shop.... bottom three tiers topsy turvy with strawberries already on, next two tiers with strawberries, and then top tier with strawberries, so that it just has to be stacked at the hall and we're out the door. I don't like this because it's not as sturdy as I would normally make it, but as Ican see it that's the only option there is. Which is exactly what we did. Stacked it, took some pics, smiled at the bride and groom who said it was beautiful and exactly what they wanted, and left.
Twenty minutes later I get a call from the groom saying the cake fell. So we turn around and haul butt back to the reception to see what happened. Their event planner (who I really think was just a friend of the bride seeing as how in the past 8 months I've never once dealt with her) says that there was no one near or around the cake table at all and it just fell over on its own. She volunteered this info before I even asked. Thing is, there was no cake on the floor, no "busted" cakes, just smushed cakes, a hand print on one, and some chocolate covered strawberries missing from near the second to the bottom tier..... She starts demanding money right then and there, to which I calm her down and get her to let me take the tiers back to the shop and see what I can do, and worst case scenario we bring in a dummy cake and keep this one in the back to serve.
Well, I was able to fix the cakes. Had to use a dummy tier for one that was too badly smushed (we were able to save 3/4 of that tier and still serve it) but all the rest I was able to re-ice, cover, and decorate (all in the span of an hour... talk about icing FLYING!!! My shop looked like a tornado ran through it!) It was no longer a topsy turvy, but it was saved. Took it back to the reception hall, and the bride and groom were happy. Even had left over cake.
So... now the question I truly hate dealing with. When I call them tomorrow (I'm closed Mondays), what do I say, and what else do I offer them? Our refund policy is explicit and clear, and says all refunds are issued as store credit. Our contract also CLEARLY states both that a minimum of two hours for set up and delivery is required, AND that once the cake is set up and we have left we cannot be help liable for any damage. Do I offer them a certain percentage of the cake cost as a store credit? What exactly do I say to these people when I call them tomorrow?

57 replies
Diana81 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 7:51pm

Did they know about the two hours needed to assemble them and that you are not responsible for any liabilities?

jason_kraft Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 9:15pm

I would start off with just an apology, let them make the first offer as to what compensation they would like and go from there. If they don't bring up compensation I would consider the matter closed.

KalisCakes Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 9:18pm

Absolutely they were aware of the two hour set up and the no fault damage clause...
@Jason... That's how I planned to start the conversation. I just got an email from the sister of the groom ranting about what reimbursements and compensations they will be receiving. Seeing as how the contract isn't with her, I'm not going to reply to her. I'll be calling the bride and groom in the morning, but I guess I'm just thinking I should prepare for the worst, and hope for the best? lol. What do you think would be fair? 30% of cake cost as a credit?

Diana81 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 9:25pm

If they knew about it, maybe you should explain to them that following that two hour rule might have avoided this ( in diplomatic manner) and that the most you could offer for damages is... ( fill in the blanks with a reasonable plan for you).

Diana81 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 9:27pm

You fixed the cake for them so they shouldn t be the ones to fix a price. They can abuse it.

jason_kraft Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 9:28pm

The max offer I would go with would be the difference between the price of what they ended up with and what they ordered as a cash refund, plus another 20% or so in store credit for the inconvenience.

milliemoo Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 10:15pm

Oh Dear, firstly I would not offer an apology as this suggests you did something wrong. I would politely but firmly reiterate your terms and conditions about once the cake is left in a good condition you are not responsible for it after you leave. As to the damage, the missing strawberries and hand-print would have to be explained as this becomes a "my word against yours" argument, you can't prove someone did touch it and equally they can't prove to you (despite the evidence) that someone didn't.

As you returned and resolved the cake to their satisfaction on the day (at your expense), I would consider the matter closed. Until they prove you where at fault then offer no compensation as to do so suggests you where at fault, clearly you aren't.

The mere fact that they jumped down your throat upon your return and stated "no-one touched the cake" is a sure sign of guilt.

Be professional, be polite and stick to your guns, we ran a cake shop and had this happen a few times and without failure it was always someone touching the cake when damage occurred after we left a venue. Don't make accusations, just say no according to my terms and conditions it states................ if they get personal walk away!

Hope that helps

Diana81 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 11:00pm

I agree milliemoo.

LKing12 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 11:24pm

I just don't get calling them. They didn't give you the two hour access that you needed. ( Who turns the air conditioning on in a venue as the party starts?) It was perfect when you left. You took/spent the extra time, resources and made it good again and the bride and groom were satisfied. I think calling them opens the doors for compensation and you don't owe them anything. If anything, they owe you!

Diana81 Posted 24 Sep 2012 , 11:47pm

Yes please don t call them. They probably made the cake fall and lied about it. You spent extra money and labor to fix their mess because you couldn t prove that anyone touched it. That s way more than enough.

LKing12 Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 12:00am

I have figured out what happened! Someone went for a strawberry and someone else started to swat that strawberry clutching hand and over shot and hit the cake!

jenlg Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 12:16am

I wouldn't call them, wait and see if they call you. Ignore the family emailing you, they have no say in it. It's the bride and grooms matter not theirs. Do you have pictures of the hand print? Was the information of the hand slap in an email that you saved?

I wouldn't offer anything to them at this point. They knew the time frame you needed to set up and they did not give you that. They signed the contract that states that as well. You even went back and fixed the cake...from what you said they were still happy. Why willingly call them and offer a refund?? Wait and see if you actually hear from them. Then bring up the contract and state that they violated by not allowing the time needed.

jason_kraft Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 12:32am

I agree that the OP does not owe this couple anything based on the contract they signed. However, the way you handle adverse events (even if they are not your fault) can set you apart from your competition and turn a negative experience into a positive, which can lead to more orders down the road.

That's why I recommended a proactive apology...it goes above and beyond what is expected, especially once the normal contract liability limitations are reiterated to the customer.

Diana81 Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 12:35am

LKing 12, that s a great point. As for the family member that is demanding things, I don t get what their deal is.

KalisCakes Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 2:13am

Thanks for the advice everyone. The reason I'll be calling them on Tuesday is because they asked me to so we could discuss what happened. Given the sister of the groom's email and one I just received about 10 minutes ago from the bride, I'm not totally looking forward to it. (Her email was titled "Saturday's disaster"). I know legally I'm not required to do anything, and while I'm about 99% positive someone was messing with the cake, I can't prove it, and I still feel absolutely HORRIBLE that they had to deal with that on their wedding day! So, tomorrow I'll call up the groom and we'll see how this goes. icon_smile.gif

Diana81 Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 2:54am

Ok. Don t let them get to you. You fixed the cake. As for what happened, it wasn t your fault. Next time they will pay more attention to the rules. You ll be ok without them if they choose not to use your services anymore. Don t act guilty cause your not. Ok, goodnight!

debidehm Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 4:59am

Is there the possibility someone not associated with the bridal group (caterer, D.J., photographer) was present when this happened? I would call the venue and find out (unless you did see some of them present while you were setting up)...then contact them to see what they may have witnessed. I would do this BEFORE you talk to the bride or groom. You may indeed find out there was someone messing with the cake, you may find out there wasn't. I would want to have as much information possible before talking to anyone from the bridal party.

KalisCakes Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 5:09am

That's a great idea Deb! I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks!! icon_smile.gif

debidehm Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 7:07am

You're very welcome! Best of luck!

LKing12 Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 11:27am
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft

I agree that the OP does not owe this couple anything based on the contract they signed. However, the way you handle adverse events (even if they are not your fault) can set you apart from your competition and turn a negative experience into a positive, which can lead to more orders down the road.

That's why I recommended a proactive apology...it goes above and beyond what is expected, especially once the normal contract liability limitations are reiterated to the customer.




I think that she went above and beyond the call of duty. Extra time, resources. Yep, she's a winner in my book!
If they called, I would say, "I am glad that you called because I was wondering where to send the bill for the extra work". Then see how they respond.

fcakes Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 12:18pm

I'm sorry you had to go through this but do keep us updated on how this gets resolved. Good luck! icon_smile.gif

cownsj Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 4:19pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by debidehm

Is there the possibility someone not associated with the bridal group (caterer, D.J., photographer) was present when this happened? I would call the venue and find out (unless you did see some of them present while you were setting up)...then contact them to see what they may have witnessed. I would do this BEFORE you talk to the bride or groom. You may indeed find out there was someone messing with the cake, you may find out there wasn't. I would want to have as much information possible before talking to anyone from the bridal party.




Great insight and great idea.

BakingIrene Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 4:34pm

Getting emails from the family is harassment. You have the right to tell the bride that this will stop before you discuss anything further.

You delivered what you agreed to. I sure hope you have a pic of that handprint...

See, there are people who ask for "impossible" cakes and then do their best to get them for free. A six-tier topsy-turvy isn't a design that will stand up to a large bunch of people with alcohol and dancing thrown into the mix.

You should NOT meet or discuss this over the phone. Do it all by email AND CC YOURSELF ON EVERY MESSAGE.

inspiredbymom Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 4:54pm

One thing about just doing it by email is that you have the hard copy to back you up. However, I have found that sometimes things are misinterpreted when just in an email. It is less likely that someone will get snippy if they are talking to you and they will not "read in" a tone if you speak with them. Then I would back it up, "As per our phone call...." in an email. I do hope that you have pictures or someone from the venue to back up the handprint. Did the planner see it when you looked at the cake? I don't think that you should be responsible for someone else's mistake, but sometimes we have to make concessions just to smooth things over. It's not fair, but it is good PR. I am so sorry that this happened to you. Take a deep breath and relax before you talk to them. Best of luck to you! icon_smile.gif

KalisCakes Posted 25 Sep 2012 , 5:28pm

So here's where we are at so far:
This morning I called the groom and left a voicemail. Ignored a call from his sister (the one who at the wedding was acting as their wedding planner). And finally I just emailed the bride and groom, with an opener as follows:
" Thank you for your patience in our response; Monday is not a normal working day for us. Our office operates on Tuesday-Thursday, from 11AM-7PM. Please accept our sincerest apologies for the inconvienece you both incurred with the wedding cake. Cake and icing are very delicate materials, and unfortunately accidents after set-up and delivery, while not common, do occur.
Situations like this are covered under our refund policy as well as in your contract under the section "Delivery".

I then went on to quote the refund policy and the Delivery policy, and explained that in accordance with these policies there is no refund due. However, because they are valued clients and we understand how emotional and stressful the situation was for them, we would make an exception and offer a 15% refund of the cake as well as a $350 non-transferable in-store voucher, and waive all repair and re-delivery costs.

So, now we shall wait and see what happens next. icon_smile.gif

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