Customer exchanges

The topic of exchanges will probably be one of interest to a lot of
the people on Orchid. We have a 30 day exchange policy but usually
only enforce it strongly with rings (they get beat up too quickly).
If a customer wants to exchange up (meaning trade in toward a more
expensive piece) we will take back just about anything (again,
excluding rings). We will also take back most stones we have sold if
the customer wants to trade up. The issue of receiving a present that
Neil KilBane brings up is kind of backwards from our way of thinking.
Since a recipient has no initial say in the matter it is our belief
that they absolutely DO have the right to exchange it. The last thing
I want to do is sell something of mine that ends up sitting in
someone’s drawer because they don’t like the piece or it doesn’t look
right on them. No one will see or appreciate them and I will lose
more sales over the long term. Some people do push the limits a bit
(we actually have one of those right now–she bought a pendant and
chain, returned the pendant-not the chain–towards a ring, then
brought the ring back and exchanged it for a pair of earrings for her
mother), however in terms of long term sales and the big picture you
have to remember that every dissatisfied customer tells ten of their
friends about the bad experience, who then also pass it on. There was
once a story about some woman who bought a coat (it may have been fur)
from the original Nieman Marcus store in Texas. I believe that she
had brutalized the coat and worn it for quite some time but insisted
they take it back and refund her money. They did. She later went on
to spend $3-400,000.00 with them over the next few years. If they
hadn’t taken it back do you think she would have ever gone back into
the store? Daniel R. Spirer, GG Spirer Somes Jewelers 1794 Massachusetts
Ave. Cambridge, MA 02140 @spirersomes

I have always tried to be accommodating to my customers. Each
occasion was handled depending on the circumstances. I have a basic
return/exchange policy loosely enforced, again, depending on the
circumstances. I want my customers to return in the future. I won’t
allow myself to be taken advantage of, nor do I take advantage of my
customers. Inflexible return/exchange policies (and customer service
reps) have always turned me off. An incident happened to me that,
although not related to jewelry, I feel illustrates customer
relations. I was given as a Christmas present some RAM for my
computer. It wasn’t the right type, nor enough, so I wandered into
Best Buy, where I assumed the RAM was bought. I didn’t have the
receipt and was informed rather smartly “we don’t do exchanges
without a receipt”. Evidently no exceptions. Bar code and security
thingy in place, I went down the plaza to Office Depot. Was told by
the store manager that since O D doesn’t use the security tags this
RAM didn’t come from them. But, since the package wasn’t opened and
they sell the same brand name, they would be happy to do an exchange,
anyway. I walked out of there with the proper style plus additional
RAM plus some other stuff I wanted. Needless to say, Office Depot
gets first shot for my business, Office Max next, and Best Buy is my
last resort. So, no one can tell me that flexibility when dealing
with customers doesn’t work. I’ve worked places where the
exchange/return policy seemed to be engraved in stone and strictly
enforced - no exceptions. I’ve also seen many unhappy customers
leave - and not return. Not my idea of doing business. In my
opinion, each return/exchange must be handled on its own merit using
a flexible base policy. Also makes the customer feel special. Just my

Regarding exchanges, my business runs along the same lines as Daniel
Spirer’s. We make it very easy for a customer to exchange an
unwanted item for obvious reasons. Many of our very best customers
have at one time or another returned something and some of those
returns were not easy to take back cheerfully. But, the longer I stay
in business, the more value I see in these “customer relations” type
issues, as ours is a business that survives strictly on customer
referrals and reputation. There is one other aspect that I would like
to add to this discussion: what to do when the recipient does not
want a piece of jewelry at all? Occasionally a gift is presented that
is not accepted or wanted. It could be refused engagement ring, an
unsuccessful attempt to redeem oneself, an extravagance that is way
out line with the budget…etc. In these cases, when a exchange or
store credit is not the solution, we will pleasantly (or so it will
appear) provide a refund. We do insist that the refund go to the
purchaser, and we do expect that the piece be returned as new in a
reasonable amount of time. I have grown to accept that most refunds
are actually money well spent for many of the same reasons Daniel
gives for exchanges and trade ups. (I admit with some embarrassment
that we have also used cheerful refunds to rid ourselves of
"impossible" customers and now, some unlucky store that doesn’t give
refunds is stuck with them.) Anthony Toepfer, Anthony Toepfer
Jewelers, Keene, NH