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Dealing with a customer of a broken necklace


Hi to all

what do you make of a first-time customer who gets an elaborate
necklace at a very fair price, wears it around her 12-month boy who
(of course) breaks it, and asks me to re-do it at no charge ?

Some sterling was lost, it took me 45 mn just to take it apart and
clean it, plus another hour to re-do it. Being a faily new artisan,
I’m just unsure as how to handle this kind of situation.

Thanks a lot


Depending upon how her son broke it would be the difference as to
whether I would charge or not. In our store which I regretfully had
to close upon my husband’s death, I always stood behind our work. If
it came apart because of an end cap, or unknown reason (had a bead
with a guillotine edge once) I would always restring it for free. If
it is a VERY good customer, I would restring it for free. If it
looked like it went thru a blender, I charged my standard labor
charge and parts needed to complete.

Judy Shaw


How long did she wear it? Anyway, I wouldn’t eat this job unless it
happened in my store!. Let the customer be responsible for their
actions. NOT your problem!!


I am interested to know what the consensus is regarding fixing items
that the customer broke because of careless, or rough handling.

I had a similar situation, and finally made the extensive repairs at
no cost

I had donated to a local fundraiser, a stand of really fine cultured
pearls all individually knotted, and attached to a hand made clasp
which I had set with a garnet. I did all the work myself, and knew
that each knot was tight, and close to the pearl. The thread had been
properly stretched, and I had used French coils to attach the strand
to the clasp.

About a month later I received an irate phone call from the person
who won the bid on the pearls telling me that the “knots had shrunk,
and there were gaps between the pearls.” I asked her to bring them
to my studio. To my surprise I found that there were gaps, and I was
puzzled as to how that could have happened. She let it be known,
that she expected me to redo the strand at no charge. During our
conversation, she asked me to add 3 or 4 more pearls,(again at no
charge), as she was having a problem putting the pearls on. Then it
developed that the way she was putting them on, was to leave them
fastened, and would force them over her head. She complained that
they were too tight, and wanted more pearls added. No wonder they had
been stretched.

She said it was too much bother to have to do and undo the clasp
each time she wore them.

I was really in a quandary, and I guess I felt a bit intimidated, as
she suggested that I had not done them right the first time. In
short, according to her, it was my fault that there was a problem.

The upshot was, that I redid the pearls, and added 4 more, all at no

So, I am eager to hear what should be done when faced with such


what do you make of a first-time customer who gets an elaborate
necklace at a very fair price, wears it around her 12-month boy
who (of course) breaks it, and asks me to re-do it at no charge ? 

There has been a lot of discussion about this and a lot of people
suggest that to make a good customer, you redo it for free. I tell
people that when they bought the piece it was in good condition, and
the damage was not due to poor workmanship or something wrong with
the materials.

I tell them I am sorry that happened, but I am not responsible for
why it broke and it would not be fair to me to have to fix it for
free. I then give the quote.

You have to be very nice, no tone, no attitude, just be matter of

Richard Hart G.G.


Since her son broke the necklace, it is not your fault and you
should not be expected to repair it for free. I would nicely tell her
you would happily repair the necklace for x amount of dollars. You
can also tell her nicely that you guarantee your work for normal
wear, but since she wore it around her small son and allowed him to
grab it, that is not considered normal wear.

Francesca Anatra


Charge her.

Unless your pretty sure that she’s going to buy thousands of dollars
of jewelry from you. It’s your call.

It was broken in an accident. No design flaw on your part.

You’ve got two hours of labor plus materials in to the repair.

If you buy a new car, drive it off the lot and crash it, do you
think that the dealership will fix it for free?

I ALWAYS warn new mothers not to wear tempting shiny things around
their necks or in their ears when handling their babies. The little
guys’ll go for them every time.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer


Hi Cecile,

Did you agree to make the repair and not charge her? If so, you
can’t tell her after the fact that there will be a charge. But in the
future it is a bad idea to repair something no charge that is clearly
damage done by the customer. I think people like to think artists
love what they do so much that money is secondary and I think some of
us allow that attitude to prevail.

For good will and good customer relations, it is sometimes smart to
charge a nominal fee for labor and materials in a case like this but
always let the customer know she is getting a reduced price. This
establishes some respect for you. I have learned this lesson the hard
way and did my share of no charge repairs until I wised up. If you
look at the websites of other jewelry artisans, you will sometimes
see some very clearly stated guidelines on how work is guaranteed. It
might be helpful to look at some of them.

Think of it this way. As a customer yourself, what merchant can you
purchase an item from who would repair it no charge when you clearly
broke that item by misuse, carelessness, etc.



asks you to repair it at no charge? Was there a manufacturing defect?
Did you do anything to put it in harm’s way with the infant? If not,
then why pay? I suppose I can see paying if it is something you want
to do to maintain excellent customer relations, but it seems
shortsighted in than you’ll have more and more customers coming back
expecting free repairs for things you shouldn’t be liable for. The
repair trade can be a good source of income, but not if you give it

If I used a lawyer to get a divorce, then later married the same
woman, I wouldn’t expect that lawyer to turn around and fix me again
for nothing.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Henderson, NV


You obviously have no legal or moral obligation to repair this
necklace. The answer to your question really depends on whether you
want your business to be known for top quality customer service or
not. High quality customer service can be defined in it’s simplest
terms as doing more than the customer expects. It’s one thing to say
you offer the finest customer service, everybody claims they do, but
it’s another thing entirely to actually walk the walk. Customers can
tell the difference.

The question I ask myself in these situations is “What would Tiffany
do?” In a case such as this, Tiffany would repair it, no questions
asked, and would probably apologize for it breaking. That’s what
made Tiffany and Co. rise beyond being just another jewelry store
chain. It’s a perfect example of the thought process that went into
making “Tiffany’s Little Blue Box” worth so much. It is also exactly
this kind of issue that makes Tiffany the standard by which all
others claiming superior customer service are judged.

Contrary to most, I tend to look at things like your broken necklace
as opportunities rather than problems. I would repair it for no
charge and smile while doing so, but those who know me and my
business or have read my postings concerning customer service in the
past, know that I’m more than a little bit of a contrarian when it
comes to such things. Meeting customers at any time of day or night
that is convenient for them - even for a no-charge ring sizing,
making my shop open to anyone for tours and demonstrations at any
time, returning all customers’ scrap without being asked, absolute
100% guarantee of satisfaction on custom work and no-questions-asked
warrantee work are all a part of my customer service policies that
have been issues discussed on Orchid in the past in which I have been
in the minority, sometimes a minority of one. I won’t settle for
being “just another guy that makes jewelry”; people can find that
anywhere. So far it’s working quite well. I have yet to spend a dime
on advertising and business is getting better all the time. My
customers are better advertisers than money could ever buy.

So from my perspective, as a new businessperson you can look at this
as a problem you need to make go away as cheaply to yourself as
possible, or you can look at it as an opportunity to show your
customer just how good at customer service you really can be. She
will notice, no matter which course you choose, and will probably
tell someone else. It’s your choice how she tells the story.

Dave Phelps


I’m surprised she didn’t tell you she probably wore them swimming or
in the shower also. LOL

What an unfriendly person she was. Her attitude alone, I’m sure made
a fairly uncomfortable situation, even worse.

In my terms of sale/service, I have a sentence that if the item
needs to be resized depending on the item, a nominal charge will be
made. (more metal, more soldering, more bezels etc.). I do try to
work with my customers, but will not allow attacks on my person or my
work when it is clearly the responsibility of the customer.

I also tell them that if the clasp breaks with normal wear and tear
I will replace, as well as any stones depending on how it is made. If
I find that the only way the item was broken was that a piece of
machinery from road construction ran over it, or if someone had a
temper tantrum and ripped it off, they pay.

There’s always one that manages to spoil an otherwise lovely day.
I’d say you are due some fine days.



So, I am eager to hear what should be done when faced with such
situations. Well here is one of mine last week.

I made a ring for a customer a year ago and last week the customer
comes back. He had lost weight and the ring had to be sized down 5
sizes. It had a 5 carat Carib Crab stinkbug emerald in it ( he
supplied it, I hasten to add ) that had a very deep pavilion, so
there was no way I could unset and reset it without the pavilion
sticking out the bottom. And I was not going to bend the ring that
much and take a chance with a dogs breath emerald like that.

That meant I had to also unset the square Spessartite garnets
because they would not take the heat of a new tube being soldered on.

Also, the beads would be suspect if they were set twice.

So I remade the ring.

Reset everything.

Charged nothing. (after all it was just making smaller,not? ) So he
regarded it as a service.

Gave it back with my best politician’s smile. I lost a days work, but
he left happy and I might see him again. So there is still a chance I
might recoup.



I too, had a opportunity, like this. A Lady came to me to repair a
necklace that I had already repaired once. While, I was just fixing
the chain link, she and her friend picked through and bought some of
the pre-owned jewelry that I have for sale. So, the 5 second repair,
I made $56. on pre-owned jewelry. Not bad, for 5 seconds of work! And
when the lady returns from her honeymoon in Hawaii, she will come
back and purchase some more of hopefully my high end pieces. And bring
her friends!!



Tell her with a smile on your face that you’d be happy to do the
repair/rebuild, and if she’d give you a moment you’ll give her an
estimate on the total cost. If she leaves in a huff, just hope she
heads over to your competition. Let him/her bear the cost of the
loss, and gain a customer that has no respect for what you do. That
will give you more time to service customers who understand the
concept that - no business can operate at a loss. That is of course
unless you are a government entity.

Rgds… Ski
Rocks to Gems


Well, I did repair the necklace. No charge

The customer - who had bought it on credit in the first place - said
that she was too broke to buy it anyway…

My mistake - mea culpa. There are some hellish customers, who take
all for granted. Live and learn !

You obviously have no legal or moral obligation to repair this
necklace. The answer to your question really depends on whether
you want your business to be known for top quality customer service
or not. 

Right on, and very well said - as usual!!! I think this is part of
why I do the costume jewelry repairs - if they know I take their
"cheap" jewelry seriously then they know I will really take their
"nice" jewelry seriously! Plus it shows an understanding of what is
important to the client…

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

You obviously have no legal or moral obligation to repair this
necklace. The answer to your question really depends on whether
you want your business to be known for top quality customer service
or not. High quality customer service can be defined in it's
simplest terms as doing more than the customer expects. It's one
thing to say you offer the finest customer service, everybody claims
they do, but it's another thing entirely to actually walk the walk.
Customers can tell the difference.

Dave, I always find your attitude towards customer service really
refreshing! I usually agree with the folks who say “you shouldn’t
have to pay for it as you didn’t damage it” etc, but when you posted
your take on it, my opinion on it changed completely. You’re right -
reputation is everything. I’m getting lots of custom orders now
because of word of mouth and reputation, etc, and yes, sometimes I
too will do a job and make nothing on it, but those customers
remember it.

I just had a job where someone asked me to repair a beaded black
jade, carnelian and glass bead necklace. I don’t do beading as a rule
but quoted him accordingly because it’s his wife’s favourite
necklace. I also ordered a replacement focal bead as the one on the
necklace was broken. He came back to me and said it was more than he
wanted to pay. I decided to do it for him anyway, for the cost of the
stringing materials (which I had to buy as it’s not something I do)
and focal bead, just so his wife can have her favourite necklace
back. He agreed the new price and I fixed it. I have made no money on
it whatsoever. It was a simple stringing job, but I decided to
replace the base metal clasp and crimps with sterling silver ones,
and I rearranged some of the beads to remove a nasty kink which was
spoiling the look of the necklace. It looks so much better than it
did before and he’s really pleased with it. I’m pretty sure he’ll
come back to me for some custom work.

I personally don’t think we can go far wrong if we follow your
example Dave.



I think everybody has to draw the line (or NOT draw the line) based
on their own circumstances and philosophy. I don’t believe there’s
any one right way to do it.

I warrantee my work/products generously but I can’t and won’t
warrantee against things way beyond my control. If there’s some
question in my mind (like maybe I should have used a heavier chain
etc), its a no brainer, fix it for free. If the piece got run over by
a errant Abrams tank in dry, gravel riverbed during maneuvers, I’ll
be still generous but there’s going to be a charge of some sort.

There is that thing called personal property insurance, which is the
responsibility of the owner.


I agree with Dave Phelps, you have no legal obligation, but you are
facing an opportunity to transform a inconvenient situation and make
the difference.

In your place I would calculate the cost of fixing the chain and
decide if is possible to don’t charge for it, consider it a discount
on your selling price ( if applicable). But once to decide to don’t
charge, I would (in a very polite way) tell her that you don’t have
to fix it( according to terms. etc, etc) BUT that you will nicely do
it as a favor, because you liked her…bla, bla, bla…with that
attitude I thing that you probably will pay just a little in order
to stay above a discussion. And as a reward, probably she will fill
very satisfied and will come more and tell her story around.

I strongly believe that confidence, reputation and a good name on
market is much more important than any amount of dollars.

In the past ( and probably in future) I give up to charge and be a
tough negotiator in order to make my customer happy. Remember that
you can spend a life to make a good name, but you can ruin it in a

Put on paper your cost, and consider it like a discount, or an
advertise (bad or good, you decide).

Vlad -
BRASIL - sorry folks, Olympics game will be here.

It looks so much better than it did before and he's really pleased
with it. I'm pretty sure he'll come back to me for some custom

Maybe. And maybe he’ll come back and expect you to do custom work at
a loss, too, having “learned” that if he objects to your fair price,
you’ll do the work for much cheaper. This is not what I would call
going the extra mile for a customer, this is what I would call
setting a very bad precedent.