Coincidentally, the January 2002 issue of Professional Jeweler has
an article on this exact subject. I suggest getting hold of a copy
and reading the entire article, but I'll do my best to summarize the
main points heRe:
1) If you don't have an unclaimed item policy, you need to
establish one. This policy (along with returns and credit policies)
should be posted. You can also hand the customer a written copy of
the policy and have them sign it at take-in and/or add the policy to
your receipts and brochures.
2) Find out what your local laws are and be sure you're in
compliance. You can contact the Jewelers Vigilance Committee
(212-997-2002), your local consumer affairs agency, state attorney
general or attorney. Once you've passed your state's time limit, you
can do whatever you want with the piece.
But . . . before disposing of unclaimed items, you should do the
A) Keep records to show you tried to contact the customer,
including the receipt from a certified letter and the dates/times
when you tried to reach the customer by phone. Document everything.
B) if your customer did not sign off on your store policy at
take-in, run an ad in your local newspaper for at least one week that
notes the time limit and says that jewelry left beyond that limit
will be disposed of. State that the customer needs to contact you
within a certain time period (at least 10 business days). Keep a
copy of the ad in your files.
Note: You cannot charge a storage fee for unclaimed items unless
you disclosed this policy when you accepted the piece for repair.
I hope this answers the main points but I still recommend reading
the article in its entirety. The last paragraph is a disclaimer of
sorts, stating that the given does not replace legal
advice but rather strives to answer common questions.
BethDr. E. Hanuman Aspler
[ G a n o k s i n . C o m ]