Monday, June 7

Buyer Beware - Internet Shopping Scams

A bracelet was brought into my shop with some charms that the customer had purchased off the internet....they wanted me to solder on the charms. :)
Needless to say I soldered all the charms on, then popped the bracelet in the pickle pot to clean the flux etc off. 1/2 hour later I came back to find the whole bracelet had been coated with copper (as had some earrings I'd made too!)
The earrings were very pale but the bracelet was bright orange with a thick copper coating -horror!! This had only happened to me once before, it was due to steel in the clasp...(strangely that was also on a similar job, fixing someones "bought on holiday" necklace).
Fixing The Problem
I decanted my pickle mix into a safe container and mixed a new batch of pickle to which I added a little Hydrogen Peroxide. The earrings went in first and a few minutes later they were bright clean and shiny silver again - all traces of their accidental copper plating removed....
The bracelet, (minus clasp) went in next but it just wouldn't return to it's colour...I removed the charms and tried them separately - they went to pale orange but still had a trace of copper.

So I polished them by hand until only a few traces in the indents remained.
Later today I have to tell my customer that the internet bracelet is a fake.....sadly for me the hours of work, safety pickle etc will have to be written off (I'm not the sort of person that would ask her to pay).
In the interests of good customer service I have some genuine solid and lovely bracelets~ so if she wants one of those I'll probably offer to re-solder all the charms (again) at the same price.

Cautionary Tale:The trouble with the internet is that with a good looking website, a search engine ranking and a few convincing graphics its very easy to get drawn into thinking you are buying the real thing.
This is the THIRD time that someone has brought in a bracelet for me to fix or alter that has turned out to be fake....
I'm seriously considering a policy of not fixing or altering anything that isn't purchased from my own shop. Maybe in the current climate of fakes and poorly made items it's the only way to guarantee I don't have to face a customer and tell them the bad news....
To others thinking about buying from "too good to be true" sites ~ buy local, buy from someone you trust, support the hand crafters and artisan jewellers & most importantly don't let yourself get ripped off!
Love & Kind Wishes
Nic xx


Janet Bocciardi said...

Usually when prices are too good to be true, they usually are.

Is there a testing kit that would've worked to tell you if it was real?

Santa Barbara Jeweler said...

Wow that story is well written. We had a similar problem in our workshop. I think there was chrome plating on a piece of internet silver. We applied heat and it just got really ugly.
Much polishing and rhodium plating later I got it to look good and said, "take it and don't bring it back."
I appreciated the detail with which you photographed and told your cautionary tale.

Kathleen Krucoff said...

Excellent post Nic. And you have such a good heart. You are doing the right thing for your customer and I am certain that you will be rewarded for your efforts.

I think you are right to not work on items that aren't purchased from your shop. My friend, Lexi, has told me horror stories she experienced with doing repairs (one piece completely melted that had been marked as silver) so she won't do repair work anymore and has told me to never start it.

Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Nicola said...

Hi Janet
Completely agree with the "too good to be true" pricing theory. Unfortunately I can't see an easy way of testing things before they go into my workshop ~ it's probably easier not to take them in than risk offending someone with a "Do you mind if I test the Tiffany bracelet you got for your birthday to see if it's fake?"

Santa Barbara Jeweler
Thak you & sorry you had the same experience ~ awful isn't it :(

It's amazing how many stories jewellers have, really feel bad for the customers.
Truly terrible that so many tricksters are out there!

Gemma said...

Oh no- thats awful Nic.
Could you have some sort of disclaimer- like vision express? They will put new lenses in old frames but if the frames break during fitting and you didn't get them from there then they wont give you new ones.
I recenly bought some silver snake chains. They'd been stamped 925 but they were actually a silver colour plated over brass I think. I compained and got my money back- even though I'd cut one of them up- which is how I'd discovered they were fake.

Nicola said...

I'm not the disclaimer type ~
if the work ends up trashed, the customer's left dissapointed....
Bad result (whichever way you look at it) & in the very worst case they may think it's something I've done.
These fraudsters give the industry a bad name!

fiona davies said...

yep...this has happened to me, where I bought something, It is STAMPED 925 sterling silver but is not! Do not buy on 'bidding' websites as these too are rife with imported fakes!

tkmetalarts said...

How terrible that this happened to you this many times. Probably good idea to decline repairs not from your shop. But it is aweful to let people fill the landscape with junk. When will the public learn? I think if you explain to the customers about why you are not taking in anymore repair works, they will see that you have a high quality standard.

Jo said...

Great post Nic. I don't take repair work on now (apart from a friend of OH who just turns up with it - it's difficult to refuse it then!) as I'm fed up with stones that are 'packed' behind the setting to make them look bigger, fake silver etc. It got to the stage where it was definitely more trouble than it was worth.

Boo's Jewellery said...

I really hope the customer takes it in the same spirit that you're handling it. I used to have a sewing shop and took in dry cleaning and alterations and took some motorcycle team jackets for cleaning that turned out to be fakes and were totally ruined by the process - clearly the care label was faked too. The customer didn't take it well at all and it got really nasty. Fingers crossed for you.

Amy said...

I work in a jewellers and we see fakes come through every now and then, more frequently on watches. I don't know what the case is with jewellery but I have been told that if we take in a fake rolex, breitling etc then we should smash it, as it is fraud! But that would not lead to happy customers, so we tend to not take them in. It's a difficult issue isn't it. Amy

Lisa Lectura Creations said...

Hi Nic! So sorry about that. Yes, I agree, maybe a policy with only working with items from your shop will help. I hope the customer is very understanding. Buying from the internet is always iffy. Thanks so much for your sweet visit! :)

Katie said...

Great Post. I agree that everyone should buy local and handmade! Now you have me concerned that my supplies that I buy might be fake...hmmm. Who can you trust?

Nicola said...

Seems that so many people have had similar experiences...awful for all concerned :(
Katie - Must admit that's why I buy all my supplies from the big boys like cooksons precious metals in the UK and Rio, Whole Lotta Whimsey etc in the USA.
Most have a good price and you know what you're getting :)
Nicola xx

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