Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: So that’s how you wanna play it...

The Retailer’s Perspective: So that’s how you wanna play it...

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What is it about lunch and craziness? One second I’m sitting outside on the patio of my store having a nice lunch (a Greek salad with grilled chicken, extra feta cheese, and some of those grape leaf thingies) and the next second all hell breaks loose. And you know how it is, every now and again, you’re just not in the mood to deal with it. It went something like this.

“Now, Meridith,” I suddenly say to my assistant (who was dining with me), “repeat back to me the refractive indexes of all the light blue gemstones, in numerical order of their R.I.,” I said, unexpectedly quizzing her during lunch. She looked at me with a ‘what the hell are you talking about?’ look, wondering how we went from discussing her awesome weekend plans to an oddball question about refractive indexes.

“Well, Iolite has a 1.54, so...” she began answering until our little classroom discussion was interrupted. Damn!

I was hoping you know who was going to the coffee shop next door and would see that I was in a meaningful, intense, business discussion and she’d leave us alone. Nope. It just never works out that way for me it seems.

“Oh, I’m sorry I’m interrupting your lunch, but I need to talk to you,” Ms. Edwards said. (In reality, she might be a Mrs., but in order to know, I’d have to care enough to ask) “My ring you worked on broke right after you fixed it and I’m going out of town this weekend and I need to take it with me.”

Did I mention that this particular Greek salad is only good if you eat it within 20 minutes of starting. Go away you old hag. Oh well, what do you do? So I get up and follow her into the store where she produces a mangled ring that looked like it had been run over by a truck. But, in her defense, the solder joint at the bottom where I had sized it about 2 months before had broken.

“I don’t know what happened to it. I just looked down and it was broken. You’re not going to charge me again to fix it are you?”

Okay, for starters, yes, it’s technically still under warranty since I only worked on it two months ago, but this is where I draw the line. My repair didn’t just break. My repair broke during whatever happened to her ring to cause it to look like it now looks. Now Ms. Edwards and I have never had a pleasant relationship, so I didn’t really feel any special need to suck up to her today. I smiled and told her I’d re-solder the break and she could pick it up after 3. I’m soooo gonna get even.

I take her mangled ring into the shop and align the two broken ends and I solder them back together. I skillfully clean and polish only the solder joint, leaving the rest of the ring untouched and mangled... and I wait until 3. Alas, she returns.

“Your ring is finished, Ms. Edwards, let me just get it out of the cleaner,” I say and wander back in the shop making that gesture where you pretend to stick your finger down your throat to simulate gagging. I hand it to her and wait for the fireworks. I’m not disappointed.

“What happened to my ring?” she asks with the most perplexed look on her face. “It’s all bent up and not round anymore. What happened to it?”

“That’s how you brought it to me.”

“Well, aren’t you going to straighten it out and make it round again?”

“To repair all of that damage will be $75 plus tax. I did repair the broken spot though, that was still under warranty. That should hold up just fine. You’re more than welcome to leave it and have the rest of it that wasn’t under warranty repaired. You can have it tomorrow if you’d like,” I tell her hoping to God she says no and calls me a name or something and storms out. I wasn’t that lucky.

“Well I don’t think I should have to pay to have that done. After all, you just repaired it and it broke. Why would you charge me again for the same repair?”

I said. She said. She huffed. I puffed.

Finally, I said, “Look lady. If I would have handed you this ring two months ago, looking like this, you would have refused to accept it and pay for it. The ring I handed you two months ago looked nothing like the ring you handed me two hours ago. I didn’t break it, you did. If you would like for me to make it look like that again, it’s gonna cost $75. Would you like to leave it?” I asked, giving her the evil eye. Yeah, it worked. (Man, I wish I could bottle up my evil eye and sell it. I’d be a millionaire.)

She’s not real happy as you can imagine, and says, “I’m going to show this to my husband,” and turns and leaves.

Now, for the record, I know that old saying about make someone happy and they may tell a friend. But make someone unhappy and they’ll tell a hundred friends. Well, I personally don’t think she has a hundred friends so I can’t care. She’ll probably only tell her husband (now that I know she has one) and he’s probably going to just put his fingers down his throat behind her back too.

Now this lady knew good and damned well what she did to break her ring. Had she come in and just fessed up and said that she stepped on it or something, I would have probably just fixed it for her because I’m that kind of guy. But to try and blame me for something I didn’t do just irritates me to no end.

On the flip side of this situation, I got a similar phone call from a woman who had a David Yurman ring sized recently and it was broken and she asked if she could bring it by for me to look at. Rolling my eyes and thinking, ‘here we go again,’ I said sure. Bring it in.

She comes in an hour later and sure enough, the solder joint had popped. She said she didn’t remember doing anything to cause it to break. The ring still looked brand new with the exception of a little wear and tear from daily use, so I told her that I’d take care of it and it was fully under warranty so there wouldn’t be any charge. See. I know the difference.

Now, back to Mrs. Edwards. I never heard another word from her... or her husband, but I scan the obituaries daily looking for his name.

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. You can contact him at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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