Rude Customers

Regarding pricing:

Two weeks ago a gentleman buys a handmade pair of 14 kt earrings with
small diamonds. The price is $289 plus tax.

Wednesday the receipient, assuming it is his wife, comes in my store
and my employee comes back and tells me that a customer wants to
return something for cash back, the customer stating that the
earrings are grossly overpriced.

I go to the front and state to her “Apparently you are going to
start off insulting us!” (I don’t suffer fools easily). I tell her
that we have a policy of return for exchange only, and it is stated
at the bottom of the receipt. She wants the money back, stating that,
based on that piece and that price, she won’t do business with our

I explain that the earrings are handmade and the person who made
them is charging what she needed for time and materials, I can
understand that she feels that they are overpriced. I restate my
policy, I explain that it is common for businesses to have that
policy, larger companies charge more for their products and can take
time to deal with returns and the bookkeeping, we have the lowest
price so things sell quickly, and I don’t want to make an exception
based on the fact that she “feels” the price on that is too high. She
tells me her mother was in the jewelry business and she knows about
jewelry prices.

I tell her she can get a credit or gift certificates for x-mas. She
tells me that I should want to keep her as a customer ( already
stated that she won’t be back), that I should give her the money, she
can’t afford the earrings. I tell her to send in the person that
bought them ( I thought I could negotiate easier with that person and
come to something mutually agreeable) and that maybe her issue should
be with the person who bought them, and not hold me responsible for
the judgement of the person who made the purchase.

She tells me that she lives in the neighborhood and she will tell
everyone about this, and I reply that if she cannot manipulate me
into changing my policy, she is going to threaten me, and she replies
that it is not a threat it is a promise.

For good customers, we are more flexible. We do have some
flexibility and work with people for a win-win outcome. Fifteen years
of retail experience, and I have little tolerence for unreasonable
customers. When a customer is hostile or abusive with no provocation,
they are fired immediately.

We are aware of how many people are refered to us by word of mouth
because of our merchandise and how our customers feel they are
treated. We constantly have feedback that they love our store and
our prices are good. I mean, almost every day, literally. We have
unique gold items, and we have thousands of sterling silver pieces
from $5 up to designer pieces that are $800. We have a niche and it
works great for us.

At what point do y’all back down when the customer is rude,
critical, or abusive? Richard in Denver

I have had this happen several times in my shop- in each case a
woman bought earrings and her husband marched back to the store
demanding a refund. In one case I gave them the refund because the
husband was so rude and irate and as gently as I could I told him he
was not welcome in our store again.

The second time I stuck to my guns. We have signs all over the store
stating our policy and told him that this was a matter he needed to
work out with his wife and not with me. I then escorted him out of my

People like that NEVER come back again as customers- and if they bad
mouth my store no one will listen- we have befriended the entire


I think your customer was trying an old trick.

Hats are sold in London from a huge department store (Harrods.)
Every Friday there are a line of well off women who never usually
wear hats but who are going to a wedding. They buy a hat and then
return it for cash on Monday - having made a fashion splash on
Saturday afternoon.

I suspect that your earrings were bought for a similar event.

In any case I believe it is illegal to resell earrings or other
articles made for pierced body parts due to the risk of infection -
but I could well be wrong on this.

Tony Konrath

IMHO you don’t back down; “back down” has a certain conotation as
in confrontational. You politely invite the customer to leave your
place of business. It’s only jewelry; if someone demands
justification for a price, it’s all over. Don’t explain. Apparently
this person doesn’t understand the principle of social interaction:
courtesy. "Perhaps another jeweler could better serve madam, or sir"
is a polite way to handle it and leaves no doubt as to the intention.



It is hard to deal with people who start off rude.

I have a policy of always accepting returns and it has paid off
handsomely with satisfied customers who purchase more freely knowing
that will not be stuck with an item. They leave with a feeling of
goodwill and will more readily refer others to me.

However, if your policy is a no refund one, then you need to be
consistent and polite. I have found that it never pays to argue with
a customer, although, God knows, it is VERY tempting sometimes.

I used to bite the hook and get into it with rude people, and
have even gone so far as to draw them a map to Walmart or feigning
deafness, but the easiest way to resolve it is to give them what
they want within reason and get them out of your store.

It is way too easy to dwell on those customers that are a nightmare.
When I find myself doing this, I have to force myself to think of
all the really nice happy people I deal with, afterall they make up
95% of the people we deal with, it is just that those "creeps"
seem to be the ones we remember. You stated that you have many happy
customers, focus on them next time you find yourself stewing over
this witch.

Good luck, Suzanne

Hi Richard, I make my living through photography as well as creating
jewelry, and I deal with the public every day. You have to realize
that there are just some people out there who believe that the
rules do not apply to them. It sounds as if you did your best trying
to be diplomatic and fair when you explained your policies to this
woman. Remember that you DON’T want her as a customer, and you
should not have to alter the way that you do business merely to
placate her. Stick to your guns, and realize that this is probably
the way she does business with everyone. Sounds to me as if she’d
like to have her hands on the cash instead of wearing the earrings
that were so carefully chosen for her…

Good luck, don’t back down. Rebecca in NY