Something Ain’t Right!

After I moved to Sri Lanka my jewellery collection was stolen.. Valuable items that belonged to my mother, items that were passed down the generations, gifts from my mother and my aunts and also many pieces that I had bought too.  It was a tradition to have gold jewellery whether plain gold or with valuable gems including diamonds and pearls.  It was the sentiments that I missed the most as I used to wear my mother’s favourite earrings whenever I missed her as she had passed away.  The year of theft was 2005, post tsunami.  Since I was then working with tsunami & war affected victims here in Sri Lanka, I focused on them as they had lost not just assets and material possessions but also lost dearly loved ones.

Having first earned a very low salary here and then embarking on living by faith, buying jewellery wasn’t a priority let alone a possibility.  However I really longed to wear a dainty anklet and bracelet again as that was just a part of who I am.  Late last year I got a translation job and then decided for the first time to buy an anklet.  All these years whatever I had bought I had justified a need for the ministry… This anklet was simply a want that I had, longed for… and since it wasn’t support from others I decided it wouldn’t be unethical to buy that for myself.  And I did.

I prefer 9 carat as less flashy and stronger.. So I went to Mallika Hemachandra’s branch at Majestic City which stocks 18 carat too and got a tri gold anklet.  I bought this on the 25th of November 2016 but wore it on the 1st of January.  I wanted it in gold as the costume jewellery gets discoloured and I like to have it on daily without removing it.  (oh ignore the Mrs – it’s a typical practise in Sri Lanka for businesses to ASSUME and write Mrs for a female as it’s expected that all women should be married not realising they are insulting someone and legally doing a wrong thing)

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By the second week of February I found it was falling off and I took it into the store on the 14th of February.

They told me the spring of the hook was broken and that they can’t repair it on site that they need to send it to head office telling me that there may be a charge for it.  I told them that wasn’t right as this was new – only a few months since purchase (less than 2.5 months) and that I had only worn it for 5 weeks at one stretch without removing it.  They said to give it in anyway and let’s see what can be done.  There was a bit of rudeness but I didn’t take much notice of that and they said it would take a few weeks to get it done ‘as it was ‘season’.  As they were writing the receipt of taking the product, one lady was weighing it and said it was 1.410 in weight.  I quickly glanced at the original purchase document and that read 1.420 in weight and I remarked out loud.  I felt they felt uncomfortable but I put it down to them having made a genuine mistake.

I finally got a phone call from them on the 25th of February and I did notice the person who called was nervous and was speaking pretty fast asking me to bring in the receipt given when they took the anklet.

I went into the store yesterday the 27th of February.  They told me that the spring had broken and they had to put in a new one and it would cost me 1,000 rupees.  They gave me the ‘broken’ lock back.  I asked them how they could charge me for a broken lock – one man was trying to tell me that the lock had worn out.  I made it clear to him that I had only used the lock ONCE – just to put it on the first and it had always been left there.  (Friends who have known me in the past know my like to have a dainty anklet and bracelet on 24×7.)

He registered shock (perhaps he didn’t expect me to respond or stand up) and then quickly concealed it and said that they couldn’t repair it so they had to replace it.  I asked them to take the old lock back and they valued that for 300 rupees and said they would charge me 700 rupees.  So the lock with the broken spring is valued at 300 and a new lock is valued at 700?  I was cross but kept calm and firm.  Now there were 2 men and one lady speaking up.

They took the receipt back from me and given their behaviour I asked for the receipt as that had all the list of weights etc.  They said that belonged to them – even though it was the original and they had the copy of it.  I told them that I wanted to take a photo of the receipt. An older man jumped in from nowhere.  I noticed his hands were trembling and he said that he can’t let me take a photo of that as that belonged to them.  I told them I was going to post it on FB.  Promptly the lady proceeded to write out a receipt for the payment as REPAIR CHARGES although initially they had said they had REPLACED the lock with a new lock (which seems as if it was smaller than the earlier one).

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Usually when jewellers do a valuation and make any changes to the original product, they would write everything out on a docket and give the original to the customer with the weights and values.  Here it was all concealed – no mention in the documents at all as to what really took place!  Repairing a new product shows what their products are all about!

I told them it was sad that if they needed to charge instead of replacing something for free for an item that is faulty when brand new that they can’t vouch for their products.  One guy immediately told me that these were IMPORTED and not their products.    Oh I wish I had the guts and instincts to have recorded this conversation.

They put the anklet into the clear ziploc bag and gave it to me, I just dumped it into my back pack.  I saw the shock on their faces.. Then they carefully folded the REPAIR CHARGES receipt and put it into an envelope so professionally.  I took that from them, dumped that into my bag and just walked out without saying a word.

I usually don’t write about these things in the blog but something about yesterday’s incident at the store is bugging me, and isn’t sitting well with me… Too much of negative vibes from their body languages and attitudes – including the main person throwing about his weight from a desk far away and not maintaining eye contact with me at all.  He couldn’t speak in English so one of the sales guys kept translating for him – but this sales guy was genuine, I saw it registered in his face.  So just in case my instincts are right and there is indeed a scam or a fraud going on (perhaps just at the store level), I would like to put this out there to expose that and also to prevent others from getting cheated … I’m making it clear I don’t know what’s going on so I’m sharing this in the hopes of getting some answers!   I posted it on my FB page tagging the jewellery store’s fb page, but I didn’t get any response from them.  I will email this link to the email address on their website. I may not get anywhere but at least I can rest knowing that I tried… and if it is indeed something fishy and is uncovered well it could protect so many others.  If someone else had stood up I may not have had to incur this charge either.

I wonder how many people would have simply paid whatever they ask for without thinking or questioning them?  I wonder how much the charges would have been if I hadn’t started to protest in the first place.

Yes this added expense comes at a time when my finances are low and pressing.  And I just felt regret from making a purchase from them in the first place.  How would I know that this lock would be stable too?  I wish I had the guts to tell them to remove this lock and give me the old lock back and then get it done elsewhere as I don’t trust their workmanship now either.

And I will like to warn others about this and to think twice about making a purchase unless of course you are willing to be tied up with goodness knows what charges on a new product.

As a believer we need to be harmless as doves but also wise as a serpent.  We are called to seek righteousness.

Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent— the Lord detests them both – Proverbs 17:15

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