So I made a cake on the weekend for a client. I make cakes as a hobby side business. I work full time m-f. The cake was picked up at 1pm. Constructed the same way I've made all my 2 and 3 tier cakes in the 10 years. It was picked up by a friend of the lady who ordered. It had to travel 30 min to party destination, when it arrived it was damaged. Client said that her friend said it happened not far past my street. I was so disappointed. She is blaming it on my construction. 5 large straw dowels in the bottom 10" round and 1 3mm wooden dowel down through the center. Just 2 weekends ago I had a fully constructed the same way 3 tier cake go the same distance, and I've even had a 3 tier cake go 2-1/2 hrs travel. This is the first time this has happened in in my 10 year hobby, which has me baking usually every other week/weekend. She says it was no way the drivers fault, and I never retaliated, but I don't feel it was my construction. She put it on the front passenger seat. and it was 20 degrees here where I live in Canada on sat. She's asked if I would compensate anything. The party was 3pm and the cake was picked up at 1pm. The part that bothers me is If it happened, not long after leaving my neighborhood, why wouldn't you have turned around are returned so I could fix it or called the lady who ordered and asked what she would like to do. Instead she noticed the cake slip and continued on to the party. They had to remove and use the top tier as her cake and salvage the bottom tier just to serve. And no one contacted me until 7:30 pm that evening. I could have rushed out and fixed the cake before the party started. I wouldn't have been upset. Priority would be to fix the cake and get it to the baby's 1st birthday on time, which I would have then delivered myself to ensure it made it and ate the cost of delivery. It's just a hobby but I also strive to make sure I go above and beyond your expectations. Should I compensate for an error I don't feel is min and has never happened to one of my cakes before?
I have it in writing for everyone to read. If you view the cake, pay, and accept it, it is your cake. I don't think it's being rude, it's just the necessary stuff.
At times of pick up I always ask my customer to check for the cake which is then packed in delivery box in a safest possible way with a complimentary instruction ( Come with extra hands & no tilting the box specially for the tired cakes). Once it is picked up by the customer it's none of my business who did what to ruin the cake. Though I will be happy trying to fix it if it's in my reach without being blamed at 1st place. No baker in his/her right mind would ruin his hard work just like that and keep his reputation on stake. Stop feeling bad for other's fault.
Was the cake cold when you sent it away with someone who had it on the front seat of a car, probably at a slope? If it wasn't, it very well could have slid since car seats aren't level. Also, was it in a box? If she knew that the damage happened close to your house she must have been looking at it, so I assume that it wasn't in a box at all?
I don't know if I'd refund since it doesn't sound like there was a construction problem, and the lady who ordered the cake isn't going to tell you that the person delivering it slammed on her brakes. Who knows what happened.
But you can learn these lessons from this experience:
1. Always refrigerate and deliver cakes cold because they're more sturdy that way and less likely to slide.
2. Always box up cakes for delivery
3. Never let anyone put a cake on a sloped surface, and never let the customer put the cake into their car. You carry it to the car and put it in, then when they drive away it's all their responsibility.
4. Always be clear with customers that if they choose to pick up a cake and not pay for delivery, you aren't responsible once they drive away. Have them sign a form that says the cake was fine when they picked it up and that they approve of the design etc.
If I were the client and the cake fell apart I would have came back or called right then. I agree with the other responses, once they leave with it, it's theirs. They must not have been too worried about it since they didn't call back until that night.. You did what you could do to support the cake and gave them instructions. There's no telling what they may have done with it. If you still feel like you owe them something after reading these replies, you could give them a discount or something on the next cake. You do beautiful cakes btw!
You do beautiful work btw, I'm sure*
This was the cake when it left my house. Chilled and in a box with maybe an 1" wiggle room. I walked it to her car. Helped her put it on the front seat where she said she wanted it. I leveled out the seat with a jacket she had. She belted the box in. I told her to drive very carefully and when taking a turn to pretend she's a 90 yr old grandma. They blame me, I've honestly never had this happen to a cake before and I've been doing cakes for almost 10 years. Some friends say I should compensate. Others say heck no. So I came to the forum. If she had turned around and came back. I could have fixed it and then delivered it myself. Even if they called me when she arrived. I could have raced over to the next town and fixed it on site before the party. The fact that she seen it and just kept going. I don't want to compensate because they never allowed me to help when we had 2 full hrs before the party. Next cake that goes out my door will have a write up when I quote it that will include construction and handling especially on pick up orders. And on pick up a sign off sheet that will boldly state. When you leave it's all on you. I'll post the damaged photo so you see how I could have fixed it easy.
Was the top of the box open or something? It sounds like you did everything right, so I wouldn't refund. Maybe give her a discount on her next cake and don't let the customer put it on the front seat anymore. I bet she hit the brakes and the box slid but she didn't tell the customer that it was her fault.
Oh man, she slammed the brakes on!
Yes the top was open because of the decoration.
I will always walk a cake to their vehicle from now on. Will do up a cake detail sheet of how I construct. And then an approval form for pick ups with a disclaimer that I'm not responsible when you drive away.
Does anyone else use straw dowels on small cakes?
Firstly...a beautifully done cake.
I am also a hobby baker, and agree, no refund for all reasons stated. If customers pick up, you've boxed properly, given instructions...it's now there responsibility.
And this cake..whoa...definitely she slammed on the brakes. She wasn't going to admit that I'm sure. Also never, ever put a cake on the seat of a car.....waaaay too risky. Way to easy to slide or fall off regardless of being bolstered by a coat or purse. Always on the car floor. Rubber matting underneath the box so it won't move/shift. And I put rubber matting under the cake board in the box for extra insurance. I usually put my cakes in the trunk if my car. I've never had a mishap. Fortunately, I've never had to slam on my brakes.
I don't know where you are in Canada, your profile doesn't say. But here in Ontario, it was only 15 C and snowing.
I just made my profile today. I'm in St. Albert AB. From NL originally though :). It got to 21 on Sat. Usually when I deliver I make hubby drive and I hold the cake. But rubber matting under the board for pick ups is a great idea. I'm totally going to start using it.
I always use Non slip grip mat..one roll from $ store works for under 4-5, 12" boards and you are tension free for most of the part. This is a big deal. BTW that's a pretty cake died it's unfortunate death. Sorry !!
Lovely cake, sorry that happened to you, but NO fault of yours.
Did you pipe rosettes directly on cake or is it iced first then decorated?
@ Christyanbobby I too noticed it. It seems rosettes are piped straight on the naked cake without any base crumb coat. I may be wrong, but if it was like that that must have contributed to the disaster.
I always crumb coat. Cake was crumb coated then piped. Who doesn't crumb coat? Pipe work won't even hold to a naked cake.
Yep, I agree! bad driving...no fault of yours.
What was in between the layers?
This cake got slammed or dropped, it's obvious. Clearly the driver doesn't want to take responsibility. So sorry, this was a very sweet design and I love the banner!
The bottom cake was vanilla cake with a cream cheese frosting between the layers. Crumb coated and piped.
The top was marble cake with a whipped chocolate ganache frosting. Crumb coated and wrapped in fondant.
It's obvious that this wasn't a cake collapsing, it was a violent shift to one side. So the driver did something and is blaming ti on you to take herself out of the line of fire. Look at the board under the bottom tier...the cake has shifted off of it in the same direction that the lower tier layers have slid, so it's pretty clear that brakes were hit or a sharp turn was made. I call hijinks on the driver.
Oh dear :-/ What an unfortunate end to such a pretty cake! I have to agree, however, that this looks like either someone was a little heavy on the brakes or it got leaned on an uneven surface (e.g. car seat.)
You did what you had to do. Perhaps consider a pickup waiver for future projects :)
Thank you everyone!
With your comments I came to a a reasonable conclusion and out of good faith because it was my first disaster I offered her a discount and a free item. She refused both and had a few choice things to say. It was certainly a learning experience. Never in my 10 yr hobby have I had to consider a waiver and sign off. But I will certainly have one ready for my next cake on May 2nd.
This forum is great. Thank you all again.
I can't believe this customer actually had "choice words" when clearly her driver friend was at fault. Of course, no way to prove it now.
When I set up my cakes at a venue, I take a picture that's date stamped. This way it shows what cake looked like when you left. Any damage after that your not responsible for. AND, the odd time I've placed a cake in a car all boxed up, I also take a picture. Only done that maybe twice???....but again, proof what cake looked like when it was placed properly on departure. As they say...a picture is worth a thousand words!!
All in all, a good lessoned learned.
I take that advice to. Pic of cake in car. I bet I won't ever have another mishap like this again. Even so I'll have the paperwork and pictures to cover it.
Yuppers....you gotta cover your butt!