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Real Deal

Real Deal: The Case of the Friendly Foe



Real Deal: The Case of the Friendly Foe


Editor’s Note: Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved. The names of the characters and stores have been changed and should not be confused with real people or places.

Ed James couldn’t believe his eyes when he opened his e-mail. A LinkedIn invitation from Rebecca Hollman … Really …

Becca Hollman was among the worst customer nightmares Ed had dealt with in the 30-plus years he’d been in business! Just thinking through the story — documented in a bizarre series of e-mails, was scary enough. It all started back in March, when Ed sold a hand-engraved, name-brand engagement ring to Marcus Sanders …


3/22 3:05PM: Hi Ed. We met a few months ago when I was at Ed James Jewelers looking at engagement rings with a girlfriend. My now-fiancé purchased our engagement ring from you. When I first saw the finished product, I fell in love with it. My fiancé, Marcus, however, was never happy with it. He thought the clarity was not how he remembered, and he was really upset that the center stone looked crooked and that the smaller diamonds around the band were not sized correctly to fit in their settings.

I am not trying to be a pain about this, but I must admit I am not happy with it. Further, it is about that time that we need to order both of our wedding bands. I am concerned that we will have similar issues with the wedding band. I would really appreciate meeting with you soon to discuss my options. Becca

And so it began. The ring was sent back to the manufacturer to be remade on April 5. Already sensing trouble, Ed asked to have a CAD rendering sent for Becca’s approval before it went into production. The ring was cast, set and finished, and was returned to the store, where Becca and Marcus picked it up on April 26. Becca inspected the ring carefully, and confirmed that it was just what she wanted.

The couple left the store happy. Early the next week, Ed got a call from Becca, complaining once again about what appeared to be a misalignment of the center diamond. Ed asked her to bring the ring in, and when he inspected it again, noticed a very slight difference between the left and right sides of the bezel. Becca insisted that the ring be sent be sent back to the manufacturer. Once it came back, Marcus picked it up and assured Ed that it was perfect.

5/8 9:05PM: Hi Ed. The ring looks beautiful, but I’ll need to get the ring resized. How long will it take — and were you able to get prices on the bands? Becca

5/23 4:34PM: Hi Becca. The prices would be $1,450 for the smaller band and $1,900 for the larger. Resizing at the manufacturer will take about a week. Talk to you soon. Ed


The ring was sent back to the manufacturer once again for sizing on May 24.

5/28 5:10PM: Ed, I have not heard from you regarding the status of my ring. When can I expect to pick it up? I am going to be frank. The fact that I have been making payments on a ring that I have only had in my possession for about 50 percent of my ownership of it is ridiculous. Also, and adding to my irritation, I contacted The Diamonds Shoppe regarding wedding bands and they quoted me substantially lower than what you quoted (for the same exact ring). Becca

On May 29, a Google Alert led Ed to an online review site where he saw this posting:

5/25/2011 Ed James Jewelers — A nightmare! My fiancé and I went there because they are the closest dealer for the brand and style of engagement ring we wanted. So far, they have had my ring more than I have . they just can’t seem to get it right . everything from poor setting to inaccurate sizing. What’s worse, they tried to gouge us on the price for the matching wedding bands! Don’t entrust your happy engagement to these folks! BH

Rather than call Becca about the posting, Ed waited until the next day, when he was able to tell her that her re-sized ring had come in. She was curt and unfriendly when she picked up the ring, but it fit perfectly.

Ed decided simply to ignore the online review and trust that the whole ordeal was finally over.


A week later, Becca reappeared in a LinkedIn request and in an e-mail asking that her ring be re-sized yet again.

This clearly unstable woman had already eaten up an absurd amount of Ed’s time. He couldn’t help but think that if he agreed to handle her latest sizing request, he would most certainly be tied into an ongoing cycle that might never end.

1. Should Ed accept the LinkedIn invitation ?

2. What should he do about the negati ve review?

3. Should he re-size the ring?

4. Should he fire Becca as a customer ?

Comment below or at [email protected].


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