Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Customer Tales


#1

I’m not looking for advice, I’m just blowing off steam…

I just got a necklace back in the mail. I heard from the customer by
email less than two weeks after she bought a piece that consisted of
7 strands of 1mm snake chain. It “just came apart”. Now, 1mm snake
chain is a bit delicate, and if you kink it, it can break. Of course,
I said, send it back.

I got an envelope of spaghetti. Two strands are intact, three are in
10 little pieces, the rest missing. The pieces range from 2" to
10-12".

I will make a new one and send it to her, but I cannot conceive of
what she could have done to it… and then to imply that it
self-destructed! Wow! But it isn’t worth the potential blow-back to
do other than eat the loss and make a new one… this time, anyway.
If I didn’t know that on my own, the discussions here over the years
have sure made that clear.

It is very hard not to include a note saying “I know you abused this
poor thing in some horrendous way, I’m letting you rip me off, don’t
think you can pull this s*** again!”, but I won’t.

Noel


#2
I will make a new one and send it to her, but I cannot conceive of
what she could have done to it... and then to imply that it
self-destructed! Wow! But it isn't worth the potential blow-back
to do other than eat the loss and make a new one... 

I would send her money back and be done with it, if if did not choose
to tell her that the necklace was perfect condition when she took
possession of it, and I have no responsibility for what happened
after that unless it was due to poor workmanship or something wrong
with the materials, and that is not the case. I would then ask her
what she wanted, and after she told me her expectation, I would agree
to repair or remake it and I would tell her the price for my labor
and materials.

Do not work in a fear based position, “potential blow back”? How
about telling the truth in a kind and honest manner and blow that
customer off to do that crap somewhere else if she does not feel she
has any responsibility?

You are eating something, but not “the loss”. It probably was on over
a turtleneck sweater and she did not take the necklace off when she
took off the sweater. Sometimes you must stand up for yourself, not
to be right, but to not let yourself be taken advantage of by stupid
or ignorant people.

Folks, sometimes you have to say, I understand how you feel. However,
it would not be fair to me and I am sorry but I cannot remake this or
repair it for free. I did not cause the damage. Unfortunately the
only solution would be for me to remake or repair it for $$$.

This is business not a popularity contest that you probably lose as
the customer might not value you anyway.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver, Co.


#3

I suggest putting in a note when you return the necklace stating
what not to do with a fine necklace. Don’t sleep in it - Don’t bathe
in it - Don’t let the dog eat it - Don’t drop it in the
washingmachine - Don’t drop it in the disposal - Don’t run over it
with the car And etc. Any of the above actions will declare any good
faith guarantees to be null and void.

Linda Lankford


#4

Noel- It very well could be the chain. For years I repaired every
kind of chain there is. I was the “expert”. Read… Low man on the
totem pole. No one else would do them. I found that there was indeed
a certain percentage of chains that literally self destructed. Some
came directly from the factory with links that were either not
soldered or just plain defective. They would just fall apart into
little pieces. Maybe 1 in a hundred. That said, I also don’t doubt
that your customer could have abused the piece. I had a customer
return a very nice diamond ring once because “It’s defective. The
bottom of the ring just broke. I want my money back.” After some
careful questioning they revealed that they were moving a heavy
couch at the time and it had split at the sizing seam.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#5

Noel -

You are not looking for advice; I’m not giving advice, just blowing
off steam (from my own observations on how a shop is run:)

Replace the necklace. Make sure in the future the cost of doing
business includes this kind of rip-off.

Include a nice note that indicates you hope the owner wasn’t injured
when the destruction of the necklace occured (since this kind of
destruction usually includes owner injury). But you might not want to
do this, since self-centered people might construe this as admission
that you caused the destruction or injury…OK, don’t go there unless
you have legal counsel…

Close the note with a statement that ends your obligation to
customer, and that if they have further problems of this nature, they
should patronize the firm “(antagonistic rival)” instead. Sounds like
they deserve each other.

good luck!
Kelley


#6
I would then ask her what she wanted, and after she told me her
expectation, I would agree to repair or remake it and I would tell
her the price for my labor and materials. 

Since a few of you have expressed an interest in this saga, I will
share the next installment.

I emailed the customer, saying I received the piece and would
replace it as long as it was understood that the damage was not due
to my materials or workmanship, and that it is strictly one-time
offer. (Remember, snake chain in many little pieces-- couldn’t “just
come apart” like that). I just got an email back saying that if I
felt it “was not properly cared for”, she was not comfortable with my
replacing it, it is not hers but her client’s (whatever that means),
and she doesn’t know how it was damaged.

I emailed that of course it was not “properly cared for”, but I
wasn’t asking how it was damaged, accidents happen, it is up to her,
she should let me know what she wants.

So, we’ll see!
Noel


#7

Wow, that’s insane!

The problem is, she obviously feels that she can DESTROY this
necklace, then mail it back to get it replaced for free. Yes, snake
chain kinks… but to break it into small pieces like that? It went
through some ridiculous abuse.

I’d be worried that she’s going to do the same thing again.

I hate drama, so in my position I’d probably just give her an
(undeserved) refund. I wouldn’t trust her not to stick it to me
again later.

good luck!
Rita.


#8

Hi Noel - was it the old-fashioned seamed snake chain, or the
seamless kind made of little interlocking buttons? I’ve found that
the latter is quite delicate (though both are indeed very “kinky”.)

Some customers can destroy just about anything, it seems - I had a
very similar situation, and the customer actually threw the chain
away after it “just fell apart”! (She was also a friend’s friend, so
I didn’t need the remains for proof, but it would have been nice to
have them for scrap…)

Jessee Smith
Cincinnati, OH
www.silverspotstudio.com


#9

It does sound like it got snagged on something, or maybe the cat/dog
got at it. Can you see if the wires that held it together are
"stressed" as if pulled or twisted or stretched… use a loop or
powerful microscope Having done metal failure analysis this can give
an indication as to how it happened.

If you can see evidence of this, I would put a note in it saying it
so and that in the future you do not put a replacement guarantee on
it in such instances.

I know jewelry is different but in the world of manufacturing, most
returns are evaluated before replacement or returns of funds is made
so the company can see if it really falls within the
warranty/guarantee parameters

Laurie K
Adventures of an Aspiring Silversmith.


#10
It does sound like it got snagged on something, or maybe the
cat/dog got at it. Well, now I understand what happened. 

The purchaser of the necklace, I now realize, was a customer
(accompanied by an assistant) who spent over $6000 at my booth. She
stuffed the pieces into her purse, refusing to let me bag, box or
wrap them, though I begged her to let me. So she probably wrecked it
pulling it out of her purse! But for someone who spent that kind of
money, I’ll replace a $300 necklace, once. To her credit, the
assistant did not tell me who the customer was, or put any pressure
on me. When I said it was carelessness, she said forget about
replacing it. When I figured out who it was, though, I said I’d send
a new one. The assistant said she already lost the $4000 bracelet…

Noel


#11
I just got an email back saying that if I felt it "was not properly
cared for", she was not comfortable with my replacing it, it is not
hers but her client's (whatever that means), and she doesn't know
how it was damaged. 

Noel, how bout combining customer service with a bit of proactive
redesign. Instead of replacing it with similar snake chain, use a
decent weight cable link chain. You know, simple little round or oval
wire links. Those chains are “limp”, and don’t kink or break from
being bent, and in my experience, you have to pull somewhat harder to
break them too. This may change your design a bit, but it might also
mean the replacement is not likely to break again.

For the record, I personally don’t trust snake chains to have much
strength. Their visual weight makes them look considerably stronger
than they are, especially the thin ones like you used. The are made
with little interlocking parts that CAN pull apart, sometimes easier
than one might beleve from the visual weight of the chain. Foxtail
also gives you some of the same look and slight resistance to
twisting, and can also be bent or kinked, but it’s soldered shut wire
links, and much harder to break.

The other chain I don’t like for strength, which some fellow
jewelers I know like because it’s cool looking, is bead chain. that
stuff is terrible for strength…The beads are simply crimped/swaged
shut from unsoldered tube, and easily distorted to stretch the little
hole in each end, or with more than a slight pull, the wire balled up
link ends simply pull out. Nice looking, but dangerously fragile…

Peter


#12
The assistant said she already lost the $4000 bracelet... 

Maybe, along with sending the replacement bracelet, you could offer
to give her a discount on a new bracelet too. Reduce your profit on
it a bit, but still make enough to be worth doing, and paying for the
necklace at the same time…

Peter


#13

Noel,

I hope you won’t mind if I respectfully add my thoughts to your
vent. I usually sit here lurking and devouring all the info we read,
see and hear on this wonderful site. But, your post has been on my
mind since I read it yesterday, and I simply cannot resist this
reply.

We are retired owners of a helicopter company, so we come to this
business/industry late in life. In that previous business we
literally charged for every minute our equipment was in operation. We
did so because if we didn’t we’d likely find ourselves on the
doorstep of the poor house within hours, and that’s not much of an
exaggeration.

Coming from a business whose prices were based solely on arithmetic
we were in for quite a shock when we started our little jewelry
business. (Don’t get me wrong, good service and good manners were
also a big part of that business.) However, we’ve found that some
jewelry customers seem to think that everything that has passed
through our hands has an eternal - unconditional - free repair and or
replacement guarantee. All we can figure is that it’s the softness of
the artist’s heart in the jeweler, that has allowed this kind of
"thing" to happen in this industry. If you bought a new car, wrapped
it around a tree and then had it sent back to the dealer with a note
that said - “this thing didn’t hold up” - I think it’s fair to say
that he would be happy to fix your “issue”, but would charge you his
standard shop rate before he gave it back.

Jo Haemer gave some good advice when she (paraphrased) suggested
that you check the material for defects first. But, assuming all was
well, it seems to me that like the wrecked car, this customer should
expect to pay for repair/replacement.

Please forgive me for taking your vent and then creating a post out
of it just to state this observation, but self employed people often
sell themselves short. My wife and I call it the "Door Mat Syndrome."
Some seem to think that if they place themselves at the bottom of the
food chain they’ll be the last to be eaten by this economy, and
customers like this one. I would humbly suggest that this is the
opposite of reality. In this case I would have inspected the piece
for faulty material/workmanship. If I found all was well then I would
have contacted the customer with a quote for the “fix”. That quote
would have been my shop rate - period. We save our favors and
freebees for family, and people we love. That last business of ours
taught us that you can’t make up for a loss with volume, all that
does is multiply your losses, it does not multiply your gain.

It is my belief that there are some customers who will push you, and
take advantage of you until you have lost so much money that you
have to wait tables just to pay the rent. My unsolicited advice is to
send everyone of those customers directly to your competition, you
don’t want them in your store.

One of my favorite stories is this one. We have a dear friend who is
a talented jeweler and who has been kind enough to act as a mentor
to us. He has many decades of experience, and like the good people on
this site is willing to share those hard won victories with us.
While sitting at his bench watching him work, a customer came in and
asked for a repair to be done while she waited. Reluctantly, he
accepted the repair. Within a few minutes the piece was better than
new, and he charged her accordingly. She was a bit surprised to have
to pay “so much” for just a “minute of work.” Our friend’s reply was.
“That minute of work took me more than thirty years to learn and
perfect.” She thought for a moment and then paid, shook his hand and
offered a heartfelt “thank you.” It was a fair question on her part,
but it was also the right answer on his.

Lastly, I hope you get paid for your efforts whether it’s a repair
or a replacement. That’s what you deserve - nothing less. In the
meantime we wish you and all who come here - success.

With Our Best Regards,
Ski & Cathy


#14

Hello Ski and Cathy,

She was a bit surprised to have to pay "so much" for just a
"minute of work." Our friend's reply was. "That minute of work took
me more than thirty years to learn and perfect."

Rather like the mechanic who repaired a machine with a sharp tap of
his hammer. The bill was $ 78. The customer, shocked at the charge,
asked for an invoice. The invoice:

Tap to machine - $1.00
Knowing where and how hard to tap - $77.00

Total due - $78.00

:wink:
Judy in Kansas


#15
Rather like the mechanic who repaired a machine with a sharp tap of
his hammer. The bill was $ 78. The customer, shocked at the charge,
asked for an invoice. 

Seems like this story, or versions of it, have made the rounds in
many disguises and forms. It’s almost an urban myth by now, even if
some versions are true, perhaps because at this point, the concept is
well enough known that people actually use that reply when the
opportunity arises. Not to mention the fact that when used, it’s
often perfectly true.

The first version of this story I can recall hearing was about a turn
of the century (around1900) electric company having trouble with an
early generator at one of the first electrical generation plants.
Called in a well known electrical engineer, perhaps better at AC
electronics than old Tom Edison, who’d probably designed the place
but who was more a proponant of DC electric power. A guy who’s name
you might know, Nikolas Tesla. With the problem (overheating, if I
recall) explained, he walked around the generator, took a piece of
chalk, and marked an X on one access panel, and instructed the plant
manager to remove a certain number of turns from the coil to be
found behind that panel. It solved the problem, of course. And true
to the story, the bill came, for a thousand, or ten thousand, or some
other large sum of money (don’t recall the exact figure) When
questioned, Tesla detailed the invoice with one buck for the chalk
mark, and the remainder for knowing where to place the mark. And the
bill got paid of course. And I’ve heard various other iterations of
this tale, different professions, different details, but essentially
the same story, many times over the years.

Cheers
Peter


#16

Hi Peter;

I recently used a version of this on a customer who remarked that he
could get a watch battery at WalMart for $4 so why was I charging him
$10? I told him, yes, WallyWorld only charges $4, if:

they can get the back off your watch (ever have to remove the back of
a Fossil watch or a Swiss Army watch?) they know how to use a
cross-reference chart to locate the correct battery they bother to
test the old battery to see if you really need a new one and that
there’s not a problem with the watch they bother to test the new
battery to make sure they aren’t selling you a dead one they don’t
scratch the coil in the watch getting the battery out or the back
off and thereby render the watch useless and un-repairable (short of
new works) they can get the back back on the watch without bending it
or breaking the crystal they know how to remove the battery strap (if
it has one) without it flying out and dissappearing in mid air (tiny
little spring loaded devils are tought to find when they take
flight. and then there are those tiny, tiny little screws) they
bother to make sure the contact points are clean so the new battery
works they have a case wrench and know how to use it they don’t cross
thread the back putting it back on (if it’s a scew on one) they don’t
rip the gasket taking off the back or putting it back on they don’t
get the back misaligned and, leaning on the press (if they have one),
shear off the stem they extend the courtesy of setting the time, day
and date for you like I always do etc., etc., etc.

What to you think the odds are that someone making minimum wage at
WalMart will know how to do all this?

So, I told him, if he was feeling lucky, maybe he should waste
couple bucks of gas and half an hour’s drive and go and save $6. Of
course, you would have to have heard how I delivered this lecture,
light heartedly and with an apology for the fact that my overhead
wouldn’t allow me to get away with a $4 battery change for very long.
He went with the $10 battery.

David L. Huffman


#17
So, I told him, if he was feeling lucky, maybe he should waste
couple bucks of gas and half an hour's drive and go and save $6.
[snip He went with the $10 battery. 

I have found that a lot of people who ask why something costs more
actually just want to know… why it costs more. If you answer in a
neutral or friendly (i.e. non-hostile) way, they are usually
satisfied. In the example above, after all, he did come to the
jewelry store, not WalMart.

Noel


#18
could get a watch battery at WalMart for $4 so why was I charging
him $10? I told him, yes, WallyWorld only charges $4, if: 

And in my neighborhood, if Wallyworld doesnt sell that brand, they
wont touch it since they cant replace it with similar type watch.


#19

Sometimes humor works better than anything. Ralph worked for me
years ago, he was a Dangerfield clone, in appearance as well as
cutting wit.

Lady…How much are your ring guards?
Ralph…Five dollars
Lady… So much? Smith’s jewelers only charges me three dollars
Ralph…So why don’t you go there?
Lady…They’re closed right now
Ralph… Oh well see, we only charge three dollars when we’re
closed, too

As aggravating as some customers can be I would advise that we all
exercise restraint even when steamed and provoked. Even if that
particular customer, you don’t stand a cold chance in hell of
pleasing…people talk. And if you do it once, you’ll do it twice, you
might get a reputation.