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13 Jewelry Return Horror Stories Almost Too Frustrating to Read

'This ring is obviously bad luck and defective.'

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DESPITE THE RETAIL sector having faced unprecedented obstacles in the first half of 2020, or perhaps because of that, we decided it’s time for a laugh or an eye roll.

INSTORE has a tradition of collecting and sharing the funny and far-fetched experiences of its readers, who have always been generous with their tales.

We asked our Brain Squad and other sources for insane return stories. Jewelry business owners and managers provided us with these show-stoppers.

1. A NOT-SO-VEILED THREAT. I had a lady who came in looking to return a pair of earrings; alas, they didn’t come from my shop. She got very upset but eventually left. Half an hour later, her husband came in to try again. I explained that they didn’t come from my shop. He suggested I “check my fire insurance”; it turned out he had been in jail for arson.

2. THE UNCERTAIN PROPOSAL. Made up a beautiful engagement ring for $15,000, paid in full, only to get it back two weeks later because she said no.

3. BUT DID SHE WATER IT? After a year, a customer wanted to return her half-carat diamond because it had not grown.

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4. THE HAMMER FIX. Made a ring as requested. Customer did not like it. Made it again. Same result. Made it a third time. Same. So I took a hammer and an anvil to the counter, smashed the ring, took the diamonds and put them in a parcel, handed them to the customer and said, “Have a nice life, but never come back.”

5. COMIC RELIEF. When a new piece of jewelry leaves my store, I check it over and make sure it looks great. I had a lady bring in a ring that she “had never worn.” The bottom of the shank looked like a tank rode over it and two diamonds were missing. I just laughed at her.

6. MOOD SWINGS. We had a customer buy herself a very nice $12,000 ring. I’m pretty sure she had a drinking problem and she was naturally an angry person, so you can image she was hard on this ring. After about two weeks, she came back in with it completely mangled and some diamonds were knocked out. She claims she had no idea how it happened and it must have been defective. You could clearly see that she had manhandled this thing. I’m almost convinced she ran over it with her car. Anyway, we sent it back to Spain, and the designer was kind enough to repair it for her for no charge. But she agreed to this option only after about an hour of us explaining why we wouldn’t give her money back. She was rude and insulting the whole time, but when the ring came back and we handed it over for no charge, she was suddenly pleasant. Maybe she was sober that day. We haven’t seen her since, and I don’t care.

7. THE UNDECIDED FIANCE. Guy buys a 2.15-carat F/VS1 princess solitaire. Three days later, a woman comes in asking to sell it. She has the GIA report, the ring, our box, our appraisal. He told us she was a size 5 and this woman has a size 9 finger. I asked where she got the ring. She says, “From a friend”. I take it to inspect it, go in the back and tell an employee to call the customer. She describes the person. He says, “That’s her sister. I’m coming right now and calling the police. Please stall her.” We stall her with “getting paperwork ready to buy it”. Turns out the potential fiancée said, “No, but let me hold on to the ring and think about it.” HE LET HER!! Then she sent her sister to us to sell it back! The police intervene, and he gets the ring back. The police and the woman leave. He stays to talk to us. His phone rings. It is the potential fiancée screaming at him that it was HER RING, then she calms down and says, “But babe, I love you so much.” He starts crying. They get off the phone and he asks, “Should I give her another chance? I really love her.” We tell him, “Are you kidding? NO!” We insist that WE hold the ring and if he KNOWS he wants to do this again, we will give it back. We held it for about six weeks. He came in to say she is with another guy … old and rich. We felt so sorry for this guy who was completely broken. We gave him a full refund.

8. THE BAD LUCK RING. Custom engagement ring. She loves it, perfect fit when she gets it. Two weeks later, it’s too small. We think it fits great. She says she feels “restricted.” We explain fluctuation in finger size. She insists we size it up. We size up a half size. Few weeks later … “It spins and it bothers me.” After a lot of back and forth, she wants small cleats. Two weeks later: “Take them out. They bother me.” We remove them. Two weeks later, the ring is defective: “It is stretching because it is huge on me.” We explain it is her finger fluctuation. She asks about our return policy. She says she will talk with her fiancé. We do not hear from her for about a month. Then comes this call: “I was in a car accident. It is because of the ring. It was twisted and I looked down to fix it and hit the car in front of me. I want to return the ring because it does not fit right and you aren’t willing to help me.” We go over everything we have done. She says, “Well, this ring is obviously bad luck and defective.” She comes in with her mom. After a lot of discussion, her mom says, “Well, it wasn’t the right ring in the first place.” To keep this from being longer than it is, the REAL problem was that her cousin got engaged a week after her and the cousin’s diamond is bigger. She didn’t know how to tell her fiancé, so she kept making excuses expecting him to say, ‘‘Just go get what you want.” How did it end? She was crazy, we refunded his money minus a small fee and told him how the conversation went with her and her mom. We told him the truth of the issue. He calls us two months later to say, “Thank you for your help and honesty. I am done with her, but I’ll be back if I am ever crazy enough to do this again.”

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9. (NOT) A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY. The children and husband designed a custom ring for the mother, but the mother wanted to return it because she didn’t like it and said she would never wear it.

10. THE CURSE. We have a ring in the store that has been purchased and returned three times. THREE. It has to be cursed.

11. IT’S PERFECT. PERFECTLY UGLY! Just recently, I was asked to custom make a band to match an engagement ring. The customer had several elements she wanted in the band. It was garish and I told her I was concerned. To be sure, I had her sign off on every step of the design process. When she got the ring, she said it was perfect. It was ugly, and all of the staff said the customer said it was perfect, but felt she did not like it. The next day, she called and said, “It is exactly what I wanted but I don’t like it and want a full refund.” Then came out the veiled threats with social media before I had a chance to respond. I just bit the bullet and gave her a full refund.

12. THE WEBS THEY WEAVE. I had a customer when I first opened and money was really tight bring me an ad with a beautiful woman wearing a spider-web necklace. He contracted me to make one for his wife in 18K gold with rubies and diamonds for Christmas because ruby is her birthstone. He gave it to her and she hated it. He wanted me to take it back. I did, because I was new and didn’t want to lose a customer. My thought was I didn’t have anything that I actually made in my case to show customers, so it would be OK. Later that year, he bought a 3-carat diamond solitaire for his anniversary, and a year later, a customer loved the spider-web necklace and put it in layaway. My lesson there was never lose your compassion for the customer.

13. THE AMNESIAC. A woman comes in to return a 7 year-old diamond engagement ring. I explain that she can’t return a purchase that old, but that she can trade it toward a more expensive diamond. She does that and puts the extra on her credit card. Three weeks later, she comes in to return the larger ring. I tell her it’s no problem, take her credit card and pull her trade-in out of the vault. When she sees the original ring, she turns red and demands to know what the hell I am doing. I looked her in the eye and calmly told her she paid for the new one by using the old one as part of the payment and using her credit card for the balance, so I am reversing that sale exactly as it was made. Boy, did she throw a major temper tantrum.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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