Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: What’s wrong with people?

The Retailer’s Perspective: What’s wrong with people?

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Oh dear, where to start? Who gets the honor of being first today?

Picture the scene: It’s the first nice spring day of the year. We weren’t under any sort of weather watch or warning for the first time all spring and I’m sitting outside for lunch. I’m at a little table in front of my store eating a very unhealthy lunch when a guy walked up to me holding a Swiss Army watch. He apologized for interrupting my lunch (he probably saw what I was eating and was just trying to save my life) and said, “Are you an authorized service...”

 

“No,” I said before he finished.

“...center for Swiss Army....”

“No.”

“...watches?”

“Still no.”

“I’ve been told that it will void the warranty unless an authorized service center installs the battery in my watch,” he tells me.

“Still no,” I tell him.

“Well, do you know if there is one in the area?”

“No idea,” I say.

“Well, it was a real expensive watch. I think my mom paid $100 for it and only an authorized service center has the specialized equipment to replace the battery,” he tells me.

“Yeah, those Swiss Army watches are real complicated. I’ve never been able to figure them out,” I say lying through my teeth. Of course in the real world, I could have popped the back off the watch, swapped out the battery, set it, and handed it back to him in half the time our conversation had taken.

He tells me that he’ll just look them up online and send it to them.

“Spend the extra money on FedEx priority delivery both ways,” I tell him. “It’s so worth it to get it back in a hurry.”

“Yeah, good idea. Thanks for your help,” he said and off he went with a smile on his face. I’m glad I could be such a ray of sunshine in someone’s day. Plus, my lunch didn’t even get cold.

After lunch though, a woman came in with a problem. It went exactly like this:

“A diamond has fallen out of my ring, but I have the lifetime warranty on it,” she said and pulled out a bunch of papers with impressive logos and lots of legal looking mumbo jumbo. She tells me that the company she bought the ring from was out of business, but the warranty was fully transferable.

“It’s not transferable to me,” I told her.

“Oh, all you have to do is fill out the paperwork and send it in and they’ll pay you for the work.”

“No they won’t.”

“Excuse me, what do you mean?” she asked.

“I’m not going to do any paperwork. I’ll be happy to do the work if you want, but you’re going to have to pay for it. I’ll give you a receipt and you can send it to the company and let them pay you,” I told her.

“Well, I wouldn’t know how to do that. I just assumed you’d take care of it because it’s under warranty. I paid a lot of money for this warranty.”

Now, we all know what happens when you assume, but as usual with the crazy ones, it’s always someone you’ve never seen before. I’d never heard of the jeweler with the impressive logo, or the company with all the legal mumbo jumbo. Plus, the paperwork looked like it was from the ‘70s.

I had to just tell her, “Ma’am, I’m sorry but the warranty you’re holding doesn’t have anything to do with me. I’ll be happy to do the work, but when I’m finished, you, not them, are going to have to pay me $163.88. Then, if you want to file a claim with them then that’s up to you.”

“Why I never heard of such a crazy thing as someone not honoring a warranty before,” she said with just a little bit of attitude in her voice. So I did what I always do in a case like this, I reached underneath my counter and grabbed a business card to a store across town that is owned by someone I don’t like. I hand it to her and say, “Actually, I think this is the authorized warranty service center in town. I bet they can help you.”

I was on a roll because the next day it started all over again.

A young guy about 20 came in holding two loose watch batteries and asked if I sold watch batteries. Now, mind you, he had to walk past about 6 signs that said ‘Watch Batteries $10’ just to get close enough to me to ask if I sold watch batteries. I told him I had them in stock and they were $10 apiece.

“Well Target sells them 2 for $3,” he informed me.

“Well why don’t you go buy them at Target then?” I asked.

“They’re out of them. Will you sell me 2 of them for $3?”

“No.”

“Well I can’t pay $10 apiece for them, how about 2 for $5?”

“How about 2 for $20?”

“Maybe I’ll drive over to Wal-Mart.”

“Good idea,” I told him. Once again, just to be that ray of sunshine in someone’s day makes it all worth it. But, the day wasn’t over yet.

An older guy comes in with his wife’s 30 something year old engagement ring that needed to be sized.

“I need this sized up 1 size,” he tells me.

“How did you decide it needed exactly one size?” I asked him.

“Oh, I can just tell,” he told me. “It’ll go on, but it’s just a little tight.”

Now I’ve been doing this longer than she’s had that ring and I still can’t do it by sight. I still have to measure after all of these years. Silly me.

“All righty then, but if it’s wrong you get to pay twice when I have to re-do it,” I told him. He said he understood.

We agreed on the size and I wrote on the envelope ‘At Customers Request’ and had him initial it, just like the prudent business owner I should be. I pointed out to him that the shank was pretty thin and the ring should be re-shanked, but he declined. The next day he came in and paid me the $65 and picked up his wife’s ring. Something told me this wasn’t over. It wasn’t. Two days later the wife came in.

“Are you the jeweler?” the mean looking lady asked me.

“No.” (okay just kidding, I said “yes”)

“You sized my ring last week and you made it the wrong size,” she says.

Since I’d never seen her before I asked her about it and realized it was ‘that ring’ and because of arthritis, she hadn’t worn it in a while and she actually needed an 8 1/2. While I’m writing up the job, I write $65 on the envelope and she goes off on me.

“You can’t charge me for this. We just paid you two days ago and I’m not happy with the work at all. Look how thin you made my ring on the bottom. I thought you’d add some gold to it when you sized it last time,” she says to me.

We all know what happened next... I said, she said, I said again, she said again. It went on for a minute or so and she finally told me that she’d have her husband come in to pick it up, but they were not paying for it twice, and she left. Man, am I glad I’m not married to her.

The next day, her husband did indeed come in to pick up the ring. He was very nice and brought the exact change... in cash, and said thank you.

Shortly after that, a woman came in to pick up a broken necklace I had repaired. She looked at it, said it was beautiful, thanked me, paid me, and said she’d tell all her friends about me. End of story.

See why I only write about the crazy ones... they’re way more fun to talk about!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide.

If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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