Damaged Cake- Requesting Refund

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I ordered a cake recently. I sent my friend to pick it up and when we opened the cake at home, I saw that a cardboard was placed on top of the cake (for a reason that I am yet unable to figure out). The cardboard was glued to the fondant and when I removed the cardboard, it left a gaping hole on the cake. I contacted the baker about this issue and she is refusing to issue a refund. Can you suggest the next course of action here?

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Original Post for posterity: 

I ordered a cake for my son's 2nd birthday with a bakery about 10 days ago. In fact, we ordered the cake at the same place for his 1st birthday. That cake turned out to be good and was one of the main reasons why we went to her again. In any case, we ordered the cake with her and she said that the price is going to be $110. I paid $50 advance and asked her about the pickup time. She said that the later I come the better. So, I said I will be there at 4 pm next Saturday.

Come Saturday, I was busy with the preparations for the party and was unable to go in myself to pick up the cake. So, I asked a friend of mine to pick the cake for me. I also told my friend that the cake is a bit large and she may need to put it on the car floor or some other flat place and drive cautiously. In other words, I gave her ample caution about handling the cake (not that she needed it, but I was being cautious). When my friend arrived on my door step with the big box of cake, everything looked fine. There are no visible stress markings on the outer box and it looked as if the transport aspect of the cake was flawless. There was also a small accompanying box which had the fondant letters of my son's name. We set the cake box on top of the table and opened it. Inside, we found a round cardboard on top of the cake. My friend said that the bakery employees asked her to remove the round cardboard from the top of the cake and assemble the fondant letters once she reaches home. So, I tried to remove the cardboard. But, for some reason it was harder than I expected (I was expecting it to slide off, given that fondant wouldn't normally stick that much). Then I started to work from one angle to remove the cardboard slowly, but I immediately noticed that the fondant in one section was strongly glued to the cardboard. In fact, the fondant started to peel off as I tried to remove the cardboard. Some guests in the party suggested that I rip off the cardboard like a plaster from a wound but I was hesitant to do that because I didn't want the cake to be damaged. So, I brought in a knife and started to slowly work my way between the fondant and the cardboard. This did not work as well because the gap between the cardboard and fondant was too small. Eventually, I slowly applied pressure and removed the cardboard to leave a gaping hole on top of the cake. You can see it below. I then removed the fondant from the cardboard using the knife and put it back on the cake so that I could at least patch the hole.

I contacted the bakery lady the next day about this issue and she started off by saying this. "I'm so sorry but the cake was perfect when I left and should be pick up at 3 and o(sic) left at 4." First thing is, this is clearly false as the cake was supposed to be picked up at 4 not 3. But more importantly, I do not know why she was talking about the pickup time here. It looked like she was trying to blame the pickup time. So, I told her that it sounds as if she is trying to blame us for what happened. Then this is her reply. "I'm not trying to do anything I made the cake with all my heart I left it perfect here that's all And I'm sure was a good cake flavor a (sic) mean." I said that I paid to get a perfect cake. If I only wanted a flavorful cake i could have gotten that for $30 or $40. Since I did not receive a good cake I requested the full amount to be refunded. But she said that she already made the cake and can give me another cake for free. In addition she said that the cake was damaged because it was exposed for too long. This is totally nonsensical. I was supposed to pickup at 4 pm. She contends 3 pm. So let's say 3 pm. So, would the cake be damaged if I pick it up at 5 pm instead of 3 pm? I tried asking her a couple of times about why she put the cardboard on top of the cake but she never bothered to reply about that. Today, I called her store and asked her if she put the cardboard on top of the cake. She said that she did not. I asked her if she could find out from her employees if one of them put it on top of it (maybe after screwing something with the cake to cover it up). Her response was, "What will you do after finding? Kill them?" I was flabbergasted at this point and asked her what she can do to correct the situation. She said that she can give me a cake. I said I would like a refund. She asked me to text her with the refund amount and my address. I texted my address and the full refund amount. She replied back saying that she cannot give me the full refund and will only give me a decoration discount (I don't know what this exactly means).
 
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Damn $110 for a cake. Your 2 year old can't tell the difference between that and a WalMart cake

also, OP's cake is the first cake I've seen with all the fancy design on the side of the cake and none on top.

Wow.  Registered in 2008 and first post 2017.  Some sort of record maybe?

didn't read wall of text. (protip: learn to write in paragraphs)

did you use a CC? do a chargeback. say item "not as described" or similar. include photos.

Short version for all small disputes with vendors. If you can't come to an agreement- you rarely have any remedies worth pursuing. Shame them publicly, credit card chargeback, or small claims court are pretty much it. None are worth it for $110, in my opinion, other than maybe the chargeback because it's easy and the amount is low enough that the vendor will probably just eat it. Haha. Baker eats cake mistake!

An offer of a completely new cake when it's uncertain who broke the cake is a pretty good offer.  Have them write 'Sorry, we screwed up your birthday" and submit it to Cake Wrecks dot com. 

How did you pay? If credit card, do a chargeback.

If not, take the free cake for next year. Spend the next year learning how to make a paragraph.

That was an awful lot of irrelevant details.

My opinion- crap happens, no big deal. Be happy that you've got a free cake coming next year.

Escalators and now a cake thread? FWF you are delivering lately.

Unsurprisingly, a cake thread is formatted exactly like I'd expect a cake thread to be.

why has nobody asked about the transport via the friend???

"So, I asked a friend of mine to pick the cake for me. I also told my friend that the cake is a bit large and she may need to put it on the car floor or some other flat place and drive cautiously. In other words, I gave her ample caution about handling the cake (not that she needed it, but I was being cautious)."

OP has NO idea if the cake was fine when picked up. Friend could have easily just not handled the cake well, and done then damage themselves. OP providing "ample caution" does not relieve him/her of liability.

cherry3m said:   Spend the next year learning how to make a paragraph.
  I did write in paragraphs. But for some reason, it didn't come out properly. I am writing my dissertation currently and so am more than qualified to understand the concept of paragraphs. So, thanks but no thanks for this advice.

solarUS said:   why has nobody asked about the transport via the friend???

"So, I asked a friend of mine to pick the cake for me. I also told my friend that the cake is a bit large and she may need to put it on the car floor or some other flat place and drive cautiously. In other words, I gave her ample caution about handling the cake (not that she needed it, but I was being cautious)."

OP has NO idea if the cake was fine when picked up. Friend could have easily just not handled the cake well, and done then damage themselves. OP providing "ample caution" does not relieve him/her of liability.

  
Probably because you're the only person who has successfully navigated that wall of text thus far.  I put paragraphs in the quick summary because i felt like being a good Samaritan today

solarUS said:   why has nobody asked about the transport via the friend???

"So, I asked a friend of mine to pick the cake for me. I also told my friend that the cake is a bit large and she may need to put it on the car floor or some other flat place and drive cautiously. In other words, I gave her ample caution about handling the cake (not that she needed it, but I was being cautious)."

OP has NO idea if the cake was fine when picked up. Friend could have easily just not handled the cake well, and done then damage themselves. OP providing "ample caution" does not relieve him/her of liability.

  Where would the friend get the exact sized cardboard to cover the cake at the nick of the moment?

sashi34u said:   
cherry3m said:   Spend the next year learning how to make a paragraph.
  I did write in paragraphs. But for some reason, it didn't come out properly. I am writing my dissertation currently and so am more than qualified to understand the concept of paragraphs. So, thanks but no thanks for this advice.

  How does one afford a $110 cake on a PhD stipend? questions abound!

just do a freaking chargeback and move on with your life...

cherry3m said:   How did you pay? If credit card, do a chargeback.

If not, take the free cake for next year.

  I did use a card to pay for it. But, I have also read that disputing charges does not always work. The merchant could simply turn this to a collection agency. As for the free cake, too much water has flowed under the bridge. The unwillingness of the baker has totally turned me off and I do not want to make any future purchases or orders with them.

rufflesinc said:   
sashi34u said:   
cherry3m said:   Spend the next year learning how to make a paragraph.
  I did write in paragraphs. But for some reason, it didn't come out properly. I am writing my dissertation currently and so am more than qualified to understand the concept of paragraphs. So, thanks but no thanks for this advice.

  How does one afford a $110 cake on a PhD stipend? questions abound!

  I think you are being grossly off-topic now.

Note to self: continue to get special occasion caked from Costco bakery, less aggrevation if things don't go as planned.

Move on with your life. I can afford a $100 cake and value my life and time more than the stress of worrying about the cake. My wife is from india- I'm not- she has seen small children starving to death on the street. Move on. You could have scraped the top of the cake off and put it on and it would be ok. Move on. Maybe they are right, maybe you are. Move on.

ach1199 said:   Note to self: continue to get special occasion caked from Costco bakery, less aggrevation if things don't go as planned.
  costco full refund. Plus its YUUUUGE, ordered one myself last week for a baby shower

Did anyone eat cake?

asbuilt said:   Did anyone eat cake?
  Yes, they did.

We're participating because this is about how to resolve a small dispute with a vendor. The fact that it was a damaged cake doesn't really matter.

I'd also skip the calling and emailing. It's too easy to ignore and doesn't prove you're seriously pissed off. Appear in person. Make sure you're actually dealing with someone authorized to give you a refund. The owner or manager.

I don't think the offer of a 2nd cake is really sufficient. I don't know about you but I don't need fancy birthday cakes very often.

When you spend $110 on a cake I assume its because you're paying a premium for very nicely made fancy cake. OP didn't get that at all.
Fancy cakes should not come with cardboard slapped on top of it. That seems obviously a bad idea that can / will lead to the problem with the cake in question.

OP didn't get what they paid for. Really I think a full refund is fair. I'd do a charge back on the $50.

Dont take the free cake. She is definitely going to spit.

What about the emotional damage to the kid?

jerosen said:   I think a full refund is fair.
  
I'd agree with you, but she ATE the cake.

TravelerMSY said:   We're participating because this is about how to resolve a small dispute with a vendor. The fact that it was a damaged cake doesn't really matter.

I'd also skip the calling and emailing. It's too easy to ignore and doesn't prove you're seriously pissed off. Appear in person.

  
Thanks for your earnest response. I am bit worried about the drama that may ensue if I were to appear in person. But, I will definitely think about it. Thanks again for your response.

Chyvan said:   
jerosen said:   I think a full refund is fair.
  
I'd agree with you, but she ATE the cake.

  

Yeah I see the point.

But what is someone supposed to do in this situation?    You can't exactly return a ruined cake at the last minute.   Nobody else would eat it (I' assume bakers can't sell slightly "used" cakes) so not eating it basically just a waste of cake.    You don't have enough time to run over to Costco and get a replacement cake.    You can't reschedule the birthday.   You're basically forced to use the cake you get as is.     The $110 is primarily for the fancy decorations which were ruined and not delivered on.  
 
 

jerosen said:   But what is someone supposed to do in this situation?    You can't exactly return a ruined cake at the last minute.   Nobody else would eat it (I' assume bakers can't sell slightly "used" cakes) so not eating it basically just a waste of cake.    You don't have enough time to run over to Costco and get a replacement cake.    You can't reschedule the birthday.   You're basically forced to use the cake you get as is.     The $110 is primarily for the fancy decorations which were ruined and not delivered on.

The 2-yo didn't care. I'd go to the grocery store if I cared how the cake looked, but I'd have returned the messed up cake. The baker might feed it to her family, but I wouldn't ever think it was ok to eat it just because I thought it might end up in the trash any way. That's up to the baker to decide.

I agree about the decorations on the cake and the price, but cake is gone.
  

Chyvan said:   
jerosen said:   But what is someone supposed to do in this situation?    You can't exactly return a ruined cake at the last minute.   Nobody else would eat it (I' assume bakers can't sell slightly "used" cakes) so not eating it basically just a waste of cake.    You don't have enough time to run over to Costco and get a replacement cake.    You can't reschedule the birthday.   You're basically forced to use the cake you get as is.     The $110 is primarily for the fancy decorations which were ruined and not delivered on.

The 2-yo didn't care. I'd go to the grocery store if I cared how the cake looked, but I'd have returned the messed up cake. The baker might feed it to her family, but I wouldn't ever think it was ok to eat it just because I thought it might end up in the trash any way. That's up to the baker to decide.

I agree about the decorations on the cake and the price, but cake is gone.
  

  To be precise, about half of the cake is still there. But that is not the point. What you are suggesting is highly unrealistic. When I have a room-full of guests waiting on me to get the celebrations started, I am supposed to go to the grocery shop on a cake hunting mission? And your point about the 2-yr old doesn't care is not valid. Just because he cannot differentiate between a good and bad cake, I need not have an issue with the baker's output? Sure, if I had a few hours before the party starts, I would have gone your suggested route. But, it did not happen that way. In any case, given that you do not agree with a full refund, how much will you settle for in this case?

I don't believe you can eat half of it then expect a refund.

A room full of guests for a two year old? Is this party for the kid or the adults?

What a waste of emotions, money and drama.
First of all $100+ cake is not a good idea for a 2 year old. Might make sense for a 5/10 or higher birthday.
This is FWF, so of course, I would shove that thought.

Do not argue with them, ask politely, if it did not work out, charge back and ignore the vendor. No point hating on online boards, social media, you can take that as a lesson. Next time use a better careful person, may also be possible that your friend did not do this correctly or do not have kids or have not done this many times (no experience!)

I generally have large open tray kind of costco boxes in my car. We use that to transport stuff from Costco.
I would have used multiple different sizes such boxes to ensure the cake box itself does not move much in car and within the tray box itself.
This is a good learning exercise of transporting food, that is valuable in case you are taking a liquidy Dish to a potluck or in a semi-expensive bone chinaware. Same concept applies.

If I were you, I would have put back the damaged yellow top and put bunch of candles on top.
We generally remove the top portion where candles were put in case it dripped, and throw that entire portion before you start cutting the cake.

If you think you have other options Mr. Sashi.
In India and Europe and other parts, there is no concept of returns or refunds, how would you have handled there?

Unless you inspected at the bakery store, (which I do always to ensure the name/decorations are correctly spelled), you can't blame it 100% on the bakery.
It is also possible that an employee screwed up and covered their mistake, but shit happens in life, for $110, it is not worth it, move on.
 

matrix5k said:   A room full of guests for a two year old? Is this party for the kid or the adults?
  What the heck is wrong with you? Why are you incapable of sticking to the point of discussion? If you are incapable of adding anything meaningful, please move on. 

Why is it so hard for you to believe that a birthday party held for a 2 year old will have a room full of people?  Maybe, you are a misanthrope who likes to spend time in your basement. Thankfully, I am not like that.

sashi34u said:   When my friend arrived on my door step with the big box of cake, everything looked fine. There are no visible stress markings on the outer box and it looked as if the transport aspect of the cake was flawless. There was also a small accompanying box which had the fondant letters of my son's name. We set the cake box on top of the table and opened it
  A normal person opens the box and inspects the cake BEFORE leaving the store. Who's to say your friend didn't hit a bump or brake brake hard causing damage to the cake?

DealsBrokeMe said:   What a waste of emotions, money and drama.
First of all $100+ cake is not a good idea for a 2 year old. Might make sense for a 5/10 or higher birthday.
This is FWF, so of course, I would shove that thought.

Do not argue with them, ask politely, if it did not work out, charge back and ignore the vendor. No point hating on online boards, social media, you can take that as a lesson. Next time use a better careful person, may also be possible that your friend did not do this correctly or do not have kids or have not done this many times (no experience!)

I generally have large open tray kind of costco boxes in my car. We use that to transport stuff from Costco.
I would have used multiple different sizes such boxes to ensure the cake box itself does not move much in car and within the tray box itself.
This is a good learning exercise of transporting food, that is valuable in case you are taking a liquidy Dish to a potluck or in a semi-expensive bone chinaware. Same concept applies.

If I were you, I would have put back the damaged yellow top and put bunch of candles on top.
We generally remove the top portion where candles were put in case it dripped, and throw that entire portion before you start cutting the cake.

If you think you have other options Mr. Sashi.
In India and Europe and other parts, there is no concept of returns or refunds, how would you have handled there?

Unless you inspected at the bakery store, (which I do always to ensure the name/decorations are correctly spelled), you can't blame it 100% on the bakery.
It is also possible that an employee screwed up and covered their mistake, but shit happens in life, for $110, it is not worth it, move on.

  I did ask politely. I do not know why you are talking about your costco experiences because the transport was never an issue. I am not living in India or some other nation, so I do not see how that is relevant to my case. I will give you the last point, but since I was not there I couldn't do anything about it.

Stop TEXTING to resolve a dispute.

 

You can buff that out.

I thought you said damaged coke lol

Skipping 54 Messages...
- Lately I've seen some "new members" opining on what counts as a proper Finance topic and what doesn't. It's not as simple as it might appear; the Finance forum has a long and storied history of being quite diverse, and it is more interesting than a lot of forums because of that. 
Extra points are usually accrued when the OP deletes the original post and someone adds the original text back into the thread for posterity.

- "Escalators and now a cake thread? FWF you are delivering lately."
Comparing the escalator thread to this one is apples and oranges.
I admit I did take quite a nerdy shine to that singleton escalator.
No matter how you slice it, though, that escalator is nearer a tree thing than a cake thing.

- When I was studying for a PhD, I was eating low on the hog, even without having any dependents. Baked beans, peanut butter, half-price readymeals bought on the expiration date for a big treat, that sort of thing. Can't imagine spending $110 for a cake whilst a PhD student with a young family; I've never spent $10 for a cake; but then, I don't even like that sort of cake.

- To me, this is certainly a FWF topic, and I had an enjoyable 10 minutes skimming through the comments while eating my dinner. The high points for me included:
"a master of the dark art of paragraphs"
"demand a human sacrifice whose blood will wash away the sins of the cardboard man"
"need pics of cake-ubering friend"
"fondant... that stuff is was pretty dang durable"
"What will you do after finding? Kill them?"



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