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Posted Repair Policies

This is something I’ve been ruminating over for literally years. and
have yet to take action on.

Repairs for me is a traffic builder (retail store). Not only is it
money directly but often enough repair customers buy from the case or
commission custom. Most of the customers are OK, meaning I don’t have
problems with them. I explain limitations etc and they’re fine with
it. But some are chiselers. Like in Gerald’s recent post under
warranteeing work. Some seem to believe you are 100% responsible for
everything that could happen to their piece down the road, once you
have touched it.

So I’ve wondered about posting policies regarding repairs. But the
range of possibilities is so endless I am concerned that leaving
something out or wording something the wrong way may bite me on the
buttocks one day. I’m also concerned that too many disclaimers might
leave a bad impression. I’ve pretty much taken things on a case by
case basis but a few irksome customers lately have put the idea of
posted policies back on the front burner.

I’m interested in others’ experiences and thoughts on the subject.

When I was in the repair business, I often (too often) faced this
same problem. I learned a few things through the years to help.

1 - when presented a piece for repair, I made my estimate for
everything the piece needed to make it ‘like new’. Often the don’t
want to pay this much, and only want the more immediate problems
dealt with. I would then bring the estimate down to what they wanted,
explaining what would and would not be done.

2 - I made it clear, including a posted policy, that I would warrant
only the work I had done, not against future problems of unrelated
nature. Keep in mind that posted policies don’t seem to have any
impact in the beginning. Unless you rudely force them to read it and
sign off (and you still don’t know if they really read it), posting
something is really only useful to point out after the problem has
come up.

3 - On occasion, I refused a piece entirely if I got the ‘bad vibe’,
or if the customer wanted only minimal work done and I thought it was
a can of worms I didn’t want to get into. This was especially true if
I saw the I was likely to do additional damage elsewhere by
performing the requested repair.

4 - I learned to accept that despite all precautions, there will
occasionally be someone who puts you in the position of making an
uncomfortable choice, to either do some free repair work to appease,
or refuse to be bullied and risk the bad word of mouth advertising.

The funny thing that I noticed over the years was that most of the
people who were most likely to try this kind of thing were also those
with the least financial worries, who could well afford to have it
done right. I am reminded of one woman many years ago with a triple
strand of pearls. One was broken, but the other 2 were worn right to
the breaking point. Flat out refused to have the other strands
redone, then was back in a matter of a couple of weeks claiming that
the strand we had done had broken again. NOT!!!


Hi Neil,

My un-posted policy is this:-

  1. Inspect carefully, never allow anyone to rush me through the
    inspection. This is the point where I make or lose money. A rushed
    inspection leads to a rush job - I do not need that, I do not have to
    accept it.

  2. Communicate my findings in detail with the customer having
    written them down in point form or labelled sketches.

  3. Only proceed if I can see clearly, step by step, how I am going
    to achieve an excellent result.

When I assess a piece for repair, regardless of what is asked for, I
list of all the faults including design faults and quote for
repairing each of them. Some common faults that customers are not
aware of:- stone chipped, fragile setting, ring is thin and weak,
previous repairs (not mine). If there are no faults and the job is
straight forward then I quote just for what is wanted.

Sometimes I quote for the worst case scenario and present it as an
"up to $…" quote. If there are alternative ways to do the job
(acceptable to me) then I will quote for each and explain briefly in
point form the merits and consequences of each.

The written assessment no matter how brief becomes the basis of the
warrantee, and by that I mean the customer knows what to expect. If
only part of the list is selected, or the cheaper alternative is
selected then the customer already knows the consequences and has
accepted them, and it is already written down.

Under-quotes can be traced back to the inspection and the making of
careless assumptions; mis-understandings with the customer can be
traced to not being clear with communications. Having said all that,
Murphy is alive, sh*t does happen, and these have to be factored into
the basic price structure and dealt with in a professional manner.

Cheers, Alastair

We jokingly refer to this as a customer having read “The Book”. It
seems as though someone, somewhere has written a book on how to take
advantage of your local jeweler. The following are some of the
excerpts we have been able to derive from the behavior of those that
we think have read it.

"Rule Number One: "If you can get your jeweler to even just touch
your jewelry, you have them! If they do any repair on your jewelry
(even clean it for free), and a stone comes out five years later,
insist that it is their fault (‘There was nothing wrong with it
until YOU worked on it!’ is the recommended phrase, just ignore the
incongruity of this statement - they will find it impossible to
argue with your superior logic). Demand that they replace the lost
stone with a larger stone of higher value (whatever they show you,
just say ‘No, it was bigger than that’). Also insist that while they
are at it, they should do any other repair work necessary (at no
charge to you, of course). This rule applies whether you paid for the
original work or not and also whether you had any recommended work
done or not. (F.Y.I. - NEVER pay your jeweler do the work they
recommend. They are just trying to rip you off and it is not required
to enforce this rule anyway) Ignore any posted warrantee policies.
They do not apply to you. They are only for the little people and
those that don’t know as much about jewelry as you do.

"Rule Number Two: If your jeweler sizes your ring, it should fit you
perfectly for the rest of your life, whether you bought it from them
or not. If it ever becomes too tight or too loose, or even if you
decide to wear it on a different finger, insist that they must have
measured your finger incorrectly with that ring sizing thingy. Demand
that they make it fit you properly, like they should have done in the
first place five years ago. Do not take “No” for an answer, and do
not pay anything for this. To do so would only show weakness and
demonstrate that you can be reasoned with.

"Rule Number Three: If your jewelry ever becomes slightly discolored
for whatever reason, or makes a mark on your skin and/or clothing
accuse your jeweler of using inferior metal or even of not using
precious metal at all. Explain (in as loud a voice as possible) that
you saw a show on TV or read an article in 'Wealthy People Quarterly"
about how jewelers use this new kind of metal to rip off people that
are not as smart as you are. It looks and feels exactly like white
gold or platinum but is so inexpensive that the manufacturer actually
pays jewelers to use it. You think they may have used this fake metal
when they made or repaired your jewelry. Why else would it be turning
or getting scratched on the bottom? This is a very useful technique
for getting your white gold jewelry re-rhodium plated for a reduced
cost or even for free. A great thing now that rhodium is so
expensive. It also re-opens the door for enforcement of Rule Number

“If all other rules fail and you cannot get your new piece of
jewelry for free, accuse the jeweler of switching your diamond. This
one gets ‘em every time! Explain that it was your Great Grandmother’s
and that it was over a hundred years old and was a Flawless
Blue-White Ideal Cut Russian Diamond of Museum Quality. Every other
jeweler that has ever looked at it tried to buy it from you, but you
knew what it was REALLY worth and wouldn’t sell it. This invariably
will leave them gasping for air and fumbling for an explanation of
why this is not really a possibility, but it will put you in the
enviable position of being able to demand anything you want. Mention
your local TV News expose’ reporter’s name (or that your
brother-in-law is a lawyer) in your demand, and again, do not take
"No” for an answer. If they try to tell you that they did an
examination when you brought it in, ignore this. They can’t prove it
to your satisfaction, right (wink-wink)? Tell them they lied then,
knowing that they were going to switch it as soon as they saw it. Use
the word ‘Lawyer’ again, if they insist. As with most other rules,
timing is everything. If you back off at exactly the right moment,
you can get almost anything you want. Your jeweler will be so
relieved that you’re not going to sue they will actually be happy to
do some free repairs. If you play it right you may even be able to
get a free appraisal out of the deal. Use the diamond-switching
technique sparingly. Unlike Rules Number One and Two, it can only be
used once per jeweler.

“If you use these rules, you may not be able to get everything you
want, but you will certainly get more than you could if you just walk
in (like a sap) and act in a reasonable manner. Remember that your
jeweler (just like everyone else) is really only out to rip you off,
so you must beat them to the punch. The biggest and most powerful
secret of all is that they just hate for anyone to be unhappy with
anything they do and will do practically anything to make you happy,
especially when they find out just how rich you are and how smart you
are about all of this jewelry stuff, and if they think you might tell
your friends that they tried to rip you off. This weakness will
actually keep some of them from sleeping at night. Use this valuable
to your advantage and get that jewelry work done for

Fortunately, the actual number of people that have read "The Book"
is very few. If anybody has a copy of this book, I would sure like to
look at it.