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Real Deal

Real Deal: The Case of the Town Crier

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[dropcap cap=J]ill Shaw worked hard at her business. She chose her inventory carefully, was protective of her brand identity and message, and was meticulous in her processes for hiring and training new associates. Jill believed in professionalism, and had a genuine passion for her product, her craft and her clients. She set aside money in each year’s budget to maintain and even upgrade her gem lab, workshop and design studio equipment and the skills of the people who brought them to life for her clients. In fact, she and her husband and business partner, Barry, were out of town at a week-long symposium when they got a call from Kathy Victor, JB Shaw’s in-house GG and top salesperson, and their long-time friend.[/dropcap]

 

It seemed that on the Monday the Shaw’s left for their trip, a young woman Kathy recognized as the daughter of an occasional customer brought in a solitaire ring to be sized. The client said it had been her grandmother’s, and was going to be her engagement ring, but that it was too big for her to wear. Kathy examined the ring carefully in the process of taking it in, verifying that the stone in the ring was, in fact, diamond, and that it was not damaged. While she estimated the diamond to be an H color and SI2 clarity, she noted only specific measurements and obvious visual identifiers like the “14K” stamp in the shank in the description field of her POS program. She completed the sizing instructions for the in-store jeweler and photographed the piece, as was procedure at JB Shaw’s, before giving the client a receipt and a Wednesday pick-up estimate. The client left happy.

When the client came back in on Wednesday, Brian Deel, another experienced JB Shaw associate, delivered her ring. He noticed that she seemed to be looking at it very carefully, and offered her the use of his loupe so she could examine the ring more carefully. He showed her how to use the loupe and explained that the prongs had been checked while the ring was in the shop, and that everything was in good order. The young woman left after paying the $50 charge, thanking Brian for the great service and saying she would be back for her wedding bands.

Several hours later, the young woman’s mother called the store, sounding upset and demanding to speak to Jill Shaw. Kathy calmly told her that the Shaws were out of town, and asked if she could help. The caller was loud and angry as she accused Kathy and the store of switching her mother’s diamond. She began to sob as she insisted that the diamond her daughter brought home had a flaw in it that her mother’s diamond never had.

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Kathy listened patiently, then assured the woman that that she was certain the diamond she had in hand was the same one her daughter brought in and asked the woman to come into the store with her daughter the next day so they could look at the ring together and discuss the characteristics she was seeing. The woman continued to sob and rant about wanting her mother’s diamond back, shouting about the Shaw’s being thieves, and demanding Jill or Barry’s cell phone number so she could contact them immediately. Finally, Kathy had to end the conversation by saying that she would call the woman back in the morning after talking with the shop manager.

By the following morning, Kathy and JB Shaw’s shop manager Erica Singletary had gone through every job that had been in the works between Monday and Wednesday. They verified that there were no other 1-carat diamonds in any form in the shop at that time, and that the prongs on the stone had not been touched. After enlarging and enhancing the picture of the ring taken at drop off, the two were completely convinced that the “flaw” the woman was seeing in her now-clean diamond was, in fact, the same one they could see near a prong in the photograph.

Before Kathy could contact the customer, she got a call from a friend and owner of a resort clothing store in the next block. The store owner said that while getting her hair cut at a nearby salon that morning, her hairdresser mentioned hearing from another client that JB Shaw had a thief on staff – someone who was switching high quality customer diamonds for badly flawed ones. When she asked the hairdresser for the client’s name, she was not surprised to hear that it was the same woman who just the week before was arrested for shoplifting in her store and who, on her way out with the police officer, began shouting accusations of sexual harassment at a male employee. The store owner indicated that she’d secured a restraining order to keep the customer out of her store, but that the following night, her house was vandalized.

Kathy was both incensed and afraid. She could not believe that the woman was out in the community, defaming the Shaws’ name and reputation – and she was concerned for her own safety and that of her family. She knew she had to call Jill, but hated that all this happened on her watch.

 

[h3][b]The BIG questions:[/h3]  Short of cutting their trip short, is there anything Jill or Barry can do to help resolve this situation long-distance? Should Kathy try to stall the customer until Jill and Barry return? If the woman does come back to the store, how should Kathy handle it? How might JB Shaw’s change their already-careful take in policies to avoid this kind of mess in the future? [/b]

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Editor’s note: Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved. The characters should not be confused with real people.

[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

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