Trying to Educate Customers

people,

do you try to educate someone floating around dispensing statements
180 degrees from fact? if so, how?

my partner sells on eBay, over 5300 sales with 99.7% satisfaction
rating. a buyer bought items including 2 strands of amber nuggets -
those ubiquitous 26" strands with 3/8" nuggets everyone has seen
around forever. she got the order and sent this email (in part):

most everything was fine, the two [strands of] amber nuggets are
not amber but plastic or acrylic. 

my partner replied they were baltic amber (bought from his regular
amber dealer from poland who is not about to cheat himself out of 4
digit dollars a year by selling fake amber to a regular customer)

part of the buyer’s email (read slowly):

I am also very familiar with "plastic" amber. Amber is very heavy
and has a beautiful shine to it that no artificial amber could ever
duplicate. Plastic is lightweight and while "see through" does not
have that shine. These nuggets are so obviously plastic that I did
not even have to look at them. As soon as I picked them up, still
in the bubble wrap, I knew they were not real as they were much too
light to be real. The same size strand in real amber should have
been at least 5 times as heavy. Natural Amber, in the size of the
strand you sell, would have been too heavy for a woman to be able
to wear it around her neck by itself, that is why usually only a
few nuggets are used in each jewelry piece. 

my partner - who will hereafter be ‘m.p.’ to save keystrokes -asked
her to run some tests on some of the nuggets. she, who could feel but
not smell, said they smelled like plastic. i performed the same test
on the same beads when she returned them and not only got the pine
resin scent, but also burned just like the references said. attached
a picture of the bead she had marked xx and a picture of the same
bead burning away in the email i sent.

so there we were with a customer who could ‘feel’ material through
bubble wrap and didn’t even need to see the stuff, she just ‘knew’.
the more my partner (who had already decided to refund the 2 x $9.99)
tried to reassure her, the more we kept reading “i am very familiar
with amber” and the more it became evident she wouldn’t recognize it
if it bit her.

my partner - who will hereafter be ‘m.p.’ to save keystrokes - asked
her to run some tests on some of the nuggets. she, who could 'feel’
but not smell, said

the two amber nuggets are not amber but plastic or acrylic. 

she returned the nugget strands, and upon performing the same test
on the same beads i not only got the pine/resin scent, but also a
nice flame going just like the references said. attached pictures of
the burning bead she had xx marked. m. p. had enough and handed the
mess over to me, deciding the buyer deserved whatever i wrote to her.

out came untracht’s “concepts”, some sinkankas books, rice’s “amber
the golden gem of the ages”, a few lapidary journals. quoted some
quotes, listed some experience with cutting and polishing amber (not
just sticking it on a string) prefaced it all with my desire to stop
someone from embarrassing themselves with erroneous statements and
sent it off. no response yet but i have a sneaky feeling (no bubble
wrap to feel it through) that she will send a scathing negative
report for m.p., who would not sell a fake (i would tell his mother)
and won’t even take a landlord’s tax deduction for a pack of
lightbulbs without a receipt.

people, do those who refuse to reevaluate incorrect need
to learn? do they need reality or should they just be allowed to
coast through life, eyes tightly shut and basing their knowledge on
what they “feel” through bubble wrap?

ive

who ‘feels’ like shutting the studio, going to south beach, looking
up “art” and vegging out with him at his favorite sidewalk cafe table

All customers need to be educated. It’s part of our job as jewelers.
In this case however there are a couple of approaches you could take.
One is to send them off to a gem lab and have them analyzed, and if
they are amber, send copies of the reports to the buyer. This would
prove that what you sold her was what it was represented to be and
she would have no right to complain to anyone about your product.
It’s not a cheap route but it would definitively prove your honesty.
Unfortunately I suspect this is one of those people where a little
is a dangerous thing. She has been misinformed and is not
using true gemological testing to determine what she got. She has
already made up her mind and it is unlikely that anything you say to
her is going to change it (like the guy I once had in my store who
insisted that all of my purple sapphires were amethysts because some
jeweler in the UK once told him there was no such thing as purple
sapphire—never mind that I brought out all the gem books and showed
it to him in there–this was what he believed and nothing I said or
did was going to change his mind) so the question is why bother with
it anymore (especially since we’re talking about $20 here). If she
gives your partner a bad grade in her report to eBay she’ll be one of
the only ones and it isn’t going to bring his grade down very much
anyway. Just my 2 cents.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
@Daniel_R_Spirer

I am not sure where you are located by your customers relatives were
in my store last week. I was asked if the earrings were real gold or
just 14kt!!!

mike in Arizona

Hey Ive !

This kind of thing happens all the time…the world is full of
paranoids who will try to bait you. There is no use trying to be
defensive or tutorial…they’re just bleeding nutzo !

The obvious clue in this case is the fact that the weirdo would have
you believe that amber is heavy. Amber is certainly NOT heavy. Don’t
get sucked in…Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.

Dear ive:

As I told you, in my last email to you, I am a member of “Orchid”. I
thought of bringing the subject up here but felt it would be
inappropriate as we could deal with this between you, Harry and
myself. Obviously you did not feel the same. Much of what you quoted
me is incorrect and I do not intend to go into it within this forum
as I feel business matters should be conducted between those
involved. You must have felt the need for reassurance of your stand
to bring this matter here. I am still awaiting refund of the two
strands of beads you call “Amber” since you are now in possession of
them. When that is completed this matter, as far as I am concerned,
will be closed. If you wish to rant on about it here or elsewhere
that is your right, however I have better uses for my time.

Carolyn

ive -

My experience has been that when someone replies that way, telling
you how the item is wrong, instead of asking questions indicating
that what they received does not match their experience and wondering
why, you stand very little chance of educating that person, and a
very great chance of antagonizing them.

At this point, this person is not a satisfied customer, due to no
fault of your partner, and in the medium of e-mail, may very well not
be able to be convinced otherwise. You would stand a greater chance
of being able to do so in person, but how much effort is it worth for
a $20 sale? Also, has your partner read this buyer’s feedback from
other vendors? That might shed some light on her behavior. And your
partner also has the option of leaving negative feedback for the
buyer.

I’ve had problems with a vendor whose behavior was mystifying, until
I speculated that he must be suffering from some kind of mental
illness, which may be the case here, too. All your partner can do is
respond to communication from the buyer, and possibly from eBay if
she files a complaint, and then resolve never to do business with
that person again.

My two or three cents worth…

Linda

Hello Ive,

The person may be a shopaholic who was on a binge and needs to
return the items. They can’t take the blame for the shopping so they
make up a story in their head as an excuse to return the item. I’ve
seen this happen at a store I worked in. They are not right in the
head so it’s no use to argue with them or teach them anything, they
will in fact keep going through life like this unless they are lucky
enough to get therapy.

Marta

lol,

we sell 925 sterling silver jewellery and people ask if its plate :slight_smile:

mark

I don’t recall seeing it mentioned in connection to this thread, but
there is a simple non destructive test to separate amber from
plastic. Make up a saturated solution of salt in water. That is,
dissolve salt in a glass of water until no more will dissolve. Place
the item in question in this solution. Amber will float, plastic will
sink.If the buyer actually thinks amber is the heavier of the two,
she has been misinformed.

Jerry in Kodiak

I was asked if the earrings were real gold or just 14kt!!! 

mike! she probably has a lot of relatives - your customer’s
’inquiry’ reminded me of the time i went into scottie’s (pre-home
depot supplier) and asked for an ‘oscillating sander’ only to be
sadly informed by a salesman, “all we got are the ones that go back
and forth.” must be a very large family judging from the number of
people who look at his fossils and minerals and ask my partner “did
you make these yourself?”

thanks for the laugh!
ive

I once had a customer tell me “I know for a fact that all silver has
"sterling silver” or something stamped on them for proof". It’s just
another example of how the internet has opened up many businesses to
the ignorant consumer. I don’t understand how so many people can be
so comfortable in their ignorance. I would be embarrassed of myself
if I were defending false

Diana

diana -

I don't understand how so many people can be so comfortable in
their ignorance 

that’s because you’re not afraid to change your inventory of
knowledge; growth, flexibility, enlightenment all depend on an open
mind, as opposed to a hole in the head. if someone has to admit that
their knowledge could be wrong that could open the door to their
whole personal self image and leave it vulnerable to further damage -
they’re not going to let that happen! what puzzles me are 'creative’
people not being flexible; orchid exists for the exchanging of
to increase that flexibility that enables creativity.

ive
who rephrased an old philippine saying:
pain makes man think,
thinking makes man wise,
wisdom makes man know to keep his mouth shut.

Hi ive and all,

I have been a lurker but now that my favorite thing, “Amber” has been
brought up I have to speak. There are several tests for checking
amber. This is good because there is alot of plastic and copal out
there being pawned off as the real thing.

  1. Make a saturated salution of table salt. Drop in the test pieces
    if they float that is a good sign it is amber. Copal and plastic
    sink.

  2. Wash a piece with mild soap and water then rinse well. Now lick
    the piece slowly and allow the taste to linger. Real amber should
    have just the most subtle taste almost a tingling sensation.
    Plastics taste terrible. Copal tastes very strong due to the volital
    terpens in the resin.

  3. Amber does not melt when subjected to flame but burns with with a
    sweet pine smell like incense. Copal will melt. Plastic will stink.

  4. A few drops of alcohol or acetone droped on a piece and then
    wiped on a cloth. There will be no effect to real amber. Copal will
    melt and become soft leaving a stain on the cloth. Plastic will
    become tacky.

I hope this helps. I sell amber and jet jewelry on ebay every now
and then, happily I have not had your customer problem.

E.R.

I once had a customer tell me "I know for a fact that all silver
has "sterling silver" or something stamped on them for proof". 

Yeah, that’s one of my faves! I usually travel with a sterling
hallmark stamp on hand so if someone says that I can point out that
just because it says “sterling” or.925, doesn’t mean it is. This
handy little stamp can be used very easily… It’s a little
obnoxious on my part, but it really steams me when people act like
they know everything and in fact they are wrong!

-a.

Hi:

that's because you're not afraid to change your inventory of
knowledge; growth, flexibility, enlightenment all depend on an
open mind, as opposed to a hole in the head. 

I have been thinking about this point all morning. I think it could
more be due to the fact that some are just content. I have spent
much time trying to figure why I’m different, not why people don’t
want to be more like, but why I don’t want to be more like them.Most
go to their day jobs thinking…how long 'til 5:00…what’s on t.v.
tonight?..should I buy that pair of jeans I saw at the Gap? I spend
my time thinking about what I do. How do I learn to saw, set, fuse,
weld etc ad infinitum. The ladies go for coffee…I go home to my
worktable…am I antisocial?..a little, but more than that I am one
of the most curious people around. It has occurred to me that if I
didn’t have to spend so much time worrying about what Suzie and her
girlfriends are going to want to bedeck themselves in next year, I
might have more time to be content. I,too, wonder why creative
people are not more flexible. Perhaps it’s a macho thing. Perhaps “I
put in my time learning and I love it, so why doesn’t everyone want
to do that too?” There was a movie that came out a while back. It
was about a boy genius. The authorities wanted to have him travel
all over, be famous, be exploited. His Mom said…“most kids his age
are in playgroups. my son has an ulcer because he worries about the
starving people in impoverished countries” (I’m paraphrasing) The
more I learn, the more I worry. The nightly news terrifies me.
Sometimes, I would like to be “comfortable in my ignorance”…just
for a little while.

Before I rant
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads

kim -

more than that I am one of the most curious people around. 

the creative individuals are the flexible ones - we often tie
ourselves in knots to learn.

want to know what i call people who are not curious? boring. being
born without curiosity would seem like being an automaton: you know
what you’re supposed to do in everyday routines, but you don’t really
know why, nor do you care.

keep on with the introspection, i can’t remember at the moment who
said it or the exact wording, but “the unexamined life is not worth
living.”

i received a gift poster defining “an artist” including “artists are
not understood, but tolerated by those around them…” getting those
around us to understand that if we aren’t able or not allowed to
make/create something - to release a ‘something’ we are compelled to
put form to - not testing our potential - not stretching the envelope
of our life, we just don’t feel right and sometimes we might cut off
an ear.

your need to get to your ‘work’ instead of ‘coffee klatching’ is
like that, “okay, i’ve paid with a day of working for and with
others, now let me to my work.” it will define you one day.

that’s just the way i see it -
ive

The more I learn, the more I worry. The nightly news terrifies me.
Sometimes, I would like to be "comfortable in my ignorance"...just
for a little while. 

Well, we have a very high level of cognitive need compared to some
other people. I know exactly where you’re coming from. Maybe it
would be nice to give the brain a rest. When I start thinking like
that I usually hit the bar and the next morning I’m thankful to have
a fully functioning brain again! ;-p It’s all it how you use it. You
can be educated and curious about the world without letting the “bad
stuff” get to you. You’ve just got to use that extra brain power to
remind yourself to let some things go.

Diana

It has occurred to me that if I didn't have to spend so much time
worrying about what Suzie and her girlfriends are going to want to
bedeck themselves in next year [trying to see the next trend in
jewelry], I might have more time to be content." 

my partner would see a widely copied design and ask why didn’t i do
the same design, my answer: “i don’t reinvent the wheel.” trying to
guess what suzie and friends will want to buy next season probably
isn’t the route to contentment - you would have to live with a
variation of what many other designers also thought suzie would want
to wear. according to random house dictionary, “content: satisfied
with what one is or has; not wanting more or any thing else.” curious
people may see being ‘content’ as desirable when they simply want
the time to pursue their ideas without pressure. spend your time
developing designs so different they will stop suzie and friends in
their tracks.

I have spent much time trying to figure why I'm different, not why
people don't want to be more like [me], but why I don't want to be
more like them 

kim, remember why? they’re boring, go around wearing teeny weeny
pendants, always dashing out with the herd for $4.00 a cup coffee? do
not ever design for them, always design for yourself! and don’t
forget - someone has to educate the customers!

I put in my time learning and I love it, so why doesn't everyone
want to do that too?" 

because a lot of people learned everything they needed to know in
kindergarten. they may call themselves jewelry people but avoid
those people like the plague or you will find yourself designing
teeny weentsy little pendants with a rose or dove engraved on them,
hanging from store bought chains.

The more I learn, the more I worry. The nightly news terrifies me 

suggestion: watch the international news, from the bbc and berlin,
on pbs, they soften and put a better perspective on the jagged parts.
and you might pick up some pointers on what madam suzette will want
for adornment next season.

Sometimes, I would like to be "comfortable in my ignorance"...just
for a little while. 

kim, you probably just need a little more sleep and 'oblivion’
instead of ‘ignorance’ might be more comfortable. set a learning goal
like decreasing the amount of solder with good results

ive
who suggests: people, you’ve got lives, use them to the fullest.

Hello, everybody,

It sounds like she’s thinking of citrine, rather than amber. I
certainly hope she decides to learn from this experience and not
give an unfair rating.

That said, I’m still trying to convince my dad that emeralds are
green, not red. I have no idea why he thinks this, he saw the Wizard
of Oz and everything.

And when I worked at a jewelery store, a very wealthy woman once
told me that she liked to wear her tanzanite ring (a beautiful dark
purple/blue color, about the size of my eye) even though the
"sapphire" was “fake.” That was a ring I had to size up (gulp), and
when I’d finished sizing it up, and it was all polished and
everything, the salesgirl brought it back to me to tell me that I
"hadn’t sized it up yet." She wasn’t used to sizing stock being
filed down to match the band size, in addition to being sanded AND
polished. I shudder to think what the work that had been going out
looked like before I got there.

And my mother thinks that they have special mines for different
colors of gold.

At least my own family should know better, but that’s just a
demonstration of how dearly held some misconceptions are: despite
explanations, they have a hard time making the shift in belief.

susannah

That said, I'm still trying to convince my dad that emeralds are
green, not red. I have no idea why he thinks this, he saw the
Wizard of Oz and everything. 

There is a company that sells red beryl as red emeralds.