Customer Claims Elmo Was Decapitated!

Decorating By MichaelaRod Updated 25 Jan 2009 , 3:40am by MichaelaRod

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MichaelaRod Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:46pm
post #1 of 18

Hi all,
I would love some input for this situation. I made a 3D Elmo cake for someone (can't get the picture to upload) a week ago. She sent her neighbor to meet me and pick up the cake on Saturday night and their party was planned for Sunday. On Sunday at 12PM she calls me and tells me that in the middle of the night, Elmo's head fell off. He had been constructed on Friday night and had spent Friday night and Saturday 100% in tact at my house and seemed sturdy as ever. The person is a co-worker of my mom's and now my mom informs me that she is sneaky and conniving. In her conversation with me, I asked what time the party was at, willing to drive over and fix Elmo before the party and she says 1:00! I said well if you had called me earlier this morning, I would have had time to come fix the cake, now I am on my way out the door. She just kept whining and complaining about the cake over and over on the phone, making it obvious that she was not getting off the phone until I offered to refund her money. Eventually I had to get out the door and I said I would give her some money back. I charged this woman $50 for this cake that took me 10+ hours with help and probably cost $20 in supplies!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would love to hear if anyone else has been in a similar situation and how you dealt with it or how you protect yourself against people like this.

How do I even know that Elmo was ruined, I have no proof. I left it in perfect condition with her neighbor.

17 replies
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ladybug76 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 9:56pm
post #2 of 18

I've never had this happen personally, but I know some decorators take pictures of cakes to show 'delivery' condition, etc. Also, years ago when I picked up my wedding cake, rather than have them deliver it (before I began to decorate!!), I was told that I was taking cake on my own risk and assumed responsibility, as the cake was as ordered when I left the building.
Back to your situation..... She only paid $50 for such an amazing, detailed cake!! She should count her blessings!!! And.... you don't know if something happened to the cake in route with the neighbor transporting it that compromised the construction. And.... she only called you 1 hour before the party!! Didn't she notice a headless ELmo during the morning??
Hopefully, a 'cake pro' will come along and offer some advise.

Good luck,

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JGMB Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:01pm
post #3 of 18

I would've asked her to take a photo as proof, and when I received the photo, I'd offer to give the money back. If the cake really wasn't decapitated (and I bet it wasn't!), she wouldn't want to ruin it herself just to take a photo to weasel out of paying. She probably would've backed off at that point.

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terrylee Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:02pm
post #4 of 18

I will offer to transport...if they choose to do it themselves than it's their baby.

It left you all in tact.... You don't know how other people drive or handle the cake when they get it......they could have called you if it didn't arrive safely but she waited till the next day and just before the party. and besides if you fix refund (by the sounds of her I wouldn't even offer a discount)...but you have to play that by ear.....

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ladybug76 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:08pm
post #5 of 18

I just saw the pic of Elmo and he was amazing!!! She was definitely receiving a bargain for $50!!! I would have charged around $150 and I know tend to low-end my pricing!!! Great Job on the cake!!!

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kkitchen Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:21pm
post #6 of 18

Nothing in life is accident proof - with that said, I fiind it hard to imagine that the head on this elmo fell off. I think that she is trying to get one over on you. Why did she not just pick her cake up herself? That is what she gets for all this drama of cake by neighboor. How is she so sure it was not her neighboor's child that damage the cake or the neighboor did it by mistake?
You should not be responsible. However to be nice you should give her a 20% discount on her next cake. That is a beautiful cake and it was a very good deal. Do not give her any money back.


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MnSnow Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:37pm
post #7 of 18

Absolutley NO MONEY BACK!!!!!!
Unless she can prove something was wrong, ther eis no refund! PERIOD!!!! Everyone that can tries to get something for nothing. So if she whines enough it means she has and will continue to conivive and manipulate her way through life.

Make her prove it. No refund and no discount!

I'm sure you could ask other people at the party about it.

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MBHazel Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 10:42pm
post #8 of 18

I am sorry that you are having to go through this. I am a little curious.... how was the body and head supported? If there was a dowel straight through it would be near impossible for the head to just fall off. If the ELMO was knocked it would have dislodged the dowel and damaged the body too. Of course, it is possible that the head cracked and fell away (I doubt that) but she would have said something different.

I would stick with a signed pick up / delivery form that the cake was received in good condition and, like the others said, if you choose to carry it, you are responsible.


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TexasSugar Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 11:01pm
post #9 of 18

I believe in giving people the benefit of doubt, and don't always jump to the negative side of things. That said, can I just say.... Who in their right mind calls at 12 about a cake that was damaged during the night when the party is at 1? That right there makes me go Hmmm.

For any future orders, I would have the customer sign a paper, especially if a 3rd party is picking up the cake, stating that once the cake is out of your hands that is where your respondsibilty ends. I would also include with this a picture of the cake before it left in their hands. I would be sure to include proper cake of transporting a cake (flat surface, air condition on or heat turned down, so on) as well as proper storage of the cake (like if it needs to be kept in the fridge or not.

Since the cake was picked up by someone else, we don't know how it was treated. Was it kept straight when moving it from location to car and in the cake, as well as to the next location? Did the pick up person take it into their home before it reached its final destination? Was it bumped or jarred a lot in the process of moving it from place to place?

There are a lot of unknowns in this, but what we do know is that someone waited until last minute to call you about a cake that damaged. That right there sends off warning bells to me, big time.

I'd also be inclined to say that I wanted pictures of the damaged cake, preferable with a time stamp on it before I would have considered giving a refund or even money back.

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MichaelaRod Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 2:52am
post #10 of 18

Thank you all for the affirmation that I am not crazy for thinking things are a bit off about this!! I will definitely be putting together a "waiver" of sorts that I am not responsible after the cake leaves my presence. The fact that she waited to call me (she claims she thought I might be at church in the morning??? Right..... who assumes if/ when someone goes to church???) means she didn't want me to come fix it IF it was broken in the first place...

Elmo was constrcuted with about 4 dowels underneath the head supporting it and two dowels going through the head.... so like you said, Hazel, if the head came off, it would have had to have had the dowels rip through the cake or be bumped enough that the head jumped a good 8 inches or so off the dowels????? I have made a couple other cakes with this form and have NEVER had any issues.

I ended up giving her $20 back, it feels like slap in the face. Like I said, it already happened and I already promised it but I need to be prepared for low-life customers in the future.

You'll be happy to know, since then I have tripled my prices. I am NOT going to work my life away for NOTHING!

I also love the idea of requiring a picture if someone should complain. I never thought about how they would never ruin the cake just to get money back. Clever thinking!

Thank you all for your ideas and input...... you are all amazing!

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summernoelle Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 4:47am
post #11 of 18

I'm glad that you did what was right for you in the end. This is always tough-you want to have good customer service, but at the same time, it wasn't really fair. (Been there, done that-someone asking for money back when it isn't fair. It's pretty crappy to go through.)
I have a policy that once a cake is accepted, delivered or picked up, it is theirs. Period. The cake was properly constructed and supported, so I would say this wasn't your fault, and the lady prob. didn't drive carefully, or place it in a safe place. You have no way of knowing.
But regardless, you acted very well, and I am glad you found something you were comfortable with, even if it meant eating so much of the cost. icon_sad.gif

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Eisskween Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 5:02am
post #12 of 18

I just took a look at your Elmo cake.

This cake is gorgeous! If you had dowels going through the head as you said, they would have had to "place kick" the head to get it off. You did a great job. I would definitely not take another order from her.

I have a clause in the contract that if picked up, I am not responsible for any damages to the cake in transport. If I am delivering the cake, I get a signature from the venue that the cake was delivered and in satisfactory condition. I also take a picture of the cake as set up.

Sorry this happened to you, but don't let it get you down. There are people out there who are like this, unfortunately.

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ceshell Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 7:55am
post #13 of 18

For what it's worth, there was at least one (if not two) threads on here a good long while back written by people who had Elmo cake blowouts, so it IS possible. I remember one where his nose...or was it eye...or both??...took out part of the cake it was sitting next to. It's impossible to know if she is being truthful or not but I figure, since you already gave some $ back, it might make you feel a little better to hear that. I mean, I suppose none of us want to think our cake fell! I don't know which is worse, thinking my cake bit the dust or thinking someone is trying to rip me off.

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Kitagrl Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 9:43pm
post #14 of 18

Hey looks just like my Elmo cake! icon_biggrin.gif

The head can come off if someone is not careful...but then I've seen people hauling off with a cake I just gave them at crazy angles, carrying it around like its made of steel. Once I give it to the customer, if I've done everything I can do to make it sturdy, its up to them to be careful with it.

On occasion, if I do think a cake will be "too scary" to trust to the customer, I will deliver it. That Elmo, actually, is one that may be best delivered.

You charged her a VERY good price for it...way I don't see how she should get any money back.

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costumeczar Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 10:16pm
post #15 of 18

I wouldn't do any more cakes for her, either. If you do decide to accept any orders she throws your way, she should get a special PITA surcharge as well. If she doesn't place any orders with you because the price is too high for her liking, all the better.

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Kiddiekakes Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 10:39pm
post #16 of 18

Ha! Ha! I had to laugh at the opening line!! Seriously though...I doubt the head fell off after a day and a half.It would have fallen off before then had it been unsturdy.I have a waiver on my website that I am not responsible for any cake once it leaves my care so what they do with it after that is Non-refundable!!! I would say too bad..but I also realize that is hard to do and you want to make her happy and not bad mouth your business.I would give her a portion back but not the entire amount!

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aligotmatt Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 10:57pm
post #17 of 18

ooh that's hard. I had a cake once in a similar price to work situation, I made about $2 an hour on it. She picked up the cake and then called me an hour later to tell me that the top tier fell off when she was driving it home (the party was an hour later). But that she *knew* I was at fault because she was such a good driver. She asked me what I was planning to do about it. I explained to her the cost of the cake to me, the amount she paid, and how much time I put into it. She was like, just keep the money, and charge more next time! I did!! I can't imagine someone demanding money back when they found out you worked for $3/hr...

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MichaelaRod Posted 25 Jan 2009 , 3:40am
post #18 of 18

I thought about telling her that I had make like $1/hr on this cake....not to mention my sister who worked for free for 10 hours alongside me. But..... then I thought she wasn't worth my breath. Rest assured.... NO more cake orders from this woman.... there is no PITA surcharge that would make it worthwhile for me... I want to still LIKE cake decorating when I finish a project!!!

She was just such a cheapskate that she insisted on getting the cake at the most convenient spot for her without a delivery fee so she had her neighbor meet me at the children's museum on a day when I was going there.... I will definitely be insisting on delivering these types of cakes in the future.

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