A Rough in the Diamond

Now Playing: So Long Baby, Goodbye, by Long Train Home. It’s a great version of The Blasters’ song written by the great Dave Alvin.

The name of this blog is Rants ‘n Raves, but I haven’t really ranted in awhile. That changes today.

I usually don’t identify the businesses I rant about. That also changes today.

The object of my scorn is Kay Jewelers, once my jewelry store of choice. Why? Well, I’m pretty frugal – some might say cheap – when it comes to jewelry, but the folks at Kay at Carolina Place mall in Pineville always treated me well when I was in there. They didn’t seem to care that I wasn’t going to spend a fortune, they gave me good service and I couldn’t think of any reason not to go back.

I can now.

A little background: I grew up without a lot of money, and, with journalism as my chosen field, have never had the opportunity to have a lot. But on our first Christmas together in 1992, I wanted to give Karen a ring to show her how serious I was about the relationship. It was my pink Christmas with her: Everything I bought was that color, including a ring with a beautiful synthetic pink stone.

We loved that ring, maybe because we loved each other, and she wore it for a long time. Eventually, though, the color faded a bit and we decided to replace it. What with moves and children and this, that and the other thing, I still couldn’t afford a diamond, so I bought her a really beautiful zirconia, which was mistaken a bunch of times over the years for a real diamond. And it was real to us.

But as 2009 wore down, I decided I wanted to buy the real thing, even though I was losing my job at the end of the year and we didn’t really have a lot to spend on Christmas. So I went to Kay to see what I could do with limited funds. The waitress was great. She never looked down her nose at me, and we found a small actual diamond in a beautiful ring that was what I wanted. Even better, Karen loved it when she opened it Christmas Day.

Once we got it sized, she rarely took it off.

Until last week. One of the small stones fell out of its setting. No problem, I thought. I’d bought the “LIFETIME” warranty (even though I rarely buy warranties for anything). I’d just take it in and get it taken care of. No problem. Stuff happens.

Austin, Garrett and I had some business at the mall Sunday, so we took it to the store. “Do you have the paperwork with you?” this waitress asked. “Uh, no, I don’t,” I replied. “Don’t you have it in the computer?”

She sighed, then looked it up. I did have the warranty, she said, but it didn’t apply because the ring hadn’t been brought in for inspection every six months. “But it was a LIFETIME warranty! Why should it run out in six months?” I said. I must add at this point that I started Hulking up. I didn’t turn green or gain super-strength, but I might have slammed the counter a couple of times and maybe even raised my voice a bit. The kids were mortified – Austin ambled off to look at watches or something, while Garrett stayed nearby in case he needed to calm me down.

Meanwhile I got madder as she kept telling me about the policy. “Well it’s a lousy policy,” I said, slamming the counter again. “It really sucks.”

Finally, she asked if I wanted an estimate on what it would take to repair the ring. It pained me to say yes, but I did. She promised an answer in two-to-three days. I left the store furious, and when we passed it coming back from one of our other errands, I bared my teeth at it. Austin took several more steps away from me.

Monday, I looked up the chain’s website and wrote a nasty comment to customer service to complain about the policy. I indicated I preferred to communicate with CS by phone rather than e-mail. I got an e-mail back that I could expect a response in three-to-five days.

Thursday, I got my response. By e-mail. It told me about the six-month policy on the LIFETIME warranty, which it noted that I had gotten for free. Which infuriated me, because I knew I paid for the warranty. I e-mailed back with this info. And got an automated response asking whether I wanted my response sent to customer service. I responded yes. Eventually I got another response: The warranty I paid for was on the metal, the one they mentioned was on the stones. This was news to me. I would never have knowingly bought a warranty on the metal. I responded again, railing at the policy and the lack of information about the LIFETIME warranty and the basic unfairness of it all. I sent it and got another automated response asking whether I wanted it sent to customer service. Tilter at windmills that I am, I said yes.

Meanwhile, the mall store still hadn’t called with my estimate. So I called it. Got a different waitress, who told me they’d sent it off to the estimators, who’d only gotten it Wednesday. They hadn’t gotten around to making the estimate yet. “So,” I asked, “why was I told Sunday that I’d have an answer in two-to-three days if it wasn’t even going to get to the estimator until Wednesday.” “Well, I didn’t tell you that,” she answered. She then offered to e-mail the estimator and ask to put a rush on it.

I still haven’t heard anything.

At this point, it doesn’t really matter. I’m not repairing it. It’s not a symbol of love anymore, it’s a symbol of frustration.

Karen’s wearing the old rings for now. We’ll get a new one, but it won’t come from Kay. I’ll never shop there again, and I hope none of you will either. I hope no one shops there.

In the meantime,  maybe we’ll try to get a De Beers diamond. They’ve been saying “A diamond is forever” since the 1940s. I just hope FOREVER is longer than six months.



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2 responses to “A Rough in the Diamond

  1. Six months? Not much of a lifetime.

    I’d be furious as well. Jewelers are, after all, the very ones who encourage us to believe that these gifts are laden with emotion and sentiment. And then, it seems they’re the first to remind us that the purchase is a business transaction, plain and simple.

    I’m with you. I’m hesitant to “name” names, as well. I figure anyone can have a bad day. But this is as flatout bad policy. Glad you called “bullshit” on them.

  2. Exactly. There was/is much emotion tied up in all the rings I’ve given my sweetie. The money doesn’t/hasn’t mattered to either of us. But they sure ruined a good customer relationship.

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