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Difficulties with a customer

Hi Orchid, I sold a citrine ring with a twisted and hammered shank,
as well as several other items, to a woman from texas about 3 months
ago. I resize my rings for free as a way of helping to sell them, so
i resized it to a 5 1/2 for her and shipped it off. It was not an
easy job since the stone had to come out and the twist in the shank
had to at least sort of match up. The next week i get an email
saying that she was wrong, and it should have been size 5. So since
she was a good customer and i try to keep people happy i offered to
re-resize it, but i told her it may take a coupleof weeks since i was
very busy. She sent back a rather terse reply saying that she didn’t
want to wait that long and she would take it to her local jeweler. So
i thought the story was finished, but then two months later i get an
email saying that she was sending the ring back for resizing. At the
time i was in the middle of an extensive remodelling of our home and
workshop, so i told her, again, that it would be a couple of weeks.
Again, i got an even more terse reply, saying just send it back. Now
a month later I get another email saying that she took the ring to
her local jeweler and he said that it couldn’t be resized because the
stone couldn’t take the heat, so she sent it back with 10 dollars
enclosed for shipping. At this point i kind of want to tell her to go
#$%^ herself, but i know that’s not the best customer service, so i’m
kind of at a loss. I am super busy trying to get ready for a show and
don’t have time to do a difficult resizing for free. What would you
all do with a customer like this?


Hi Doug,

I would stand my ground, if you cave she will think she can always
push you around. You have stated your terms: several weeks.
Honestly, I wouldn’t offer free resizing, even if its a small fee in
order for your customer to understand that its not a matter of waving
the magic wand, which is the free signal. Even small fees indicate
time and materials go into it.

Best of luck,

Hello Doug, Stay up late and size the ring. Send it back to her with
a note saying you are sorry you couldn’t take care of it right away
the first time. Include the ten bucks. Also mention that a competent
jeweler could size the ring without getting the stone hot. You might
keep your customer this way and you sure won’t if you don’t take care
of it right away.

Tom Arnold

I am super busy trying to get ready for a show and don't have time
to do a difficult resizing for free. What would you all do with a
customer like this? 

Just do it. If your shop is still set up, you could have sized it
and been done with it in the time you’ve spent emailing and telling
the story on Orchid. It’s a sizing, not a major project. Not worth
getting bent out of shape. (by the way, why did you have to pull the
stone? put it under water while you solder the seam. Saves a bunch of
time. (and it sounds like her local jeweler either doesn’t know how
to do this, or is trying hard not to gain a troublesome customer…)

If your shop is torn down for the remodel, have a buddy do it if you
can. If that doesn’t work, hell, send it to me with ten bucks plus
whatever it will take to ship it, and I’ll do it for you and drop
ship to your customer. (My laser welder will do it even if the stone
would otherwise have trouble with heat.)

Peter Rowe

Douglas, As a beginner I know I am not worthy of giving advice to
this awesome group of professionals. Trust me- I understand “my
place” among this incredible crowd of experience jewelers.

One thing I am an expert at is SALES. With 30 years as the top
biller of a major corporation under my belt I feel I absolutely can
offer some helpful advice for you.

Let me start by saying this… It’s time to divorce this client
Douglas. She will never be happy. Ever…

With that said…

If you possibly can I would suggest doing the last resize for her.
Just get her off your back. When you send the ring back I would make
it very clear that you can NOT do it again and nicely explain why.

If you just do not have the time to do it then don’t. I would still
take a moment to write her or call her to explain why. At least that
way you have put closure to this situation.

Either way this could be used as a valuable lesson. If you don’t
already it might help to make it clear up front in writing what the
resizing policy will be. That way there will be no misunderstanding.

Hope this helps… BB
Barbara Bear

my simple two rules…

Always work to your customer’s best interest

Never take a customer for granted

Size the ring. Get the job off your plate. Move on. Look at the up
side, she has just learned that you are more highly skilled than her
local jeweler. Cap. Feather.

The two rules should not be interpreted that you’ll roll over and


Saying less is more. Your customer does not need to know your
private life. You might want to state clearly your resizing policy.
You can resize a ring for free…as your time allows within reason.

She needs to know what date you can complete the job. End of story.

This is not about you, so don’t take it personally.

Karen Christians

Hi Barbara, Folks…

As another person doing sales most of my life…Barbara’s words are
words of wisdom…

I say this, because there are times when you have to divorce a
customer…He/She can go someplace else, where they are never

OTOH, is best to do it so you are not burning any bridges behind

In selling to people, sometimes you have to eat crow…And it’s
never good tasting…At least I never acquired a taste for

If the customer refuses the divorce, well, next two or three times,
charge enough so that your butt is covered for anticipated
hassles…With the metals jumping like they are, is a perfect time,


Gary W. Bourbonais
L’Hermite Aromatique
A.J.P. (GIA)

I mean this respectfully, but my guess is this - If you keep this
customer your competition will be eternally grateful. They all love
the idea you are consumed with catering to an idiot, that of course
leaves them more time to deal with customers who live in the real
world - and who are willing to pay for their services. Perhaps you
should look into becoming a 501-C3 corp. Charities are always in

douglas -

treat it as though her latest response was favorable in giving you a
hiatus from resizing by politely informing her that since she has
had a few lengthy delays in having the piece resized - again - you
are glad she is so understanding of your current time restraints.
assure her that you will focus on her resizing as soon as your time
allows - and -since she is a valued customer, you will forego the
’second repair fee’ in affect after the ‘initial free repair’. then
wish that she, and the horse she rode in on, “have a nice day”

think more now, regret less later.

since she was a good customer It's time to divorce this client 

Major disconnect there.

Corporate is different from entrepreneur. Corp sales dip into the
pool of pre-qualified leads and can replace a customer easy as that.
An entrepreneur has to build and maintain his biz from the bottom up.
One client at a time. Well, I’m assuming the OP is an entrepreneur
just by the nature of the question. No offense intended but aren’t
many of us annoyed at the way some big business operates?

What has this customer done that’s so bad that she deserves to be
tossed on the trash heap? She wants her ring sized by the man who
made it. OK she got confused about size and maybe she comes off as
terse, which is a subjective evaluation. So what. A lot of customers
are terse. You gonna ditch em all?

A little Dutch Uncle-ism here and I don’t mean this to be, well,
mean. If a little thing like this gets one upset, maybe one should
think carefully about why/how/if one should deal with the public.
This is not the last time you’ll encounter client friction. From my
thirty-something–I-lost-track years in the game, having been where
the OP is now, having it stick in my craw too, having been flying
high one year and crippled the next I will say that the ONE thing
that pulled me through the hard times and propelled the good times is
my clientele. That is the ultimate, undeniable fact to a small
jewelry business, your client is everything. You get the clientele
you deserve and you get it by building it.

What is the crucial element to your business? Is it a cock strut
after ‘winning’ a battle? Or is it raking in the easier sales from
LOYAL customers? Loyalty is a two way street and it starts with the
jeweler. One cannot say ahead of time which customer will be the
golden egg laying goose.

I’ve won over many new customers who were disgruntled elsewhere.
They mostly became good paying, long term customers because I treated
them right.

told her it may take a couple of weeks since I was very busy. 

She bought several items. She paid. Your circumstances aren’t really
her problem. Her problem is she feels she’s not being serviced after
the fact as promised by the man who has her money. Would you still
take weeks to size one of your products if this was a new sale? If
your shop is down and you have no alternatives, maybe that’s bad
planning, maybe its unavoidable, I dunno, but it doesn’t help you

Don’t get me wrong, people can aggravate the hell out of me too. And
two of them I did tell to go #$%^ themselves as you so delicately put
it. I regret both of those incidents because I lost composure and
control. And if I lost control the natural question becomes, “have I
been making the right decisions all along?”

On this one customer you will not go broke. But if blowing off your
customers becomes a trend, well, take a guess.

Sorry to sound preachy and philosophical, I’m not even Dutch.

I respect any advice from a fellow sales person and appreciate your
reply. In this case let’s just agree to disagree…

I mean no disrespect but if you have worked for a corporation or
large organization your experience was very different from mine.

In my past profession we were taught that we WERE our own business.
We were expected to bring in our own leads. If you ended a
relationship with a customer you were expected to make that money up
on your own. There were never hand outs. Ever. And finding a new
customer is never easy. That is why it must take A LOT to divorce a
client. The way I read his post this customer really did deserve a
divorce! To me her demands were totally unreasonable and she had
absolutely no appreciation for his work or for what he had done for
her already.

I totally agree that every customer is important. And you are
correct- the customer is always right. That is why I mentioned that
with either solution he should follow up by phone or with a nice note
explaining what his policies normally are. That way she would be left
with closure and understanding. I never meant for him to TELL the
customer she was being a pain and he never wanted to see her again!
My suggestion is simply that he work with customers that appreciate
him. They are hard to find, sure. But they ARE out there! When you
find them you treat them like gold and never let them go.

Let’s face it… If you ask 10 sales people how to handle a situation
you will get 10 different answers. And they are all right for that
individual sales person! In the end, only you know in your heart what
the right thing to do is. You have to trust your instinct and go with
it and not look back… Life is way too short to ever look back…

Enough of Dale Carnage! Let’s get back to jewelry making. It’s much
more fun! bb

Barbara Bear

Dear Doug,

I would encourage this over-indulged drama queen to take her
business to her ‘local’ jeweler and ‘leave’ it there. We must
continually remind ourselves how hard we work to provide the best
possible product, from the best possible materials to create a great
design with much care and hard work.

Not all customers are deserving of that. Not all jewelers provide
that. Obviously, you have provided excellent customer service to this
customer. I completely understand your reasoning there. I want
customer service to be a priority as well. But that takes
communication and committment from the customer as well.

Rings are the trickiest in sizing. At Patradashary, I make that
disclaimer; once they make that decision it is final. And, I
immediately begin communication with the customer concerning ring
size because I want it confirmed so I can beat a turn around time
deadline. I make the ring after it is ordered and paid.

As you said, ‘was a good customer’ if you continue to provide great
product and good service and enjoy what you do, you should prosper.