Hello fellow cake makers. Last week I posted about my first disaster cake. Was supposed to deliver a 14" cake to a rehearsal dinner on Friday night, the cake broke. I offered a refund and the bride to be asked me if I could deliver "anything" since they had no dessert. I ran back home and decorated two 8" cakes and ran back to the dinner, where the bride then asked if I would recreate the original cake and deliver to the wedding on Saturday as the grooms cake, which I did with no issues. I received an email today asking me when she could expect her refund. What are your thoughts on my refund obligation?
my thoughts on your refund obligation are not printable -- she does not get a refund for obvious reasons
I don't really feel you owe her much of anything since you delivered the 14" AND two 8" cakes for the original price. Granted, they were a bit out of order due to mishap, but you definitely did make it right, and immediately so!! It seems as if she decided that exchanging two 8" cakes AND the original order of the 14" (Can you tell I might emphasized that...) was fair, rather than your original refund offer. (Did you have the 14" just hanging around, or did that involve a re-bake?! )
You told her she could have a refund and nothing more was discussed. You should have brought it up when she asked about the recreated cake. I think you are obligated to refund.
Let it be noted that I am SO no one to refund at every little complaint, but I think in this case you should.
A refund can also come in the form of a discount on her next cake. Not that I feel a refund was warranted in your case, but simply offering 20% off or something like that in an attempt to keep her as a future customer.
It will come down to how important she is to you as a customer.
For me, I keep a certain amount of fresh frozen cakes of all sizes on hand all the time so in the event something does go wrong and Murphy visits once in a great while. I'm prepared.
My current refund policy is, any order over $75.00 I require 25% down, my customers have 3 business days to cancel and receive it back in full ( this does not apply to orders made with a deadline delivery date less than five day) anything after that is forfeited. I feel I have already invested time and supplies in their custom order. All orders over $100.00 must be paid up one week prior to the event.
My initial response is wow, you bake her 4 cakes and she wants money back as well? I do feel you have fulfilled your obligation to her, even though it was as stated out of order, BUT there is still that little niggling voice that you offered a refund and no verbal agreement was made that delivering the cake as a groom's cake would satisfy it. Do you have anything in your contract that addresses it?
*Note to self: Put a sentence to address replacement or refund in my contract.
In the heat of a failure it's hard to cover your bases when you're desperately trying to make things right.
In your current situation I think it's fair for you to explain you thought you fulfilled your obligation by delivering not only the replacement cakes for that evening but the ordered cake on the wedding day. If it was her actual wedding cake I would say some kind of refund was in order. In this case she got dessert for the rehearsal and the wow factor on the wedding day.
no refund ugh uh no way this is cake you already delivered -- you do not become her cake servant now to do her bidding twice over then give her money on top of it just because in the heat of the moments you did not say oh this is lieu of the refund, and this next is also in lieu of a refund --
no. no refund. no future discount -- if you work with her again you need to get paid in full --
she got her dessert and she got the focal point -- you provided enough
i changed my mind you could refund her 50% because she did not have the focal point effect of the 14" cake for the specified event -- but bill her for the 2 eight inch cakes with rush delivery -- that's how fair it is for her to now grasp for a refund
you should tell her that -- that if she wants a refund you will have to bill her x amount for what you did do under duress in a rush
Thank you all for the input. My struggle here is I feel I met the obligation by honoring her second request of recreating the cake and delivering it to the wedding as a groom's cake. When she asked that I do that, she also stated "it won't cost me anything more right?" I said of course not. Therefore, a second agreement was made. I fulfilled the second agreement. Personally I would never ask for my money back under these circumstances. Had she taken my offer of a refund Friday night, I wouldn't have stayed up until 2am recreating the original cake, all my time and money, only for her to want her cake and money too. Now....that being said. My fear is if I push back and not offer a refund she will trash me and my business on social media. This was a first time event for me so I have no experience to fall back on which is what brought me to all of you.
That being said, my inclination is to just refund her money to save the face of my business and be done with it. She's not local so I don't expect to do any further business with her. I just find it sad that there are people out there willing to capitalize on just about anything.
In her making that statement, that conversation, that was the opportunity to clarify the agreements. Maybe as a prior poster said, offer her a discount on a future order? I like the 20%, but definitely not higher than 50% (that's really generous after all you've done...) It DOES take forever to create these cakes, and I feel now she is taking advantage of you.
My two cent's is that you've fulfilled your obligation; she has a cake..she was 'made whole' if you will. I would maybe offer her a free 6" anniversary cake on her one year anniversary or 15% off her next order;but no refund. Like you said if she was going to get money back you wouldn't have stayed up making the cake the night before. The tricky part is professionally relaying that message to her.
I liked the anniversary cake idea, as well; but it seemed as if she may need a more immediate solution.
i think you should consider the precedent you are setting if you refund -- that's too much -- you would be allowing her to extort you out of your fear of being trashed talked --
MY OPINION only - - if you give her any kind of refund, it should be accompanied by an invoice for the other 3 cakes you provided. I feel that the refund was eliminated by the delivery of the 2 cakes for the rehearsal dinner and you most certainly did NOT owe her the replacement cake for the wedding.
Accidents happen. Yes, it was unfortunate; however, the cake was for the rehearsal and the matter should have been closed once the rehearsal dinner was over. Some customers feel that if anything less than perfection happens with their BIG EVENT, you are obligated to PAY and PAY and PAY. Enough already.
I agree with jgifford on this one. Sounds like she's trying to take advantage of the situation.
I'd write this: "Dear bride, I received your question about a refund, but it was my understanding that you accepted the replacement dessert cakes at the rehearsal and the recreated cake for the reception in lieu of a refund. I did offer a refund when I delivered the original cake to the rehearsal, but you chose at that time to take replacement dessert cakes and a recreation of the original cake for the reception instead."
If she gives you a bad review, so what? You can always respond to it calmly and professionally with the fact that she got a replacement cake and free cakes for the rehearsal dinner. Vendors are being held hostage by the threat of bad reviews lately and it really chaps me.
Ditto the paragraph above by CostumeCzar. Write down those exact words (do it in writing!, not verbal) and send it by email or certified mail with a receipt required.
Great response, Costume Czar!!
I most certainly agree with Costume Czar!!! As Apti has advised, write down what Costume Czar said exactly and forward as recommended. I also agree about the bad review thing. If she trashes you via social media you have the opportunity to defend yourself. Maybe if she does trash you she will look like an idiot herself.
Great advice everyone!!!
In lieu of a cash refund, I provided 2 8" cakes for the rehearsal dinner and 1 14" cake as a groom's cake for the wedding.
If you would prefer a cash refund, I can do that, but then I'll need to charge you for the cakes that I provided. This will result in your owing me $XXX.XX.
Please let me know how you'd like to proceed.
And @Maybenot added what I tried to but couldn't figure out how to word correctly without added curse words, hahahaha!
Thank you all so much. I really appreciate hearing the different perspectives. I always try to do the right thing, unfortunately, not everyone takes the same path.
Please let us know what you decide to do and how the customer took it!!
I also feel that the customer is trying to take advantage of you!!! It sounds like to me that you fulfilled your obligation to her!!
yes please do as remnant requests -- and no harm no foul if you decide for your peace of mind to refund and release the pressure that way --
best to you esp as you ponder a tough decision
Can't thank all of you enough for your input. I ended up using the wording suggestions from Costumeczar and Maybe not basically saying I can refund but would have to charge for the cakes delivered. I will keep you updated if or when I hear a response.
I bet it was either her husband or one of her relatives who heard about what happened and told her to send you the email in the first place.
We offer a 100% cash refund for any product which our customers feel was unsatisfactory. In the last 6 years we have had to refund once. We did an Anniversary sheet cake, and, as a courtesy, provided a 9" birthday cake free of charge. Since they didn't have any cake at the party they had the small birthday cake at home. They said it was dry and inedible, so they threw it in the trash. It was from the same batter, icing and filling as the large cake, which all the guests thoroughly enjoyed. Come to find out the left it in the car for 2 days. We refunded their money, but when they called for another order later, we told them that our product cannot meet their standards, and declined the order.
good one, dada561
and good for you too, plcharles -- yes their wording was spot on
They complained about the free cake and got a refund on the good cake? That's going way above and beyond!
Ok so the bride pitched a fit and threatened to leave negative comments all over my business page. For my own piece of mind...I refunded her money and gained a valuable lesson.
Well, that stinks. If anything else ever happens it's often easier to write them a refund check the minute it happens, hand it to them and be done with it. Or if anyone asks for a free cake have them sign a revised contract or a statement saying they're accepting the extra cakes in lieu of a refund. and get someone from the venue (neutral third party) to witness it! Depending on how much it was sometimes it's easier to give them money back and wash your hands of it, but you definitely went above and beyond, so pffffft to the nasty bride!