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cake fell after customer left with it - what to do

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
I'm not quite sure what to do with this one. I made a two tiered 30th birthday cake for the daughter of a co-worker. My office manager is her aunt and the caterer of the party was a co-workers husband. The cake was a two layer 8" and 2 layer 6" cake iced in blue buttercream with fondant accents with buttercream and rasberry filling. The top tier was placed on a cake board supported with dowels and there was one long dowel going through both cakes to the bottom of the cake. I personally placed the cake in the back of the jeep cherokee in a cake box on a non skid mat that I provided. The cake was fine when she left with it - I received a big "Thank you" and a hug! 15 minutes after she and her friend left with the cake I got a tearful phone call stating that the top tier had "slid off" of the cake and collapsed. She wanted to know if I had a quick fix. I had extra blue buttercream and offered to go to her house and see if it could be put back together and re-iced but she decided to run out and get a sheet cake instead. I'm sure i'll hear about it Monday at work! What if anything would you do? I've never had a problem with any of my cakes when I've delivered them or had someone pick them up. This was the same cake I make most often with the same buttercream and rasberry filling. I'm not quite sure how a top tier would have slid off without her slamming on her brakes or taking a turn very quickly seeing as it was dowled through - as I always do. What would you do? Would you return a portion of the money? All of the money? or just let it go?

Thanks! Sorry for the book!
Debbie

~ i'll post the picture of the cake a little later after I download it from my camera.
Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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post #2 of 61
She must have been driving like she DIDN'Tt have a cake in there! If it was stable and you loaded it ..carried it etc. and it seemed stable..she must have done something to cause it. I wouldnt feel like it was my fault at all!
To do what you truly love is to never work!
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To do what you truly love is to never work!
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post #3 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thanks KayDay ~ i'm trying to tell myself the same thing. It's hard when you work with her mother and aunt and everyone in your office is close. I'm guessing I won't get her wedding cake now! (she just got engaged). She is only 23 - maybe the explanation of the dowels, etc gave her the idea that she didn't have to worry about how she drove.

Debbie
Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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post #4 of 61
When your co-worker brings it up just say how sorry you are that the cake didn't make it, and perhaps a little about how carefully one has to drive with a cake on board.

I wouldn't give the money back. You've already done all the work and it's not your fault the driver didn't drive as carefully as she should have (but next time scre the heck out of them so they drive 20mph all the way home icon_wink.gif )

It's so easy to forget you have a cake on board even when you're used to it. I doubt she'll forget next time!!!
post #5 of 61
I would have offered to try to do what I could to salvage it if I had the time. You did that; she didn't take you up on your offer.

Even sheet cakes aren't fool-proof. One time a lady I'd done a cake for didn't even get to the end of my road before managing to put on the breaks and end up with a cake box sideways on her car floor. She came back to me upset (at herself; not me); I happened to have the time to ice it all over again.

Sounds like you engineered it fine. Maybe she'll know if she orders a wedding cake not to deliver it and set it up herself. icon_wink.gif
Make Life Sweet...Eat Cake!
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Make Life Sweet...Eat Cake!
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post #6 of 61
You offerred to go to her house and fix it and that is probably the most you could have done. If she does ask for some money back, you'll have to decide if it's worth the headache at work if you don't give her anything. It stinks, but especially if it will affect your future business, it may be worth keeping her happy. If she does order another cake.....take it yourself!
I'm preparing my field for rain....
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I'm preparing my field for rain....
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post #7 of 61
Debbie I certainly understand how you feel, it's hard when you work with those people and I was always afraid they would talk behind my back. But it sounds to me like you did everything right and they were just not very careful with the cake. Just do what you feel is right, but you did your part and after it leaves your hands it's there responsibilityicon_smile.gif
post #8 of 61
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone! I personally place my cakes in the customers' car just to make sure they are stable. She actually wanted her friend to hold it or to sit it on the seat. I also provide the non skid mat just to be safe. Maybe when I told her that the mat would "keep it from sliding" I should have made sure she realized that it was the THE BOX that would not slide! Maybe she had a false sense of security. Well ~ hind site. I guess i'll find out tomorrow. I'll let everyone know how this pans out. At least it seems that everyone is on my side.

Thanks!
Debbie
Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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Hope your day is a piece of cake!
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post #9 of 61
Debbie, let us know what they say and what happened. I am not sure if I would give a refund, unless it meant alot of future business or the building of good will. As long as folks who know the story don't try to get a refund everytime they find something they think is wrong. If you feel obligated to do a refund, I would think no more than 1/3rd the price. The others were right, it was their responsibility to drive carefully. This is a tough call.

deb
mom to Christine, John, Michele, Joseph & Peter......grandma to Zachary and Colette
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mom to Christine, John, Michele, Joseph & Peter......grandma to Zachary and Colette
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post #10 of 61
If you put a dowel through the middle, how in the world did the top layer slide off? I can't even imagine it....did the cake slide off and the dowel and cake board remain? She must have slammed those brakes quite hard for that to happen...

anyway...the way I see it, her driving will be blamed......you can't be responsible for something after it has left your hands....your co-workers will see it that way. Like everyone else said, you did the right thing by offering to fix it.
post #11 of 61
Once you place the cake in your customer's hands, I would think that you are no longer responsible. (OK, I don't do this for a living and have only ever sold one cake). But, for instance, I buy my daughters little birthday girl figurines for their birthdays. I have to sign a sheet of paper saying that it was in perfect shape when they gave it to me. That way, if I break it after I pay for it, I can't go back and tell them that it was broken when I got home.

So, if your construction of the cake was the same one you use all the time, the flaw couldn't have been yours. You placed it correctly in the vehicle.

On the other hand, (here it goes) you work with these people. IF, and that is a big if, they bring it up in an accusatory way, explain what goes into constructing a cake, and how careful you must drive. Then tell them if they think you failed to explain the driving carefully part you would, JUST THIS ONE TIME, be willing to refund a small portion of the price.

Just my thoughts on something I don't have the experience to talk about, but business is business. icon_redface.gif
Cyndi
"Once you've found the place where your passion meets the world's needs, you've found your destiny."
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Cyndi
"Once you've found the place where your passion meets the world's needs, you've found your destiny."
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post #12 of 61
When I make multi-tiered cakes or cakes that have trees, etc. I always deliver them myself. I just don't want to risk it, and since they are paying so much for those types of cakes, delivery isn't an issue. That way I know I deliver it to their home in one piece. Maybe something to consider next time.

Otherwise, I don't think you owe them a thing. That's like an ice cream shop. If you gave them an ice cream cone and they left your shop is it your fault that they dropped it? Should you give them another free cone? I'd like to see a shop that does!
To baking be true!
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To baking be true!
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post #13 of 61
I'm with adven. There is absolutely no way the top layer could have slid off. The dowel through the entire cake assured that. I would make sure she knew that. But maybe offer to work with her on a partial refund this once because of your job.
give me cake or give me...eh..something else with lots of sugar.
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give me cake or give me...eh..something else with lots of sugar.
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post #14 of 61
I have never had anything like this happen (even tho I did watch a lady leave my shop once with a cake I had just painstakingly finished ..handling it like a football , if she damaged it she musta realized it was her fault as she wouldnt LET me carry it! She was a much older lady and I think she thought I was being condecending like she was frail or something when I offered) but maybe you should ask her when you see her did she have to get on her brake real hard for anything? And maybe this will open the door to explain that while the doweling makes it stable..it still has to be handled with extreme care. She had to have done something extreme to make it tear free from the doweling! I have actually had a few rush (wedding) jobs where they DEMANDED to come pick the cake up...and I worry myself to death! Cuz I wonder if something happens... since of course it isnt the bride picking it up...who the picker-upper will blame!? THis is the one area where I am almost pushy with my customers. When it comes to delivery.
To do what you truly love is to never work!
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To do what you truly love is to never work!
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post #15 of 61
I know what you mean Kay. I have had some DH's come for pick-up and they hold the box on the sides like a laundry basket, instead of underneath. Then they sit it in the front seat of the car, leaning backwards and I nearly cry. Or the person will have an SUV but there will be so much stuff in the back of it, there is no room for the cake. icon_cry.gif
give me cake or give me...eh..something else with lots of sugar.
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give me cake or give me...eh..something else with lots of sugar.
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