Cake Fell After Customer Left With It - What To Do

Decorating By thecakemaker Updated 26 Mar 2006 , 1:29pm by thecakemaker

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 12:42pm
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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!

~ i'll post the picture of the cake a little later after I download it from my camera.

60 replies
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KayDay Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 12:49pm
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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!

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:03pm
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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.


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Imagine707 Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:13pm
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!!!

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LisaMS Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:13pm
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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

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ape Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:15pm
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!

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irisinbloom Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:16pm
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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

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:24pm
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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.


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MomLittr Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:32pm
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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.


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adven68 Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:33pm
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 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.

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cybourg Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:48pm
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

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izzybee Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 1:50pm
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!

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dsoutherngirl Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 2:07pm
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.

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KayDay Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 2:14pm
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 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.

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dsoutherngirl Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 2:20pm
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

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KayDay Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 2:25pm
post #16 of 61

EXACTLY...and I am always afraid of coming off as pushy..but I want to say something..then I sorta bite my tongue and's theirs now..and bought with their $...but I have to wonder..knowing how most guys are about these things ( GUYS FROM THIS SITE EXCLUDED, SINCE YOU KNOW ABOUT CAKES ) but would their future MILS or brides...scream at them the way I want to?

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 2:36pm
post #17 of 61

I usually deliver my tiered cakes but I have had a couple people pick them up. I delived a 3 tiered cake that was constructed the same way as this one with no problem (and delivered it 35 minutes away over hilly wavey roads) and i've had two tiered cakes picked up with the same construction with no problem (one was driven over an hour away). I feel sorry for her because she was so excited but I'm also disappointed because I put a lot of work into that cake - as I always do. Like adven68 said - i'm trying to figure out how it "slid off" with a dowel running completely through it. I get rave reviews on my cakes "just like a wedding cake", "I love the texture - moist but not mushy". I push my cakes into themselves when they come out of the oven to level them and it makes them denser. It was on a cardboard round with a dowel running through - I can't imagine it sliding off.


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Doug Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 7:59pm
post #18 of 61

skeptical teacher here:

where's the proof it "slid'??????????

may it have been "smoosed" by shifting packages?
or was it dropped?

customer might be saving "face" here.

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TERRYHORTON Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 8:08pm
post #19 of 61

I wouldn't give any refund, just lots of sympathy!
Commiserating with her on the loss will have to do if this ever happens to me because I warn them about all that ahead of time.

Perhaps in the future you should say "if you choose to pick up your cake, then your are responsible for it". Otherwise, I will be happy to deliver and set it up for you!


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DiscoLady Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 8:08pm
post #20 of 61

I've heard that the center dowel actually turns into a razor and slices right throught the cakes at high speeds.
Sorry, but once the cake is in their hands it's their problem not mine. Everyone knows how fragile cakes's cake no concrete for Pete's sake. I wouldn't offer a discount NO WAY NO HOW. Whether it was her fault or the other drivers fault.

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leily Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 8:12pm
post #21 of 61

I was just going to ask that doug. Did you see a picture of the damaged product? Did she bring it back to you to see? (i mean she was only 15 minutes away) If you doweled it like all your others and they have been delivered/picked up fine then I am wondering what exactly happened.

I personnaly would have done the same as you, offered to repair what I could. However you spoke with her about the traveling with it, and how it was doweled and you placed it in the vehicle. She was happy with it when she left, she paid for the services you provided, she was happy with your services, it is not your fault for her driving.

If you bought a car, drove 10 miles away from the delearship and got in a wreck and totaled the car, would you expect the dealership to refund any money? No because you paid for a product that was to your satisfaction, and it wasn't their fault you got into a wreck.

If they bring it up I would do as others stated. Explain how traveling with a cake takes a little more care than normal because they are not as stable.

Hope this all works out for you. I am sure if they were really happy with the cake then you still have a shot at the wedding cake--and wouldn't you be delivering it anyways icon_wink.gif


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Kellie1583 Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 8:41pm
post #22 of 61

I totally agree with everyone that has said no refund. I always show my customers the cake and then tell them that once it is out of my hands, it is their responsibility to get home in one piece. I cringe everytime I see someone grab the box of a sheet cake by te sides, not underneath...especially just after I ask them to hold it in the middle. No matter how many boards you put down, if you hold it by the side the icing is gonna crack... at least a little. It sounds as if you did everything right and she was driving like a lunatic. Can't wait to hear what the co workers had to say.

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DiscoLady Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 9:16pm
post #23 of 61
Originally Posted by Kellie1583

I cringe everytime I see someone grab the box of a sheet cake by te sides, not underneath.

Or when they say that they're going to put it on the seat...good Lord that's the worst place!!!
Or they pull up in a tiny two seater truck after ordering a huge cake too. Geez...

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chefdot Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 9:42pm
post #24 of 61

i have got to see a pic of this and how it collapsed. weird.

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 10:17pm
post #25 of 61

I'm going to post a picture of the cake now. Teal and black two tiered cake. (before the crash)

Thanks for all of your support!

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joanmary Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 11:24pm
post #26 of 61

At the risk of sounding really stupid, how exactly do you push your cakes into themselves? Does this eliminate the need to level them? Just looking for a better way. Thanks.

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thecakemaker Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 11:35pm
post #27 of 61

I just place a paper towel over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven and then use a cutting board placed over that to push down until the cutting board is flat on the cake pan. This only works if the cake bakes over the height of the pan. I still cut the top of the cake before stacking to clean the top edges up.


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newdec Posted 26 Feb 2006 , 11:44pm
post #28 of 61

I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with this. I feel that in no way were you responsible, but if it's going to cause you grief at work - if it were me - it wouldn't be worth *that* - I'd kind of feel them (the people you work with that are involved) out and act accordingly - I'd rather be out the $ for the cake/labor than have to deal with co-workers that felt wronged, but that's jmho.

Again - I'm sorry you're having to deal with it at all.


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dky Posted 27 Feb 2006 , 12:11am
post #29 of 61

Everyone is right.... you delivered a perfect cake... what happened after it left your hands is not your responsibility or fault.

Certainly don't give any money back.

I often worry when I deliver cakes.. knowing that they will transport them again... I am so careful and I don't think they get it that they need to be careful but its there responsiblity.

Try not to feel bad, you have done nothing wrong.

When they order from you again... I am sure they will, offer to deliver for them.


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Richard Posted 27 Feb 2006 , 12:12am
post #30 of 61

But if you give a refund isn't that as much to say that you were somehow responsible. I don't think I would give a refund based on just that because you are not responsible for the mishap.

You provided the product and when people pick up your product you are not responsible for what they do with it after it leaves your premises.

You did your job it was not your fault.

They should of had it delivered. They made the choice to pick it up and should have been very careful. From now on state this to who ever picks it up. Once it leaves your premises it is no longer your responsibility.

This is truly a bummer!!!!!!!!!! you have my sympathy.
Kathy R

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