Where did I go wrong?

Decorating By Jenndelisle Updated 20 Aug 2013 , 1:23am by mskerrih

MBalaska Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 2:27am
post #31 of 56

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evoir 

Jenndelisle. It is an unfortunate experience for sure, and I am sorry to see your lovely cake didn't survive until the reception. I think the take-home from this is:

  • Use more dowels or a different support system.
  • Review your contract
  • Rethink your delivery system
  • Think carefully about the compensation issue. Just my opinion.

 

Evoir, you sound like one very smart cookie and a successful business professional.  Your opinion is top notch.

CindiM Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 2:51am
post #32 of 56

Your cake was lovely!!! 

 

I did notice the top 3 tiers are not in the middle of the bottom tier, but are set up towards the back of the bottom tier?  Is that correct?  Maybe, so you could have more room for the flowers?  If so, any small shift in the bottom dowels, which did not have enough cake around them, to help the dowels hold that much weight, could have caused the problem.  And fighting to get the drum from the box, could have started the leaning tower look!  Even though it took hours to appear as cracks in the bottom.

 

Years ago, this happened to me on my last cake with wooden dowels. I twisted the top 3 tiers, on top of the bottom cake trying to get it straighter!  I should have left it alone.  The dowels in the bottom tier, all leaned a little, I guess.  Lucky for me, the staff at the venue, took it apart, when it started to lean, hours later.  I still refunded part of the money as it was not up to my standards.   

I only use the bubble tea straws now and never have a problem.  Also,I always put a couple of extra bubble tea straws in the center of the bottom tier! 

BatterUpCake Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 2:57am
post #33 of 56

Yeah you really took a hit on that one. But what a professional way to handle it! You may have gone a bit overboard....but I'm sure they didn't go around town bad-mouthing you or blasting you on Social media. So did they use the voucher for the second cake and have they been return customers?

 

OP...since this was your first cake you probably are not in the position to offer as much as Evoir did. But I think I would at least reimburse everything over material cost. But this being your first cake this can ruin your reputation to the point of no return. You can only do what you feel comfortable doing, but now you have a lot of different ways to look at it. Probably not what you want to hear but I hope everyone's advice helps you make your decision.

 

Please let us know how it turns out.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 3:03am
post #34 of 56

A

Original message sent by BatterUpCake

So AZ what would you do if you were her in terms of a refund?

It wouldn't have happened. I don't know how to answer because I wouldn't set myself up for the potential for it to happen. Please don't read that as I think I'm impervious to accidents, because no one is.And listing out why isn't going to be helpful, there have already been plenty of good suggestions for what to do next time.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 3:06am
post #35 of 56

AKudos to you OP for taking care of business, I would have gone above and beyond as well, to protect and preserve my reputation. I'm of the opinion that you can't possibly offer too much when trying to save face. There Batterup, that should kind of answer it for ya.

BatterUpCake Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 3:06am
post #36 of 56

As I wrote that I was thinking "That wouldn't happen to her"....but thought you may have an opinion. I know you do! But you may not choose to share.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 3:13am
post #37 of 56

AOne of my first wedding cakes I baked the wrong flavor for one tier. Happened to be the flavor they most looked forward to. I freaked when I found out. I went completely overboard and offered a FULL refund, but they said no no, it was beautiful, and everyone enjoyed it, they were just disappointed not to be able to eat what they wanted. I asked them to stop by at their convenience the following weekend, and sent them off with a little two tier of the flavor they missed out on.

For me, whatever it takes to satisfy my feelings that I righted a wrong.But in the op's case, I can't really relate. I'm proud that she didn't pull a "oh helll no, not my fault!!" attitudes, because that's never a good idea.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 3:15am
post #38 of 56

AIt's just a sucky situation, and not being able to prove what really happened, aside from a likely support issue, I'd rather save face.

Evoir Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 5:17am
post #39 of 56

MBalaska - I hope I just don't sound too opinionated! I would not have spent my valuable time answering the OPs thread questions if I did not think she was trying to better herself. Like AZCouture said, too many newer cakers get highly defensive when things go wrong, whereas I see this as a truly valuable learning experience. I run my business like I would like to be treated myself. IMO, If we are super-professional in our business dealings, we distance ourselves from the Cake Wreckers out there who put up a Facebook page and think they're in business. I would like to see our profession elevated somewhat!

 

BatterUp - in relation to your questions. No - they have not been back (yet) for their free cake, and they also did not accept my free Opera tix (I got to enjoy those myself), but the point is I bent over backwards to try and make good. They were very relieved that I did front up with a cake, even though it wasn't exactly what they ordered, so that they could have their cake to cut, and photos taken. Oh, I should add, I also offered to make their original order and pay for their photographer to take pix in case they wanted their original idea in their photo album. Look - I made lots of suggestions, and I also directly approached the photographer to ask if I could pay for the extra half an hour he had to wait for when I was driving back (a long trip!) with the replacement cake (he declined). I offered all I could to make good. In the end they accepted the replacement cake (on the night) and they accepted a full refund. And if they show up wanting a christening cake in a year or two, I will make good on that promise too.

 

I should add, my problem was not a structural issue, where the cake collapsed. My problem happened due to a scheduled error. We had changed booking systems, and their wedding date was re-entered into the wrong month! So completely my fault, as I should have triple-checked everything. A silly oversight that should not have happened. Like I said, I did everything I could to make good, and so far there have been no negative repercussions (apart from me internally kicking my own a** every time I think about it!) since that day.

BatterUpCake Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 5:36am
post #40 of 56

my point is that  whether they took your offers or not, there is no way they can tell anyone that you did not do your best to rectify. you did great...

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:15am
post #41 of 56

AI can't believe the defensive snotty discussions I see in some Facebook groups about clients sometimes. Now I'm not talking about general occasional ranting like most people do about public ignorance regarding cake pricing, or the like, but the decorators who do ridiculous things and blame the customer when things go wrong.

Sending out a three tier cake with a single cardboard for a drum? Client picks it up to move it to a stool for photos, and it bends and collapses. "Oh hellll no, it was fine when they picked it up from you, too bad so sad!" "Once they take it, whatever happens ain't your fault!" "Why the heck would they put it on a STOOL? STUPID fool!"

How about maybe you construct your cake in a manner that allows for people to pick it up and not fall apart? If your client can't move their own cake around within reason, then you dear decorator are to blame. That's just one stupid example I see on a daily basis, and the egging on by other customer hating decorators just really caps it off.

Or they act like they're doing people a favor by taking on last minute orders or sometimes any order at all. No dear decorator, THEY are doing you a favor, you know, by PAYING your salary? Take the job or not, but don't act like a primadonna about it. You don't walk on water dears, at the end of the day, you're a service provider.

Anyways, that's something that frys my chicken. I don't think some people know the difference between having a private rant and actually handling a delicate situation with their customers.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:17am
post #42 of 56

AEvoir, I agree with everything you wrote, just didn't want to quote a big long post and mine together...lol. Your story is a great example of the kind of customer service that should be EXPECTED in our line of work.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:20am
post #43 of 56

AEXPECTED..and nothing short of that.Yes I capslocked that, because it should be mandatory.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:23am
post #44 of 56

A

Original message sent by AZCouture

One of my first wedding cakes I baked the wrong flavor for one tier. Happened to be the flavor they most looked forward to. I freaked when I found out. [B]But there are many out there that would say "well they ate it, so you don't have to do anything for them! Or, did you ask for it back for proof that it was wrong? Or, they're probably just fishing for a refund, make them prove it! Sad, sad, SAD!![/B]I went completely overboard and offered a FULL refund, but they said no no, it was beautiful, and everyone enjoyed it, they were just disappointed not to be able to eat what they wanted. I asked them to stop by at their convenience the following weekend, and sent them off with a little two tier of the flavor they missed out on.

For me, whatever it takes to satisfy my feelings that I righted a wrong.But in the op's case, I can't really relate. I'm proud that she didn't pull a "oh helll no, not my fault!!" attitudes, because that's never a good idea.

carmijok Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:27am
post #45 of 56

AOnce a cake is delivered anything can happen. I would never deliver a cake to set out overnight! I'm guessing you'll never do that again either. I had my own disaster and it was due to shifting of a dowel in the bottom tier. Sorry it happened.

Evoir Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:57am
post #46 of 56

AZCouture - my feelings exactly. I sit there just shaking my head when I read some of the customer-bashing that goes on. Its probably good for the established and well-regarded decorators out there providing excellent customer service, however. I know I personally still have to turn away many more cake orders than I can possibly ever take on. Word gets around, both ways.

 

I suspected you would have similar thoughts re: my long post. I am just floating around on the interwebs today posting some photos and blogging around so I had the time to provide a comprehensive answer to the OP. I hardly get the chance to do that, but its my pleasure to share with the up-and-coming cakers a bit about how I'd do things based on my experience. That's why we're here!

MBalaska Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 7:45am
post #47 of 56

Quote:

Originally Posted by Evoir 

............ its my pleasure to share with the up-and-coming cakers a bit about how I'd do things based on my experience. That's why we're here!

It is because of posters like you and AZ that Cake Central is worth reading and coming back to time and time again.

Part of the problem with this new fangled internet typing thingie,   is that effective two-way communication is in large part needing both visual and auditory recognition.  The micro expressions, the tone and volume of the voice, the timing and inflections in the voice.  it's all lost in trying to condense and minimize a whole thought into a few keystrokes.

I extend to you, and the other professional bakers/decorators here, my respect and regard.  You have contributed to the knowledge of strangers, who you will never meet, with little benefit to yourself probably other than personal pride.

The opinion of an experienced professional in legal terms is called 'expertise'.

MBalaska Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 7:57am
post #48 of 56

If I could add one small experience from a hobby baker.  A co-workers son was getting married. The bride & mom came with my co-worker to talk about a wedding cake.  As I am not in business, the mom said no thanks!!

My co-worker waited until she left and asked me to make a grooms cake.  She said,  "I know where she's getting her cake and it's awful, so I want you to make one of your nice basketweave cakes in your best chocolate."

I made the grooms cake.  My co-worker said she was tickled pink, because few people touched the awful wedding cake, but devoured my nicely decorated chocolate cake and several people asked her who made it. She felt vindicated, (in-laws huh?)

That was my first experience with a stranger and it thoroughly convinced me that it would ruin my pleasure to be in business.  I've had my career, this is my......bliss.

Jenndelisle Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 5:56pm
post #49 of 56

AThank you so much for all your answers. I honestly didn't think I would get that many. As your opinions are truely valuable to me (I see through your posts a lot of experience), I too think it might have been my bad with my little twigs lol. Hey look! I'm starting to laugh again! I have learned a lot from this nightmare & almost even more from your replies. I have already made up a contract for future orders, I will be using the SPS system, I will not deliver the day before. I will offer a partial refund to the bride in this case & will offer a good discount on a future order if she wants to order from me again. We'll see what happens. But foremost, I have learned A LOT. Thanks

BatterUpCake Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:32pm
post #50 of 56

Now that's the right attitude! Good luck. Let us know how it turns out with the bride.

AZCouture Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 6:57pm
post #51 of 56

AAwesome!

ddaigle Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 7:17pm
post #52 of 56

I only use twigs (lol) for support.. and a center "travel" dowel rod I call it...but my rule of thumb is, I use the number of dowels in the cake that the cake above it is...so in my 12" cake I would've used 10 dowels....in my 10" cake I would've used 8 dowels.   99% of my cakes are butter cream which are not as heavy.   In a fondant cake I use the plastic big column-type dowels that you can cut.   I travel fully assembled with 4 tier (cold) cakes all the time.   I'm always white knuckling the drive...but I have never had an accident. 

 

I know there are a lot of SPS fans here and I am not bad mouthing it...I just use dowels and I don't think OP used near enough. 

Jenndelisle Posted 11 Aug 2013 , 7:37pm
post #53 of 56

AI now know I didn't use enough dowels, should've asked on this wonderful site long ago... But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I've learned a valuable lesson, my next cake will be much better built.

CWR41 Posted 12 Aug 2013 , 7:54am
post #54 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jenndelisle 

I now know I didn't use enough dowels...

Not necessarily... I don't recall you mentioning how many dowels you used or what diameter.  If using 1/2" rods, 4 or 5 is enough for larger tiers.  If using smaller diameter dowels, 6 or 7 should be enough for most tiers.  I just want to stress that it's possible to overdowel cake to cause it to collapse along the perforated dowel lines... be cautious to only use the minimum necessary.

Smckinney07 Posted 12 Aug 2013 , 10:05am
post #55 of 56

AI missed so much being gone a day or two, I can't remember. We've all had mishaps, big and small, the important thing is what you take from it. Rather than being defeated you came here figure out what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again.

I didn't think you had time to replace the entire cake, I didn't want you to think my comment was rude I was just trying to understand all the facts. You were very resourceful during the crisis and did what you could to make things right. Evoir writes beautifully, her response was very eloquent and pretty much covered it all. Especially in regards to elevating expectations and professionalism in this industry (I certainly don't mean you Jen! Just a general observation).

I just wanted to add that you should take care of any problems as soon as possible. I realize thats not always possible, especially if your not sure what to do or if your responsible (and that's ok). My point is we are in the customer service business, if you go to a restaurant and they bring you the wrong order you don't want to sit around for an hour waiting for them to fix it. The longer it takes to rectify a situation the angrier your customer is going to be. You want to leave each customer satisfied if not ecstatic. Sorry about my stupid analogy, perhaps I've worked in the food industry too long ;)

mskerrih Posted 20 Aug 2013 , 1:23am
post #56 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by MBalaska 

Quote:

It is because of posters like you and AZ that Cake Central is worth reading and coming back to time and time again.

Part of the problem with this new fangled internet typing thingie,   is that effective two-way communication is in large part needing both visual and auditory recognition.  The micro expressions, the tone and volume of the voice, the timing and inflections in the voice.  it's all lost in trying to condense and minimize a whole thought into a few keystrokes.

I extend to you, and the other professional bakers/decorators here, my respect and regard.  You have contributed to the knowledge of strangers, who you will never meet, with little benefit to yourself probably other than personal pride.

The opinion of an experienced professional in legal terms is called 'expertise'.

this^^^^^^^^^^^ :-)

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