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Refunding Deposit, HELP!!  

post #1 of 413
Thread Starter 
I know this seems obvious, but hear me out: I have no clue how to handle this situation. I have a couple who want to cancel their wedding cake with me. They attended another wedding where we did the wedding cake, and unfortunately we had a bit of a cake delivery disaster there resulting in one tier being damaged. Because of this, these clients say they have "lost faith in my ability to produce the cake they are wanting".

Their wedding is June 25th (just a few weeks away.) They signed my contract in February, and left their deposit. They are now wanting their deposit refunded. I explained to them they signed a contract, and that deposits and prepayments are non-refundable, though should they choose to cancel, and prepayments would be applied to another event occurring withing 90 days, as is stated in their contract.

This didn't go over well, and they began to make threats of taking me to court (okay, I have contracts for that reason) and going to the news stations, etc. I don't want to deal with the hassle of the news stations in the event they actually do some kind of report, nor do I want negative publicity. But I also am not inclined to train anyone that a contract is non-binding. Help!!!
post #2 of 413
There are a few options:

1. Stick to your contract. Something along the lines of "Yes, what happened at Betty Sue's wedding was unfortunate. It was unforseen situation. However, since such disasters are not the norm, I am unable to refund you the amount. The refund period has lapsed, per the contract. I understand you are upset, however these are the terms and conditions of my contract. The reason payments are non-refundable is because other business is turned down in order to focus on your wedding cake. "

2. Use the above explanation and add "While we have a contract, outlining that all funds are non-refundable, I am willing to refund you XX% of the deposit. I am only doing this as a goodwill gesture. Acceptance of this refund, will settle all issues."

3. Refund their depost, minus any costs, and get rid of the PITA.

As a former media person and current PR person for our school, go to the news stations does not mean it'll get on the air. The media gets HUNDREDS of goofy requests and unless a vendor is truly screwing over their customers, they won't pick it up.
Cake decorating ROCKS!!
Cake decorating ROCKS!!
post #3 of 413
I wouldn't return the deposit. Any lawsuit would be a non-starter because of your contract, and I doubt the media will pick up on the story..."nonrefundable deposit not refunded, story at 11!"

However, if you are operating illegally (i.e. out of an uninspected home kitchen) then I would refund the deposit. I'm not sure how that case would play out in a courtroom and if the contract would hold. But if you are legal then I wouldn't worry about it.
post #4 of 413
They are kicking cans to get you to cough up the money you deserve to keep.
post #5 of 413
what exactly happened with the damaged cake? Was it a disaster, or just slightly damaged? How did you handle the situation?
If you handled it according to your contract, and if the damage wasn't too bad, I guess I may not refund it. If the damage was extensive and if you had a hard time dealing with the bride after the fact, then I would refund the money right away.
You are already going to have bad pr from both this couple and the first couple. If you stick to your guns too hard, you may have even more issues with other couples that have booked with you. (they all seem to know each other around here!)
Definitely, whatever you do, acknowledge their feelings and your embarrassment over the disaster. I can completely feel for them, even though accidents do happen, I would expect to be getting refund requests if other couples were at the wedding.
No fun.
life is short, get a cakesafe.
life is short, get a cakesafe.
post #6 of 413
Tell them to take you to court or contact the media if you make their cake, it's a disaster and THEN you don't return any of their money.
post #7 of 413
Thread Starter 
@Jen: The wedding cake from the previous event had damage to the second tier. In the midst of slamming on my brakes at the venue when a member of the wedding party stepping in front of our delivery van, the cake went sliding. The cake was scheduled to be delivered at 9PM for cutting at 10PM. We arrived at 8:30, and I had the intention of taking the cake to the hall's kitchen to do the repair work of attempting to repair the tier (which I'm pretty confident I could have), or removing the tier. Instead, as we began to remove the cake from the van, the wedding party member rushed inside and brought the bride, groom, and wedding party out into the parking lot (no rear entrance at this venue). Of course, the bride was upset, as I would have been had it been my wedding. I apologized profusely, explained we had to slam the brakes on to avoid an accident. I explained I needed a few moments to access the damage and repair her cake. Long story short, she wanted to argue, demand money right on the spot, and even had her new husband threaten myself and my crew. When I began to put the cake back into the van, her father insisted she go back inside, and asked us to go ahead and just put the cake on the table as-is. (Mind you, this current client was part of that wedding party). At that point, as the cake was stacked the entire time, the leaning of the cake continued, so by the time it was placed on the table, the lean was pretty noticeable. The cake was served. The refund that bride is getting has already been settled and mailed of certified mail.
I've done numerous cakes for this group of people, so they have seen/tasted first hand the quality of the work I do. This group of people have actually been put on my "no more cakes for you" list because I have problems with them (ordering late, haggling price, not returning equipment) but this contract was on that I took before I put them all on that list.
post #8 of 413
Wow, sounds like your previous bride and groom had "buyers remorse" and jumped on the chance to get something for nothing when you had your "cake accident." It also sounds like them and their aquaintances are a bunch of drama queens. If they had just given you a minutes chance to repair it without overeacting, then all might be well. I am sorry you had to deal with that. I wish people understood more that we are bakers and not some miracle workers. That we would love for there to be no accidents in the cake world, as we do have pride in our work and are devastated just as much when something like this happens to our artwork. I would not refund their deposit. The worst thing they could do is tell their friends (Which will be a favor to you if they're anything alike) not to get their cakes form you. I agree with the above posts, the news is not going to give a hoot about their story.
post #9 of 413
agree with the above posts that the news stations will ignore them. You MIGHT get a phone call but let me share a similar story.

One company I worked for had offices in multiple states. Some of our employees chose not to direct deposit their paycheck. Indiana had a HUGE ice storm and the airport was shut down, which meant Fed Ex was not flying, which meant the envelope with the paychecks were sitting on the plane, on the tarmac, waiting for the storm to clear.

Some employees in Michigan called their local TV station and told them, "Our company wont' give us our paychecks!" TV station called our Indpls corporate HQ office and my friend Michelle answered the phone. When she responded to their inquiry about the weather ("you guys are a news station ... haven't you heard about the big ice storm down here?", she said! icon_lol.gif ), and told them it was NOT a case of the compay "won't" pay them (she also pointed out "I got paid because I'm on direct deposit and if they were on direct deposit, they'd have their money right now, too"), but was an airport shutdown, they thanked her for her time and dropped it.

They aren't trying to get a deposit refund because they changed the date, or they tasted your cake and found it to be nasty, or because they called off the wedding. No. They want the money back simply because they changed their mind. And I'm not aware of too many contracts that allow for a "just beause" canc reason. icon_rolleyes.gif
post #10 of 413
Well, obviously when the member of the wedding party ran out in front of your delivery van you should have just hit the gas. Then, aside from the "speed bump" the cake would have been fine. Gosh, I mean, what were you thinking? Sacrificing the wedding cake for the life of the member of the wedding party? Lol

Seriously, these people sound like real pieces of work. Stand your ground and don't refund the deposit. They agreed to the contract so tough toodles to them. Besides, I think you've more that earned the amount of the deposit in dealing with those people.
post #11 of 413
Quote:
Originally Posted by KalisCakes

@Jen: The wedding cake from the previous event had damage to the second tier. In the midst of slamming on my brakes at the venue when a member of the wedding party stepping in front of our delivery van, the cake went sliding. The cake was scheduled to be delivered at 9PM for cutting at 10PM. We arrived at 8:30, and I had the intention of taking the cake to the hall's kitchen to do the repair work of attempting to repair the tier (which I'm pretty confident I could have), or removing the tier. Instead, as we began to remove the cake from the van, the wedding party member rushed inside and brought the bride, groom, and wedding party out into the parking lot (no rear entrance at this venue). Of course, the bride was upset, as I would have been had it been my wedding. I apologized profusely, explained we had to slam the brakes on to avoid an accident. I explained I needed a few moments to access the damage and repair her cake. Long story short, she wanted to argue, demand money right on the spot, and even had her new husband threaten myself and my crew. When I began to put the cake back into the van, her father insisted she go back inside, and asked us to go ahead and just put the cake on the table as-is. (Mind you, this current client was part of that wedding party). At that point, as the cake was stacked the entire time, the leaning of the cake continued, so by the time it was placed on the table, the lean was pretty noticeable. The cake was served. The refund that bride is getting has already been settled and mailed of certified mail.
I've done numerous cakes for this group of people, so they have seen/tasted first hand the quality of the work I do. This group of people have actually been put on my "no more cakes for you" list because I have problems with them (ordering late, haggling price, not returning equipment) but this contract was on that I took before I put them all on that list.



OHHH, well they're THOSE kind of people are they? Thank you for clarifying. I retract my sympathy statement. A contract's a contract, they were idiots who ran out in front of a delivery van, then demanded they be refunded on the spot. things happen, it was an accident, they were witnesses to the accident, they can suck up the deposit and find someone else to terrorize.
Stick to your guns, woman. And get a cakesafe!
life is short, get a cakesafe.
life is short, get a cakesafe.
post #12 of 413
Regardless of how you respond to the customer, just make sure you are respectful (even if you don't think they deserve it) and as non-confrontational as possible. Now is not the time to be snarky.

It also might help to have someone else (your business manager, or a friend or family member who can pose as your business manager if you don't have one) present at the conversation to step in if things get emotional, they can reiterate the reasons for requiring a nonrefundable deposit if necessary.
post #13 of 413
I'm floored that the wedding party members would not allow you to attempt to repair the cake. By insisting that you put it out as is, they were purposely trying to ruin your reputation. Sad, sad, sad...

I think that even though you have a legitimate contract I would offer her a deposit refund (or at least a partial refund) just to get rid of the whole lot of them. It is very likely that the original bride will be a member of this bride to be's wedding party and the oringinal bride, being her friend, has done nothing but fill the btb's head with venom toward you. Unfortunatley once that has happened, there is absolutely no cake you can deliver that will be acceptable to her ...ever (forget applying the deposit to a future order).
yummmm...cake!
yummmm...cake!
post #14 of 413
Since you no longer wish to do business with this group of people, you should get it in writing VERY CLEARLY they they want to cancel the order with you. Then you are covered when "rebook" the date (for a pedicure instead? LOL!).
post #15 of 413
I absolutely would not refund the deposit. Its a signed contract. I bet her cell phone company won't let her out of a contract just because she changed her mind. She will pay an early termination fee the get out of it. So your taking a deposit is similar. I would send her an email explaining it one more time, and she can waste her time taking you to court. And struggle to find someone to make her cake with it being less than a month away. Weddings are stressful and tiring and i highly doubt she will have the time or energy to take you to court anytime soon.
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