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What to do with old repairs

What to do with old repairs left in the store

Every jeweler has repairs that no one has bothered to pickup. I’ve
known jewelers who had them going back to the 50’s! What to do with
them legally as well as keeping good customer relations?

  1. Legally

Your attorney may not even know what the law is in your state.
Typically the Attorney Generals office or your local Sherriff’s
office will know what you need to do. I’m going to tell you what we
found in the state of Georgia, your state could be very different.

In Georgia this is the law as I investigated, your state could be
exactly the same or completely different. I’ll explain “different” in
a moment.

. We are required to hold a customer’s piece of jewelry for one year
before we can do anything with it.

. After a year you are allowed to sell the customer’s item to regain
the repair charge but before you sell it or scrap it the customer
must be notified.

. The law read when I had my store that you must give the customer
10 days notice that they must pick up their item or you are allowed
to sell it for “charges”.

. My county said to give the customer notice all you had to do was
to post such notice on the Sherriff’s bulletin board (really).

. We decided to be nice and we sent the customer a letter “return
receipt” and “certified mail”. If we got the return receipt back and
they didn’t come in after 10 days we were legally OK to unload it.

. If they didn’t received the letter it was returned by the post
office, either because they moved or didn’t pickup the letter. If
they moved we’d give it another try and sent it there.

. If after this effort the customer did not come in we saved the job
envelope and letter or return receipt forever and in the point of
sale program we put notes about what we did and where they
letter/envelope was being store and what we did with their jewelry.
If we scrapped/sold or whatever explicit details was put in their
history in case they ever came back in.

  1. The Money & what you have to do “forever”.

. Using Georgia again as an example if we repaired a bracelet by
soldering several spots and we charged the customer $50 then we
could sell it for $50 even if its worth $400 to regain our labor
charge. Allowable by law.

. On the other hand if we scrapped it and got $400 for the scrap
value we only “earned” the $50, its our to keep. We can deposit the
whole $400 but must keep a record and if the customer EVER comes back
in we are required to ONLY give them back the $350, the difference
between what we earned and what we sold it for.

. If this occurred we put this into the point of sale
program in their customer history records.

. We had one time where a customer came back 3 years later and was
very upset about taking apart their jewelry but sorry lady. We
always send out “come get your jewelry postcards” every few months,
make phone calls and of course sent the return receipt letter. Its
not like we didn’t try. We gave the customer the difference and
that’s what we were obligated to do.

  1. What some other states may have you do - “different”.

. You should check out your state law as some states go even further
and say if the customer didn’t pick their stuff up in a year you
must give the jewelry to the state! You get NOTHING!

. You don’t want to scrap it and then find out you broke the law.

. Many states do the same thing but you should check first.

. You must know that just because your receipt says "not responsible
after 90 days that this doesn’t hold water if your state says you
must wait a year. Don’t be foolish and break the law.

  1. Suggestions to reduce the number of jobs not picked up

. You know what items have little value. Get the customer to prepay
for low end repairs. We asked some customers to prepay for silver

Customers will usually pickup a silver chain that was repaired not
because of it’s value to them but because they already paid $20 up

. We even offered customers a 5% discount to prepay. Many times a
customer would prepay for a $5000 custom job just to save 5%.

. Low end jewelry was usually what was in the finished box along
with watches that had estimates and the customer didn’t think it was
even worth their time to drive to pickup a dud watch.

. When we took in a watch for a repair estimate we usually requested
a $20 deposit. We preferred cash because we paper clipped the twenty
dollar bill inside the envelope. If they didn’t get the watch
repaired again the customer would come back to mainly get their
twenty bucks back!

. Always get name/address/2 phone numbers/email address. This way
you can always contact them. Only writing the customers name is
taboo! Complete contact info on all job envelopes.

Today with email and cell phones and phones can receive text
messages you should be able to keep up with your customers. Remember
getting customers to pick up their jobs increases cash flow.

David Geller
Director of Shop Profits