It just happened again. A longtime customer came in with watch brand X and asked us if we can get it running right for them. We looked at the brand and advised them that they should take it to the authorized jeweler, which is unfortunately many miles from here. They get frustrated with us and it hurts to disappoint them.
The real story is that we know that we can send it to a generic repair center, and maybe (maybe not) they will use authentic parts to do the job. These centers are often certified by the watch brand but they aren’t controlled by them. They have good reputations, but that’s not really the point. The cost benefit to the customer isn’t being served properly. The repair will cost just as much, and maybe 10 to 20% more, than the authorized dealer would have charged due to the parts being purchased from a reseller. The warranty will be from an independent source, not from the national or global brand, so it won’t be honored everywhere the watch is sold. So far, it does not make good sense for the customer.
Did I tell you that the customer has to drive many miles to deal with the agent for the brand? Well, there’s the time & gas to drop it off, and more time & gas to pick it up. Also, (this is the part that gives me the puppy dog eyes) they have a relationship with us and really trust us, and “want” to deal with “us.” Ah geez, how do we say “No?”
The way we handle this today may not be the best way. Trying to explain to the customer, as I did above, often get’s the “glazed over eyes” affect when the client realizes that we are merely saying “no, we can’t help you” in more than 20 words. We have had to take this approach for several reasons. It is awesome some folks want to do business with us, but when they find out it was more than the authorized dealer, they aren’t such happy campers, and it can affect their overall opinion of our value pricing. The other problem is that they sometimes don’t realize we aren’t the authorized dealer. Yes, we told them. But, it’s like marriage. Not everyone listens or claims to remember. Then, the day the warranty isn’t covered by the brand’s official jeweler, guess which face walks into our store (Hint: Not puppy-dog face).
I know we still get this wrong, or at least “not 100% right,” with the way we handle it and explain it, but we are choosing the least of two evils. Better to disappoint someone today than to upset them tomorrow. What do you think?
– David Hevia