I have a bit of a dilemma that I need help with. I’m starting a cake business from home (yay for Texas Cottage Laws!) and I’ve had a few customers so far somewhere between 25-30 orders so far. I’ve had repeat customers and I’ve had a couple of tiered cake orders thus far. In my background I worked at a very popular bakery in my area and worked on cakes, pastries, coffees and have experience with tiered cakes. I deliver all of my cakes myself and have only had one where they picked up themselves (driving it over an hour away mind you). I have never had an issue with any of my orders in terms of the looks or tastes of the cakes. I don’t ask for deposits/create contracts (I know I should!) and I handle all of the customers with my husband and brother helping me with deliveries and tastings.
Now the reason for my post is I’ve gotten my first unsatisfied customer and I’m not sure how to handle it. This has been one of my favorite cakes to date to work on, even when I was originally upset at the choice she made. I stand firmly in the you can’t expect the same cake if you’re not ordering from that baker/decorator and should expect something somewhat different.
This was a baby shower cake and the picture she chose, I’m sorry if this sounds de-constructive to newer cake designers/bakers but it looked very amateurish and poorly constructed. I felt that I had honesty given her a better cake. The only thing I was a little on the fence about was that the jewels around weren’t the sameness color but I couldn’t find pink ones (the cake was ordered days before delivery, otherwise I would’ve ordered them).
When I delivered it the person who ordered it wasn’t there but the people who received it thought it was beautiful and one even asked if I did weddings. When I asked about payment they weren’t even aware that it needed to be paid. They called her and I didn’t think much of it but it later came across as a red flag.
when she got there she immediately asked to see it and I waited in the foyer until she called me over. She said it looked nothing like the cake she asked for. When she asked me to put the name on it she texted it but she said I ruined the cake by adding it in a different style. She never asked for a specific style (she wanted baby blocks on the bottom, which I would’ve gladly done) so I did something a little more styled to the theme. She said the pink jewels weren’t there and that it was so far different than what she wanted and looked rushed. I defended it and said that I hadn’t plenty of time to work on it and even finished earlier than anticipated. I also said I really enjoyed working on it and that it was one of my favorites. We went back and forth like that for a little bit. She ended up saying that the girl it was for would probably love it but it just wasn’t what she was expecting. She liked the domed look and wanted the baby to be riding the wave like in the picture. I felt I had delivered that. I instructed them to keep it in the fridge because of the hot heat until they were ready to present it.
I received a text today saying the cake caved in and they weren’t able to serve it because it had too much frosting. The pictures she sent me showed a whole cake first and then it looked like someone just grabbed it. No one has ever complained about the amount of filling and I filled it exactly as I used to where I used to work, which has been in successful business for over 10 years. She said they had to throw it away and it was embarrassing g to not be able to serve cake. She showed me a cake in the trash but it didn’t appear to be the whole cake. I also delivered another cake the same size and delivery distance and it stood out in the heat and they were able to enjoy it with no issues.
She is demanding a full refund but I don’t think it’s deserved. In my gut of guts there were a few times where I felt I may have taken a chance with a couple of orders but I actually ended up getting more orders out of them. If they experienced a negative experience I would definitely own up to it and take the appropriate action. But I honesty feel like she’s taking me for a ride and was trying to score a free cake. She offered to send me videos and then got offended when I asked to see them. I told her I wanted to learn from the experience and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future and videos would give me a better understanding. I’ve attached the pictures side by side for reference. What would you do in this situation? I thought about offering a discount on a future order because I felt like I fulfilled my part of my obligation and because she didn’t give a preference on liking the layers a certain way.
Mine is the first one and the picture she chose is the second one.
Oh my. Those are hard situations.
It kind of does look like your baby's riding the wave.....Did she want the baby blocks added specifically? My thought is that I'd tell her since it's short notice, I'd do what I can. She should understand that if it's last minute, especially if she's not willing to supply those pieces. If you told her it would have the baby blocks, I can understand her being upset about that.
Did she specify the domed top? That looks like fondant, did she know yours would be buttercream (that's what it looks like to me anyway). For instance, if someone comes to work and places the same order, I'd let them know it wouldn't look EXACTLY like it because we don't do fondant. The THEME would be the same.
And WHY couldn't she serve it if there was a lot of frosting?
Could you post a photo of what she sent?
I worked at a place wherein, when a cake was cut into individual slices to package and sell, you could scarcely close the clamshell for all the frosting. Scads of frosting. Never a problem cutting it.
The name looks like it's very much in keeping with the style of the cake.
Were there dowels or support of any sort in the cake, was it weighty enough to need it?
If there were a small issue with a cake - I mean - I just can't see throwing a whole cake away! Not unless something was drastically wrong.
Do you have any texts or emails from her confirming her details on the order?
So sorry this happened. Sounds a little hinky to me, but that's at first glance. I think you did a good job with it. :)
Hi - this really sounds like she is trying to get free cake. Firstly she is not happy with the look of the cake and then it turns into the cake caved in and had too much frosting - what? Did she provide a simple photo of the cake being caved in? Did she return any cake?
I make cakes only for friends and family and they often send pictures. I always explain I never copy cakes and mine will look different. If you are happy you did that then I would not worry. Being totally honest I really prefer your version of the cake.
I would not refund anything as she has provided any evidence or returned the cake.
yeah -- Idk -- but yeah she didn't like one thing at first then switched over to another thing she didn't like for the "full refund" -- my hope here is that you charged well -- which if true is why she is after a refund, although she just might be a cheapie -- so my comment is to get your stuff together to get your policies in order for going forward --
as far as this one -- she should have returned the cake in order to get a refund -- i'd park on that -- you don't happen to possibly know anyone attending the party do you?
there is nothing wrong with the look of the cake -- nothing -- so don't let her bamboozle you
I am a firm believer in "whoever gets the cake pays for it". If the customer gets the cake, they pay for it. If the cake is returned or declined, the baker pays for it (refunds). If you don't return the cake to me, I'm not refunding squat.
Then there's the whole it was perfect when I delivered it and whatever happened after I left is on you.
Chalk it up as a learning experience and don't refund. You tried to accommodate her with a last-minute order and no, it's not going to be exactly the same as a cake from another baker. I doubt even that baker could make another exactly the same.
I bake under the Texas Cottage Food Law also and it doesn't mean you're any less a professional than someone who bakes in a formal bakery. Get a contract and fast! It will protect you and spell out everything in writing. I even have a long form for wedding cakes and a short form for other events. Set a pre-order limit of a week/month/year before the event and stick to it. If you take a last minute order, make sure they know they'll get what they get and the closer to the event they place the order, the less picky they can be about the finished product. And make sure you're paid in full before you even turn on your oven. Take deposits and give them a final "no changes and no refunds" date and stick with it.
You can do this.
She is due nothing! There is little difference in your cake and the inspiration, other than, as you said, your's is much more professionally presented. The woman just doesn't want to pay for the cake. Yet another example of an "entitled" person thinking they should have something just because they want it, not because they can pay for it. If you feel you should make some refund, insist the cake be returned. If it is not, no refund, not even 10%. If the cake collapsed, it was not refrigerated. Again, you are not at fault. If you had filling an inch thick, with proper supports, a refrigerated cake would have been fine.
Starting right this minute, get a contract and start getting half your payment at the time of booking. This is non-refundable and it intended to hold the date open. At least one week prior to delivery, ask for the balance of payment. Be sure your contract includes a statement that says once the cake leaves your possession, you are not longer responsible.