Family Emergency...can't Do Cake Order???

Business By CakeMommyTX Updated 6 Aug 2009 , 1:01pm by chrissycorrado

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CakeMommyTX Posted 19 May 2008 , 1:38pm
post #1 of 15

I had an order for Monday (today) that I was not able to complete due to a family emergency. It is the first cake order I have had to cancel and I feel horrible about it.

I tried to get on Cc last night to ask opinions on what to tell the customer, I didnât want "family emergency" to sound like an excuse, but the site was down.

My mother was admitted to the hospital after being in the e.r all day and I stayed with her, and I was unsure if I should go into detail on why I couldnât do the cake.

I went ahead and told the customer I was unable to make the cake due to the family emergency but now I don't know what to do.
Should I offer them a discount on a future order, assuming they ever order from me again?

I'm worried this will give me a bad name, not being able to complete an order. But when it came down to cake and my mother I chose my mother. So what do I do to make it up to the customer?

I contacted them last night at about 8pm, when I came home to gather clothes for the hospital, I was hoping that gave them enough time to find another cake for tonight.

I just really feel like I let them down, between my mom and this cake order I am a wreak. I don't want to be the cake lady you can't count on. But like I said this is the first time I have ever missed an order and hopefully the last.
What can I do too make it right?

Sorry this turned out so long, I'm just sick to my stomach not being able to do this cake.

14 replies
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jmt1714 Posted 19 May 2008 , 1:54pm
post #2 of 15

you have to choose mom of course, but I think you also might want to find another person who can potentially act as a back up in an emergency. the person who orders a cake needs it on the day they need it, so a free cake after the fact isn't necessarily helpful.

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indydebi Posted 19 May 2008 , 5:35pm
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I have relationships with a few decorators and caterers that I can refer business to when I have overflow and in emergencies. Your customers will think you are an incredible person when you can give them the name of "a competitor" ( icon_surprised.gif ) who can help them out. I will sometimes even call my caterer friend first, to see if she's available on that date, then tell my customer, "Call xxxxx .... she is expecting your call."

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CakeMommyTX Posted 19 May 2008 , 5:54pm
post #4 of 15

I thought about that but the order was for a 3-D replica of the Lilly Belle Train at Disney World (or land I confuse the two) and I knew there was no one who would be able to do it with just a few hours notice. And on top of that I had given her a huge discount .
I just feel bad about sticking them with no cake.
If I had more notice I could have arranged something, but I was actually in the middle of making the batter for the cake when my mom called saying she was going to the hospital so I dropped what I was doing and left.
I did'nt even clean up after myself, an employee of the kitchen I rent said she would clean up my mess and for me to just go.
I guess I need to find someone who would be willing to take on an order like that in case something ever comes up again. I already need to start planning for when the baby comes in Sept.

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fmcmulle Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:54pm
post #5 of 15

I agree you have to choose your mother first. I also have referred people to other decorators when I had something planned or if I really couldn't do the cake. Maybe there is someone on CC that is in your area that could help help you out. I hope your mom is ok.

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GI Posted 20 May 2008 , 3:24pm
post #6 of 15

I probably would have told my customer my mother was in the Emergency room, being admitted to the hospital. And you don't need to tell your customer anymore than that. Customer's will usually be a little more forgiving when you tell them a little bit. (I had something similar happen to me at work, only it was a brother, and my customer's were more understanding.)

I hope your mom is going to be o.k. icon_smile.gif

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chrissycorrado Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 5:57pm
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Hi - I acutally just had the same situation happen to me. I had a cake due on Friday. On Tuesday I had to fly to NY for a family emergency. I was due to fly back home on Wednesday, but just my luck my flight was canceled due to severe storms. The next flight back was Thursday afternoon. I knew then that I couldn't do the cake. I called the girl to cancel (it was for her baby's first b-day). She completely flipped out on me. I told her how my mother in law was in the hospital and that I had to come see her in case she didn't make it. The customer didn't care at all! I was crying hysterically into the phone to her that my Mother in Law was going to die, but all she cared about was her baby's cake. I couldn't believe that someone could be so insensititve. I gave her the phone number of another area baker to help her. I even called 5 other bakers, but no one would do the order. What more could I have done? I am just still really hurt by her reaction. I am now afraid that she will bad mouth me to everyone. Even though I couldn't help the situation.

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LaBellaFlor Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:05pm
post #8 of 15

You just have to hope your client understands Things do happen that are beyong our control and we do have real lives outside of us doing cakes. Don't feel bad. I hope everything works out for your mother. Good luck.

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redpanda Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 6:47pm
post #9 of 15

Would it be a good idea to include in your contract (if you do not have a backup plan in place) to say that, in the unlikely situation of medical emergency or equipment failure preventing you from delivering as contracted, you will do X, Y, or Z to try to find a replacement, but if you are unable to do so, a full refund will be given?

This would let the customer know ahead of time that there is a small, but not zero, chance that they will have no cake for their event. For most people, the chance would be small enough that they would consider it no big deal. For the few who would go ballistic at a call about an inability to deliver, it would give them reason to consider going with a larger bakery, who would be less likely to encounter this kind of problem.

I know I would be unlikely to do something as important as a wedding cake with a baker without a good backup plan, but a birthday cake would be no problem for me.

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rvercher23 Posted 4 Aug 2009 , 7:09pm
post #10 of 15

I had this happen to me a month or so ago, I have vertigo, which comes and goes, and a few weeks before I was supposed to do this cake, my vertigo came rolling in. I thought for sure I'd be better before this cake was due, well, 5 days before the cake was due, my vertigo was still in effect and horrible. I couldnt even stand up without falling over and throwing up. I called the lady several times and left her messages and even e-mails. She never responded back. I thought that was the end of it, until I was browsing a local website where people chat about stuff, and found a whole link about me and how much of a horrible person I was!!!!! I had no idea! It made me sick, so I e-mailed her and told that again how sorry I was, and that I have never cancelled a cake before and offered her next cake for free!!! She e-mailed me back so happy and said that she would not take a free cake, but she wanted to have me make her sons birthday cake!!! Some people might understand and them some won't hopefully this goes better for you than it did for me!!! I would offer her something since you did promise her a cake, and couldnt follow through. Good Luck!

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auntmamie Posted 5 Aug 2009 , 1:00am
post #11 of 15

I had this happen to me a few months ago - I was in and out of the hospital for a few weeks, and had to tell a coworker to go to a grocery store. (ICK!!!!) I hate that I coudn't do the cake for him, but I was facing surgery, and had just dumped my boyfriend (like that's an excuse, right??). Thankfully, he was more concerned about me than his son's cake.

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FullHouse Posted 5 Aug 2009 , 4:33pm
post #12 of 15

I'm due to have a baby soon, and was wondering how far ahead of my due date to stop accepting orders since I can't predict exactly when he'll be born. I'm thinking 3 weeks before due date should be safe and in the unlikely event that my baby comes earlier I would hope that the customer would understand. I'm just trying to figure out as well, if I should warn anyone ordering up to a month ahead or just let it be. At this point (I'm 8 months), I wouldn't accept any orders for large events since I just don't have the stamina to handle it. I also figure I'll need to block off my calendar for 6 weeks after the due date as well since I couldn't handle an order with a baby less than 1 month old.

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chrissycorrado Posted 5 Aug 2009 , 4:48pm
post #13 of 15

Thank you everyone for your advice and well wishes. I really like the idea of putting a back up plan on the contract. I am now in the process of trying to find another baker to build a relationship with for emergency situations.

But you know, the funniest part of that customer's reaction was, she was totally in shock when I told her that my business is just me. I conducted business with her through my web site, phone calls and email. It never occurred to me to tell her that it's just me. And I guess she never thought I was anything but a storefront with employees. I only do contracts for wedding cakes, but now I am thinking that I have to do them for all cakes! And to make it clear that I am a one-girl shop. I just hate to scare anyone away from using me for that reason.

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redpanda Posted 6 Aug 2009 , 1:59am
post #14 of 15

I think that, if you have a back-up plan in place, then you shouldn't scare anyone off. If you don't, then the only people it would scare off would be ones you really wouldn't want to risk having a problem with, anyway.

I think it is better to err on the side of caution, because I could see somebody with a large order being angry enough to file in small claims court when they don't have the cake they ordered and paid dearly for. They might not win, but it is hassle and time spent away from what you like doing to fight the suit.

Just my 2 cents.

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chrissycorrado Posted 6 Aug 2009 , 1:01pm
post #15 of 15

That is a really good point. Gosh, I never thought of someone taking me to court. But, you never know with people these days. Thanks!

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