On Your Side: Bogus Bling

A North Texas woman says she was sold some bogus bling at a popular area jewelry store.

The store wouldn't give her her money back. That's when she got Consumer Reporter Steve Noviello on her side.

Dallas Gold and Silver Exchange released the following statement to FOX 4:

“A woman who identified herself as Carolyn Brookins came to Dallas Gold & Silver (DGS) on or about October 23, 2017. She claimed that her husband had purchased a ring for her from DGS in 2012, and she wanted to return it for a full cash refund. DGS explained that it would gladly honor such return requests for items purchased within 30 days of the sale (which is a common jewelry-industry practice), but not for an item claimed to have been purchased over five years ago.

Ms. Brookins then claimed that the approximately $1,100 center stone of the ring was a fake – according to a third-party that serviced the ring - and reiterated her demand for a full $3,360.00 refund.  DGS explained that because it had been over five years since the ring’s purchase, and there was no way to determine if the stone or ring she presented were the ones DGS had sold to her husband, a refund was not possible.  

Ms. Brookins became upset, and said DGS’s response was not acceptable.  She claimed to be a longtime customer of DGS and felt DGS should do something to “make it right”.  The DGS sales person conveyed to Ms. Brookings that he was not aware of any previous customer complaint like hers, and that he would do what he could to make her happy. Accordingly, he told her that if she found a ring in the store that she liked, DGS would significantly discount it for her. Ms. Brookins found a ring that she liked, and DGS sold it to her at the significantly discounted price of $5,412.50. Ms. Brookins conveyed that she was happy with this resolution, and DGS felt that it had shown her great customer service. DGS asked Ms. Brookins if she would mind sharing a note reflecting her satisfaction, so we could use this transaction as an example to other sales staff of how to find a creative solution to a challenging customer complaint. She agreed, and wrote a brief note at the bottom of DGS’s copy of the sale receipt (see attached).

Approximately 28 days later, Ms. Brookins returned to DGS. She wanted to return her newly purchased ring under the store’s 30-day-return policy and get a cash refund of a claimed $3,360.00 “store credit”. DGS conveyed that it would gladly accept the new ring’s return and give her a full $5,412.50 refund as per the purchase terms reflected on her receipt, but there was no store credit to return.  Ms. Robbins appeared to believe that she had reset the 30-day clock on her husband’s 2012 purchase by purchasing another item. When DGS explained that was not the case, and DGS could not give her the demanded $8,772.50 cash refund for a $5,412.50 purchase, she announced that she would thereafter write negative reviews about DGS on every possible website.

Additionally, Ms. Brookins retained an attorney, Heath Grob, who sent an email to two DGS sales persons demanding a $9,622.50 cashier’s-check payment (for the 2012 and 2017 sales amounts, plus $850.00 attorney’s fees) and threatening that he and his client would “go to all forms of media” if DGS failed to comply with this demand. Thereafter, Ms. Brookins had her attorney file a lawsuit against DGS.

DGS’s counsel called Ms. Brookins’ attorney during the week of March 5th in an effort amicably to resolve the matter, and as a starting point offered to give a full refund of the recently purchased $5,412.50 ring even though it was beyond the 30-day return period. Mr. Grob said he would discuss the matter with Ms. Brookins and get back to DGS’s counsel no later than Friday, March 9th or Monday, March 12th.  Mr. Grob did not get back (and to date has not gotten back) to DGS’s counsel as promised, but instead called Fox Television (and likely others) in an effort to embarrass DGS into making a payment.  

DGS is a customer-service jewelry company and wants to try to address satisfactorily Ms. Brookins’ concern regarding her $1,100 stone. If Ms. Brookins and her attorney are interested in a civil discussion to resolve this matter, then DGS will certainly continue the discussion it initiated.  If not, then DGS will have no alternative than to defend itself against the legal action lodged by Ms. Brookins and her lawyer.

Anecdotally, DGS has subsequently reached out to the salesman with whom Ms. Brookins claims her husband dealt for the 2012 purchase. This salesman has been in the diamond business for decades. And when asked about Ms. Brookins’ claim that DGS sold her husband a fake stone, he said that was not possible because he tests loose diamonds in front of customers at the time of purchase specifically to avoid any such after-the-fact claims, and to protect his and the company’s hard-earned reputation for honesty and transparency. Compromising one’s reputation for $1,100 would simply make no sense.  Moreover, such loose-diamond testing at the time of sale is particularly important to guard against damage to, or switches of DGS-purchased stones that are subsequently serviced or otherwise handled by non-DGS vendors. Ms. Brookins has acknowledged that during the last five years she has indeed had the center stone and ring serviced by third-party vendors. At this point, DGS simply has no way to verify whether the stone Ms. Brookins claims to have purchased is the same one she now seeks to return for a refund.”