How long to keep customers goods

I have a lot of old customer repairs, that were never picked up.
How long legally should I keep the goods. Most of them are not at
all valuable, but I have felt obligated to keep them. Where can I
check to find the laws of my state on this matter? Thanks,

In Pa. I think it is 7 yrs… but we have repairs let 15 years
ago ; you never know when someone will show up!

Hi Janine, I would guess, that one would check with the state
attorney general’s office. That might be a good starting point.
I know where you’re coming from, I have a few dating back 25+
years! I figure, as soon as I dispose of them, someone will call
looking for granny’s hairlooms!! Curtis

Hi Janine.

The jeweller I worked for way back two summers ago had a notice
printed on her repair envelopes: “Articles must be claimed within
30 days of receiving notice work is complete.”. The customer got
the top ticket of course, and it was this it was written on.
That’s the only tidbit I can offer, I’m not sure legally what
other options are available.


Hi Janine. We have a disclaimer on our invoices stating that we
will scrap repairs that aren’t picked up after 3 months but I am
so paranoid that I generally wait about 5 years. Usually I also
send out a registered letter before doing it as proof that every
possible means to contact the customer was used. I don’t know
what the CA laws are but in our business (where sentimental value
is always more than the real value) I always feel better safe
than sorry. Danny

I’ve wondered about that myself. Many years ago a customer gave
me an earring at a large party and asked me to make a mate for
it. It was quite late into the party, and the next morning whenI
found the earring in my evening purse I could not remember who
gave it to me. I made the mate to the earring, and for ten years
I asked everyone I knew if they had given it to me, hoping that
sooner or later someone would say, “Sure! Why’d it take so
long?” But no one ever did, so I finally sold them.

Big lesson here for me: never accept jewelry for repair at a
party. Now I always say either see me at my booth or send it to

Janet Kofoed
fine handcrafted jewelry

I am curious, have you called these customers and remind them
that you still have their items?

I am wondering, only because, I once dropped off an antique
clock to be repaired at my favorite jeweler’s. Shortly after I
dropped off the precious clock the jewelry shop suffered a fire.
I assumed that my clock was gone forever. I have heard since,
that there was only smoke damage. I have to stop and inquire
about my clock soon!

Hi Folks,

FWIW, I remember that someone found a claim check for repair on
a pair of glasses that Glenn Miller had dropped off at the
Optician in London shortly before his fatal airplane journey in
1944. The man took the check to the still existent shop some 50
years later and retrieved the specs!



Skip Meister
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor

Hey Janine, you should have something on your job bags and the
reciept stating your policy as to how long , usaully it’s between
30 to 90 days , but as long as it’s on the reciept then your
covered. Then I always try to give them a call, just good
business practice. hope this helps, Matt the Catt…

Janine I really don’t know about laws concerning this but this I
have seen.I worked at a Bailey Banks and Biddle and they would
divvey up repairs that had been left for 1 year, after they had
made many attempts to find the owner. I have also seen “repairs
left past 90 days become the property of -name of store-” I hope
to see some other responses to your question. Patty in MO.

I can shed some light on part of your question, I don’t know
what your specific legal obligations are though. We have in
writing on the customer’s receipt “not responsible for goods left
over 30 days”. After about 90 days of not picking up their
jewelry we call and write the day/time we called on the ticket.
We do this 2 times. After the second call and no response we
call one last time with a last warning. We give them, say 2
more weeks and then thats it. If there is no answer, or we leave
a message on the answering machine we note that also and count it
toward their 3 strikes and your out strategy. If the number is
disconnected we note that also. After that we do with their
abandonded materials whatever we want, throw away the junk,
recycle any materials. We keep the ticket in a permanent
suspense file and if the customer ever comes in for it (very,
very rare) it shows clearly all the attempts that were made and
the customer is informed that money was tied up in the repair of
the jewelry and we couldn’t wait forever but we made every
"reasonable" attempt to have them pick up their jewelry. I have
been doing it this way for 7 years and never had a nasty
situation as a result. Hopes thats helps some.

When you take in a piece, how about having a disclaimer
regarding the disposal of goods left beyond x number of years?

Janet is right make a rule never to accept things outside your
workspace unless you have made arrangements ahead of time. I tell
this to everyone who tried to hand things to me at gallery
openings, etc. I just explain that I don’t want to have to worry
about losing it. I once had a friend who insisted that he gave a
chain to me but all my friends backed me up on my policy. He had
been drinking and gave it to some other girl luckily he figured
out who. Susan Sarantos

Each state has different laws that cover bailment (taking in
someon’es goods for repairs). In some cases some cities have
their own laws. These laws will include disclosure on receipts,
signage in the store, legal remedies (what methods are required
by law) to contact the client before you can dispose of an item,
length of time you must hold items, and in some cases other laws
that relate to disclosure about insurance etc. Most
jursidictions will have remedies if normal proceedures have not
been followed. Good luck. Al Gilbertson

Now lest you think costumers dont show up after many years… In
Florida legal limit is 30 days…I have stuff that goes back 15
years…Always felt rather uneasy about scrapping or selling
repairs or custom work even though I had money tied up…

Made a custom wedding band for a gentleman about 10 years ago…
was bought and paid for and picked up…returned next day for a
size adjustment…she said she loved the ring… never saw her
again and no answers to letters…Last year she showed up
apologetic and wondered if I still had the ring as her husband
said I wouldn,t etc etc… She has since been in several times
and spent money …Oh well I wonder about all the other stuff…

Terry Parresol