Destroyed On Delivery, What Do I Do?

Decorating By Clover Dust Updated 28 Jul 2014 , 12:44am by Valscake

Clover Dust Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 6:04pm
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Question for decorators: I've been making cakes for a year. A couple of cakes I've had to deliver have been destroyed during the drive (One while sliding out of control on an icy road and one when I was cut off on the highway and forced to slam hard one the breaks.) There is no worse feeling than delivering a less than perfect cake. I've repaired them as best as I could. What do you usually tell the customer. I tend to collect the cost at delivery and have given them HUGE discounts that usually mean me losing money on the cake. Any other suggestions? Thanks in advance for your ideas!!

33 replies
JennyS782 Posted 14 Jun 2014 , 11:43pm
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I came on this thread today because I just had this happen to me today! It was my first wedding cake and the icing fell off the cake and the top tier slid... it was a disaster! I let her know ahead of time before I dropped the cake off about all the problems with it and she was okay with it. This one was such a mess and I felt so awful about it that I made it a freebie.

AZCouture Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 1:03am
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AWell first off, collecting payment when the cake is delivered not something I'd do. I require full payment at least three weeks prior to event. A retainer of at least $200, or full amount if it's a smaller cake around that price in total, is due when cake is booked. What would you do if you spent days working on a cake and then they cancelled on you? Can't recoup those costs. I would seriously rethink that "arrangement" if I were you.

As for the accidents you tend to have...oh man. Drive more carefully?! All the support and precautions with the [B]cake[/B] won't matter if you're getting into actual accidents, repeatedly.

AZCouture Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 1:05am
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AJenny, you didn't get paid [B]either[/B]? Is this a new trend or something, I'm seeing this "payment on delivery" nonsense more and more nowadays. :(

AZCouture Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 1:16am
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ANonsense, as in "please don't do that, you'll get ripped off someday and/or people will end up owing you money". Just looking out for you...

costumeczar Posted 15 Jun 2014 , 2:00am
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Are you delivering the cakes when they're at room temperature? If you deliver everything straight from the fridge after they've been there overnight there's way less of a chance that they'll meet with any kind of tragedy in transit. Make sure to box them up and put a non-skid mat in the box, so that they don't move, and even if you slam on the brakes chances are they'll stay still. Cold cake is solid and doesn't shift.

Clover Dust Posted 16 Jun 2014 , 12:30pm
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I drive as carefully as I can. I live in the Chicago area and people here can be very rude drivers. It doesn't matter how much room I give myself people will always cut you off. What I was really asking, weather you're paid up front or not, what do you do when there is a problem with the cake at the venue? Do you give a discount, do you just say sorry and leave? No matter how careful a driver you are this must have  happened to everyone at some time or other.

JennyS782 Posted 16 Jun 2014 , 8:00pm
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AZ, great advice! Thank you! I did receive payment ahead of time, I just refunded the entire amount. I should have been more specific in my post :).

JennyS782 Posted 16 Jun 2014 , 8:02pm
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Costume, thank so much for the advice!! I did let it sit out a little longer than normal before delivering. They would be consuming this cake shortly after delivering and the customer requested specifically that the most important thing was for this cake to be very moist and not cold. I took the cake out too early, I should have kept it refrigerated a little longer.

cai0311 Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 2:29pm
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AClover, If you deliver a cake that has been in an accident of some sort but can fix it 100%, I would say no reduction in price/no refund. I haven't had an accident, but I have accidently shoved my finger in a wedding cake while setting it up at the venue. I pulled out my repair kit and 3 minutes later it looked like it never happened.

But, if the cake could not be fixed 100% then a refund is inorder. Some on CC will tell you a partial refund, some will tell you a full refund is needed. That is up to you and the customer.

Personally, I say full refund in the 2 examples you mentioned in your first post.

cai0311 Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 2:31pm
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AJenny, You might want to rethink your support method. For the top tier to slid I am assuming there was no dowel inserted all the way though the cake. I know a couple people on CC say that is not needed, but I don't see how that is possible. I hammer 2 offset wooden dowels through all my cakes. Never had a problem.

Clover Dust Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 2:32pm
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Thank you cai. On the second cake I offered a discount and they refused to take it. The 1st cake I gave half price.

costumeczar Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 2:39pm
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I never use a center dowel. Never had a problem, but again, I transport everything cold. A center dowel won't stop the tiers from shifting if you slam your brakes hard and the cake isn't cold, and if the dowel isn't firmly anchored into the bottom board so that it won't move at all. It also makes it difficult for the people who are cutting the cake to disassemble it, and you don't want to make those people unhappy because they're the ones who refer you to customers.

 

Also, if you're using the method of doweling where the dowels stick up higher than the surface of the cake, just stop that right now. I just saw someone do that in an instructional video, and it's so wrong in terms of stability...The dowels should be flush with the surface of the tier, and they should all be cut so that they're the same length, not clipped off to match the surface of the cake individually. They won't be guaranteed to be level that way.

JennyS782 Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 6:38pm
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Cai, thanks so much! That sounds like a plan! When using the separator cardboard rounds, do you cut a hole in them before placing the cake on it, or do you just push the long center dowel through and allow it to make a hole then? I've never done one all the way through before. Also, does this dowel poke into/through the cake base? Thanks so much for your help!

JennyS782 Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 6:39pm
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Costume, thank you so much! If I dowel all the way through I'll be sure to cut it to the appropriate height. All of you guys have been so helpful and I appreciate it so very much!!

JanDunlevy Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 7:44pm
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AInvest in the SPS system. Using it has relieved my stress level 100%, well almost! Lol!

cakegrandma Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 10:01pm
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I do not use a center dowel on any of my cakes. As costumeczar said, the dowel does nothing for a cake as layers will shift if brakes are slammed on.  Exactly why I quit doing it!  Unfortunately, I had that happen to me.  Use the sps system and you will be very happy you got them and just add the cost to your cake. Of course, deliver a cold cake, in most cases by the time you get it delivered and set up it will be fairly warmer.  Also when you transport the cake, remember the shelf liner that looks like it is woven to keep it in the box and not slip and sliding.  If a client comes to pick up their cake I always give an eight by eleven piece of the liner and have them put the box on the floor in the backseat.  Helps keep it from running away. ;0)   

FrostedMoon Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 11:28pm
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OP, I would probably refund some or all of the cost as well if I couldn't fix or at least hide the damage.

 

As for me:

 

SPS system-check

Non-slip mat- check

Chilled cake-TOTAL FAIL 

 

Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I so wish I could feel better about chilling my cakes.  It is fine in the winter, but in warmer temps I get such awful condensation and then my buttercream starts to looked pocked and what was crusted is wet and I have to wait a loooong time to try to smooth it again.  No way I could do it at a venue.  Plus, if it's colored buttercream the color starts to look different in areas due to the moisture.  I use a 50/50 butter/shortening crusting ABC and americolor food color.  I'm delivering a 3 tiered cake plus topper this Friday that is buttercream with fondant accents and I would LOVE to deliver it chilled, but so afraid it will look awful due to the condensation!!

Clover Dust Posted 18 Jun 2014 , 11:30pm
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What is the SPS system?

costumeczar Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 1:21am
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Quote:

Originally Posted by FrostedMoon 
 

OP, I would probably refund some or all of the cost as well if I couldn't fix or at least hide the damage.

 

As for me:

 

SPS system-check

Non-slip mat- check

Chilled cake-TOTAL FAIL

 

Don't mean to hijack the thread, but I so wish I could feel better about chilling my cakes.  It is fine in the winter, but in warmer temps I get such awful condensation and then my buttercream starts to looked pocked and what was crusted is wet and I have to wait a loooong time to try to smooth it again.  No way I could do it at a venue.  Plus, if it's colored buttercream the color starts to look different in areas due to the moisture.  I use a 50/50 butter/shortening crusting ABC and americolor food color.  I'm delivering a 3 tiered cake plus topper this Friday that is buttercream with fondant accents and I would LOVE to deliver it chilled, but so afraid it will look awful due to the condensation!!

Where do you live? The humidity here is bad but I've never had an issue with pock marks and color running. That's just weird.

FrostedMoon Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 1:48am
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AMetrowest Boston. We've had a lot of rainy weekends and I don't have AC installed yet. I work on a glass table and last night I had a bowl of cold frosting sitting on the table. When I moved it there were big droplets of water hanging from the underside of the table from condensation. Stark contrast with the 20% humidity we have in our house over the winter months. I have to change recipe ratios and techniques seasonally because of this.

costumeczar Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 11:11am
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A

Original message sent by FrostedMoon

Metrowest Boston. We've had a lot of rainy weekends and I don't have AC installed yet. I work on a glass table and last night I had a bowl of cold frosting sitting on the table. When I moved it there were big droplets of water hanging from the underside of the table from condensation. Stark contrast with the 20% humidity we have in our house over the winter months. I have to change recipe ratios and techniques seasonally because of this.

That's funny, because i used to live in Brookline Village, then in Brighton, so I know what you mean. People don't think of the northeast as having humidity but there are a couple of months of the year when it's bad enough to be nasty, especially with no AC. I will say, though, that if you put things in the fridge in a cardboard box, they don't form the same amount of condensation when you take them out. And the pitted icing from it is still weird.

cai0311 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 2:54pm
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APersonally, I don't like SPS. I use bubble tea straws for supporting each tier and wooden dowels through the cake. The wooden dowels are cut about 1.5" shorter than the height of the stacked tiers. One end of the dowel is sharpened using a pencil sharpener (a cheap plastic one from walmart used only for cakes). Then I hammer the dowels in to the cake. The dowel should go all the way into the base.

With SPS each tier has to be exactly 4". My cakes tend to be more around 4.5" - 5" tall (there are legs you can cut but they are so hard for me to cut). Plus, there has to be a border on the bottom of the tiers to hide the seperator plate which not every design allows.

Now, because the dowel is cut a little shorter than the stacked cakes you need to have an extra piece of dowel to place on the inserted dowel to continue hammering all the way into the base.

You might want to check out Sharon Sugar Shack DVD's. I own several (she has quite a few you tube vidoes too which are free) on different topics. All are very helpful. I like the way she does stacking (covered on one of her DVD's) so I started doing the same. I have never had any issues.

Will the wooden dowels stop a cake from being damaged if you are in an accident/slam really hard on breaks - probably not. But no wooden dowels will not stop the cake tiers from sliding off onto the floor if there is an accident/slamming on breaks hard.

JennyS782 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:28pm
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Cai,

 

Thank you so much for your reply and the DVD suggestions. I'll definitely check them out! I'm looking for all the help I can get! When pushing the dowel through the cake boards between tiers do you have trouble with any of them bending underneath the cake and messing your tier up? That's the only thing that worries me.

JennyS782 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:28pm
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Bending up the cardboard cake round, that is

JennyS782 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:32pm
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... by the way, it has been suggested to me several times to chill my cakes before delivering them to make them more sturdy. The only thing I worry about is the condensation warping my fondant and making the colors run. here in Maryland our summers are very humid! Also, just a few weeks ago a local bakery had a negative review on yelp because a customer picked up a graduation cake from them that had been chilled and when the decorator took it out of the refrigerator all of the colors ran and melted down the side of the cake. Also, the fondant diamond decorations wilted and were sliding off. I don't want this to happen to me.

JennyS782 Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:32pm
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Does anyone have success with chilling cakes in hot and humid weather?

JanDunlevy Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 3:46pm
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ACakegrandma, all of my tiers are 4.5-5 inches tall and I use nothing but SPS. I buy the GSA poly dowels that are 16" long and cut them easily to the right height. They fit and lock into the plates perfectly. When I icing to the edges of my cake board the plate to the SPS is pretty much covered. I do usually put some type of border between tiers though.

costumeczar Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 6:35pm
post #29 of 34

No system is 100% going to prevent a cake from being damaged if you are in a serious accident. I've heard people who use SPS who have had cakes melt and slide.  There are definitely things that you can do to prevent them moving around, and a combination of different things might be appropriate for different situations.. I only use wooden dowels and have never had a problem, but I also chill the cakes so they're pretty solid when I move them.

 

I live in Virginia and our humidity is probably similar to Maryland and I've never had colors slide off the cake from condensation, and I do refrigerate everything per the health department rules. The only time I ever had a problem with fondant softening up was when it was at room temp closed up in a plastic cake carrier. The moisture must have recirculated from the icing into the fondant and melted the flowers, but I've never had that happen from a refrigerated cake.

 

You jsut have to experiment to find out what works for you and what doesn't. If you're not sure something will work, like putting gumpaste in the fridge, do it beforehand to see what happens. That way you won't be caught by surprise when it's time to deliver a cake.

AZCouture Posted 19 Jun 2014 , 7:28pm
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A

Original message sent by JennyS782

Does anyone have success with chilling cakes in hot and humid weather?

Every cake, every time, regardless if it's 116 degrees Fahrenheit outside with pouring rain, or 60 and sunny. Just have to be smart about it. Fans, cardboard to catch condensation, dehumidifier if necessary.

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