Tuesday, April 13, 2010
What a headache! I found this wonderful 1940's bracelet by Cartier about a month back. After lots of dickering back and forth, the seller and I finally agreed on a price....expensive!! But given it's a signed and numbered piece from the 1940's, I felt it was well worth buying. The description said it was in top condition and the accompanying photos agreed.
I'd initially seen this bracelet when I was checking prices for Cartier jewelry on eBay. The seller didn't sell it at that time so it was no longer listed there. The only way to buy it was directly. I had no real problem with that since the seller and his wife operate a real world antiques store in California and the bracelet was being offered for sale in their retail shop.Formal receipts would be issued etc.
But the seller didn't want to go through PayPal because of their fees. I offered to include those fees with my payment as that little inner voice was saying there's at least a recourse if something goes wrong if you use PayPal. Given the amount I was paying, I wish now I'd listened to that inner voice.
Now don't get me wrong: everything proceeded as it should: the seller shipped quickly, sent me scans of the receipts and did all that stuff right. I eagerly awaited the arrival of the bracelet. Well it came a week back. I opened the package with anticipation, removed the bracelet and rested it on my wrist. It was lovely ... hard to believe it was 70 years old. I was now the happy owner of an authentic signed and numbered vintage Cartier bracelet weighing over 46 grams of 18k gold. Wow!
I was just about to lock it on my wrist when I noticed that if I did so, there was no way to open it. To my horror I realized the little 18k locking knob was missing. As you can see in the photo, at some point it had broken off. That didn't show in the photos I'd originally seen, nor was it mentioned in the description. The little gold ball that should have been there wasn't in the plastic baggie with the bracelet so it hadn't broken off in transit. Canada Customs hadn't opened the package when they hit me with duty, so they hadn't broken it. When had it snapped off?
Curbing my panic, we immediately contacted the seller and sent him that photo above. That's when the trouble started. He took 2 days to reply to my courteous email requesting a small refund to help cover the repair. When he replied, he intimated that I must have broken it as he'd sent it in perfect condition. How could that be?! He said they always take photos before shipping and the photos are dated. He said he'd wait for the film to be developed so he could see if it was missing when he shipped. 5 more days went by. No response from him despite more emails from me. Naturally by now I was getting antsy. I'd been in touch with Cartier Customer Service who told me it would probably cost me between $350 - $450 to have this repaired. OUCH!
I wrote again and waited. Surely, in the interest of good customer relations and service he'd be willing to help me out with the cost of the repair. After all, though he might think it, I certainly hadn't broken the ball off and wasn't trying to pull one over him. Why would I do that when repair will cost that much. I waited some more.
While waiting, I visited http://www.toolhaus.org That's a very useful site if you're purchasing from eBay sellers. YOu can type in their eBay ID name and see all the negative and neutral feedback they've received for several years. That's when I saw what I didn't want to see: these sellers had a whackload of neggies and neutrals dating back years, lots of mention of broken items, unco-operative sellers, poor communication etc etc. Oh stupid me for not checking that before buying. I'd placed too much faith in their current feedback percentage on eBay which looked very good.
Well I won't bore you with more details, but bottom line is I really messed up on this one and learned some hard lessons on the way: they refuse to give me any kind of refund saying my claims have no merit. They say their photos are accurate. They haven't shared the photos they say they took before shipping ... wonder why? Want to bet they never took any? And here I am with nowhere to turn. This wasn't an ebay sale. We didn't do it via PayPal. So I can't open any disputes and given his attitude, he'd just stick by his claim that it was perfect when he shipped. Oh yes, I've contacted my Credit Card company and could open a dispute through them. As long as I have an expert testify in print that the gold knob is missing (hello ... see photo?) and supply all the emails regarding this matter, I can open a dispute. But the seller says "All Sales Final". He won't take a return (I already offered to send it back at my expense). And even if Credit Card company says send it back with tracking etc., if he doesn't accept it, then what? My daughter's been dealing with another guy over just something like that for a week now. He won't accept the returned item because US customs has hit with duty (they shouldn't have) so he keeps rejecting the package!! It's now on its way back to us ...and we'll just not accept it here either. But hey, that's another story for another blog post.
Bottom line: when it's your word against theirs, there seems to be no such thing as "customer is always right". I'm just proud of the fact that we don't treat our customers that way. Even when they're wrong, it's their right to return the item if they're not happy ...even if they just don't like it! In my case, I love it but it's broken and I have to have it repaired at my cost now. Bah!