Reprinted from January 1997
There are a few phrases we jewelers don’t like to hear. For the New Year I’d sure like to eliminate a few we hear far too frequently. For starters, “I wonder if you’d do me a favor?” This can mean anything from doing a $100 appraisal for free to setting a complicated watch for free, but the key word is “free.” Another favorite is, “Would you mind looking at this and telling me if it is real?” This can mean identifying a colored stone, diamond or a watch and telling the customer he is the proud owner of a piece of junk jewelry or a fake Rolex.
We always get a few chills when we hear, “I would have done this myself, except I didn’t have the right tools, but the job is very simple.” How about, “Would you mind just cleaning this up a bit? It looks a bit dingy and it would only take you a minute.”
Another good one is, “Would you give me my ring size?” Now you have to know there are very few logical reason for getting one’s ring size which would not involve a purchase from QVC or another jeweler.
One of my favorites is, “I have a couple of rings here I want to sell. I wonder if you would mind selling them to one of your customers for me because I don’t know anyone that would buy them.”
“Would you mind putting this on your scale and telling me what it weighs?” “Just a ball park figure, that’s all I want, just eyeball it and give me a ball park figure.”
Another thing that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up is, “You know, I have a layaway here, and I’m not going to be able to get it out…” This translates to, “I’ve been to all the sales and feel I found something better and I want to dump this back on you after you’ve held it in layaway for 5 months.” We’ve had so many stores going out of business lately that this phrase became a daily thing during December.
“Do you have a little box I can put this in?” I love this one. It means they’ve been shopping at Dollar Discount or someplace equally as unique and now they want a box with the name of a fine jeweler on it to impress the one they love. “I got this for a gift, but I really don’t like jewelry, what do you think I could get for it?”
Some of the most exuberant people are not customers, but those who burst in the door wanting to sell you something. One can be sure when someone bursts through the door displaying exuberance that they are going to want something out of you, they are not going to buy anything or have any services performed for which they intend to pay.
We have a sign on our door which reads NO VENDORS, yet daily we have people wanting to sell everything from toys, calculators, fruit to tickets. They all come in and say, “Hiiii! How are you today?” That’s a clue they don’t care how you are, but they are testing to see if they get cut off there or if you are dumb enough to smile and answer. If so, you’ll be in for another hassle.
It isn’t unusual to have teenagers come in wanting to sell ads in their newspapers or yearbooks. “Hi! I’m Melissa Jones and I wonder if you’d support us by taking an ad in our yearbook?” Well Melissa and ninety others who call on me in the next six months with such requests should assess where they buy their goods. Probably 90% of everything their families buy is from Walmart, Sam’s, K-Mart or Target. They never think of the independent stores until they want to sell advertising space. I wonder why they don’t automatically think of K-Mart, Target Walmart or Sam’s?
As Mom and Pop jewelers go down the drain across America, I wonder why it is when someone wants something “just squeezed down a tad or bent just a little bit” they automatically recall the olden days when the independent jeweler did things like this without charge.
“This is so easy for you with your little glass eye. Would you bend it back in line just a tad?” The implication is to bend it back without a charge.
There are many entry phrases which annoy me, but by far the worst is for someone to come rushing in the store with a child in tow, someone you’ve never seen before, and ask, “Do you have a restroom?” I wonder what kind of questions this is. What they mean is, “Can we use your restroom,” because assumingly every store does have a restroom. In this day and age, it is rare anyone would use a chamber pot.
I’m afraid my bad side gets the best of me most times that question is asked, and I reply, “No we don’t, but there’s a national chain restaurant next door, try them.” Somehow, I must be doing something terribly wrong because no one ever comes in and says, “I want to buy a diamond.” Lord, I think the words would cause a heart attack.
I guess I’ll just go through the rest of my career expecting to hear, “My ring is stuck on my finger, would you cut it off for me? I’m only going to be in town until 2 p.m.”