thumbboy Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 12:45pm

hi there, we made a wedding cake for a couple. we delivered it a day (at 9pm) before the delivery date to the venue and were told by them that the cake would not need to be moved as they had no other events on.

 

the next day we get a call from the bride saying she is really peed off that we delivered it a day early and not informed her, she said the cake was damaged an said i had an hour to rectify it.

 

i phoned the venue to ask if the cake was damaged and the let it slip that they did move it, stored it in a warm dry store, and then had to move it to show her the cake; the cake was pretty heavy but was supported very well using around 10 8mm dowel for each tier. 

 

she stated to me that she didn't want it on display and that she threw it away, but then she has left a negative review on a website stating "we couldn't bring ourselves round to cutting it in front of our guests"

 

i have stated to her a few times that she needs to return some of the cake to test the consistency to determine whether or not i was at fault or it was the the venue for moving, misplacement and storage, the venue have now said that they didn't accept responsibility of the cake yet they were happy to move it round?

 

we need any help as we got a letter saying she wants to take us to court, as a person and not a company.

 

the cake was simply bulging from the sides, it looks like it was placed hard on the side. 

 

should her complaint be with me or the venue?

 

she wants a refund under the sale of goods act, yet she has no product to return.

 

any advice is appreciated.

28 replies
BatterUpCake Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 12:48pm

do you  have any pictures of the cake before or after?

 

Do you have liability insurance? I don't know how she could sue you as an individual when you were acting as a business...that just doesn't make sense. This would be a question for an attorney, IMO. People can sue for whatever they want....whether they can prove their case determines the outcome.

cakefat Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 12:52pm

Was there a signed contract under the name of your cake business?  If there was..then she surely can't sue you in your personal name but in the name of the business (I would assume!)

 

In your contract (if you had one)  is there a clause about the cake being the client's responsibility after delivery?

 

Did you take photos of the cake once you did delivered it? Do you have any photos of the cake after whatever happened to it?

thumbboy Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:12pm

yes i have photos, she signed a contract and terms and conditions under the company she also has a receipt under the company.

 

the venue made a verbal agreement to accept the cake

AZCouture Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:25pm

AWhy so early? I'd be peeved that my wedding cake sat out exposed to God only knows what, too.

AZCouture Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:26pm

AUnless it was advised against, signed off on, and ther ewas truly no avoiding it.

BatterUpCake Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:28pm

can you post the pics so some of the wedding cake decorators can look at it? Did it fall over or just bulge?

 

EDIT: and I don't mean "just" bulge as if bulging isn't a big deal

erin2345 Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:32pm

Did the bride know ahead of time that the cake would be delivered a day early?  If I ever have to deliver a cake early, I make the customer aware of it right off the bat.  Honestly, I would be really ticked if you delivered my wedding cake a day early without my knowledge.

Dr_Hfuhruhurr Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 1:54pm

A

Original message sent by thumbboy

we need any help as we got a letter saying she wants to take us to court, as a person and not a company.

What type of business do you have? Not all business forms offer limited liability, so it's entirely possible that she could sue you personally, depending on how your shop is set up. For example, if it's an LLC or a corporation, you're probably shielded. If it's just a partnership or sole proprietorship--or if you haven't formally done any business formation--you're personally at risk.

Original message sent by thumbboy

should her complaint be with me or the venue?

Just from what you've said, I see potential claims against both. She may be able to pursue either of you based on a theory of general negligence, at the least. Depending on the contents of the various contracts, there may also be valid breach of contract claims.

Original message sent by thumbboy

she wants a refund under the sale of goods act, yet she has no product to return.

Are you referring to the UCC? A customer does not necessarily have to return the goods to obtain a refund under the UCC--especially in cases involving perishable goods.

It sounds like maybe you delivered the cake too early. I'd suggest you offer the bride a substantial refund and see where that gets you.

jason_kraft Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 3:41pm

A

Original message sent by erin2345

Did the bride know ahead of time that the cake would be delivered a day early?  If I ever have to deliver a cake early, I make the customer aware of it right off the bat.  Honestly, I would be really ticked if you delivered my wedding cake a day early without my knowledge.

Agreed. If the cake was delivered the day before the agreed-upon delivery date and the customer did not sign off on this, the customer deserves a full refund and an apology. Don't forget to have the customer sign a statement indicating that the matter is resolved once you issue the refund.

Relznik Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 3:55pm

If you're from the UK, the Sale of Goods Act (from Which? website)

 

Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 goods must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose.

Fit for purpose means both their everyday purpose, and also any specific purpose that you agreed with the seller (for example, if you specifically asked for a printer that would be compatible with your computer)

 

 

 

I think you need to get some professional legal advice.  If you delivered it earlier than your order form/contract stated, you may have some liability.  However, the venue also sounds like they may have liability, too, if they damaged it.

 

It's a tough one!!

 

I always leave delivering a cake as late as possible - I worry that if a wedding cake is set up mid-morning for a late afternoon wedding, there's more chance of it getting knocked or bumped into.  If I did have to leave it a day early for any reason, I'd have done so in a suitable box.  However, her saying that she didn't want it on display makes no sense...  she paid out for a wedding cake that was staying in the kitchen to be cut up?  No, I don't think so!!!

 

I hope you get this sorted out.  Please keep us updated.

 

Suzanne x

jenmat Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 3:56pm

Oh my goodness. 

Unless it was agreed upon that you deliver the cake a day early, this is on you. I'm not sure what the venue would be responsible for in a legal setting, but morally, if that cake was out of your hands and control 24 HOURS before it was supposed to be, I would be refunding fully and learning a big lesson. 

 

A venue isn't going to care about the cake like you would, and how can you expect them to? It isn't their job to store a wedding cake overnight unless both they and the bride agreed to it. IN WRITING. And then there should have been directions to the storage- which you both had a copy of, including signatures. 

 

If we are all mistaken and this was agreed to, then the venue does have some culpability, and I apologize for my assumptions. But even then, it is up to us, the experts to know what is best for the cake. 

CakeGeekUk Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 7:18pm

Hi Thumboy, I feel for you the situation you're in. You delivered a perfect wedding cake the night before it was due (9pm the night before the wedding would be no problem to me as long as the cake was covered in cellophane). The cake was mis-handled at the venue and it seems this is where the damage was done.

 

While it's not much use to you now, one rule of thumb I've always stuck by is to photograph the cake at the venue before I leave.  Then you have proof that your cake was delivered in perfect condition.

 

The other rule of thumb I have is to keep customers happy in so far as I can since weddings are such a word of mouth business and bad PR is something you want to avoid at all costs, even if it means giving in occasionally to unreasonable customers.

 

This lady clearly has a right to be annoyed if her cake was damaged, but I would have refunded her and then sorted it out with the venue. If the damage was caused by them I would have explained that you had to refund the customer in full and lost a chunk of your week's wages as a result. If there was any decency on behalf of the management they would have offered to make it up to you in future referrals.  If they didn't budge at all, you could let them know that it wouldn't serve their reputation well if it was known that wedding cakes delivered to their premises were damaged and handled recklessly by their staff, leaving customers out of pocket. 

 

The moral of the story is to try and resolve the situation (even where you've done your best) without a customer getting so angry they start spewing online.  I hope you get this sorted out, good luck.

BatterUpCake Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 9:05pm

As I said I do not do wedding cake but this applies to any cake. I carry insurance that covers anything like this. If my product fails because of negligence by me (delivering early or structural problems) then they would cover it. It only costs $35 a month and is well worth it. I just pray I never have to use it....

jason_kraft Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 11:48pm

A

Original message sent by BatterUpCake

As I said I do not do wedding cake but this applies to any cake. I carry insurance that covers anything like this. If my product fails because of negligence by me (delivering early or structural problems) then they would cover it. It only costs $35 a month and is well worth it. I just pray I never have to use it....

Are you talking about business liability insurance? If so, you probably wouldn't want to make a claim for an issue like this where you would only be out the cost of the cake.

jason_kraft Posted 31 Aug 2013 , 11:52pm

A

Original message sent by CakeGeekUk

If there was any decency on behalf of the management they would have offered to make it up to you in future referrals.  If they didn't budge at all, you could let them know that it wouldn't serve their reputation well if it was known that wedding cakes delivered to their premises were damaged and handled recklessly by their staff, leaving customers out of pocket. 

If I was running a venue and a vendor delivered a day early without authorization from the customer, then tried to extort money from me, that vendor would most definitely not be receiving any referrals and could even be banned.

Smckinney07 Posted 1 Sep 2013 , 12:59am

A

Original message sent by jenmat

Oh my goodness.  Unless it was agreed upon that you deliver the cake a day early, this is on you. I'm not sure what the venue would be responsible for in a legal setting, but morally, if that cake was out of your hands and control 24 HOURS before it was supposed to be, I would be refunding fully and learning a big lesson. 

A venue isn't going to care about the cake like you would, and how can you expect them to? It isn't their job to store a wedding cake overnight [I]unless both they and the bride agreed to it. IN WRITING.[/I] And then there should have been directions to the storage- which you both had a copy of, including signatures. 

If we are all mistaken and this was agreed to, then the venue does have some culpability, and I apologize for my assumptions. But even then, it is up to us, the experts to know what is best for the cake. 

^^^^^^^^This^^^^^^^

Can you post the pictures for us? Was the letter from the couple or drafted by a lawyer? Are you working for someone else or do you run the company with a partner?

I'm sorry this has happened but I would try to rectify this situation ASAP to avoid further damage to your reputation, the longer this goes unresolved the angrier she's going to be.

For the future I would get written acceptance from whoever accepts the cake and responsibility for it as well as a picture (I'm sure you've already thought about this now). At this point it's your word against the venue or coordinator, tacky that they are saying they didn't accept the cake. However, I would never set up a cake that early. Early enough to have ample time to fix any issues from traveling and to slip out also I have a time set with the bride (and with the venue if I haven't dealt with them before-just a call the day before to make sure they have a sturdy table, etc.) stated in writing on my contract when and where the cake will be delivered and contact info for a secondary person (mother, coordinator, etc.) who will be signing off on the cake.

Basically, the earlier you setup a cake, the more chances something can go wrong! Yes, they shouldn't have moved the cake or thrown it out (I'm confused as to who did this) but part of our job as professionals is to anticipate and avoid any action that will put us in situations like this. Regardless, it's done, you've obviously learned a difficult lesson from this. You should speak to your lawyer about verbal contracts, hopefully it won't go that far but for the sake of your business I'd do whatever possible to fix this as soon as possible. Good luck and keep us posted.

howsweet Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 3:27pm

Like AZ said - if this wasn't strongly discouraged and signed off on, you owe her a refund.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by BatterUpCake 

As I said I do not do wedding cake but this applies to any cake. I carry insurance that covers anything like this. If my product fails because of negligence by me (delivering early or structural problems) then they would cover it. It only costs $35 a month and is well worth it. I just pray I never have to use it....


You're saying you have errors and omissions insurance for cake and it's only $35 a month? It never occurred to me to get this sort of thing because I figured it would be incredibly expensive,  When we had it for real estate, it was about $50,000 a year.   Would you pm me the name of the company?

BatterUpCake Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 3:35pm

Business Insurance Now...sending you Danny's email in a PM

jason_kraft Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 3:43pm

A

Original message sent by howsweet

You're saying you have errors and omissions insurance for cake and it's only $35 a month? It never occurred to me to get this sort of thing because I figured it would be incredibly expensive,  When we had it for real estate, it was about $50,000 a year.   Would you pm me the name of the company?

Most regular business liability insurance (~$300-500/year) will include errors and omissions coverage.

Considering the size of real estate transactions compared to the price of your typical cake order it's not surprising that this insurance for real estate would be much more expensive.

just4fun26 Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 3:51pm

AIve worked in the legal field for 8 years. I am not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice, just my educated opinion.

Given that you left the cake at the venue early, the verbal agreement that the staff wouldn't move it is worthless. Not trying to kick you while you're down, but you should give her a full refund. Have you spoke to her? On the phone or in person. I would have her meet with you, offer a full refund. Draft a document stating the refund releases you from any and all further legal proceedings. If she is insistant

just4fun26 Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 3:56pm

A** on taking you to court, she most likely will not be awarded any more than the cost of the cake anyway. I highly doubt she has an attorney who will represent her. This is a small claims court thing... Judge Judy stuff.

Again, I would meet with her, full refund in hand and a release. Don't tell her she won't get more in court. If she refuses, you make documentation of the offer, the conversation, everything. Then if you go to court, you have proof you tried to rectify this.

howsweet Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 4:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by jason_kraft 


Most regular business liability insurance (~$300-500/year) will include errors and omissions coverage.

Considering the size of real estate transactions compared to the price of your typical cake order it's not surprising that this insurance for real estate would be much more expensive.


Oh, maybe I already have it? With the real estate thing, it was a whole separate policy. Every time we had a lawsuit, it went up. I remember getting a quote of $80,000. At that time, the laws in Texas had made it less profitable to sue doctors, so they went after Realtors. We had a lady who got a roof leak in a hundred year rain  right after she moved in and her lawyer told her not to fix it. Everyone involved on both sides offered to pay the $300 repair she needed. By the time it went to trial, she claimed the house was a tear down and she was suing for a couple of million dollars. The jury  trial was just over 2 weeks and she lost. She lost and the lawyers won - our lawyer got paid about $55,000.

 

So I  I see your point. It would be hard to create that kind of thing from a cake catastrophe. Unless someone slipped on the cake after it fell over and broke a hip. Or claimed the cake gave them flesh eating bacteria.

 

There may be an argument for not carrying insurance. The one person in the lawsuit who might have been responsible (the inspector) was let go during jury selection because he had no insurance. So they wound up claiming we knew about the leak and literally went to the house to paint over leak stains ourselves. I still have this absurd image of the owners of a RE/MAX office all dressed for work with nice hair, jewelry and suits rolling paint on the ceiling of a $75,000 house.  :rolleyes:

howsweet Posted 2 Sep 2013 , 4:15pm

Oops, sorry for the vent - I always think I'm over all that, but I don't seem to be... icon_biggrin.gif

BatterUpCake Posted 4 Sep 2013 , 11:59am

Any updates? Have you heard more from your customer?

AZCouture Posted 4 Sep 2013 , 2:30pm

AGot anything else to say about this? People are on your side, we want to see everyone do good, even if it means sucking it up and doing the right thing and learning a tough lesson. Photos? Anything?

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