Unfortunately I have a customer who wants a refund on a set of three
14K gold rings I designed and made for him. The prize was $1400. He
liked them and paid, but complained about the design, the size
(which he provided), the craftsmenship and everything later on. I
offered a refund for the ringsbands which I can use for other
designs, but he wants to have at least $1000 back. What is the
industry standard on this? Has anyone a idea?
Unfortunately I have a customer who wants a refund on a set of three
Wow, what an uncomfortable situation. In my experience, it all
comes down to your contract with your customer. That contract should
be a written one, but may also be a verbal one (hopefully not).
If that contract stipulates that you do not accept returns on custom
work once the customer has accepted and paid for it in full, then
you are well within your rights to stick to it. If you don’t have a
written contract, then you are on significantly shakier ground,
particularly if he tries to claim that he never “accepted” the work.
For an example of what I’ve got plastered all over my work orders,
invoices, and receipts, here is the actual text from my website
"By submitting this order you are indicating that you understand that custom jewelry is not returnable. However, there is a full satisfaction guarantee for replacement or repair of the piece if it does not match your specifications as agreed to in this order, or if there is a defect in materials or workmanship."
I’ve not had any significant challenges to this, and I make sure I
point it out to customers prominently PRIOR to accepting their 50%
deposit on custom work.
Having said all that, there are points at which you might wish to
"bend a little" with a good customer in order to maintain the
relationship. You have to take care not to set a bad precedent in
your business, but sometimes it’s just the “right” thing to do. But
ONLY with a GOOD customer who you want to retain over time; not with
a pain-in-the-butt complainer who your business and life would be
Hand-crafted artisan jewelry
I read Karen Goeller’s response prior to your original letter, and I
would agree with everything she states. We require a non-refundable
deposit prior to undertaking any custom job, and have a policy sheet
that clearly outlines what we will do and what we won’t in regards to
customer dissatisfaction. Our labor charge allows for two carvings if
necessary, and up to two complete casting procedures to get their
item as perfect as we can. There is always going to be that 2% of
the people that you can never make happy, and you are better off
stopping the process before it reaches the end. However if you do not
have clearly set and agreed terms beforehand, you must make a logical
decision about what is fair to both parties and follow through. If
you do anything else, a judge may do it fo you.
Jon Michael Fuja
What is the industry standard on this?
it sounds as though the customer needs money for something else and
figured you’re the easiest source - don’t be, or you will set a
slippery precedent. these are what i see as bases for refunds: 1.
the item broke; 2. the material in the items turned out to be of
lesser value than what was stipulated; 3. the design used was found
to be someone else’s copyrighted property; 4. the pieces turned up
on the police ‘hot list’. just keep thinking: “wwhwd?” (what would
harry winston do?)
’life is short, don’t have long arguments’
I have worked in a number of places over the years that do custom
work, and NONE has offered any refund on custom pieces. By degrees,
there were ways of dealing with disatisfaction, but never refunds.
Correcting, remaking, redesigning (perhaps at extra cost), but never
refunds. Of course, all of these terms and conditions should be
spelled out in advance, preferably with a customer signature to
indicate knowledge and acceptance of the deal. Depending on where I
was working at the time, we were always willing to at least correct
any mistakes on our part, or defects in material and workmanship.
Usually, all designs were signed off by the customer at various
stages of production, and all stones were inspected by the customer
before setting for approval.
In your case, I guess it will depend on what agreement, if any, you
made with the customer in advance, and just how much you value that
customer’s future business (and fear the bad publicity they could
make). If they are willing to take matters to court and you don’t
have a signed agreement, it might cost you more in bad publicity and
legal fees than it is worth, even if you have solid footing legally.
Worst case scenario: Give them a refund, do the best you can to
recover the loss and learn from the mistake. Life is full of learning
experiences, most of them not too tasty.
In our price book we mention there is no refund on custom design. If
you are unhappy within 30 days we will REMAKE it over at no charge
and if there is more material, you pay for any excess.
PS Good to have this on your invoices FIRST.
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA 30328
We only offer credit for future work in situations like this, but we
do guarantee that we will remake something until the customer is
happy with it. I don’t believe there is an “industry standard” on
this as everyone tends to follow their own rules. If there is no
other way to satisfy the customer you have to consider whether he is
going to create a lot of problems for you in the future (will he tell
ten other people that you were horrible?) and then make a decision
about how to handle it. In the future you should have your policies
clearly spelled out in writing for all of your customers. We have
cards that explain, in detail, exactly what our custom work policy
is; we have multiple receipts that state our no money back policy,
and we have customers sign off on everything.
Edith, Sounds like you are dealing with a crook. If there are problems
with craftsmanship, you should repair whatever broke. If there are
design problems, he should have said something earlier in the
Unfortunately, there are people who think their life’s goal is to get
everything for nothing, usually by making a big stink and trying to
get the victim to give in just to get them to go away. Keep in mind,
that these people don’t really fool anyone. They are obvious to most
people who talk to them. If you think he may be one of these, don’t
give the bastard a dime. Later, Mark
Mark Thomas Ruby
970 622-9500 studio
970 622-9510 fax
This situation is a little different depending on whether one is in a
retail store, or is the craftsman directly. I have a very simple
policy, though: My guarantee is that I will make you what you asked
me to make - I do NOT guarantee that what you asked me to make is what
you thought you wanted. If it is made to spec.----Pay Me. We also
walk the customer through each and every step - they approve
everything down the line - to insure that they know what is happening
- no surprises…
I spent 12 years managing a specialty outdoor retailer in Tucson in
the 80s, and the owner taught me so much about customer service.
This store had higher prices than its competitors but had superb
customer service – making customers happy was the #1 task of all
staff. One of the owner’s axioms was that a happy customer told a
few people about you, but an unhappy customer went out of his or her
way to tell everyone they could, even embellishing the horror you
put them through. We tried to keep this in mind when trying to keep
That said, the owner also didn’t roll over when he sensed we were
being really taken advantage of. There was a huge difference between
the famous outdoor photographer who spent thousands of dollars a
year at the store and was very “high maintenance” and often brought
things back used and complained, etc. – and the rich lawyer who we
never saw before who tried to hoodwink us after buying $2000 in ski
gear and tried to return it after the big trip to Aspen saying “it
didn’t work right” (yeah right, bud).
So the lesson I learned was to weigh if this is a good customer who
made a mistake, to work with them; or if it’s a troublemaker, find a
professional way to firmly send them on their way. The important
thing is to not get angry back and get in a argument with the
customer over taste, fairness, etc.
Hope that helps!
As I type this now four (repeat Four) extremely high value packages
containing diamond jlry are either missing or misdelivered or lost.
Common factor in all four is that they were addressed to us (from
different retail jlry stores) and all were coming via UPS (all were
I concur with and is our practice that packages must be thoroughly
checked for retaping, cutting, damaged, pilferage etc before signing
Kris Gem Int’l Inc
580 fifth Ave, Suite # 2408
New York, NY 10036
Missing, lost packages.
As I type this now four (repeat Four) extremely high value packages containing diamond jlry are either missing or misdelivered or lost. Common factor in all four is that they were addressed to us (from different retail jlry stores) and all were coming via UPS (all were insured). I concur with and is our practice that packages must be thoroughly checked for retaping, cutting, damaged, pilferage etc before signing for it.
Hi Anil These may be precautions you already take, but if not, I
offer a suggestion. Don’t have things shipped directly to the
zipcode in the business address you listed and use nothing in
addresses to identify connection to Gem or Jewelry. Instead, use an
abbreviation or alternate name such as an individual.
ParcelPro specializes in insuring shipments of gems and jewelry and
the following (from their website) is one of their packaging
Shipments to New York: Packages being sent to zip codes 10036 or
10017, with a value of $15,000 or more, must be addressed to a UPS
center (hold for pick-up) at a zip code adjacent to 10036 or 10017
(call our office for alternate ship-to locations for New York).
According to their brochures, the regulations they require on
packaging and shipping have been shown to be so effective in theft
prevention that they are able to offer reasonable insurance rates to
shippers of gems and jewelry.
If you’d like to check them out: http://www.parcelpro.com. There
have been several threads here on ParcelPro in the past and searching
the Orchid archives may offer further suggestions and options for
security in shipping.
My only connection with ParcelPro is as a satisfied (small)
customer. I learned about the company here on Orchid.
Hi Edith, Many years ago, long before my interests included the
"metals" end of this business, one of my best retail customers
ordered a huge Peridot from me (in excess of 10 cts) for one of his
store’s most frequent buyers. After going through my long list of
suppliers and several new ones, I finally located the rough, for
which I’d paid through the nose and then worked long hours, to
deliver the piece, only to receive a call six weeks later with the
news that the lady was outraged and demanding a complete refund for
the piece! When I went to see it at my customer’s store, I was shown
a tattered stone paper containing a shredded cotton pad, and the
previously unblemished gem whhich now had a 4mm-deep divot in its
table and most of its facet junctions chipped or abraded. When I
explained that the stone had been abused and flatly refused to
refund the money, the customer said, “What do you mean, ‘abused’? I
haven’t taken it out of the bottom of my purse since the day I
bought it!” The next time I printed up invoices, they included the
“All standard inventory items may be returned for refund or exchange
within 10 days of receipt, so long as in their original condition and
accompanied by receipt. No refunds of any kind will be permitted on
custom ordered goods, regardless of reason. On all memorandum goods,
recipient agrees to accept complete and unconditional responsibility
for care, replacement or repair to original condition of all goods
so entrusted, from moment of receipt until moment of return.”
I suggest you do something similar to protect yourself, as well. (In
fact, you have my permission to use these words, verbatim, if you’d
“On custom ordered gems, jewelry, services or faceting
demonstrations, a non-refundable “Commitment Deposit” of 50% of the
total is due at time of order. No materials will be ordered or work
begun until this deposit has been received and had cleared our bank.
All original concepts, artwork and designs remain the exclusive
property of Turet Design. All rights to develop, enhance, modify,
manufacture or otherwise produce, and market, license or otherwise
distribute said designs shall remain with the designer, and shall be
And as with the previous segments of the disclaimer, you and our
fellow Orchidians are more than welcome to use these words for
self-protection in/on your receipts and invoices.
My best, as ever, Doug