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Unclaimed Repairs

Thank you in advance for your help. I have unclaimed repairs that
date back for years (we do what we can to get them picked up). I
understand that selling or scraping them is a delicate matter. Is
there a good three-part repair ticket on the market–one that states
a brief policy that allows me to keep unclaimed repairs after a
reasonable period of time?

Dale Pavatte
Decherd, Tennessee

  Is there a good three-part repair ticket on the market--one that
states a brief policy that allows me to keep unclaimed repairs
after a reasonable period of time? 

I don’t think you will find such a thing as the law as to how and
when someone’s merchandise can be sold or considered abandoned
varies from state to state. Either call and talk to your state
attorney general or state consumer protection agency for the low
down on the law in your state. Another option is to contact the
Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee. They are well versed on matters such
as this.

Larry Seiger

Hi Dale, you may want to check with your attorney generals office. I
know in New Mexico we have a law that allows for salvage of any
unclaimed “stuff” after a certain period of time. Be it a car or a
ring, whatever. Both take space to store, both are an insurance
liability to have around… as such you can usually claim stuff as
abandoned, and do with it what you like. I feel a jeweler should hold
onto something for at least a year, but after that I don’t think
you’re likely to have someone come back. Of course, as a jeweler you
can make a judgment call and decide if it’s REALLY something they
might really want back 10 years from now when they remember where
they left it, or if it’s just another abandoned repair. Also, I think
a sign posted in a conspicuous place serves as legal notice in most
places in this regard, or you may also just Xerox copy a bunch of
slips with your store policy and staple it to the receipt, that’s
sure to do the trick.

Hope it helps

Dale, You ask about 3 part forms for repair take in. I suggest that
you try working with your local printer and have custom 3 part
carbonless forms made. In that way you can have your own distinctive
look to the form. You can then put the that you want the
client to receive as well as the blank spaces for the you
want to get from the client. ( make sure to include a space for
e-mail address) The forms I have made are 4"x6" so they fit nicely
into a 5"x8" heavy duty clear ziplock bag. That way you can see the
contents of the bag real easily.

We have a disclaimer on our repair forms stating that they will be
scrapped after a year if they are not claimed. In reality we wait
more than 10 years before actually doing anything. The fear of
throwing out some “valuable heirloom” and being sued for it is always

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

I wonder if this falls under the unclaimed property laws that apply
to stock brokers.

I just received a letter from my broker that said that I have till
the end of the month before they give my retirement IRA to the
government due to inactivity. Never mind that I have other active
accounts with them. They made it sound like their behavior is
tightly controlled by the law, but -sheesh- imagine sending a letter
on the seventh saying you have to respond by the thirty-first or
lose thousands of dollars. What if I set it aside with the rest of
the routine bills and bank statements to process Feb first or

You probably have to keep the unclaimed repairs for four or five
years then give it to the state with a smile.

On the other hand, I have seen places that start charging a “storage
fee” after a while. When the total fee matches the item value, it’s


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 ]

You may want to check out the laws on “Bailsman”. I am not an
attorney but I believe your category or any person who is in business
and accepts a customer’s item has a responsibility to act
appropriately in regards to safety of the item. I think you fall
into this category.

Check the internet to see what it means in this profession. If you
do not make any attempt to find the person and can prove that you
tried, if this person returns for their product, the law may say you
pay or produce it. The redemption ticket must be specifically clear
on the customer’s responsibility regarding their goods. When goods
change hand, you become the Bailsman.

Look hard and wide to find this person. Check with your local
Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs regardiing this matter.
If you need a special license to conduct your business in your State
(every State may be different), then it is better to be safe than
sorry. What ever you do, don’t throw it way, don’t sell it until
you know you are absolutely safe in the matter. Find out what your
rights are.

For future reference, you may want to change your repair form
invoice to state the the customer or their heirs relinquish all
rights to claim the item after 90 days. Check into whether or not,
you may charge interest for storage since you are acting in a
Bailsman capacity. When I pull out my business law book, I’ll look
up Bailsman and let you know. It may take a while, but it is useful
Aloha to All, Bj in Hawaii