I saw him get out of his car, walk up the sidewalk, and head towards my front door. I knew right where this one was heading. I could see a watch in one hand, and a watch battery in the other. I could tell what it was because it was in that oversized blister pack you get if you buy a single watch battery at Walmart instead of at my store. And, to make matters even worse, I had just sat down to my lunch of caramelized onion and cream cheese chicken enchiladas. I hadn’t even taken my first bite yet!
“Do you install watch batteries?” he asked me, totally ignoring the scrumptious plate in front of me.
Since he had to pass about 14 signs around the shopping center that say ‘Watch Batteries Installed $10”, I’m just going to assume that was a rhetorical question, so I just looked at him like he was nuts and waited for whatever was next. I know that he knew the answer to the question before he even asked it.
“I need to have this battery installed.”
“We charge $10 to install watch batteries.”
“But I already have the battery.”
“We charge $10 to open and close a watch.”
“Really? The jeweler down the street always does it for me for free.”
“Why didn’t you go there?”
“I thought I’d give your store a try.”
“We charge $10.”
“Can you at least tell me if this is the right battery for my watch?”
“Yes, but I’ll have to open your watch to find out, and we charge $10 to open a watch.”
“That’s a lot of money. I think I’m just going to go back to my regular jeweler.”
“Tell your friends about me!”
As he walked out, I grabbed my lunch tray from the back, put it back on the front counter and took a couple of bites and was quite impressed. I had caramelized the onions in butter and sugar and then folded in the cream cheese and Rotel tomatoes with a…. ding dong. Dang it, someone is ringing my doorbell, and my front door is not even locked. I wave her in, grabbing one last bite, because I saw the oversized box from an internet watch purchase and assume that she’s going to need a watch band adjustment, and I was right.
“Can I help you?” I ask.
“Do you take links out of watches?” she asked totally ignoring the scrumptious plate in front of me as I move it to the back once again.
“Yes,” I say as she tries to hand me the box. I stand there with my arms crossed and tell her that she needs to put it on first so I know how many links need to be removed. She looked at me like I was crazy and should already know how to adjust her as yet unseen, cheap watch that she probably spent way too much money on. We stare at each other for a moment until she realizes I really need her to put the dang thing on first.
She spends the next 5 minutes opening the outer box, then the inner box, then the inner, inner box, then the bubble wrap, then the inner plastic wrapping, to finally reveal one of those uber trendy watches with the super cheap plastic turtle shell bands. I tell her it will be $18 to adjust her watch. She must have assumed it was a rhetorical statement because she just stood there and stared at me like I was nuts. But, since I’ve got more experience dealing with nuts than she does, I just stared back at her waiting for her to speak.
“Why do you charge $18? The company I bought it from will do it for free.”
“I do it for free too if you buy the watch from me. If you buy it somewhere else, like the internet, we charge $18.”
“I don’t understand why you want to charge me? I could do it myself because they included the tool to take the links out with, but I’d rather let you do it.”
“I’d be happy to do it – for $18.”
“Why are you going to charge me for something they will do for free?”
“You should just send it to them and have them do it,” I say to her, glancing over my shoulder at my cooling caramelized onion and cream cheese chicken enchiladas, wanting to steal one more bite before they are totally cold.
Then she asks me how many links need to come out so she can tell them. I tell her I won’t know until I’ve actually fitted the watch. I tell her sometimes I have to mess with it a couple of times before I get it right. I then get the pouty lips, the large, exasperated sigh, and the reluctant “okay” to go ahead and fix it and she’ll just send the receipt to the internet people (probably in Turkmenistan) to get her money back.
When she finally left, mad at me, I reheat my lunch and start eating again. I was able to finish and was just sitting there playing on the internet when ‘He’ walked in. As I’m moving my tray, he says, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m interrupting your lunch,” totally noticing the lunch tray that the other two people ignored.
I told him I was finished and just playing on Facebook for a minute and asked how I could help him? He said he had 3 watch batteries, a broken watch band, a missing watch pin, and a bent prong on his wife’s ring.
I told him that watch batteries were $10 each. He said that’s fine.
I told him it was $15 to fix his watch band. He said that’s cool.
I told him the missing pin would be $5. He said to go ahead with it.
I told him the bent prong would be $18. He said no problem, and asked if he should leave it and come back or wait? I said to have a seat and I’d be done in about 10 minutes.
Then, I did the work and charged him $68 plus tax. He thanked me and left happy, just like most of the customers I deal with on a daily basis.
It was about here that I realized something. The last 6 months has been all doom and gloom, the sky is falling, don’t let ‘him’ anywhere near the nuclear codes, lock ‘her’ up, and too much petty bitterness that seemed to consume most of America. Well, the sky didn’t fall and it’s back to business as usual. I still get my usual share of crazy and unpleasant customers, and I still get more than my fair share of normal customers, like that last guy. So, that being said, let’s all kiss and make up and go out there and make some money.
Welcome to 2017!
And, to all of my bench jeweler peeps, don’t forget to order the Mary Kay Satin Hands soap. It has a moisturizer in it that will keep your callouses from cracking during these dry winter months. Whenever I get a new bottle of this soap, I pour about ¼ of it into an empty hand soap container and top it off with water. The soap is very thick and very expensive, but this quadruples it. If you don’t have a Mary Kay rep, use mine. You can reach McKensie at 615-924-9686 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to email@example.com.