Struggle to replace gold bangle

Sharon Scholtz’s present of a R3 000 bangle from her husband didn’t bring her any Christmas cheer.

When she put on the 9 carat gold bangle for the third time she noticed that, “it appeared to be out of shape and had two kinks in it”.

“My husband bought it at American Swiss, Westgate Mall, for me as a Christmas gift. I wore it on three occasions in the week between Christmas and New Year. On the third occasion, when I glanced down at my arm I noticed that the bangle appeared to be out of shape. I took it off and saw that it had two kinks in it, and it seemed it was going to break at any moment. I put it back into the box to return it to American Swiss during the first week of January,” the Mitchell’s Plain resident said.

“We asked to exchange it or get something else to the same value. The saleswoman tried to contact the area manager to seek advice, but to no avail. His phone constantly went to voicemail. She took the bangle and a few pictures and promised to contact us. The other sales assistant advised her to keep the bangle.

“A few days later the saleswoman called my husband to collect the bangle. She told him the area manager assessed the damage based on the images and said the bangle was damaged due to negligence.

“My husband insisted on an expert opinion, from someone who would physically inspect it, instead of a photo. The bangle was sent off to quality control according to the sales assistant,” Ms Scholtz said.

“A few days later they called us to collect the bangle. The verdict was that the bangle had been abused and damaged in the process. If we wanted it repaired it will be for our account. We were clearly not happy and wanted to see a copy of the quality report, and what they constitute to be the abuse of a bangle,” said Ms Scholtz, who called their customer services department and asked to speak to the regional manager, as they were unhappy with the manner in which the area manager handled the matter.

The woman at customer services took their complaint, and said someone would contact them.

“While I was travelling home from work the area manager called. I asked him to call me in an hour when I would be home. He said by then he would have left American Swiss and he would call me the next day. Well he didn’t and I am still waiting for a call, to resolve the matter. I would appreciate your help.”

Well, the answer from Philip Lumby, head of operations of TFG (the Foschini Group) jewellery division, was short and to the point.

“At TFG we pride ourselves on selling quality products supported by great customer service so, in this instance we’d like to offer Mrs Scholtz a full refund,” said Mr Lumby, who ignored my questions and had to be prompted to answer them.

Asked about the alleged lack of service from the various managers, Mr Lumby said: “TFG employees are trained to resolve complaints and queries as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in certain cases it can take a bit longer to resolve due to technical assessments which prolong the process. The additional time is vital to ensure the accuracy of the assessment.

“A signed receipt is proof that at the time of purchase, the bangle was in perfect condition. It is routine that a customer inspects any product before buying and a signed receipt is an acknowledgment of this. This particular case is an isolated incident and based on the outcome of the quality control assessment, TFG can confirm that the damage is not due to a manufacturing fault.

“This type of bangle gives a customer a lot of show at an affordable price and is more suitable to wear for special occasions than for everyday use,” Mr Lumby said.

However, Ms Scholtz said she only wore it twice and noticed the damage when she put it on the third time.

“At TFG the CPA (Consumer Protection Act) governs all return and refund processes. The terms and conditions printed on the back of the purchase slip include all the necessary information and all store employees receive training on the policy,” said Mr Lumby, who said TFG contacted the customer to apologise for any inconvenience and offered a full refund in good faith.

Ms Scholtz confirmed that American Swiss contacted her by phone and email and American Swiss would call her to collect the refund. “Thank you once again for your assistance. I sincerely appreciate it.”