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NEED ADVICE NOW! Bride wants change in wedding cake order

Poll Results: Would you make the cake smaller and issue a partial refund?

Poll expired: Oct 13, 2010  
  • 86% (13)
    Yes
  • 6% (1)
    No
  • 6% (1)
    Need more info
15 Total Votes  
post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I need some advice. I've only been in business for a year and 1/2 and have only done a handful of wedding cakes.

I have a bride who has had her order on the books for over a year. She paid in full months ago (her choice). Her wedding is two weeks from today. A few weeks back she e-mailed me to say that they cut their guest list down dramatically. They still want the same amount of cupcakes and cookies but she said they do not need the cake to be as big as orginally planned. I replied to her at that time (few weeks back) stating that we could reduce the size of the cake by one tier. She replied (e-mail): "Great"

Nothing was mentioned about a reduction in price/refund (she's paid in full). I figured if she didn't mention money at all, then why should I?

What do I do? I have a signed contract for a 4 tiered cake and just an e-mail stating we can reduce the size to a 3 tiered cake. Quite frankly, as you can imagine, I do not want to reduce the size of the cake and I do not want to give her some money back.

I'm not sure what to do. 1/2 of me thinks I should go as per the signed contract and the other 1/2 of me thinks I'm being sneaky and unprofessional.

Have a done the right thing so far? If not, how should I fix it?
Would you make a 3 tier or a 4 tier?
Would you issue a partial refund even if the customer didn't specifically ask for it?

You can talk good or bad about me...I just want to do the right thing in the end. Right now it's two weeks until the wedding.

Thanks so much.
post #2 of 13
I would say that she will definately be expecting some money back. I would think that if a client decides to downsize a cake and you tell her "too late its going to still cost you the same" then she would probably think - well I mose well go with the whole four tiers if I am paying for them whether we need that much or not. I suppose it depends whether you want to be flexible about it or whether you want to stick to the contract & say no way. Maybe a partial refund but still a wee bit more than what the cost of the three tier would have been originally to cover your time etc?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I should mention that I'm also afraid of going against contract. What happens if I provide a 3 tiered cake, give partial refund and then she said that I'm in breach of contract!?!

Should I write up a new/revised contract at this point?
post #4 of 13
In the contract she signed, do you have a cut off date for changes?
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BAKE-ME-A-CAKE

I should mention that I'm also afraid of going against contract. What happens if I provide a 3 tiered cake, give partial refund and then she said that I'm in breach of contract!?!

Should I write up a new/revised contract at this point?



Absolutely!
Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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Tact is telling someone where to go so nicely they can't wait to take the trip!
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post #6 of 13
Not sure how it would go as far as that is concerned - I am no lawyer but think making changes to existing contract and having both parties initial where each individual change has been made usually will suffice... or at least it did when I purchased by house icon_wink.gif However, I live in New Zealand so I might not be the best person on the legalties of such things icon_smile.gif
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cattycornercakes

In the contract she signed, do you have a cut off date for changes?



Yes, today is the cut off date for any changes. The contract states that if the customer requests that changes made after today, they may or may not be accommodated. If we do make changes after today it may result in an additional charge if more labor or materials are needed.

She requested by e-mail that changes be made several weeks ago, but I never revised the contract (quite frankly because she didn't specifically ask me to). In the end, what I really want to do is make the 4 tiered cake (as per the signed contract) and not give a refund...but I also want to do the right thing. I'm not trying to be a jerk about it but I also don't want to give any money back.
post #8 of 13
I'm sure she was wanting a smaller cake in order that they could cut their costs b/c of the smaller guest list. Being clear is really important in these situations.

I have a clause in my contract that says "The date of the final payment, fourteen (14) days in advance of the reserved date, is the final date for any change to the number of servings required and/or the flavor(s) of the cake. When the final payment is made (14 days in advance of the reserved date), the number of servings required and the flavor(s) of the cake will be finalized." I make clear in the contract that after that date lapses, and the final payment has been made, the cake order can not and will not be changed to accommodate a smaller guest list. They have until the 2 week point to make the cake smaller.

If you didn't make that clear in your contract, and you agreed to do a 3 tier cake rather than a 4 tier cake for her (before now), I would absolutely refund the equivalent value (# of servings in the tier being removed x price per serving plus tax) of the eliminated tier. Write something into your contract to avoid this kind of situation for next time and consider this one a learning experience.

Definitely write up an amendment to her contract stating how many tiers she'll have, whether that changes the overall design, the total amount she has paid to you, the amount she's being refunded, and have both of you sign. I'd print two copies, have her keep one and you keep the other.
post #9 of 13
I would definately at this point being two weeks prior to the event date , write up a revised contract and refund the difference. I have a policy that states changes can be made up to 2 weeks prior to event. But that's me. I would rather be accomodating at this point. If it were in the 2 week to event date time frame , i would have said no. And I have had to.
i guess it's up to you, but I think you would feel better downsizing the cake and giving back a little cash, you will both be happier in the end. icon_smile.gif

I think it's also good business to let customers know that you are willing to work with them and in turn they will have good things to say about you.
There is no such thing as too much chocolate!
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There is no such thing as too much chocolate!
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post #10 of 13
[quote="BAKE-ME-A-CAKE"]

She requested by e-mail that changes be made several weeks ago, but I never revised the contract (quite frankly because she didn't specifically ask me to).

This comment strikes me - your customer should not HAVE to ask you to revise the contract. I'm sure she's relying on your professional knowledge in running your business. You should revise the contract the day that a change is made and have it in writing (two copies - one for the customer, one for your own records) as a part of running your business - that's your responsibility, not theirs.

You have to remember that really until the date of final payment (as is normally written in your contract) any money above and beyond the non-refundable deposit that you are paid, is not technically "yours to spend" in case your client DOES want to make changes. Otherwise, if you want to keep all monies that you've been paid to date, you need to make clear in writing and when you talk to them that you will make no refunds no matter what changes they make once they've paid in full.

If you have a client who wants to pay in full before the final payment date, but you feel like you don't want the money in your account before it's truly "yours", you could have them write a post-dated check that you can then keep with their file/clipboard (however you organize your orders) and you deposit it at the final payment date. Hope that all made sense...not able to organize my thoughts well tonight.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BAKE-ME-A-CAKE

She requested by e-mail that changes be made several weeks ago, but I never revised the contract (quite frankly because she didn't specifically ask me to).



I always told my brides that any time they made a change, they should expect to receive a revised order form/contract with those changes, because as I always always told them, "this is what I look at when I'm making your cakes. I dont browse thru emails, I don't recall phone conversations. So if it's not written down, it's not happening. That's why I need you to really look at these forms to make sure that what you're expecting is what I've got written down on these forms."

Contracts/order forms are not just to hold the client at bay with all the things THEY have to do. It's our "its in writing" documentation as to what WE have to provide for the client.

Anytime I had a conversation with a client, it was an automatic thing for me to send them a revision to document our conversation and what changes will be made to the cake, to the total, to the monies due, to the delivery date/time, etc., etc., etc.

It is to protect YOUR interest and to cover YOUR butt that you automatically document the changes and put in writing what you are contractually obligated to do.
post #12 of 13
If your contract allows for changes within a specified timeframe and she was within that (which she was) you need to adjust the contract and give her a partial refund. It's the only honest thing to do. She's lived up to what the contract said she had to do.
It's not good enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

Winston Churchill
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It's not good enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.

Winston Churchill
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post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks a billion for all of your quick responses. I will revise the contract, have both of us sign it and issue a partial refund. It really is the right thing to do. I guess I knew that all along, but needed to "hear" it.
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