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Customer unhappy with retipping


#1

I had a customer come in my shop about a month ago who essentially
interviewed me before hiring me to replace a small diamond and retip
an 18ky ring she said was over 100 years old. The customer was
clearly very concerned over retaining the integrity of the piece,
but also keeping the price down. Way down. She wanted to be able to
give the ring to her son to give to his fiance. I said the main
goals would be to reset the missing and secure the diamonds. I
didn’t want to risk damaging anything so I was upfront about taking
the ring to a jeweler I trrust who laser welds. I quoted about $100
for a.02 diamond and the 6 melee to be tipped and 5 larger stones
ranging from.2 to.5 carats. The customer picked up the ring and was
unhappy with the retipping. She said the gold was covering the small
diamonds. I agreed, took it back to the jeweler, he gravered quite a
bit of the gold away from the small diamonds. The customer again
picked up the ring, she called me today to say she was unhappy with
the job because she felt there wasn’t the artistry in the piece that
had originally been there. She is going to take the piece to other
jewelers to get a quote on having the job done to her satisfaction.
Was I supposed to say “Look this ring will be wearable but you are
not paying enough for me to bother with restoring it to it’s
original beauty?”

Thanks for any and all input!

Cindy


#2

The first sign of a bad future scenario with a customer, is when
they want the best, but are only willing to pay the least. Forget her
and move on. You will never satisfy her, and nor will any other
jeweler. I listen to new customers very closely, and if they walk in
the door saying XYZ Jewelers screwed it up, and ABC Jewelers screwed
it up too, then don’t get involved because you are simply going to be
next on her sh-- list.

Ed in Kokomo


#3

Your mistake was not readind the customers needs and regardless you
didn’t leave enugh income for a redo or replacing a diamond if I
fell your price for$ 100.00 is a give away when you do that you loose
credabilityand ability to take care of this situation all the way.
You wen with the customers initials needs and didn’t ralize she will
have a remorse. Consider it a lesson do not be led you lead and you
decide and charge so you can do it right.


#4

Cindy,

jewelry, always face such a problem. Beauty is in the eye of the
beholder after all and what may be perfectly well done in your eye,
may simply not satisfy hers. In any event, This is not something that
you should fret over.

This person may take the ring to a dozen other jewelers and everyone
might say…yes they will ‘restore’ it. Of the twelve, 11 may do even
less or little more than you did she will still be dissatisfied. The
12th may be lucky and hit the button that triggers her satisfaction.
I used to do a lot of estate restorations but gave it up…mostly
for that very reason.

Don’t be flip with the person. Simply explain that such work can be
very difficult and she should seek others opinions. Be prepared,
however, for her to come back for a refund should she find someone
who does the job to her satistaction. Just do a refund. The
alternative is not worth the hassle!

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!


#5

Cindy,

Well first of all you’ve learned a valuable lesson: Those who want to
spend the least will be the biggest problems. The second part of this
lesson is: For those customers who pay a lot for your services it’s
worth redoing something until you get it right for them. As soon as
the customer began expressing concern about maintaining the integrity
of the piece, you should have doubled the price (which you way
underquoted to begin with if I understand how much work was being
done). If you couldn’t have done the job properly for what she
wanted to pay you should have refused the job. I get people in all
the time who don’t want to pay for my repair work and it’s fine with
me if they take it somewhere else. It’s just less hassle and far more
profitable not to deal with them. On the other hand, and I know you
didn’t ask about this, but as a gesture, you might refund the
customer her money. Why? Because she won’t be able to say bad things
about you if you do. People like this will inevitably bad mouth you
to all of their friends (most of whom know she’s a skinflint but it
still has an impact).

Look this ring will be wearable but you are not paying enough for
me to bother with restoring it to it's original beauty?" 

You should have phrased it this way: “If you want this ring restored
to its original beauty than it will cost you $500. If you don’t want
to pay this price, then why don’t you shop around a little.”

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#6

When I still was doing retail repairs, I would kind of start at the
top and work back. I would quote a price to do the job properly &
completely. When price was such an issue, I would then work back the
price by making compromises with the completeness of the job, taking
shortcuts as it were. After making it quite clear what the
compromises and shortcuts meant in terms of results, I would have
them sign off on that before doing the work. On some occasions, it
was painfully clear that a customer just would not by satisfied by
the job or the price, so I would politely suggest that they look
elsewhere for someone who could do the job to their satisfaction at
a price they could afford. Not much you can do after the fact other
than attempt damage control and learn for the future. Customers like
that were one of the primary reasons I got out of the retail repairs.
Seemed most of our customers at the store I worked from wanted me to
take either cheap junk or old and terribly worn pieces and turn them
into Tiffany level masterpieces. Only thing was, because they already
had the ‘value’ and I was adding primarily labor, it wasn’t supposed
to cost anything.

Jim
http://www.forrest-design.com


#7

Cindy, how many prongs did you re-tip for the $100, in addition to
supplying the .02 carat diamond?

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#8
Look this ring will be wearable but you are not paying enough for
me to bother with restoring it to it's original beauty?" 

Yes. Antique restoration is not just repair work. And this is what
happens if you don’t treat it as such. Not an easy lesson…


#9

the original artistry would take x $ per hour, 3 days, happy to do
it, your understanding was she did not want to do that financially.

however, with a 50 % down deposit, you’ll get right on it

Mark Zirinsky
denver


#10

Hi Cindy, In my opinion there are two sometimes unrelated activities
going on with any repair job- price and quality. Establish the price
as you will but then you must proceed to make the repair the best
you can. Even better than the customer expects. The jeweler you gave
the job to should not let it go out until it is perfect. The best
thing he can do is make it look as though it never needed work and
he didn’t do anything to the piece. The price you charged is quite
another subject. I know it is sometimes difficult to quote a higher
price, but keep in mind that you are going to make it look perfect
and that is worth a lot.

Good luck. Tom Arnold


#11
Was I supposed to say "Look this ring will be wearable but you are
not paying enough for me to bother with restoring it to it's
original beauty?"

Cindy, the way your customer approaches you is not your concern. It
sounds like you did your best and certainly earned your money. Put it
down to a learning situation, though I don’t know what you can
learn.

I have had some odd balls and we all have bad customers. I am very
weary of people who come at me full of distrust. It doesn’t matter
how much extra you do for them they will always think you are up to
something.

It is better for you and your peace of mind to exert your energy on
the nice customers who appreciate your effort. I am not saying she is
wrong to have her expectations the way they are, but she will learn
that the job costs money.

It takes time and someone will want to be paid, obviously. I think
you may have been taken advantage of. Forget her.


#12

We’ve all talked about charging too little and then having the
appearance of shoddy workmanship based on price.

Had a client bring me an antique ring today. The antique style was
to make the prongs triangular coming to a long point by filing from
the sides. (If that helps any…)

Here’s another angle though:

Maybe this difficult client isn’t really concerned as much with the
actual quality of your work as much as she is concerned about her
future daughter in law. Maybe your work is just fine, and she just
doesn’t want her son “getting away” from her.

Stanley Bright
Owner
A&M Jewelers
Baltimore, MD

Oh, and BTW, would somebody please define “Artistry” as relating to
beads on pave work? lol


#13

In every industry I’ve worked the way to get rid of bothersome
customers has been to charge extremely high prices for jobs you
don’t want. This way, if they DO give you the job you’re getting
paid well for the trouble and if you DON’T get the job, well you
didn’t really want it to begin with. It also alleviates you from
telling the customer you don’t want their business. They decide that
themselves. The drawback of this is if they DO give you the job you
have to make sure it’s perfect so you don’t get complaints later.

This is standard practice among most contractors (carpenters,
plumbers, electricians, etc)… ever get a quote that was outrageous
for a regular job? Means they couldn’t be bothered but would do it
for the right price… we’re no different…

Did you ever find out what specifically she didn’t like about the
job?

Craig


#14

Cindy, I am glad that so many people are pointing out the possible
psychological issues in this thread. I have been flamed at a couple
of times for making assumptions about folks attitudes and reasons, so
I won’t make any assumptions now, [I hope].

The advice to know when to walk away is really, really important.
Everyone needs to make a living, having said that, taking on jobs
when alarms are going off in your head is another. More work will
always show up.

Repairing and designing jewelry are really hard because one must
deal with the client in their emotional space. Everyone has issues,
it isn’t up to us to fix the person or make them happy. We only need
to satisfy them in a professionally capacity with our work, [which of
course, may make them happy!].

If you know that a repair job is going to be difficult to do
properly, and they aren’t willing to pay the cost pass up the job.
Like I said more work will come.

I have sold folks new jewelry on occasion because I was honest about
the piece they thought that they wanted repaired. It is worn out,
and they didn’t really know that. It is up to us to tell folks the
truth about their jewelry. I repeat, if they won’t pay what it really
takes to do a good job, let em walk.

It isn’t your job to meet unrealistic expectations. Nor is it your
fault if you can’t meet their emotional needs. You are just
protecting yourself from future problems with that client if you know
when to walk away.

I know others have told you the same thing, it is the truth. Some
folks, usually the most picky, are often the problem clients, they
need and they need and they need. It isn’t really about the jewelry;
learn to pick up on who those potential foks are and you will save
yourself from a load of grief.

Good luck, Dennis


#15

Cindy,

When I had my jewelry store some years ago, I would approach this by
saying: "I can restore this ring for ‘X’ amount or you can take it to
another jeweler for a quick fix. The results will be worlds apart.“
The words “restore or restoration” give a different image than
"repair or repairing”. Those favors you try and help customers with
can come back and bite you in the butt.

Ronda Coryell


#16
It isn't your job to meet unrealistic expectations. Nor is it your
fault if you can't meet their emotional needs. You are just
protecting yourself from future problems with that client if you
know when to walk away. I know others have told you the same thing,
it is the truth. Some folks, usually the most picky, are often the
problem clients, they need and they need and they need. It isn't
really about the jewelry; learn to pick up on who those potential
foks are and you will save yourself from a load of grief.

When I read all the posts about the retipping job, it appears that
everyone assumes the person who did the retipping did a good job.
Without seeing the job, everyone writes about expectations of
difficult customers. I have had the experience of telling a customer
what needed to be done, and what they could get away with for
economical reasons. I can fix what will keep the ring together
without doing the complete restoration that should be done, with a
warning about checking the ring often, and having the necessary
repairs done prior to the loss of any more stones. Some of us would
reject some repair work that others of us would find acceptable. I
see the work other jewelers do on pieces my customers bring in, and
I would not let my customer see work like that, and it certainly
would not go out the door.

I once told a woman I would do the repair the way she wanted it, I
would not be responsible for what happened in the future, and asked
her to not tell anyone who did the work. Skill and knowledge over
the years provides experience in what can and cannot be done,
especially when you are the one actually doing the work. If I have
something come back and I have to be responsible for replacing a
stone or the prong catches clothing and ruins a garment, it becomes
clear pretty quickly what the reality of my responsibility is after
the piece leaves my shop. Whether it is my repair work or someone who
I send it out to, it is always on me if it is not done right, I can
blame no one but myself, and re-do whatever needs to be redone
myself, or at my expense.

Richard Hart


#17

Hi All,

I think the main problem encountered with most customers stems from
a lack of clear communication…before… the job is done.

From the replies that I have read here there is a sense of
comradeship to blame the customer and console the original poster.
While I am sympathetic to the situation some head aches can be
avoided.

Repairs can be done different ways. Some will be more expensive than
others. Rather than approach this by price alone, I suggest, explain
what is needed and the cost to do the job correctly first. If the
customer balks, then I might take the other road and explain how a
shortcut will work but also explain it’s shortcomings.

Recently a customer brought me a platinum ring with a center
sapphire surrounded by diamonds. The center needed re-tipping and she
wanted an emerald in place of the sapphire. To keep this short…The
prongs could be re-tipped by a laser using all platinum then set the
emerald in there (the expensive route) or the prongs could be
re-tipped with white gold and then set the emerald.(the very
inadvisable route) After a complete discussion from solder bleeding
to having unlike metals she had the to choose
accordingly.
She went with the laser…

Don’t be afraid to explain the negatives that may occur before
hand…stuff happens…

Mark


#18

Very good! That is essentially what we do, to RESTORE the item to its
original appearance to the best of our ability. I have a suggestion
for everyone that should work well. If you REALLY take pride in your
workmanship and do high quality work, collect some digital
photographs of the BEFORE condition of the item and the RESTORED
condition of the item. Compile these photos in a book that you can
keep on the counter. If you encounter price objections to your work
you can illustrate to the customer what is involved in terms of
materials, time, and labor. I always obtain the permission of my
customers to use their jewelry in this manner. They are generally
delighted to help me justify the fees involved as I don’t gouge
anyone and know better than to try to give any item less than "100%+"
effort. SELL good craftmanship like you SELL fine jewelry and you
will encounter a lot less problems along the way.


#19
collect some digital photographs of the BEFORE condition of the
item and the RESTORED condition of the item. 

That’s good advise. I don’t take before pics, but I do have pics of
restorations in my portfolio - as Thomas says, it sells your
craftsmanship - I would say abilities, even.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#20

Going out on a limb here but…

She said the gold was covering the small diamonds. I agreed, took
it back to the jeweler 

If you had scrutinized the ring, pre-delivery, you might have
avoided this. This may sound cold or whatever and I apologize for
it…by your own admission you said the repair was not good. You
have allowed doubt into the customer’s mind so she may never be
satisfied.

job that nobody can knock. And charge accordingly. Which means charge
alot.(because good work takes more time and expertise than bad work)
People want good work and they will pay for it but they have to be
shown the difference between good and bad work. You just showed her
what bad work is. Ouch. Doesn’t matter how little she pays (even
though the low price would seem in line with the outcome) she thinks
you or your jeweler is not good enough. Its your job to convince the
next customer you are.

Again, I apologize for the way it sounds. Hard learned lesson. No
easy way. Not that I’m immune from “events”, they happen.