Problem with a customer

I don’t know if I am inquiring at the proper office, but we have had
a problem with a customer and I am seeking the advice of other
industry professionals on this matter. We have been custom jewelers
for 30 years, we have a loyal clientele and a very good reputation
for our craftsmanship and our service. Recently we made a set of
rings for a couple who came to our shop, chose a design they liked,
and were measured for their rings. One ring was measured as a size 6
which the customer said was comfortable, when they received the rings
they also said they were comfortable, and they loved them. Each ring
had 13 3mm round diamonds set all the way around the shank.
( Several weeks
later, they called to tell us that the one ring was too small, and
they had been remeasured and another jeweler told them that a size
6.5 would be better. I offered to re-size the ring for them, but it
has 13 3mm round diamonds set all they way around the ring, and I
said that the probability of the a stone breaking was not likely but
it was a possibility, and if it did break, I would replace it at
cost, but would not be responsible for any stones, since the original
size was agreed upon by the customer. They are irate with us and
want us to re make the ring to the size they now seem to think they
need. Is their an industry standard which I can refer to, on this
point. Truly we have had very few difficult customers over the many
years we have been in business, and normally we simply work out
something that is fair. in this case we are not finding a resolution.
Any advice is welcome. Thank you for your time, or reference to
another colleague.

Michel Tsouris

Michel Tsouris

831 422 2722


There are many things that can affect ring size and I have seen
brides and grooms change finger size significantly in the stressful
times leading up to a wedding. I think the first thing I would do
is invite them in to verify ring size. Use a set of finger gages
that is close in width to the ring in question. I don’t trust any
other stores measurement of size as there is just too much variation
in finger gages even ones from the same manufacturer can measure
very differently set to set. If you don’t have a set that is close
in width (within about 1mm or so) then make a simple sterling or
copper band the same width and size as the original ring then you
can stretch or shrink it till it is a perfect fit while the customer
is there in the store. Anyway figure out how much difference there
is and fix the ring once. It may be easier to re-make it. You are
providing a customer service that will likely keep these folks as
long term customers. It is this kind of service that sets custom
jewelers apart from the mass merchandisers.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

Here is my thought on this and it really is quite simple… It costs
hundreds of dollars to earn a customers bussiness and there should
be plenty of profit to absorb the cost of sizing if charged properly.
The wise thing it to have taken care of the customer when they first
came back. Now they have gone else where and will never be happy
because they now percieve you wont take care of them so this battle
is already lost. Now for damage control size the ring add a diamond
and “hopefully” you wont have bought yourself hundreds in bad
advertizing with a unhappy customer bad mouthing you.

Sometimes we all have made the mistake of stepping over a dollar to
pick up a pennie…“No offense intended”


Their demands are unreasonable, in light of not one but TWO prior
approvals. However, they probably know they’re being unreasonable,
and if you do go along, chances are you’ll lose them anyway from
guilt. The only question is - how much will they poison your
customer base? Either way, they will probably have nothing good to
say, but if you don’t go along, they’ll say it louder.

Tas < --who is defending her MS thesis tomorrow at 1 PM and needs
Good Magic!

 Several weeks later, they called to tell us that the one ring was
too small 

michel -

it’s possible that the woman either gained weight & won’t admit it
(it’s common for brides-to-be to lose weight while preparing for a
wedding & regaining it afterwards) or she could be in the early
stages of pregnancy & retaining water, sara lee, or whatever.

as to the resize responsibility quandary, the fact that they
accepted the rings after trying them on in the shop, paid any
balance on them & she wore hers for weeks attests to the fact that
your part of the transaction was completed satisfactorily and you
owe nothing more of your time, labor, or material. if they won’t
work with you on your offered solution - you are not under any more
obligation unless you feel you’re at fault.

good luck -

This is not too different from a common problem faced by dentists:
a patient comes in for a smile "make-over: it all depends on what
you say and do before starting treatment. Plan ahead for all
contingencies, advise about all pitfalls, get signed consent, and
then hope for the best. Some people cannot visualize and you have to
use a rendering, wax model or some sort of visual aid. A wide band
is very different from a narrow band and some people will not adjust.
A temporary wide band worn for a week will eliminate the problem(the
same width and thickness). An agreement in advance of what you are
willing to do is useful. If you are unwilling to plant the seed of
dissatisfaction then be prepared in your pricing to do it over once
only, for good will. This is only when the problem is size only:
when it is also a design change we have another ball game and a
charge for the design change is in order: it needs to be much higher
than it would have been had the change been requested before
production. Contractors have the right idea: change your mind, put
through a change order and we will rip out all the old(new) stuff and
do it the new way, but it will cost you!

Charles Friedman DDS
Ventura by the Sea

I completely agree that you have no more LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY, but,
as a merchant, you must consider the ramifications of ‘standing on
principle.’ I would suggest that you put your position in writing and
explain it to them. Something like: Since we made the ring to the
size YOU and I agreed upon, and since you wore it WITH NO PROBLEM for
nn weeks, we feel that our offer to size it AT OUR COST is more
than fair. Otherwise, you are asking that we give you a lifetime
warranty if your finger size changes for any reason, and that is not
a reasonable request.

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718

Hi Michel,

sorry to hear about your problem customer which reminded me about
“my” problem customer a few weeks ago - I don’t know if you remember
my posting on the Ganoksin site. “My” customer ordered a set of 3
rings as a surprise gift for his wife (I got to meet her once
before), told me her ringsize (size 8 which seemed to me too big for
her fingers but he refused to measure again), choose a design and
was very happy with it when he came to get the rings and paid. The
next day, after giving her the surprise gift, he called, totally
upset that the ring size was totally wrong - it should have been
size 6 - and he didn’t like the whole design, the craftmanship and
everything else. I offered to make him a new set of rings, using as
much material as possible from the first set to keep the cost low, I
would only charge him for the extra labor and additional material.
We agreed, I started working on the new set of rings when he changed
his mind and wanted his money back. It was a big struggle, it stopped
my creativity, I couldn’t work any more, I couldn’t sleep and eat
anymore. After contacting two lawyer friends and getting good advice
on this website, it was very clear that I was in a strong position
although I didn’t have a writtten agreement. But he didn’t stop
harassing me, my family and my friends, up to that point where I
started being scared. Despite all the “headoriented” good advice, I
decided to give this customer his money back. The law is on your
side, “no refund on custom work”, but you should decide what you are
willing to pay. Maybe I’m not a very good business woman, I wanted
to get rid of this customer and of this problem. It cost me a lot of
sleepless nights and 5lbs although I’m already slim. All in all I
hope you are strong enough and have a lot of support to stand this.

Take care
Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 813 9755

I would be great to hear the outcome, From the sounds of things this
could have been a web order ,sure this can happen even in one to one
setting. I try to talk people out of ring designs that cannot be
sized, after warning them it is their risk if the wish to proceed.

My concern is for years down the road ,we all know how people change
after ten years.

If some wants such a design I would have them wear it before the
diamonds are set just to be sure they are happy with the fit.
another option which Jim mentioned is to send some test sizers and
have them wear those. For web orders I send sizers to them and ask
them to keep a chart of different times of the days over several
days. It does seem to be getting harder to get the right size ,one
day it a 6 the next its a 6 1/2 .I do notice rings a usually going
up in size not down.

For me I would want to see how it fits in person if it grips
slightly and does not turn the finger red it is most likely fine
,some other sales person is just pulling theirs and your chain. Does
it seem tight to you?


Size the ring no charge, and write it off to customer good will. It
will come back ten fold.



Customer expectations increasingly unreal. Make the ring to spec.
Customer picks up and 2 weeks later come back. Not happy. Wrong
size, stone looks “odd”, metal is a different color now, you dream
up the excuse and I’m sure somebody out there has one to top it.
They go to another jeweler. He knocks the merchandise hoping to gain
a customer. Maybe tells them what he would do if they were his
customer. Then they come back screaming at you.

Part of problem is not setting customer expectations. Tell them what
you will do for them. First year we will size, polish, clean,
tighten, etc. Also we will not fix and specifically enumerate what
is outside your service warranty. Even with this you’ll deal with
the customer that still believes they are the aggrieved party when
you ask them to bear the COST to repair the ring they ran over in
the driveway,

Spoke recently with a polished, and talented sales professional
about customer complaints. In particular we were talking about a
customer, nine months pregnant, who was livid because her ring has
been sized larger three times now. “Why can’t you people get it
right?” Customer refuses to acknowledge that she has gained weight
over the course of her pregnancy. Of course the salesperson is not
going to point out to the customer she has swelled like a hot air
balloon. After this extreme example, her point was this: More and
more of her customers refuse to take responsibility for their end of
the transaction. Perhaps a reflection of a pervasive current in
contemporary American culture. None the less she said in theory
setting the customer’s expectation sounds great. Reality for her is
the customer doesn’t care and continues to make demands.

Long and short of it, you will have the crazed consumer. You will
not make them happy. You will not gain their loyalty. This type of
client rarely returns your efforts with gratitude. And if you do
satisfy them, (which often is easy enough to do. just give them
everything they ask for and do it all for free) it rarely influences
future sales. Well maybe you find yourself giving away merchandise
or labor again because “You did this for us before.”

I remember my late father-in-law, whose fault it is that I’m a
goldsmith, laughing after chasing one such customer out of his
little store. The customer told him she would never shop at his
store again. And she would be sure to tell all her friends not to
shop there. He thanked her, telling her that if they were her
friends he had no desire to make their acquaintance or do business
with them. I’m sure the sales gurus would tell us how incredibly
wrong that was but I remember Joe laughing and forgetting the woman
ever existed.


I’ve probably said this before, and I’m a little late jumping in on
this thread (I’ve been a little distracted of late) but our theory as
regards sizings in particular and repair work on our own pieces in
general is that we guarantee everything, no questions asked. They
buy a ring with stones set all around and it turns out not to fit?
We make a new one. The stones don’t look like right? We replace
them. The ring wears out after 10 years of hard wear and tear, if we
can’t fix it we replace it. How do we do this? We charge enough at
the outset that we can afford to eat the occasional problem customer
that crops up. The biggest problem jewelers encounter is that, in an
effort to appear to be price competitive, they cut their margins too
far to deal with the future problems. Don’t sell it on price, sell
it on service…less problems in the long run.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

The customer told him she would never shop at his store again. And
she would be sure to tell all her friends not to shop there. He
thanked her, telling her that if they were her friends he had no
desire to make their acquaintance or do business with them. " And
most people who know this person, already know what she/he is like
and probably wont listen anyway. 

My feelings exactly. I have never groveled for customers and never
will. My advertising budget has been zero for years, and I have
enough customers to keep me busy from here to eternity, and they dont
come to me because I’m a push-over. They come to me because they KNOW
that they will get honest service and effort, and good value out of
every transaction. When a customer (key word) becomes a
non-profitable customer, you no longer need them. Suggest they go to
your most troublesome competitor. They deserve each other. I have
had people leave screaming profanities and a year or two later,
there they are, walking in my door with a new situation, because I am
the only one locally that can handle it properly, and they know it .
Some people are pros at pushing and shoving to get what they want,
and if you let them, you are their next pushover. Get rid of them as
fast as you can. And when people walk in your door, saying the last
the 3 jewelers screwed their stuff up, listen to what they are
really saying- THEY ARE UNSATISFIABLE. And you are about to become
their next victim, if you become greedy and think that you are so
great that you can fix the unfixable jerk. Dream on! Give 200% of
your time, efforts, and skills to customers that appreciate you, and
you will eliminate 99.9% of these *%#@& . Ed in Kokomo

I have to say I agree with Scar’s comments- if these customers were
genuinely concerned about working something out with the store, they
would have gone back to the store where they bought the ring in the
first place - not to another store. That just makes the whole thing
"smell" wrong to me. If they have a history as your customers, then
maybe bend a bit for them. Otherwise you are probably dealing with
people that you aren’t going to keep happy no matter what you do, and
telling them that gaining weight after marriage is not uncommon, and
you are so sorry - there is a great Weight Watchers in town, why
don’t they try that? might ultimately be your best bet. Rotten fish
should be thrown out, not pacified .

Sorry - I’m into satisfied REASONABLE customers, not satisfied
unreasonable ones. There IS a limit!

Good luck with it, whatever you decide to do.

Beth in SC (well, NC this week moving Mom into a retirement condo.
Not fun!)

Golly, if I ever get caught up with these posts, I might actually be
able to comment on something on a timely basis.

Everyone has their own threshold of tolerance for customers who are
asking for the world on a string, gratis. For me, it would seem a
simple matter here of sizing the ring, if at all possible to do it
without making a new one. In one of my previous incarnations, I
worked for a full custom jewelry shop where everything was made to
order, in house. If the customer wasn’t happy, the piece was remade,
no additional charge, until it was satisfactory. No questions, no
BS. Just do it. The prices we charged were adequate that when we
occasionally had an abusive customer we were still covered, at least
in an overall sense. Only you can decide how much BS you’ll take
from a customer, and that will probably vary with the customer. Some
are just trying to beat the world out of a dollar, and they get
their jollies seeing just how many of us they can beat. Others just
feel that with the amount they have already spent, no matter how good
a value it is, that they are entitled to some adjustment.
Personally, I liked the response that cited the relative cost of
getting and keeping a customer. If you have already lost that
customer, it will likely cost you more in advertising, etc., to
replace the customer than it would have to replace the ring. After
all, the worst (I assume) that you would have been out was some gold
and time. The diamonds could have been reused if you made a new