TheBug Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 3:57pm
post #1 of

I've never posted anything on here so hopefully I'm under the right area. Anyway, I just did an order of high heel cupcakes. I delivered the order with little problem. When I got there, a border on one of the shoes had a smudge so I got my piping bag out and piped over it. The back part of the heel was leaning a little bit so I made sure it was straight. I let her check out the product before she took them. I even have a few pictures of how they looked and they looked great. I knew they were traveling far for the party so I gave them a little extra melting chocolate in case any of the heels leaned or fell off as they traveled or transferred them to the plate. I said they are delicate and when you are traveling with any baked product, mishaps can happen. I said I always travel with an extra cake kit, so I'll give them one, too since they are going to far.

 

Then we went to put it in her car. We had met somewhere and they brought a small two door, one-row of seats truck. I told them there are two large bakery boxes and they won't fit. They insisted it would be fine, shoved the first box in the little compartment behind one seat and put the other box in her lap. Before this, they saw the cupcakes, approved them, paid me, and drove away. A half hour later I got a call saying I ruined them, they were made completely wrong, I ruined the party and now they're not sure I should cater their wedding. She said they live 3 minutes from the meeting place and they didn't even hold up during the short drive. But I traveled 20 minutes with them and they were fine. Even so, I gave them their money back and apologized that happened to them. I said this has never happened to me before so I can't imagine what might have happened. Once I agreed to the refund she became nicer, said not to worry, that I still had the wedding, and they'd see what they could salvage. My question is this: How do I protect myself from this in the future? Obviously it feels very personal and I am devastated- I've never had a complaint before. Do you see anywhere I can make changes to prevent this? Has anyone experienced this before?

 

Any feedback appreciated. Thanks!

26 replies
Norasmom Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 4:02pm
post #2 of

I am not sure I would do that wedding...

 

You informed her about the cupcakes travellng and she chose to take them in her truck anyways.  You didn't ruin her party.  You were even specific about how fragile they were.

 

I liken transporting cakes to transporting a newborn from the hospital.  :-D  Cakes are delicate and need care when handled.

 

I always deliver my products because the few times I have let customers transport cakes, some of the cakes have not done well, even with support systems.  People don't realize you need a flat surface and a car with AC.  

IAmPamCakes Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 4:04pm
post #3 of

AContracts! They sign off on a contract, stating that their order was fulfilled and they are satisfied. Then they sign a line that states that whenever their cake leaves your care, you are no longer responsible for damages.

SugaredSaffron Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 4:19pm
post #4 of

Why did you give them a refund? If the place was 3 minutes away why didn't you just take it all the way?

TheBug Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:05pm
post #5 of

A contract would have been great! Do you have everyone sign it saying that, or just the people who transport it themselves in any way?

 

She's already paid the entire order off and we signed a contract, so technically if she backed out, I would keep the first half of the money she put down on it. The problem is, it's all small towns around here and everyone knows everyone, and if she's willing to come at me like this, I fear the fallout. My business is word of mouth mostly and I'm just one year into this so I feel she has me by the throat a little.

 

This is the first time it has happened to me, so I figured it was worth just giving the money back in order to keep the business. It is a big wedding for me and I guess I didn't want to lose it. Plus, she told me that was half-way for her. I didn't realize she only drove three minutes to get there because I originally offered a home-delivery as I'm more comfortable with that. I always deliver to home unless they are far away and don't want to pay the "over-15-miles delivery charge". She said we could meet half way and named that town so I agreed. It all seems just weird to me. I don't know why she insisted on meeting....

liz at sugar Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:07pm
post #6 of

Quote:

Originally Posted by SugaredSaffron 
 

Why did you give them a refund? If the place was 3 minutes away why didn't you just take it all the way?

 

Exactly.  I would tell them that after having to give them a refund for their carelessness, you are no longer interested in catering their wedding.

 

Liz

 

P.S.  You shouldn't have refunded anything.

TheBug Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:27pm
post #7 of

Well I guess I have a lot of learning to do. I'm a people-pleaser but I need to push that aside. The only problem is, she said they weren't put together well and since they were traveling far, I should have put them together stronger. I don't even know how to dispute that.

 

Does anyone have a contract I might be able to see? I don't want to leave anything out and make sure I have ALL bases covered!

 

Thanks everyone for your feedback so far. I obviously need to learn how to handle this better but it makes me feel better to know others have experienced this and know how to deal with it.

liz at sugar Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:35pm
post #8 of

You shouldn't feel bad - there is no way to make a delicate cupcake high heel cake "stronger" - that is just what the customer is saying to bully you into a refund.  She shouldn't have ordered something so delicate if she couldn't be careful enough to get it there in one piece.

 

You will learn when something is truly your fault and under your control, and when someone is just playing you.  It takes a little experience, but you will get there.  Just move on to the next customer. :)

 

Liz

sixinarow Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:36pm
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBug 
 

Well I guess I have a lot of learning to do. I'm a people-pleaser but I need to push that aside. The only problem is, she said they weren't put together well and since they were traveling far, I should have put them together stronger. I don't even know how to dispute that.

 

Does anyone have a contract I might be able to see? I don't want to leave anything out and make sure I have ALL bases covered!

 

Thanks everyone for your feedback so far. I obviously need to learn how to handle this better but it makes me feel better to know others have experienced this and know how to deal with it.

 

In addition to a contract, on delicate or intricate decorated cakes and cupcakes, in the future, you might decide to insist on delivering them yourself.  It's your name and reputation on the line!

kkmcmahan Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 5:42pm

If you do a search on this website for 'sample contract' you will find several examples.  I agree with Liz, you should back out of the wedding.  If you chose not to, make sure you have a good, signed contract so that once the cake is delivered (take pictures) and everything is fine, you are no longer responsible.  That way she can't do the same thing to you trying to blame it on the construction.  If you traveled 20 min with no problem, it seems unlikely that another 3 min would have caused such damage had they transported it correctly.  Likely had little to do with construction.  As an enabler myself I would encourage you to get in your business frame of mind so that you aren't taken advantage of.  Good luck and don't let this discourage you.

TheBug Posted 22 Sep 2013 , 7:06pm

Thanks everyone! This helps. And I will definitely seek out the "sample contract". That will be very helpful to make sure I'm protected and not bullied again. I appreciate the feedback

remnant3333 Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 12:08am

If you do the wedding cake do not let them pick up cake but you need to deliver it to the venue yourself. I do not think this was your fault that the cupcakes fell apart. And as everyone else stated you need a contract. Good luck!!!

jason_kraft Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 12:26am

AContract law can vary in different areas. A sample contract is a good starting point, but make sure you read through it carefully, understand every clause (and can explain every clause to a customer), edit it to your specific needs, and have it looked over by a local attorney.

howsweet Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 1:06am

Did she try to trick you into delivering the cake pretty much all the way by claiming that meeting point was halfway when it wasn't?  Or did you charge appropriately for your travel?

 

A contract is good to have, but I can't get customers to read my website or even emails I send them, let alone a contract. If there's something I want them to know, I write it in on the receipt and have them initial it. Rare is the customer who wants this to happen. If you're charging appropriately and doing high end cakes, "rare" changes to nonexistent.

 

What you want to do is prevent this from happening and the ways to do so are things like going over proper driving in detail, proper handling of the package (eg level, can't be left in the car), and warnings on how delicate the cakes and decorations are. I tell my customers to pretend they are driving an 18 wheeler and that they can't come to quick stops.  If they look like that even slightly goes over their head, I explain.

 

When they're ordering, don't be afraid to insist on appropriate design details that are more travel friendly and let them know it's because you're not delivering.

 

Make sure you're involved in how everything is loaded up. If someone is holding the order, be sure and let them know exactly what his/her job is and what a difference how they handle it can make. If they want to set the cake in a certain spot and you think it's would be better elsewhere, speak up. I'd say for about 75% of my pick ups, I have the customer move some item that could slide or fall onto the cake.  But that's partly because, when possible, I have the cake ride on the front seat passenger floorboard.

 

I even sometimes position the direction the cake faces with certain toppers.  On Friday I ran back and caught a customer after I realized the cake should be turned 90 degrees. It had a shoe that was top heavy..well, I had my reasons... and the cake had a 3.5 hour journey ahead.  Anyway, I tend to make a bit of a show to let them see I take great care and concern about a traveling cake. I'm setting an example.

 

On a side note: don't know where you live, but it's very hot in my area and chocolate is never something I use to attach anything to a cake or use to try and hold things together. The chocolate doesn't literally melt, but things can give or bend.

PinkLotus Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 3:45am

ASo she told you that they had to travel "far", and because of that, you should have made them stronger. Yet she told you she only had to drive 3 minutes with them, and they fell apart that quickly. Don't do that wedding. Seriously.

Paperfishies Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 2:20pm

Don't do the wedding!!!  She sounds like she will be a total pain in the a*s to work with and it sounds like she was just looking to get a free cake.

ddaigle Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 2:32pm

Contracts aren't worth a hill of beans if you live in a small town.     Word of mouth can bury you.   I live in a small town and you can go from hero to zero with one order.   You need to do what is right for you and this situation to protect your reputation.   I only use contracts for wedding cakes.  That's just me and works for me in my one-horse town.  I meet many of my customers half way with cakes and let them transport...but I never let them travel with fragile cakes.   I will insist on full delivery if the order is fragile.  

costumeczar Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 5:02pm

Quote:

Originally Posted by ddaigle 
 

Contracts aren't worth a hill of beans if you live in a small town.   

You got that right! Totally different dynamic than larger towns and cities.

Lynne3 Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 6:00pm

I think doing her wedding is a disaster waiting to happen unless she pays you for delivery.  Anything short of that and I would have to somehow remove the burden of ANY transport damage.  It simply id too unknown.

CakeGeekUk Posted 23 Sep 2013 , 9:13pm

Just on the point of how the damage happened to the cupcakes, would it be possible that this happened when the customer was taking them out of the box and putting them on a serving plate? The reason I ask is because stiletto cupcakes are made in three parts - the cupcake (front of the shoe), the sole and the heel.  Unless you've made them yourself, a customer might not understand that they come apart fairly easily and the damage might have been done lifting them out of the cake box.

 

I'm not sure if this is even what happened, but I'm  wondering if the solution could be to have each cupcake on it's own miniature cake card (just cut a standard sized card into individual sizes) and secured in place with a little extra dab of chocolate, under the toe and under the heel.  This way each stiletto cupcake can be lifted out of the cake box by it's card.

 

Or does anybody have any better ideas for improving the stability of high-heel cupcakes? And engineer/cake decorators out there??!!!!

TheBug Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 8:03pm

I'm doing the wedding, because like I said, she's not afraid to speak up and that could be the end of my business if she starts bashing me all around town. My family can't afford the risk of  the bad word. I'm delivering all the way to the reception and set up an acknowledgement on her part releasing me from responsibility once I deliver. I also am including a part letting her know that some of this needs to go back into the refrigerator and once I'm gone, it's not my responsibility to protect the guests heath and safety if not properly handled.

 

It's just frustrating. Just spoke with her again and she changed set-up details but said I had them all wrong and this is what she wanted all along. Trust me, I wrote the whole conversation down. Also told me there was a kitchen for prep. There's not. I'm just nervous and paranoid. I've never had an issue with a customer, let alone a bride and now there are tons with this one. Just need to learn to not let it get to me and know how to approach it next time.

 

Send some kind thoughts and prayers my way this weekend. Sounds like I'm going to need it!

kikiandkyle Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 8:33pm

AI'd rather deal with the bad mouthing from someone who's known to whine and complain for free stuff than take that and lose the money and time I spent making them free cakes on top.

You may also find it's a good idea to continue any communication with her via email so you have her words in her writing.

costumeczar Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 8:35pm

Good luck, but don't be surprised when this is someone who has complaints after the wedding and wants money back. Make 100% sure that she signs off on the appearance of the cake, and that you talk to the person at the reception site who cut and served the cake.

 

If I were you I'd call the reception site the day after the reception to find out how everything went. I'd probably find the person who was going to cut the cake when I delivered it, and tell them that I was planning on calling to make sure everything went smoothly, and if they had any problems to please call you and give you a heads up. Don't say anything about the customer being difficult, because they probably already know that!

liz at sugar Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 8:47pm

It sounds as if this customer is holding you hostage.  You cannot worry about what someone MIGHT say.  You could do absolutely everything right and still have someone trash your name.

 

I hope all goes well for you, but you should have declined this job when you had the opportunity to do so.

 

Liz

-K8memphis Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 9:02pm

oh man, so sorry!

 

this is so uncomfortable for you--i myself could never* operate under these circumstances--you're letting yourself be held hostage--and while i understand your point of view--i hope it's over quickly and quietly--but i see she's already pulling your chain some more--agh--

 

*by never i mean if my kids were small and i needed the gig i might consider it--but they are in their 30's now--and i'd just say no--

 

i hope your thread cannot be connected to you in real life--where she could read this or something--stranger things have happened--

 

anyhow

 

best to you

-K8memphis Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 9:26pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheBug 
 

A contract would have been great! Do you have everyone sign it saying that, or just the people who transport it themselves in any way?

 

She's already paid the entire order off and we signed a contract, so technically if she backed out, I would keep the first half of the money she put down on it. The problem is, it's all small towns around here and everyone knows everyone, and if she's willing to come at me like this, I fear the fallout. My business is word of mouth mostly and I'm just one year into this so I feel she has me by the throat a little.

 

This is the first time it has happened to me, so I figured it was worth just giving the money back in order to keep the business. It is a big wedding for me and I guess I didn't want to lose it. Plus, she told me that was half-way for her. I didn't realize she only drove three minutes to get there because I originally offered a home-delivery as I'm more comfortable with that. I always deliver to home unless they are far away and don't want to pay the "over-15-miles delivery charge". She said we could meet half way and named that town so I agreed. It all seems just weird to me. I don't know why she insisted on meeting....

 

 

so she signs a contract with you for the catering...if you have a contract for the catering--i don't know i'm getting confused--

 

so you are letting her take advantage of you for an even larger transaction or something...

Kittycakes21 Posted 3 Oct 2013 , 9:33pm

Go to the cakeboss website, they have contract templates that you can customize for your needs

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%