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HELP! Wedding cake HEdoublehockysticks... refund?!?!???  

post #1 of 110
Thread Starter 
Sorry, this is REALLY long but I desperatly need help!
Ok...so I agreed to do a vegan wedding cake on the 6th. I've made two vegan weddign cakes before so I wasn't worried. Then the hell begins:
First, I WAY undercharge. I agree to do a cake for 150 for $250. In the end, I ended up SPENDING about $350 on the cake (maybe more, I don't know exactly).
But the real trouble began when the bride decided to change the cake. I had made her three flavor samples (included!) several months before and she had decided on my scratch vegan chocolate. Then about a month before the wedding they email me and say they changed their mind and want a DUNCAN HINES MIX (no offense to those who use mixes, but I've never liked them) mad with egg replacer! Not only that but they want CANNED frosting. When I said I couldn't ice the cake with canned frosting they decided they wanted it for the filling. Ok, fine. I said ok, after all, they should have what they want right?
Well, I made a test cake with the mix to make sure it would work with the egg replacer and it did. It was a little "flimsy" so I looked up a few other egg replacers to try and stableize it a little.
Then comes the time to start baking. Due to a lot of housing drama I had to make the entire cake in my friend's TINY kitchen. I started baking early on the 4th (the wedding was the evening of the 6th). The first batch looked good. The second did not. I did everything the same, but the second set of cakes I made didn't rise well and just looked... funny. So I scraped them and decided to buy some more cake mixes and redo them. The first three stores I went to were out of that particular mix (they had a sale on DH). All of this and I am falling very behind schedule. I had wanted all the cakes to be baked by the 5th so I could make the icing and assemble the cakes on the 5th, and finish frosting and decorate on the 6th (all they wanted was a bottom boarder and one row of swiss dots). I finaly get the cakes baked but not until the evening of the 5th because I had to go back to the store AGAIN when I ran out of egg replacer. I get up REALLY early on the 6th and start to stack the cakes. This is where the REALL problems start. Every other cake is totaly falling apart. I do my best to piece them together, but they were all sliding and crumbling and just NOT stable at all. I get the frostsing slaped on and I'm really running late. I got to look up the bride's number so I can let them know why I'm not there yet, and as I was trying to find it one of the bride's mades calls. I tell her that I am running late because there have been problems with the cake, but that I will be there a.s.a.p. Then the last cake I was puting to gether and frosting basicly falls apart. I do my best to get it decent looking, but it's... well pretty bad. Then the bride's maid calls again and starts yelling at me, saying that the bride is freaking out and where the hell am I. I tell her that I am leaving right then, and that I will be there as soon as I can. That I have been doing my absolute best, but have run into a LOT of problems. We hang up and I rush into the car. Right after I start driving I remember that I didn't put on the swiss dots yet but just figure I'll do them there because I brought a piping bag and icing.
Well, long story short (yeah right!), I drive REALLY carefully, but the bottom two layers collaps on the way. I get there, open the box as start bawling. Literaly. A really nice guy came over to look (everyone was already there at the reception) and I start babling about how I will just use the cakes that are still whole and stack them, and he says that it sounds like a good plan (he said a lot more and was REALLY nice and supportive). So I bring all the cakes in through a bunch of people and start assembling the cake. There were 3 people taking pictures and 2 video taping and it was horible. I get the cake set up, and the flowers put on and find that I left all my tips at home! So there isn't anything else I can do and I leave.
I figure I'll email her, but I decided to wait 2 weeks because of her honeymoon. Yesterday she emailed me and said they came home early form their honeymoon. She wants a full refund.
Yes, I realize that the cake was nothing like what she wanted, but the WASA a cake there (that tasted GOOD... I had the smashed cake to sample after all). In the email she says that it was the wrong SHAPE of cake, which is TOTALY false, and that is was clear to her that I threw together the cake in a rush. Those are the main points of her email that I completely disagree with, but to top everyting off, my purse was stolen a week ago and my copy of the contract was in my purse.
HELP!!!!
I can't afford to refund all her money, not to mention that I already SPENT money on this cake. I guess I could offer to give her a payment plan for a refund, but I really don't think I owe her a refund... well at least not a FULL refund. I did everything I could to make sure she had a wedding cake, and to make it as much like the one she ordered as posible, but things just didn't work out that way. What should I do? What should I tell her? I'm so upset and overwhelmed by this!!! I really just want to cry, but I've already done that (a lot) over this cake, and it isn't helping. Thanks for any advice!

~Kelsie
~Kelsie
*In the process of slooowly updating my photos (3 year backlog). More coming soon!*
~Kelsie
*In the process of slooowly updating my photos (3 year backlog). More coming soon!*
post #2 of 110
I was sorry to hear about your horrible cake story. I've never heard anything like it. Is she a friend...friend of friend? In other words, will she have any effect on your future business (or lack there of)? If you are in business (legitimately), you might want to consider the refund or a partial refund to make her happy. As horrible as it sounds. For $125, it might be worth having the entire experience over with. Of course, she probably thinks you spent about $10 on ingredients (which is not accurate). You know how people think! That may even be the reason she asked for box mix and canned frosting...thinking it was cheaper?? I'm having a very hard time figuring out why someone would jump from a vegan cake to a box mix. If she claims you were late and claims you delivered less than she paid for, she might keep up the fight until she gets something back. I think I'd try to meet her half way and chalk it up to experience. There is no way a bride will ever understand the work it takes. Plus, she may never see the "problem" with changing her mind last minute, since you agreed to the change. She feels like she's been wronged, and so do you. Therefore, I'd try to meet half way.

I'd tell her... "I'm truly sorry the cake did not meet your expectations. After signing our contract and agreeing upon a final product, I tried my best to accomodate your requested changes. Unfortunately, the changes were significant and ultimately limited my ability to deliver the cake we had originally agreed upon. In an effort to rectify your grievance, I am willing to refund 50% of the original price." You may add that from here on out, you'll never stray from your tested and proven ingredients and methods again.
good luck
post #3 of 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlh



I'd tell her... "I'm truly sorry the cake did not meet your expectations. After signing our contract and agreeing upon a final product, I tried my best to accomodate your requested changes. Unfortunately, the changes were significant and ultimately limited my ability to deliver the cake we had originally agreed upon. In an effort to rectify your grievance, I am willing to refund 50% of the original price." You may add that from here on out, you'll never stray from your tested and proven ingredients and methods again.
good luck



I totally agree with jlh. Very well put!

I am really sorry this is happening to you. It sounds like you have had a rough week!
post #4 of 110
You spent atleast $350 just to make this cake?!?!?! And, you only charged $250..............hmm....I would tell her that you only charged her for what it cost you to make it.

I would give a detailed list of what ingredients had to be used, etc. so she can see what time you worked and how much trouble you had.

Being a vegan order, shouldn't it have cost extra? I mean, you have to buy "special ingredients" don't you?

I'm sorry, but I wouldn't refund a dime!

But, I guess an underlying questions would be about the contract.....is there any way she has a copy of it? What do your contracts say about refunds?

Good Luck and I really hope you get it figured out!
post #5 of 110
I have been thinking about what I would be do & I would suggest a detailed list of ALL the ingredients that were used BOTH of the tastings & the wedding cake its self. I would NOT refund any money. You have lost money on this one.

I wish you the sest of luck on your decision.
Cake minds think alike.
Cake minds think alike.
post #6 of 110
Looking at this from the bride's perspective.....her wedding cake was ruined and nothing like what she wanted so she should get all her $$ back. If you under charged her that is not her problem, if you spent more than you made, still not her problem, and when she changed her flavor that close to the wedding date you really should have told her sorry it is too late at this point to make any changes especially when you normally don't work with box cakes. She is not making a big deal out of nothing in this particular cake and even though the demolished cake tasted good....that is not the point. She could be a ton of trouble if you don't refund the $$....she could spread terrible things about you, contact the health department, call a lawyer, etc.

I apologize if this sounds harsh, but its just my opinion and I am sure the bride was devastated by the whole thing. I'm sorry it happened to you and try to just keep your head up. We all have a disaster cakes we wish we had never done!
post #7 of 110
I'm sorry about this experience. I know it was truly unhappy and stressful for you. However, I think that all the trama and expense was due to bad planning on your part. You agreed to the change and then couldn't pull it off. This isn't the bride's fault. I can't belive that the ingredients cost more than $75 not counting the multiple bakings.

I don't know how big the final cake was or what it looked like. You didn't deliver what you promised or even when you promised it. You caused her as much stress and disapointment and embarrassment as you felt. Don't forget that the contract goes both ways...you were supposed to deliver a cake decorated a certain way, in a certain size, at a certain time. If it wasn't as the contract described, I think you owe her a full refund. This is true especially if you are planning to do future cakes. You will ruin your reputation if you don't do the right thing by her.

I'm so sorry about how this turned out. I can really relate to how you are feeling about it. Just look at it as a learning experience. Don't except cake choices that you aren't experienced with and especially not at the last minute.

Best of luck in the future!
It's not how good you are, but how well you can fix your mistakes.
It's not how good you are, but how well you can fix your mistakes.
post #8 of 110
I have to agree with the Jen123 & Kakesnkids... You should refund all the money. I'm sorry you had such a horrible time with the cake and your going to be losing money, but you have to look at it from the bride's perspective. She trusted you to deliver her dream cake on her special day and unfortunately, that didn't happen. You should just use this as a learning experience.

Quote:
Quote:

I'd tell her... "I'm truly sorry the cake did not meet your expectations. After signing our contract and agreeing upon a final product, I tried my best to accomodate your requested changes. Unfortunately, the changes were significant and ultimately limited my ability to deliver the cake we had originally agreed upon. In an effort to rectify your grievance, I am willing to refund 50% of the original price." You may add that from here on out, you'll never stray from your tested and proven ingredients and methods again.
good luck



I have to disagree with this...It's not the brides fault this happened. When you making wedding cakes you should make sure that you can accomodate their requests before you promise you can. If a bride asks me for something different or unusual (cake or the design) I make sure that it can be done before I make any commitments.
post #9 of 110
Here's my opinion on this. I would contact the bride over the phone, not try to do this via e-mail. I would begin with the verbage jlh suggested as a starting point. But you really should prepare yourself to refund in full, if for no other reason than to save your reputation. Sure, what happened wasn't your fault, but it wasn't the bride's either and you can bet whose side of the story is going to get spread the fastest.

I never knew that DH mixes were vegan. Hmmm.
Exercise hard, eat fiber, die anyway.

"the views expressed in this post are not intended to cause any offense to any member of CakeCentral unless expressly stated."
Exercise hard, eat fiber, die anyway.

"the views expressed in this post are not intended to cause any offense to any member of CakeCentral unless expressly stated."
post #10 of 110
I have yet to be in a wedding cake situation, but I have worked in customer service for a LONG time. What I will say is this. If you wish to continue making cakes as a business then I would set an appointment to meet with the new bride. Face to face resolution is always best. Have ready the list of ingredients and cost, the time it took and know that you will be giving her the refund. Let her know how sorry you are and how right she is (I know this will probably hurt the most, but you know the saying "the customer is always right") Explain to her your costs and time put into it then give her the refund and humbly tell her you would love a second chance to show her just how fantastic you are, extend a 10% discount on her next celebration cake. Tell her again how sorry you are and congratulations on a wonderful marriage. It will hurt and will not be fun, but in the end if you can "kill her with kindness" then you might find you have a loyal for life customer who will gice you lots of other business out of respect for your decision to take 110% care of her concern. Good luck. My heart is with you.
I don't need to know'd where I 'm goin', just need to know where I been! ~'Mater~
I don't need to know'd where I 'm goin', just need to know where I been! ~'Mater~
post #11 of 110
Unfortunately, I have to agree with the majority. If you think of this from the bride's point of view...you would want the refund too!

Explain to her that the box mixes are designed to work with the specified ingredients, and that the changes she requested (egg replacement), caused the cake to be unstable.

You can start by offering a refund of 50%. I suggest having receipts on hand to "back up" your expenses. If she still insists on a full refund, give it to her.

I understand it will put a substantial dent in your wallet. (As it would mine if it were me!) But, word of mouth carries far and wide. She will tell everyone that she was dissatisfied with your work, and then she will say "..but, in the end she did refund (part/all) of my money!"

The fact that you make things right carries just as well as word of mouth. I think it shows that you are an honest person.
I have more cake photos at PhotoBucket.com:
http://s77.photobucket.com/albums/j45/gmcakes/
I have more cake photos at PhotoBucket.com:
http://s77.photobucket.com/albums/j45/gmcakes/
post #12 of 110
have to agree with carrielynnfields--give a full refund, apologize profusely, and explain your difficulties (in person). Kill her with kindness and let her see that you are sincere. All businesses have to suck it up and lose at times, but it does wonders for public relations/goodwill. I would go one step further and bring her a 6-inch anniversary cake and a small bunch of flowers, and offer 50% off her next order. This is just me, though. I would do everything possible to win her over. Let us know how it goes.
post #13 of 110
I agree. The only right thing to do is give her back a full refund. Once that's done praise yourself for doing the right thing. forget the negative part. Look at it as a valuble lesson and move on.
post #14 of 110
Keep on cakin'!
Keep on cakin'!
post #15 of 110
VERY good point Doug (are you finally awake yet?)

On my contract I require payment in full for wedding cakes 2 weeks prior to the event date. This is also the date after which no changes or cancellations can be made. (Well, they can cancel but I get to keep their 25% deposit)
Exercise hard, eat fiber, die anyway.

"the views expressed in this post are not intended to cause any offense to any member of CakeCentral unless expressly stated."
Exercise hard, eat fiber, die anyway.

"the views expressed in this post are not intended to cause any offense to any member of CakeCentral unless expressly stated."
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