I’m having some problems with a customer. Here’s my unusual
I’m a historical jeweler, and I make a lot of the crowns and
coronets for Renaissance Fairs and renaissance reenactment groups
worldwide. It’s mostly one off and commissions, that range $500 to
$4000. My portfolio website is http://www.darkridgejewels.com
Unfortunately, sometimes it feels like I make custom prom dresses
for a living. Some people will buy these pieces with the sole intent
of wearing it once, or for the season, then insist on returning it.
Sometimes even purposely breaking it for the sole intent of returning
it as defective. This happens often enough that I actually have that
wording written below my “All Sales Are Final”, and "No Refunds"
clause on both my website and commissions contract.
However, there’s always that difficult customer…
I have a young actress, mid-20’s, that’s purchased a low-end sterling
silver crown, and has worn it for four weeks. She emailed Monday
evening to tell me one of the pearls just mysteriously broke off,
complaining she couldn’t wear it over the weekend, and it was an
emergency to have it repaired by Friday. Now, the pearls are in
bezel cups that are soldered onto a cast piece. I had checked it over
before she bought it and it was fine. The cast piece would’ve have
to been bent severely in order to break. But, it can happen so I
always try to give the customer the benefit of doubt.
I politely explained my policy, but said I would repair it for her,
there was just no way to do it properly in only three days. I’d have
to disassemble the crown, pull the gems, solder, etc., and it would
take at least a week for repair, even under rush circumstances. I
also politely questioned the breakage. She got upset, insisting she
had to have the crown to wear for the next four weekends, and she
was highly disappointed that it just mysteriously broke after only
wearing it four times. Also, she was overly defensive that she did
nothing that might have broken it.
Having a gut feeling this wasn’t going to go well, I bent over
backwards, and told her to drop it off at my home studio the next
morning. I’d see what I could do to make temporary repairs so she
could wear it for the next four weeks. I would repair it properly
when she could part with it for a couple of weeks, but would not be
able to give her an estimate of the repair charges until I examined
She seemed okay with that, and set up a time to drop it off
yesterday. She never showed, and hasn’t called or emailed. Now, she’s
not returning calls or emails. I went to the fair’s website to look
for any alternate contact and lo and behold, there’s
several photos on there of her wearing it this past weekend…after
the time she’d said it broke!
I seriously wonder what she’s trying to pull? I have a feeling she
was going to try the old ‘break and return’ trick. In my mind this is
fraud, plain and simple. Akin to buying a prom dress, wearing it with
the tags tucked in, then pulling a seam and trying to return it as
defective. Unfortunately, I don’t think this practice is illegal,
just highly immoral. Does anyone know if there are any laws here to
protect artists/small businesses?
I’d greatly appreciate any input.