TotallyBaked Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 5:53pm
post #1 of

Hi, all!

 

I've had my first boo-boo after 4 years of my home-based business...  This topsy turvy cake was iced in ganache and then covered in buttercreme.  The hostess wanted me to set up the day before, but I assured her that it was much too humid for it to sit overnight at the venue (we're in East Texas), She had me come the day of the event 6 hours before it started, and as soon as I got to the venue, I could tell the humidity was working against me.  It was 78 degrees, and I turned the dial down to 64, but it kept turning itself off.  They couldn't make me any room in the fridge, and I could see the bottom layer's fondant starting to wrinkle and buckle up.  I'm providing a copy of the work order (which was already discounted), a photo of the cake after I assembled it and left, and the cake 6 hours and 10 minutes after setting up after it had toppled.  

 

So, my question; what am I responsible for?  Should I refund her the full $180?  Just part and keep part for the supplies?  I had the thing doweled, very well, used the most stable icing I could think of, how could this have been prevented?  

 

Any and all advise is GREATLY appreciated!

 

 

 

 

34 replies
scwright Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 6:38pm
post #2 of

You have evidence that the cake was standing and in good condition when you left so I don't believe you are responsible for anything that happened afterwards and I certainly don't believe you should offer a full refund. However going forward you should have a disclaimer on your invoices that states "Customer is responsible for all damage to the cake once picked up or delivered. Any corrections will be at an additional charge, which may include mileage & time to location" and have them initial the invoice once you deliver and set it up. Also, in the future you should probably warn and persuade your customers to have you deliver and set it up at a reasonable time especially when dealing with weather related issues. Make sure you emphasize the risks involved in setting up earlier than necessary along with weather related issues and that's also a good time for you to mention your disclaimer this way they know what to expect.

cindyw41 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 6:47pm
post #3 of

I would say you're not responsible for anything since it was in one piece when you left and you have a picture to prove it.  However it doesn't appear that the support was enough for the weight of the cake or at least a center support Dowel may have prevented a top cake from sliding off.  

LizzieAylett Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 6:47pm
post #4 of

I think you should remove your customer's personal details from this public forum asap!
 

AHTCakes Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:06pm
post #5 of

I'm going to play devils advocate here for a minute and just tell you what the customer MAY say. You, yourself said that there were issues with heat on your way over to the venue, and then took a picture of the wrinkling fondant after you set it up. This shows there was already existing damage done to the cake prior to the customer accepting it. Someone could argue that the existing damage could have caused the cake to tumble later in the day and if there had been no damage done, maybe it would have still been standing by the time they cut it. 

 

IDK

 

Also, is your cake actually topsy turvy or does it just create the illusion of it? When I do topsy turvy I only creat an illusion, not actually build it at a slant. This is hard to tell from the picture. 

 

Honestly I have no idea what if any part of the amount should be refunded. What does your contract say? What circumstances are around the "discount"? Did you have this cake refrigerated prior to delivery? You said they had no room for you in the fridge at the venue...do you refrigerate your fondant cakes???

TotallyBaked Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:23pm
post #6 of

ANo, there wasn't any melting or heat issues at all on the way, sorry if I worded the time line wrong... nothing was melty at all till I started unpacking the cakes and assembling.

It's an illusion, not true topsy turvy.

And no, I don't typically refrigerate my cakes at all, it was just so hot and humid in the venue.

AZCouture Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:27pm
post #7 of

AAre those dowels in the second tier cut on an angle? And they're all different lengths?

AZCouture Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:29pm
post #8 of

ALooks to me like it fell right off, gravity took over. And that doesn't look like that top part of your topsy turvy is flat from here. Was this your first one? Sorry for so many questions, just trying to get an idea of what happened.

AZCouture Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:31pm
post #9 of

AAlmost a hundred dollar discount? Wow.

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:32pm

ASo you covered the cake in ganache, then buttercream, then fondant? If they want both flavors it might be easier to use one as a filling and one to cover the cake with and then your fondant. I like using ganache for coverage underneath my fondant, I think it works well.

$180 is a heck of a discount for a carved cake that large! It's difficult to tell from the pictures but the bottom tier looks like its already buckling when fully assembled perhaps it's just my computer. I think a central dowel would have helped a lot for future use, and your middle tier doesn't seem to be carved down enough to safely set the tier inside and if the bottom is the same this could have added to your problems, I know it's sort of crushed down but also the border around the top tier doesn't seem like there's enough cake to sit in the hole making it top heavy. It is hard to work against heat and humidity!

As SC stated, I would be sure to have some sort of disclosure, and be firm. If you know it's too hot to be set up that early, explain what will happen and why, and y wouldn't want Anyang ruining their special day! Did you have a contract or anything in writing aside from what's posted?

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:34pm

Looking at the first picture, I was shocked that the top tier just fell off, because with the fondant wrinkled and bottom tier looking the way it does, I would have to say it is NOT stable at all, and you would've had problems in a cold room. The supports don't look cut level, so I would say you got off lucky that the middle tier didn't split and the bottom didn't crumble as well. I would say full refund.

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:34pm

I'm sorry to say, but if the cake was unmoved and fell apart after 10 minutes, you are fully responsible in my opinion. Especially when there was already buckling in the fondant before you left.

If your contract states otherwise, then it's really up to you, but I would fully refund in this case.

Were the cakes level and carved to look topsy turvy, or were the bottoms actually slanted? In the picture it looks very slanted. If that's the case, the humidity didn't topple it, the design did.

 

It also looks liek you have the customers info posted there, since this is a public forum I'd suggest taking that down. (or asking mods to if it's too late to edit)

AZCouture Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:39pm

A

Original message sent by scrumdiddlycakes

I'm sorry to say, but if the cake was unmoved and fell apart after 10 minutes, you are fully responsible in my opinion. Especially when there was already buckling in the fondant before you left. If your contract states otherwise, then it's really up to you, but I would fully refund in this case. Were the cakes level and carved to look topsy turvy, or were the bottoms actually slanted? In the picture it looks very slanted. If that's the case, the humidity didn't topple it, the design did.

It also looks liek you have the customers info posted there, since this is a public forum I'd suggest taking that down. (or asking mods to if it's too late to edit)

Yeah, from what I see, it looks like poor construction, I'm sorry. I know the heat doesn't help much either, but it looks like it was going down no matter what.

Norasmom Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:41pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by scrumdiddlycakes 

I'm sorry to say, but if the cake was unmoved and fell apart after 10 minutes, you are fully responsible in my opinion. Especially when there was already buckling in the fondant before you left.

If your contract states otherwise, then it's really up to you, but I would fully refund in this case.

Were the cakes level and carved to look topsy turvy, or were the bottoms actually slanted? In the picture it looks very slanted. If that's the case, the humidity didn't topple it, the design did.

 

It also looks liek you have the customers info posted there, since this is a public forum I'd suggest taking that down. (or asking mods to if it's too late to edit)

Agreed.    Sorry this happened to you, but a cake should not just fall apart like that.  It happens to the best of bakers, but no one touched it and it fell over.  It's actually a heat related act of nature, but in the customer's favor.  I would have different thoughts if you had said someone moved it.  I am learning so much about heat and cakes just reading this forum.  I will not make cakes in this heat unless I know it's going from one cool place to another.  It's tough, but I would say you should give a refund.

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:42pm

judging by the ribbon placement on the fallen tier, I would say it was not set down far enough, based on the angle in the second tier. It looks like it is going to fall over, and not in a good way.

 

The dowels look like they are all different lengths, and the cake was precarious to begin with, and I am shocked it didn't happen in the car on the way over.

 

Watch a tutorial on topsy turvy stacking, and you will give her a 100% discount, once you see where you went wrong.

morganchampagne Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 7:59pm

AIn super super sorry this happened. I know how it feels when Cake disasters happen. But this is why it's really not an idea to give such steep discounts. Assuming she's not a close close family member or best friend. But had you charged correctly you wouldn't be losing out so much. It seems that you've undercharged already now you have to give that back too. Again I'm sorry it happened. But on the bright side this will stick in your mind forever and I bet you'll NEVER have this happen again :)

cindyw41 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 8:00pm

AOk, I read that it sat for 6hrs and 10 mins..if it toppled after 10 mins with the clear construction problems I would Give a refund of anything over the material cost.

Smckinney07 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 8:35pm

AI'm so sorry, we are not all nagging at you or being mean-we just want to make sure this doesn't happen again to you! I'm sure everyone has had some sort of disaster, I know I have had issues before!

I wanted to ask if you had boards underneath each tier? Those along with your choice of dowels all cut evenly, and cutting deeper into your tiers will make all the difference. You can still get that topsy Turvy look and not have to worry about the bottom tiers being able to support the weight of the top tiers.

gatorcake Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 8:41pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHTCakes 

 What circumstances are around the "discount"? Did you have this cake refrigerated prior to delivery? 

 

 

The original discount is irrelevant.  The client still deserves the same quality--unless the discount is because the product is defective in some way.  This is difference between buying something on sale and buying something who price is reduced because it is defective -- such as seconds or a small stain.  In this case the client was given a reduced price on the product, they were not given a discount because the product was defective.  As such what matters is that the cake is not what they paid for.

 

 The OP clearly states that there was evidence of buckling that would not be attributable to heat/humidity.  The top lay looks like is it not on a flat surface. Illusion topsy turvies still have a vertical lines such that each teir, even though angled, still sits within the diameter of the tier below it.  The top tier looks like it leans out and breaks the vertical plane established by the bottom tier.

 

 If it was just "sitting" in the bottom tier it would not look this way--even with sloped sides.  Now this could be due to buckling and if so the cake was not structurally sound.  Thus the client deserves a full refund of the discounted price--just as you would be given if you bought a returnable item purchased on sale that was found to be defective.

cfao Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 9:10pm

Full refund, you're very lucky the bottom tier didn't collapse also, in that 1st picture it looks like it's ready to give way. I read the contract, It says square topsy-turvy cake with a large bow on top and flowing down the sides. You gave her a round cake with a single flower sitting on top, along with a base tier buckling. I'm sorry this happened, especially on a cake you already discounted, but the customer did not get the cake she ordered.

keepingitreal21 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 9:49pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

Looking at the first picture, I was shocked that the top tier just fell off, because with the fondant wrinkled and bottom tier looking the way it does, I would have to say it is NOT stable at all, and you would've had problems in a cold room. The supports don't look cut level, so I would say you got off lucky that the middle tier didn't split and the bottom didn't crumble as well. I would say full refund.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annabakescakes 

judging by the ribbon placement on the fallen tier, I would say it was not set down far enough, based on the angle in the second tier. It looks like it is going to fall over, and not in a good way.

 

The dowels look like they are all different lengths, and the cake was precarious to begin with, and I am shocked it didn't happen in the car on the way over.

 

Watch a tutorial on topsy turvy stacking, and you will give her a 100% discount, once you see where you went wrong.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cfao 

Full refund, you're very lucky the bottom tier didn't collapse also, in that 1st picture it looks like it's ready to give way. I read the contract, It says square topsy-turvy cake with a large bow on top and flowing down the sides. You gave her a round cake with a single flower sitting on top, along with a base tier buckling. I'm sorry this happened, especially on a cake you already discounted, but the customer did not get the cake she ordered.

Ditto

 

Mistakes happen, we've all had them. The choice is yours if you decide to learn from it. This cake appeared to be doomed from the start due to the construction. Hot or frozen, this would have fallen. I really hope you take all the constructive criticism and make the next topsy turvy even better. Not sure why your cake was so discounted but you should maybe take a look at your pricing as well. GL

Annabakescakes Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 10:08pm

Wow, I didn't look at the contract before, but rounds in those sizes would serve 74 before carving, and squares would serve 100, so she paid for 26 more servings of cake that she didn't get.

 

I just want to say that I understand wanting an "affordable" product, but professionals charge $5 and up for TT cakes because they are HARD, and take a lot of work and care.

SystemMod1 Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 10:22pm

Please do not post personal information of your customers.  It's extremely unprofessional.

morganchampagne Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 11:40pm

A

Original message sent by Annabakescakes

Wow, I didn't look at the contract before, but rounds in those sizes would serve 74 before carving, and squares would serve 100, so she paid for 26 more servings of cake that she didn't get.

I just want to say that I understand wanting an "affordable" product, but professionals charge $5 and up for TT cakes because they are HARD, and take a lot of work and care.

Precisely.

ellavanilla Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 11:47pm

I know this is a disaster all around, and i'm not piling on, but if you were supposed to deliver a square and dropped off a round instead, you're already in breach of contract (breech?), so refund the money and lesson learned. 

 

jen

TotallyBaked Posted 17 Jul 2013 , 11:48pm

No, the dowels aren't all different lengths, each was measured with a ruler and cut to size...

 

It was covered in ganache, then fondant.  No buttercreme between, just as filling

 

The cake didn't fall after just being assembled for 10 minutes... It fell apart after 6 hours and 10 minutes.  They had me deliver it at 8, and the party started at 2.

 

The ribbon was added after the entire cake was stacked... not evenly around the base of each tier.  I did this to make the topsy turvy-ness of the cake look more exaggerated.

 

Yes, I had boards under each tier to help with the support of the dowels.  I wasn't aware I could drive one long dowel through each layer.  Doesn't seem like it'd go through the cardboard under each tier.  I'll definitely keep that in mind for next time!

 

Yes, the original workup was to be square with a bow, and last minute she asked me to change it to round with a flower... I should have mentioned that, though.

 

 

The cake was actually over the amount of servings she paid for when it was all said and done, I used three cakes per layer.  :)

 

It was a shower for a DEAR friend, that's the reason for the discount...

 

And yes, lesson LEARNED!!!!

Carrie789 Posted 18 Jul 2013 , 1:28am

Cake boards resting on dowels are to keep the upper layer from crushing the lower layer. They don't maintain the structure the whole cake. All tiered cakes, topsy turvy or not, need a central support. If you can measure precisely, you can pre-drill holes in your cakeboards. If not, sharpen one end of a dowel with a pencil sharpener and pound it through all layers with a hammer. There a number of free tutorials online showing how to do it.

tracycakes Posted 20 Jul 2013 , 2:31am

I would never trust skinny wooden dowels for a topsy turvy or any cake for that matter.  I can see where others thought it looked like the dowels were cut uneven but it looks even more like one of them fell over in the cake and down the top tier went. It could have even been one in the bottom tier since it was buckling and that caused the middle tier to slip.  A better bet for support is PVC pipe or even better is SPS.  I never have to worry about a dowel slipping.

howsweet Posted 20 Jul 2013 , 6:47pm

There's nothing wrong with using wooden dowels.  I've seen a number of posts lately talking about how they can buckle and I can't figure out how on earth that could happen.  I'm not sure where that all got started. I have noticed that the Wilton brand dowels are getting thinner and thinner - might want to avoid those. The ones from CK are the same old size and they work fine.
 

maymay0829 Posted 20 Jul 2013 , 7:57pm

AThis is why I deliver cakes close to reception time.... So sorry this happened.

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