Guest Threatening to Picket Business - Help!!!

Business By TheNerdyBaker Updated 12 Sep 2013 , 1:10pm by kikiandkyle

TheNerdyBaker Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 4:55pm
post #1 of 89

AOk guy and gals, I have a doozey for you o.O

I work out of a retail bakery in Brea CA, and this past weekend we did a cake for a guest and long story short, during transport (they picked up the cake), the guests managed to completely decimate the cake. They sent us pictures of the cake, and it definitely looked as if the driver turn a turn too sharply, or pumped the brakes too hard, as the layers literally all slid away from each other. We have been in business for over 3 years now, and the way we assemble our cakes has not changed, and we have NEVER had any stability issues.

Cut to today, we get a call from an extremely angry great grandmother who is demanding full compensation. Not only for the $200 cake, but she is also asking for a full car detail to get the red icing stains out of the transport vehicle. If they don't get what they demand, she is threatening the business with a picket this coming weekend.

Before you ask, the owner does not require any kind of contracts (which I have vehemently urged them to institute), so we have no kind of paper shield as it were.

What in the world can we do?!?

88 replies
Dayti Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 4:56pm
post #2 of 89

Talk to a lawyer!!

TheNerdyBaker Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 4:57pm
post #3 of 89


TheNerdyBaker Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 4:57pm
post #4 of 89


Dayti Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:15pm
post #5 of 89

Was the cake 1 tier? About 4" high only? That cake looks like it was dropped...if it was from a sharp corner or hard braking I'm sure the car would be a wreck too. Why has that person got so stained from the BC? Were they holding onto the cake the entire journey?

TheNerdyBaker Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:19pm
post #6 of 89

AYes it was only 1 tier, but our cakes run anywhere between 5-6" tall.

The icing outside was whipped cream (Whip'n Top brand) as I work in an Asian based bakery.

The transport vehicle was also a compete wreck, and as part of their compensation, they are demanding a full car detail. As for the red hands, all we have been able to guess is that when the event happened, whoever who around the cake panicked and latched on to the cake in order to 'save' it.


MeghanKelly Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:20pm
post #7 of 89

Lawyer up.  I used to get angry customers at the grocery store all the time.  They always said something like "I'm going to boycott" or "i'm going to tell all my friends" or "I'm never going to shop here again!"  Usually they were right back in the next week like nothing ever happened. If they continue to insist on a full refund, the owner may have to consult a lawyer and may lose due to lack of contract. However, I cannot imagine they would be able to recoup the costs of the car detail.  Red icing on the seats is an expected consequence of of transporting a red cake.

BatterUpCake Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:34pm
post #8 of 89

let em picket. Most people will look at them like they are crazy and come in just so they can ask what the crazy people outside are *****ing about...They will get tired and go home.

Dayti Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:38pm
post #9 of 89

I don't want to sound like I am on the customer's side, but the cake should have been in a box - this would at least have avoided staining their car. Also, they should have been told not to travel with the cake on the seat or on someone's lap - neither are level. And if the cake had been cold, with a whipped cream icing outside, there would have been less possibility of it sliding. In any case, you can't tell how someone drives when you are handing over the cake, so even with the above 3 points covered, it still may have slid. At the very least, the bakery owner should have some kind of sign off for releasing any responsibility when customers drive their cake home. He should definitely seek legal advice though. 

sixinarow Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:39pm
post #10 of 89

Yikes! Lots of issues here! Why on earth would the owner not want contracts? Why on earth would the owner sell Disney cakes? Was the cake not in a box for transport - or how did the frosting end up on the back of the car seat?


Man, sorry..without a contract, it may be cheaper to pay for the car detailing than have to pay lawyer fees.

Hope everything works out, keep us posted!

liz at sugar Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:46pm
post #11 of 89

Why no box?  That seems like the biggest negligence on the part of your employer (as well as the Mickey cake).  I wouldn't move a cake or pastries uncovered between coolers in our restaurant, let alone stick it on someone's lap in a car???


Wish your employer well, but use this as a learning experience.



TheNerdyBaker Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 5:51pm
post #12 of 89

ABelieve me, I am aware of all the issues here (the box, the Disney, the contract) and I have told them on countless occasions all of the issues, but at the end of the day, they sign my check you know?

We never use boxes for our larger cakes (anything with a 14" board or bigger) and never experiences issues when we deliver, or when we hand them off to our guests as we do give them explicit details as to how to care and transport the cake.

We do state that the cake is handed over chilled, and tell people to ensure it is on a flat surface (pointing out that laps and seats are NOT a viable option). A lot of the issue we feel is that the guest sent a son or grandson to pick up and transport the cake. The boy couldn't have been older than 18 o.O

Norasmom Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 6:01pm
post #13 of 89


 Believe me, I am aware of all the issues here (the box, the Disney, the contract) and I have told them on countless occasions all of the issues, but at the end of the day, they sign my check you know?


Work elsewhere.  You do not want to be associated with this bakery, especially if you are planning on opening your own business someday.  Boxes for large cakes are easy...a lot of people use new, unused moving boxes.


As for the customer, this is a buyer beware issue.  If there is no contract, there is no paper trail whatsoever of money being exchanged.  They can picket, but I doubt they will get anywhere with it.  The police will show up and make them leave for trespassing.  Also, picket lines are generally for labor injustices and this was just a badly handled business transaction.


That cake was dropped, by the way!


I do not have contracts either, but I don't have a storefront and my business is quite small.  In my situation, I would refund the money, but I don't deal with the general public, I have a set clientelle.

Apti Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 6:12pm
post #14 of 89
Carrie789 Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 6:38pm
post #15 of 89

At least you have learned a lot of the "what not to do's" when you have your own shop. Since it's not your shop, it's not your responsibility, but I would ask for my letter of recommendation now, while the place is still in business. :)  As for the pickets, the owner should tell them to bring lots of people, it is great free publicity. What are they going to put on the signs anyway?-- "This bakery's cakes fall apart when dropped." ??

cakesbycathy Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 7:11pm
post #16 of 89

I have no idea what the OP's personal situation is but not everyone can just quit their job because their boss is an idiot.  Is this an ideal working environment?  Obviously not.  But just assuming someone can afford to quit their job is not helpful either.  If the OP is aware of all the stupid things his boss does (which he says he is) then either he actually NEEDS this job and can't afford to leave it for whatever reason or he is choosing to be an idiot, too (no offense OP).  It's not real easy to get a job these days.


To the OP:

First, if you have repeatedly suggested the owners have contracts, use boxes, quit making cakes with copy writed figures and they refuse to do so then it's time for you to let it go.  I would just shut up and make the cakes and let them handle it.  It's their business. Let them be responsible for it.


Second, I would tell the owners to either pay up or get a lawyer.  Sure these people will look ridiculous picketing in front of the store but all it takes is for them to start showing the pics of the messed up cake and car around.  The bad publicity isn't worth it.

Pyro Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 7:28pm
post #17 of 89

First and foremost. You're an employee, stop giving a damn. You clearly stated you tried to get things to change and nothing happened over a long period of time. Stop caring. It's clearly not your problem. You should be laughing at the procedures in place right now.


Also, I like the apron. It says " reckless " on it.   :D


Finally, if I go to the store and buy a washing mashine, toss it in the hatch of my car and it rips the fabric of the car and falls off on the highway... the fact the store didn't give me ropes and cushioning to secure it doesn't make them any liable for how I accepted to transport it.


But stop caring, really.

MimiFix Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 7:48pm
post #18 of 89

OP - Is this post a rant or a vent? I sure hope you're not here asking for advice because (1) you do not own this business and have no say in how the business operates and (2) responses here are only opinions. 

cupadeecakes Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 8:00pm
post #19 of 89

Wow...I say let them picket and if they contact a lawyer then lawyer up!  It wouldn't be a bad time to mention to the owners that a signed contract could have prevented ALL of this.  Good luck, I have worked for crazy bosses before, at some point you just have to do your job and let the rest go.  I work for myself now, and my boss still does crazy things from time to time. :-)

Sassyzan Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 8:06pm
post #20 of 89

A"Quit your job", "stop giving a damn"? Do you people live in a vacuum?

BrandisBaked Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 8:36pm
post #21 of 89


Original message sent by Sassyzan

"Quit your job", "stop giving a damn"? Do you people live in a vacuum?

Yeah, I don't get it either. I feel personally responsible for every cake I make whether working for myself or someone else.

I applaud you for seeking feedback from others and reassurance that it was the customer's fault and not yours - it shows you care. GOOD FOR YOU!!!

As for the cake, that was definitely an issue with the person's driving. That cake slid either because it was held at an angle, or there was sudden/hard braking.

kikiandkyle Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 9:09pm
post #22 of 89

Your boss has no options other than paying, or taking his chances to see what comes of it. 


There is no proof that instructions were given. As several professionals have stated, it should have been in a box which would have contained the mess. If the client takes the photos to the press you are going to have the mouse attorneys to contend with too. 


Get a quote to have the seat deep cleaned (I hate to say it but I'll be shocked if that red ever comes out). The entire car does not need detailing and the seat is going to need specific attention. No refund for the cake though, it was damaged because of their poor driving and was still edible. It could have been easily repaired by the look of it, and since it wasn't returned it probably was. 


I hope your boss is a bit smarter about things like food safety and taxes.

shanter Posted 9 Sep 2013 , 9:15pm
post #23 of 89

Those instructions you give people who are transporting their own cakes: Have your employer put those in writing - a piece of paper that you go over with the client and then give to them.

BatterUpCake Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 12:08am
post #25 of 89

I just wonder how everyone knows the driver did it? We haven't seen any before pictures. Also it seems there would be some sort of health laws that wouldn't allow them to give out unwrapped food. Not saying it is the OP's fault but I just don't see enough evidence to take sides...

kikiandkyle Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 12:24am
post #26 of 89

AThe cake was set down on the passenger seat (hence the big chunk of frosting on the seat). That's about all the evidence you need!

BatterUpCake Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 12:29am
post #27 of 89

Guess they should have had a cake safe before going offroading

BrandisBaked Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 12:53am
post #28 of 89


Original message sent by BatterUpCake

Guess they should have had a cake safe before going offroading


TheNerdyBaker Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 12:57am
post #29 of 89

I honestly can't believe some of the "advice" I am getting on here.  I come to this community because I have come to respect each and every one of you for the business people, and artists that I know you are.  However I must say I was taken aback by what I was reading.


First things first.  The owner has definitely had an "ah hah!" moment due to this whole situation, and we sat down for several hours today and discussed what exactly would be done moving forward, which includes strict copyright policies, boxes, and a contract.


We have yet to hear back from the family in regards to how they plan on proceeding (whether or not they will accept our compensation, or go through with the picket).  I will keep you posted.


Thank you to those who posted anything constructive!  


As for the rest, I can honestly say I was a little disillusioned by the CC community today.  I always talk about this place in such high regards =/

cakefat Posted 10 Sep 2013 , 1:26am
post #30 of 89

Lots of comments made that are so easier said than done..and especially not knowing you, your financial situation, your bosses,  the bakery, etc  -most people can't just up and quit their job over something like this..that's silly to even suggest.


I think you have to take a lot of it with a very small grain of salt. (and for sure- don't put CC on a pedestal)

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