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Misrepresented!! Whats Next?


oksnarf
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Here is my letter to this Nationwide Jewlery store about my experience.  I feel that what has been done is not sufficient.  Let me know what you think and will this get any resolve from the major chain?

 

 

I was deceived in regards to the quality of the diamonds when I purchased an engagement ring.  Below are the details describing the lies and deceptions that occurred.

 

 

On December 28, 2013,  I went into the "Blank" Jewelry Store in Mays Landing NJ to look at engagement rings with my girlfriend,  Jennifer.  Upon speaking to the manager,  Scott,  we looked at quite a few rings but only one appealed to Jennifer.   We looked at the ring and Scott gave us a “Diamondology 101†lesson at that time.  While looking at the ring,  I observed that the diamonds had a yellow tint to them.  Throughout the entire conversation with Scott,  he stated numerous times that the diamond color was “H-I†and the appearance of the yellow was due to “fingerprintsâ€.  Scott assured me that Littman Jewelers did not sell any diamonds that were of a color less than a “Jâ€.  Not being knowledgeable on the 4 C’s of diamonds,  I trusted Scott.   Since this was the only ring that Jennifer has ever showed interest in after weeks of searching,  a decision to buy the ring was made.    We purchased the ring and left it at the store to get sized.  Prior to leaving,  I asked Scott about any paperwork that showed the color of the stones,  he advised that these were not “certified†so he had no paperwork on the ring.

 

 

After a couple weeks,  I returned and picked up the ring after it was completely sized to fit Jennifer’s finger.  I decided that I was going to get it appraised by my local jeweler for insurance purposes.  On 01/11/2014,  after paying $35.00 for the appraisal,  I found out that the diamonds in the ring were not as portrayed.   The appraisal stated that the center stone was graded “M†for color.  The side stones were graded “Lâ€.  I was floored to find out that these diamonds were not even close to the quality that Scott assured them to be.  Scott stated that these were “H-I†and that Littman sold nothing less than a “J†color diamond in their stones.  That statement was obviously false since the center stone was four shades lower in quality than stated and the side stones were at least three shades lower in quality than guaranteed by Scott.   When I asked about value of these diamonds,  the appraiser stated that he wouldn’t even consider putting a value on them  because they were such a low range of quality.  Basically he was saying these diamonds are almost worthless.   Without saying,   I was extremely upset about the misrepresentation by your store of the quality of the diamonds. 

 

 

I went back to the Littman Jeweler’s Store where I purchased the ring and spoke to Scott.  Scott was very understanding and listened to my concerns.   Scott believed that the diamonds are at least a “J†color because he knows that Littman’s doesn’t sell anything lower than that.  I was even shown on my receipt that the stones were at least “J†color.   He stated that he was going to send the ring off to get certification of the stones to see what the color actually was.  Weeks went by and I finally got a call from Scott who advised me that the stones were very low quality as stated by my appraisal.  He stated that he was going to see about getting the stones switched out for better stones.   I was never shown the IGI certification that Scott had done.

 

 

To be clear,  this letter is not putting Scott down as an employee,  he may have been mistaken on the color due to his training.  He was nothing but nice and helpful during the whole time the matter was being resolved.   He also could have been a victim of trusting your company’s standards as I was.

 

 

On 03/19/2014,  I finally received the ring back with the replacement diamonds.  I again had to get this ring appraised not only for insurance purposes,  but to be sure that Littman’s didn’t deceive me for a second time.    The color of the stones were as advertised,   but the weight of the center stone was now .90 carats.  This is now smaller than the initial stone.  (The purchase receipt shows the center stone should be 1 carat with a total of 1 7/8 carats)   The center stone also has a tremendous amount of inclusions.  It’s a nice stone,  but the inclusions are excessive and way more than the first stone had.   The total weight of the stones are now 1.64 carats according to the appraisal.  At .235 carats less than advertised,  this is unacceptable.  This is not a small purchase item,  it is a life event and should be a pleasant experience,  not one of misrepresentation.   

 

I contacted the customer service line via telephone and stated some of my concerns.  The representative basically said that the stones were replaced and “what else†did I want done in a negative tone. 

 

 

On top of the entire set of circumstances,  I have missed opportunities to propose over the holidays as I had planned.  I am a police detective in a local municipality here in NJ and deal with similar deception cases on a weekly basis.    In my eyes,  this issue has not been resolved because I was lied to and your store tried to silence me by doing what was supposed to be from the start.  In addition to the waiting, additional costs incurred for appraisals,  missed opportunities for proposals and added stress to life,  I feel that this deception of the size and color of the diamonds is bad business practice and definitely illegal in violation of the Federal Commercial Regulations.

 

 

 

 

 Refer to the Code of Federal Regulations:

 

 

 

 

Title 16: Commercial Practices
PART 23—GUIDES FOR THE JEWELRY, PRECIOUS METALS, AND PEWTER INDUSTRIES

§23.1 Deception (general).

It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the type, kind, grade, quality, quantity, metallic content, size, weight, cut, color, character, treatment, substance, durability, serviceability, origin, price, value, preparation, production, manufacture, distribution, or any other material aspect of an industry product.

 

 

 

 

Title 16: Commercial Practices
PART 23—GUIDES FOR THE JEWELRY, PRECIOUS METALS, AND PEWTER INDUSTRIES

§23.17 Misrepresentation of weight and “total weight.â€

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the weight of a diamond.

( B) It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “point†or any abbreviation in any representation, advertising, marking, or labeling to describe the weight of a diamond, unless the weight is also stated as decimal parts of a carat (e.g., 25 points or .25 carat).

Note 1 to paragraph ( B): A carat is a standard unit of weight for a diamond and is equivalent to 200 milligrams ( 1â„5 gram). A point is one one hundredth ( 1â„100 ) of a carat.

© If diamond weight is stated as decimal parts of a carat (e.g., .47 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the last decimal place. If diamond weight is stated to only one decimal place (e.g., .5 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the second decimal place (e.g., “.5 carat†could represent a diamond weight between .495-.504).

 

I have included copies of all supporting documents.  I look forward to your quick response in this matter and a more appropriate resolution than what has been provided as I believe that it is not appropriate that I return to see Scott regarding this continuing problem.   

 

SO......WHAT DO YOU THINK?

 

Mike

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Mike,

 

 

Would you be satisfied to get your money back?  Because it doesn't seem there's any way you'll trust this store, regardless of what improvised solutions they offer.   Cut to the chase >> get your money and run.

 

Here in NJ there are consumer fraud protection entities which might be more appropriate than quoting CFR Fed regs at the business. Visit njconsumeraffairs.gov to get the ball rolling.  FWiW, they can hit a business with a $10K max fine for each violation, and usually they can find multiple violations.  If your paperwork's in proper order, you will get results.

 

HOWEVER, you said the stone originally wasn't "certified", so you relied on the salesman's word.  You also said the store sized the ring for your girlfriend, which involves some nominal cost.  That's 2 pins behind the 8-ball for you.  (Make sure your next stone selection has one of the reputable grading reports, which in the context of this website means GIA and/or AGS.)

 

If you paid by credit card, you've got that entire set of protection(s) that can kick in.  Cash is not worth the usually nominal discount you might get in a case like this.  I always use AmEx with purchases of this type, because they'll fight like a rabid pitbull if I need them to.

 

Finally, it's not that hard to get from May's Landing to NYC and find some real legitimate values in diamonds.  But your chances of success without full preparation aren't as good as you might hope for.  Consider investing a few weeks in online reading -- scan the archives here, look at GIA education materials, visit a dozen websites, learn what's missing in all those enticing Ebay ads.  The more tricks you can discover -- and counter -- the better chance you'll have at getting what you want, and what you deserve.

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Thanks for the reply. I didn't just rely on the guys word. The receipt stated "J" color and 1 carat center stone. Even though they fixed the color. They cut back in the size of the stone and the total weight is still off about 1/4 carat. I don't want a refund and to give the ring back. My gf loves the ring and it took forever for her to find one she actually liked. I'd be happy with a refund of some of my money that would cover the difference in weight or even have them put bigger stones in. I'm waiting on a reply from the regional manager from the chain. They said it may be another week until I hear from him/her. I'll keep you informed

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The biggest problem is that the diamond was not initially graded by a reputable laboratory, or any laboratory of that matter.

The receipt say "H" color, but Fred the appraiser says "M".

Someone at the store called it "H", not an "H" to any standard. Now if they said this is the equivalent to a GIA "H" or Fred the appraiser's "H" then you'd have a better case.

Who's right? Grading is a matter of opinion, not a definitive science.

If you can get your money back, do. Go buy a diamond with a GIA or AGS report.

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You’re right that the receipt is the key document here.  It said  J+ on color and 1 7/8ct total weight.  What did it say about clarity? Anything else, for example any discussion of cutting?  Do you know who manufactured the ring?

 

Did they give you ANY other paperwork other than the receipt, like an ‘appraisal’ or any packaging?

 

The FTC guidelines are NOT the issue.  Those are guidelines.  They’re aren’t actually the law, although there are a variety of other laws that come into play when they aren’t followed (check out NJ consumer protection laws).    Assuming there is a credit card involved, this is almost always part of their merchant agreement for example. 

 

OK, now the bad news.  Your case is based on the notion that the appraiser is right and the jeweler is wrong.  This is debatable.  The statement that L and M colored stones are worth so little that he can’t even give a replacement value is simply incompetent appraising.  It undermines their credibility on other areas and the fact that this appraiser is a competitive seller undermines it even further. 

 

What to do:
Be specific about what you want. 
1) J+ color according to a credible lab.  I recommend GIA since they invented the scale.  Most stores say somewhere in their promotions that they use the GIA grading scales.  Look in the fine print on the back of the receipt as well as the signs in the store and their website.
2) Clarity of at least xxx.  Whatever it says on the receipt. 
3) At least 1 7/8cts total weight.   If there’s any clues on the receipt about the breakdown, that too. 
4) NEW mounting.  Setting and unsetting stones and reseating it for new stones is destructive to the prongs.  You bought new, you should be getting new merchandise.  This one has been set twice already, we’re talking about the third and a fourth if there's a problem.  (be prepared to negotiate about this, you probably won’t get it but it has to do with coverage of future problems that may come up).
5) Whatever the agreed upon price was.  You should not have to pay any more, even if they do.
6) Some reasonable schedule.  There’s no good reason this is a difficult job.
7) They pay for whatever appraisals are required up to the point that it passes.  That means the two that are already in the can and possible another one if it fails again.  The final one is on you.
 

Be specific about what you’ll do if they don’t comply.
1) Chargeback to the credit card company based on the FTC misrepresentation standards.
2) Complain to the BBB and similar sorts of toothless tigers.
3) Sue.  The facts as you’ve described them outlines a decent case.   There are, of course, two sides to every case and if you’ve omitted or overlooked something, it may completely undermine you.  You’re a cop.  You know this.
 

Insist on grading and craftsmanship evaluation by an independent 3rd party.  That means not a competitor, and not someone chosen by them.  Again, I recommend GIA for the stones and a qualified independent appraiser for the rest of it. 

 

By the way, expect to spend significantly more than $35 for a qualified appraisal.  I wouldn’t want to touch this job with a proverbial 10 foot pole and even if I did it would be over $100.  I’m on the cheap side.  This is a minefield for an appraiser, especially if this is a chain with significant local presence. 

 

Be polite.  It usually works better than threats.

Edited by denverappraiser
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FWIW as an extra "vote" (or voice), I think you can't do much better than what Neil outlined if you really want to continue working with these people, but I'm with jginnane that the best thing you could possibly do is to get a refund and restart your search, leaving this particular vendor well out of the loop.

 

This said, I'm curious about what's so unique about this ring that it is the only thing that your girlfriend liked... would you mind posting a photo or a link to one?

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... I don't want a refund and to give the ring back. My gf loves the ring and it took forever for her to find one she actually liked. I'd be happy with a refund of some of my money that would cover the difference in weight or even have them put bigger stones in.

 

Hi Mike,

 

When you say your girlfriend "loves the ring", are you referring to the metal part -- which includes the holding for the addtional stones?  Because most of the people on this website barely notice that, except as part of a finished product.

 

Almost the entire value of what you (think that you) bought is in the stones.  In this instance, I'd say the center stone is 90% of the price, and side stones (called "melee") perhaps 3-5%.  The remainder is in the setting, or "ring", as you call it.

 

So, in other words, if the center stone drops from 1-ct size, that's a significant impairment.  If it changes from a recognizable diamond to a cracked-glass marble, that's also a significant impairment.  That's more expensive to the value of your ring than changing the metal from platinum to silver.  You say the stone is smaller, "has more inclusions", but still like the throwaway part -- the metal?  Your priorities are all wrong on this!

 

Now, some may accuse me of exaggeration, and I occasionally do that for small effect.  :)  However, the most elaborately conceivable metal setting, in platinum with side melee, shouldn't be more than 25% of the total price.  And that's probably with the benefit of some fab artiste's signature, like a Paloma Picasso.

 

Denverappraiser has given you a set of specific instructions should you want to try to continue negotiations with this company.  Don't omit any of his advice, particularly the hard parts about appraisals.  For everything you skip --> It.will.cost.you.money.

 

IMO, anything involving dealing indirectly with the chain of authority at Littman's is a way to waste the next six months of your life, and to deal only in Frustration as a Learning Experience.  A Littman's "manager" is going to offer the absolute minimum to shut you up, and take his time, which costs nothing, in doing so.  Take your money to Atlantic City ... your odds are not good, but better than getting satisfaction from the chain at this point.

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You mention that the appraisal values the centre stone to be of 0.90 carat. It is not always accurate to judge weights on the basis of dimensions of the diamonds.

 

The diamond appearing to be 0.90ct may well be a 1.00ct. A 1.00 carat diamond can have dimensions of a 0.90. Perhaps estimating the height will give a better idea?

 

Again the appraisal is a subjective matter, and probably doesn't make your case too strong. The only way you could be sure of diamond's weight is taking out the stone from centre and putting it to weight scale.

 

Another point, somebody else's J color can be another's M. It depends what you compare it against.

 

I have my self witnessed GIA diamonds graded 2 colors higher by the IGI. It's subjective. Even the certificate has a disclaimer on the back.

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