Monday, November 18, 2019

Cheapskates & Chiselers in Paradise

All That Glitters


Submitted Photo

By the title and my reputation you may have figured out where this article is heading. My last article persecuted the impatient, so now I will try to be as sympathetic as possible with the population of bargain basement boneheads who roam this island paradise. It will be tough, but I will try to be as civil I can. If you are thin-skinned or appalled by the heading, turn the page to a feel-good article.

We all know them; it could be a fair weather friend or worse you could be very well married to one (apologies, it’s hard I know!), or better yet, you could actually be a “C & C in Paradise” yourself! It’s not your fault, it could have been your upbringing or something in your family’s DNA. You are what you are, just do me one favor, the next time you want to practice your natural inbred abnormality and you pass by my establishment, just continue passing by and spare me the anguish.

As many of you know, I’ve been in the jewelry business for a number of years –nearly fifty to be exact! A luxury business is much different from a necessity business like a supermarket or hardware store or a popular Southwest Florida plastic surgeon (try bartering there!). Actually, I have encountered skinflints ahead of me in line at my local supermarket demanding only to get the free one on a BOGO or a refund for meat or fish that they recently purchased complaining it “tasted funny,” despite the fact they consumed the entire portion yet still received a full refund or another (free) porterhouse steak.

How about the buffalo nickel squeezers, who buy beach chairs at the local beach stores, use them for a week while on vacation then return them wet and full of sand demanding a full refund. I knew a scoundrel who actually bragged he sabotaged his rental car’s A/C unit only moments before returning it, demanding a deep discount on the fee because he was so hot and uncomfortably inconvenienced all week. I can go on and on how “they” never cease to amaze me and how devious their moneysaving ploys can be. We all have seen someone gleefully having a free breakfast of complimentary coffee, cookies and pastries at one of the local banks every morning. Most don’t even have an account there!

Want to identify those penny pinchers living among us? Hang out at the local watering holes (The Esplanade, for example) during season and watch the exodus the exact second happy hour ends at 7 PM. Be careful you don’t get stampeded by the crowd leaving!

I’m being cruel and heartless you say… but no, I’m not. Those are top-of-the-line Mercedes, Jags, Porsches, and Land Rovers that are flying out of the parking lot at 7:05.

Oh yeah! Melvin and Rose, that couple you just met from who knows where , just peeled out in their beat up 1975 Delta Eighty-Eight, after bragging about their beachfront penthouse condo all afternoon, probably stiffed you with their bar bill!

I get my share of them, and I tag them immediately and permanently in my mind. Only recently someone complained during a busy morning my price was too high to enlarge several heavy gold rings, two to three sizes larger. She claimed her hometown jeweler only charges $10 each! I’m thinking, “What planet was that on? Here on planet Earth, gold is expensive, and that service was never $10 as long as I have been residing here on Earth.” This same person was told the exact price of the service when she brought in close to a dozen rings a week before and decided to do only three because I was soooo darn expensive. Some will even ask me to use their deceased husbands’ (plural?) gold fillings to do the gold work with instead of using “real gold.” “Can’t you use brass or silver?” Ah No!

Some come in with expensive jewelry they had to have inherited (there’s no way they actually spent the money to purchase something so expensive!), only now it’s missing diamonds or precious gemstones in need of replacement and repair…  “It will cost that much? Can’t you use glass stones instead?” The grand plan once again is to save them from spending their money, or have me lose my hard earned money for that matter if they can make that at all possible.

My favorite and often heard is, “Oh, you’re kidding, there is a charge to repair that little thing? My regular jeweler would never charge me for that! I wish he never closed his store several years ago!” Wonder why he went out of business? I don’t.

I could go on for hours on the ploys they attempt to pull, like claiming, “You just replaced this watch battery and it died already!” Remember a couple of paragraphs ago how I tag and don’t forget, I would have already pre-dated the installed battery on this one, and showed the cheapster the date the “newly” replaced battery was installed was in fact two years prior. Nice try.

Please don’t misunderstand me — I do my share of “charity work” and perks for many a person; especially my wonderful VIP’s and loyal regular customers who have been doing business with me for decades; polish this, tighten or fix that at no charge and many a free battery or jewelry cleaner, especially for those in uniform who served our country or is presently serving. My perks and complementary items are for those that deserve and appreciate what I do for a living and for the community.

It’s when a new spinster comes in out of the blue enters my web and I overhear he or she spouting to my sales staff how expensive everything in my shop is, I can get this or that In Miami or up north for way, way less than I have it priced. That is when I dismiss the salesperson and take over. The over 50-years experience with the undesirables under my belt clicks into high gear, and my antennae pops up, I can sense if this person is a serious buyer or a time wasting bag of wind.

Call it a gift if you like, I’m rarely wrong about this, it can sometimes result in a sale or not… that’s the wonderful world of island retail.

Many years back I had a customer who I mistakenly thought was interested in a fine two carat round diamond for his wife; it had to be a certain high color and near perfect clarity which demanded a higher price. I showed him nearly a dozen beautiful two carat gems and he was never happy. It was always “too much money.” This went on for over a month. My patience, to say the least, was at its end, because of all the money (shipping and insurance on the diamonds) and time I lost with this guy.

The next time he called I did something that no jeweler in his right mind would do. I just purchased a 2.05 carat that was stunning, And I quoted him three thousand below my cost (yes, you heard me right) and threw in the ring and my labor. Mr. Skinflint still said, “Too much money!”

I asked him for the diamond back that he was over examining and politely told him to hit the road, Jack! Go waste some other guys time! I explained, if he had agreed to purchasing this diamond here and now, he would have stolen it! I priced it three thousand below wholesale plus the free $1,500 mounting and my labor! And you still didn’t buy it! You have no intention of buying my (or any) diamond; you just keep coming in here to waste my time and money! We are done here. He left talking to himself.

I now save my time and money when I sense these petty prospectors with an immediate recommendation they should purchase their “fine jewelry” at the outlet store next door, or the local Walter Marte (Wal-Mart) and let me get back to my workbench so I can complete the projects for my customers that don’t mind actually paying me for my quality jewelry, talents and skill.

I realize everyone appreciates a decent discount, who doesn’t? I can assure you no jewelry stores work on a ten time mark up and they never did. If you get an incredibly deep discount on gold or diamonds be wary, it’s impossible at today’s market prices. There are ways to ask politely for a break on a quoted price, just don’t make unreasonable demands. You have to expect to leave some meat on the bone so to speak, for the jeweler. Starting a buying interaction with insults and browbeating is not going to end well for either of us.

It’s going to be another long and busy season, please be kind to your shop owners, sales and wait staff workers, and especially our bartenders they have to put up with a lot of unnecessary grief bestowed upon them from the champagne tastes and beer money crowd.

Richard Alan is a designer/ master goldsmith with over 50 years experience and a purveyor of fine jewelry and precious gems and Marco’s island jeweler for over 25 years welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters.” Email www.harborgoldsmith.com or visit harborgoldsmith@comcast.net.

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