Yesterday I made a cake for the sister of one of my most loyal customers. I made a 2 tiered cake with a solid chocolate champagne bottle topper. I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to put this heavy bottle on top of the cake and drive it to the party so I decided to assemble on site. Before I left, I put my dowels under where the bottle would be and put a bit of buttercream since I planned on assembling at the table the cake would be for the night.
I got to the restaurant and the hostess asked did I want the cake in the cooler or did I want to put it on the table in The banquet room. The decorator had just left and no guests were there and more than 30 min behind. Because it was a warm day and the cake was already softening I decided that it would be best to leave it in the cooler until someone arrived. I put the champagne bottle on top to hand it over. The hostess was very hesitant and nervous about taking the cake and I assured her the cake would be fine after I put the bottle on. I even picked the cake up to show her if held steady it would stay. She was still very doubtful so I asked could I take it myself and they said no because it would be a liability.to enter their kitchen. I suggested she carry the cake and someone hold the bottle for safe keeping. The manager came over and held the bottle in place while the hostess carried the cake and they walked off.I then left and sent the client a picture of the cake and told her that the manager and hostess took it to the cooler. She said she loved it.
An hour later I get a call from the client saying when someone brought the cake into the event room, when they sat it down the bottle fell off. I explained that when I left, the cake was in tact. She says well nothing was there attaching the bottle to the cake. I explained that there was buttercream to 'glue' it together and that I assembled on site to avoid this issue and that I can't be responsible for something that happened behind my back. She says okay and hangs up. Of course, I feel for her, but the cake made it to the location, to the cooler, back from the cooler and as someone sits it down there's an issue? I can't take blame in it. I can only assume that whoever put it down tilted the cake.
I do realizedI could have done things differently by setting it up on the table anyway, I could have made the bottle out of Rice Krispies to be lighter, I Could Have Made A Smaller bottle, or I could have attached the bottle to the cake in some other fashion. Anyhow, I have a great relationship with her sister. She orders all of her cakes from me. Therefore, do I try to make amends and give her some compensation? I think a dozen cupcakes would be suffice. What do you think?
That's a gorgeous cake! Well done!
If the champagne bottle was made of solid chocolate, it would have been way too heavy to be kept in place by buttercream 'glue' alone - I think it was a mistake to set it up like that (as you've said). So, yes, I think it would be a good idea to offer some compensation. I'm sure the cupcakes would be very gratefully accepted.
AHonestly, I would have never let anyone move the cake. The solid chocolate bottle should have been better anchored and attached not only with buttercream but with a dowel inserted into the bottle and the cake. I would certainly offer her some sort of compensation especially since you already knew that the cake was going to be a problem.
Yes, buttercream won't hold anything like that, even buttercream wouldn't hold rice krispie treats since the center of gravity is so high. It should have either had a dowel run through it, and glued with candy melts or royal OR have been set up where it would stay. This was a bad call on your part, therefore a refund is in order. You yourself admitted it was your fault in the last paragraph. It is important to remember that these events are important to people and your business will hurt if you do not rectify these situations---regardless of their sister's customer status. Where is the sympathy for the customer anymore? ::sigh::
also a dozen cupcakes is not a good compensation...give her some money back. what will she do with cupcakes and no event?
I agree with everyone above.
This was definitely a preventable situation on your end.
First things first, as the cake expert, it is within your job description to guide the prospective clients to a design that not only suits their needs, but also have it be something that is attainable for you in every aspect. So in that regard, I think the full size bottle may have been a tad overboard because of the problems you should have seen coming.
Secondly, the way you attached the bottle to the cake simply wasn't enough. There should have been doweling involved underneath the bottle for support, as well as a dowel up inside the bottle to attach it to the cake. All that plus I would have used RI as glue as it trumps BC for holding ability in almost every way. RI is my favorite cake decorating tool, by far. If all that would have been done, it would have been fine on the table, no need for the hot potato action that was going on.
So that brings us to compensation. I would offer anywhere from 25%-50% off a future cake order, not cupcakes like you suggested. I find cupcakes can be taken as a slight, but a discount on a future order promotes the client to get over the bad experience, and gives you an opportunity to wash it out their mouths and hopefully pick them up as a repeat client.
If she is adamant on a refund, give her anywhere from 50% to 100% back and be done with it (of course start with small credit, then move up from there).
Then all you can do is lick your wounds and learn your lesson.
I even picked the cake up to show her if held steady it would stay.
beautiful work -- when i saw the picture of the cake, the words, 'solid chocolate' and 'restaurant' i knew exactly what was gonna happen -- your obligation was not fulfilled because your construction was lacking since you were aware that special handling was required -- i would generously refund if it was me -- her special occasion was marred --
also especially for restaurant deliveries i never leave anything to chance -- i deliver very close to start time and i set the cake up on the cake table -- then i feel i've completed my responsibilities--
you have to do all the thinking/controlling/protecting regarding the cake -- why was the cake softening -- because you did not control the temperature -- i deliver in boxes that will hold the cake at a certain temperature so no softening takes place until i want it to --
best to you
ARestaurant deliveries get one option, and one option only: I deliver after the guests are scheduled to arrive. No ifs ands or buts about it. You're already denying the restaurant the chance to make any money on menu desserts for a usually large amount of people. And even if they are gracious about it and say noooooo big deal, it is. That's lost income because the recipient got a fancy cake. So trust me, they're a wee bit sore about it. And now, they get the luxury of babysitting something they're not responsible for at all. Not fun, in fact it's downright irritating for the staff sometimes. So I talk up the surprise factor about why I want to deliver it when I do, make it a surprise, give it a grand entrance, yada yada, and don't worry about the staff possibly mishandling it, or having to store it, yada yada....and all goes well. Next time! Plus...you get to stared at as you bring it in, all dressed up, with a fabulous cake, and that's walking advertising right there.
Yep, this was your fault, sorry. The staff were nervous for good reason.
I'd refund at least 50% - While the cake was very neatly done, it's very plain - the bottle was clearly the star of the show, and the cake would not have been very exciting without it.
Restaurant deliveries get one option, and one option only: I deliver after the guests are scheduled to arrive. No ifs ands or buts about it. You're already denying the restaurant the chance to make any money on menu desserts for a usually large amount of people. And even if they are gracious about it and say noooooo big deal, it is. That's lost income because the recipient got a fancy cake. So trust me, they're a wee bit sore about it. And now, they get the luxury of babysitting something they're not responsible for at all. Not fun, in fact it's downright irritating for the staff sometimes. So I talk up the surprise factor about why I want to deliver it when I do, make it a surprise, give it a grand entrance, yada yada, and don't worry about the staff possibly mishandling it, or having to store it, yada yada....and all goes well. Next time! Plus...you get to stared at as you bring it in, all dressed up, with a fabulous cake, and that's walking advertising right there.
Just a question there, when I got married the reception venue charged for plating up and serving the wedding cake. Don't all venues do this? All the ones I've seen do, so they make money from this to cover the serviettes and plates and cutlery and their time cutting and serving it. I guess they don't make as much money as if everyone ordered dessert. (I'm in Australia so it might just be a thing here).