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More on liability dilemma

Hi Wendy,

It sounds like we could all learn from your keen sense of
discernment regarding customers. My only comment without having
more context from which to judge is this: If the customer went
off like she did when you refused to set the new emerald in the
crumby setting, just think what she would have done if you took
the job in and the stone got damaged. Nice job. When you start
doing traveling lectures on customer relations, I want to be
there. *<;-) Wishing all Orchid members a great Christmas
season, Mike Campbell

//|| | | mailto:@campbell
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Spokane’s only Mac hosted ISP. Mike Campbell
Always providing the right 3507 W. Taft Drive
route to the Internet! Spokane, WA 99208 USA

   Anyway, yesterday a woman came into the shop who claims to
be "in the business" and I think knows just enough to get
herself in trouble. I'm sorry for loosing a customer, but she
was one I didn't want anyways.  Any comments?

You did the right thing here! It has been my experience that
when you meet a potential customer that claims to know more than
you, talks down to you, challenges your advice, or if your
intuition says something spells trouble. Walk Them!!! Don’t waste
another minute of your time because it will cost you, usually
dearly, in the end. Mind you avoid walkin g them in an offensive
manner, tell them your schedule is booked & recommend consulting
the business directory (don’t send them to another business, let
them make the choice & call any friends you have in the business
and warn them too!), offer to call them when you can schedule the
work & toss their number, estimate a ridiculous price to make it
all worth while but be careful because they might accept because
they have been turned down everywhere else, tell the customer
that you don’t feel that you can meet their expectations, etc.
use tactful psychology, don’t ever tell them your not capable or
unqualified or anything that downgrades your image. Though I’m
not in the retail jewelry business ( I’m a facetor), I sell over
$1M of industrial equipment every year & I walk a few buyers.
I’ve never regreted it yet. I hear the horror stories from my
competitors that out of greed made the sale, lost money, still
loosing money, in court etc. etc.


  The stone was apparently set by a butcher, not a goldsmith. 
Uneven prongs, metal not hitting the stone like it should,
ect...   Well, she wanted me to "pop the stone out and put the
new one in".  I refused to do the job.  Period.  She came
unglued and contacted the manager and the owner of the store I
subcontract for and they both stood behind me.  I'm sorry for
loosing a customer, but she was one I didn't want anyways.  Any

Any jeweler, no matter how experienced, has his or her limits in
what he or she is comfortable taking on. Especially those of us
who are general smiths are probably not doing enough hours of
only setting work every day to take on these most risky setting
jobs. Some repair jobs, as well, simply are known loosing
propositions. We’ve all got to be free to refuse any job we
cannot be reasonably sure of doing well, or which expose us to
risks we’re not prepared to cover. However, in any such case,
how you refuse a job is almost as important as the awareness that
you must do so. In this case, you might have been able to still
refuse the job, while explaining to the customer that: Emeralds
are exceedingly fragile and risky to set, and resetting a
different stone in prongs fitted to another one was a risky poor
idea compared to new prongs, especially if the old ones were
mangled and unlikely to look well, and given the potential for
loss if the mangled reworked prongs then didn’t hold, and
unsetting and resetting stones ia already a risk, even with good
prongs and durable stones, since you’re increasing the risk of
stress cracks in the prongs that might later fail due to bending
back and forth in the unsetting/resetting process. You go
through all these things, and then explain that goldsmiths too
have limits, and that since you’re a general goldsmith, and not a
specialist stone setter, you cannot be sure that you have the
skills needed to be sure of setting the stone without damage.
Yes, this means admitting limits. But knowing your limits is
important, and showing that you do know them only enhances youre
professionalism. I’ve never yet found a customer, no matter how
imperious, who, when I’ve told them I didn’t think I was quite a
good enough setter to be sure of safely setting their stone in
the manner desired, who’d fail to agree. Usually, I can offer to
do the job the way I feel it should be done, explaining why this
would increase the quality of the job, or can offer to do what
goldsmithing I can, then referring the actual setting job to
another setter who I feel is better experienced in this type of
work. Now, if that other setter than also refuses to do the job,
I’m not at the end of the chain, and my opinion (as well as the
other setter’s) has been seconded by another expert. The trick
in all this is to make it clear to the client that your refusal
to do the job is to protect their interest and stone, not to make
your own day simpler. As with so many things in this life, it’s
as important how you say the thing, as it is what you say.

Hope this helps.

Peter Rowe